COURSE OUTLINE FOR GRADE 8- TORAH CLASS
SPIRITUALITY AND G-D’S SEARCH FOR MAN- an overview of the Torah from the
beginning of Bereshit to the end of Devarim exploring the role of G-d in the
universe and His relationship to mankind.
How do we define G-d, and what are some of the age old problems in
understanding G-d’s ways and how we as Jews interrelate with G-d? Can one be
a good Jew without believing in G-d?
What are some of the questions that one can ask regarding the creation
account given at the beginning of Bereshit especially in light of scientific
discoveries and theories?
Questions of faith and doubt regarding G-d as seen through the quests of
Abraham in search for justice and mercy as well as challenges to belief.
The message of the Burning Bush and its consequences for the people of Israel
in terms of their relationship with G-d.
Divine Revelation as a foundation of Judaism, and its impact on the future of
Judaism with especial concentration on the opening commandments of the
Role of the Mishkan and Temple in Jewish life historically and theologically.
The aftereffects of the Golden Calf incident and the Thirteen Attributes of G-
Holiness and sanctification as assigned to the Jewish people. Blessing or
Role of the Jewish people on the world scene.
Sept.6-Introduction to course and discussion about problems of definition of
G-d, and theological issues concerning His existence.
Sept.7 continuation of discussion about existence of G-d using Maimonides as
our source of discussion and raising issues concerning conflicts and
confluences of religion and science. Heated discussion took place.
Sept.13 In order to enhance class discussion regarding the existence of G-d
and questions of doubt and faith we have added material from Dennis Prager
and Joseph Telushkin's "Nine Questions about Judaism" to our forum. Intensive
discussions continue regarding the issue of G-d's existence as a necessary
introduction to the topic of spirituality in the Torah.
Homework assignment- to read the first five of the thirteen principles of
Judaism as cited by Maimonides, and to comment on these principles.
Sept. 20- we have been examining the conflicts between evolution and
creation, and have discussed in detail the question of the age of the
universe as perceived by science and Torah. We watched a video of an
atheist's discovery of G-d through his research on DNA. We are beginning the
exploration of text comparing the opening sentences of chapters one and two
of Bereshit to draw comparisons and contrasts concerning questions, with the
intention of enabling our students to think and analyze text.
SEPT.28- I distributed to the students printouts of the first two chapters of
Bereshit with selected sections of Rashi. Our class concentrated on the
opening words of Bereshit, and Rashi's question as to why the Torah, a book of
law begins with events that seemingly have nothing to do with the Jewish
people. We explored Rashi's answer that the first sentence establishes G-d as
the creator of the world, and that it is His decision to determine who lives
where. Therefore, according to Rashi, if the Jews are accused of stealing the
land of Israel from the inhabitants of that land, they can answer that it is
G-d who determines that the Jews are to live there. An interesting discussion
centered around the present day state of Israel as how it does or not relate
to Rashi's interpretation. We also cited a Ramban who states that nations are
given territorial area to hold if they follow a certain moral code. The
failure to follow that moral code can result in their losing that territory to
another nation. According to the Ramban, G-d oversees this process, again as
determined by the opening sentence of Bereshit.
We also did a text comparison between the opening sentence of Bereshit and
that of chapter 2, verse 4 which seemingly similar has some glaring
differences which the students were asked to point out.
SEPT.29- Continuing our examination of the opening chapters of Bereshit, we
began examining the account of the creation of man in chapter one, verses 26-
27 pointing out seeming problems in the text. Questions were raised
concerning the plural use of the word, "we shall make man', pointing out to a
problem of who is assisting G-d in this project. Further, questions were
raised by students as to the fact that if indeed man is made in G-d's image,
then man should be perfect. He is not. Students advanced the explanations
that perhaps G-d with his angels would create man, corresponding to Rashi's
explanation, while others felt that G-d consulted with the animal kingdom.
Evolution? Another student answer reflected the explanation of the Ramban
that G-d consulted with the earth to create man, a theme we shall explore in
the next class.
OCT.4- We are reviewing today the concept of the 'image of G-d' and have
examined Rashi's interpretation as referring to man's ability to think and to
communicate. We also examined this concept in reference to the legal
ramifications re the commission of a criminal act against somebody which would
constitute an attack on the Tzelem Elokim, image of G-d possessed by man. We
also examined Rashi's interpretation of G-d's involvement of the angels or
earth in the creation of man as an example of the need to consult when making
a decision with those effected by the decision.
This afternoon, we continued our discussion regarding the creation of man
pointing out differences in text between the accounts of creation given in
chapter one and chapter two of Genesis. The Torah's account in chapter one
seems to indicate that the first human was both male and female, while chapter
two speaks of two creations. In chapter one, Adam does not communicate but is
simply told to conquer the world. In chapter two, Adam does communicate. There
are also two different words describing Adam's creation. In chapter one,
vayivra, and chapter two, vayitzer. The latter speaks of creation, the second
of formation. We will be examining the difference.
There will be shortly a take home exam given which will be on line. More
details to follow.
OCT.17- Our last few sessions have been concentrating on the discussion of the
various differences between the accounts of the creation of man in chapters
one and two of Bereshit. At this point, I am posting on line a take home test
to be handed to me no later than Oct.26. I ask that no work obviously be done
on the days of Yom Tov, Shmini Atzeret, Simchat Torah and Shabbat of this
week. Please note that students can submit their tests to me online at
email@example.com. They may use their notes or other sources at their
disposal. If they are to use the internet, the sites chosen must be indicated
on the students' work. Please be aware that there are negative sites such as
missionary ones which should be avoided.
TAKE HOME TEST FOR OPENING CHAPTERS OF BERESHIT. PLEASE ANSWER EACH QUESTION.
1. What are some of the conflicts that arise between the scientific and
religious accounts about the origin of the universe and the existence of G-d?
2. How would you resolve some of those conflicts which you mentioned in your
3. What are the differences between the usage of the words, Bara, Yatzar, Asah
in reference to G-d's creations?
4. Why would the Torah which is a book of laws affecting the Jewish people
begin with a discussion about creation?
5. To whom is G-d referring in verse 26 of chapter one when He says,"let us
make man in our image?"
6. How would you interpret the concept of Tzelem Elokim, G-d's image mentioned
in the same verse cited in question #5?
7. Cite several differences between the account of the creation of man in
chapter one and chapter two. How did we try to resolve some of those
8. Why would G-d create a tree of knowledge knowing fully well that man would
eat from it despite being commanded not to eat from it?
Nov. 5- In the last few weeks, we have been examining and contrasting the
behaviour of Abraham who challenges G-d's desire to destroy Sodom with the
former's reluctance to question G-d's request to sacrifice Isaac. We have
been looking at the use of language and text to understand the import of
Abraham's challenges as well as the use of language and nuance in assessing
the message of the Akeidah as found in chapter 22 of Genesis.
Nov.8- We are beginning the section of the Torah concentrating on the burning
bush incident with Moshe. This unit will be studied with the division of the
class according to learning levels and learning centres. Each group will
consist of three students who will be concentrating on answering questions
with the use of the Internet, while one specific group will be concentrating
on the study of Rashi on the verses in this unit. It is requested that
students be allowed to bring their laptops to class to maximize use of the
internet and other sources for the study of text.
Today, we concentrated on understanding the text of chapter 3 of Exodus which
is the report of the first encounter between G-d and Moshe.
Nov.22- We are continuing the process of differentiated instruction with the
culminating activity on the burning bush incident with the different groups
analyzing and developing questions about the text at hand.
GRADE 8 TORAH CLASS –BURNING BUSH CONTINUED
ANSWERS TO BE PRODUCED BYTHE GROUPS. BEST ANSWERS WIN.
QUESTIONS BASED ON THE TEXT OF CHAPTER 3 OF SEFER SHEMOT
1. Why do you think that some of our greatest leaders have been
shepherds? (Examples, Moshe, David)
2. Research the following terms that have to do with prophecy? Ruach
Hakodesh, Nevuah, Asplakria Ha-meirah and Asplakria she-ana meirah.
3. What is the connection between the word, Sneh, meaning, ‘bush” and
the mountain called Sinai? Why do you think the rabbis of the Talmud say that
the word, “Sinai”, is similar to the word, “Sinah”, which means hatred?
(Hint: According to the rabbis, when the Israelites received the Torah,
hatred spread throughout the world.)
4. Usually, the Torah speaks of seven nations living in the land of
Canaan. The Girgashi is missing in the text. What happened to them, according
to the midrash?
5. Why does Hashem say that only now He is aware of the terrible
conditions of slavery in Egypt? Didn’t he know from before?
6. Why is it important for Moshe to have a sign that Hashem has sent him
to take the people of Israel out of Egypt?
7. Didn’t the people of Israel already know the name of Hashem? Why
would they ask Moshe’’
Pick three questions maximum from the ones your group chose yesterday. Write
them down, and try to answer them.
December 2011- We are in the process of examining the chapter preceding the
giving of the Ten Commandments examining the text as well as Rashi on the
opening verses of chapter 19, sefer Shemot. Our class is divided into groups
with one group concentrating on the reading of Rashi in the Hebrew original,
while the rest of the groups are given Rashi and Torah text both in Hebrew
and English. Examples of questions which students are to analyze in class
GRADE 8 CHAPTER 19, SEFER SHEMOT, CONTINUATION PART II
ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS BASED ON THE TEXT AND ON RASHI’S COMMENTARY
1) The Torah calls us the ‘chosen people.’ The actual word in Hebrew
refers to our being a ‘treasure’ in the eyes of G-d. Rashi claims that we are
chosen before G-d, and that G-d rejects other nations. Do you agree with
Rashi’s assessment? Why or why not? What problems could you see develop
from Rashi’s interpretation? How would you interpret the concept
2) What does the Torah mean when it says that we shall be a ‘holy
nation?’ How do you define ‘holiness?’
3) Look carefully at sentences 7&8, and indicate what problems you might
detect in the wording of those two sentences. First, try the Hebrew and then
4) What lessons in Derech Eretz do we derive from sentence 8?
5) The Torah tells us here that the people of Israel indicate that they
will fulfill all that G-d asks of them. Later, when the Torah reviews what
happened prior to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, the people are quoted
as saying that they will do and listen to the words of G-d. Shouldn’t they
first listen to the word of G-d, and then do His bidding?
December 13- questions on sentences 9-14 of chapter 19 Exodus
GRADE 8 TORAH STUDIES CONTINUATION OF CHAPTER 19 PESUKIM 9-14
Examine the following pesukim and analyze them according to Rashi and/or your
own thoughts, and answer these questions: (Work in your groups)
1. Sentence 9- what do you think it means when it says that Hashem will
come to you in the thickness of the cloud? If Hashem’s presence is not
limited by time or space, how can Hashem come to the people of Israel in a
specific location like a cloud? Why would the people of Israel believe Moshe
more if Hashem’s presence is felt in the cloud?
2. Why would it be important for the people of Israel to hear directly
from Hashem the Ten Commandments? Would you want Hashem to directly talk to
3. How shall the people of Israel prepare themselves to receive the
4. How many days shall the people of Israel prepare themselves to
receive the Torah?
5. Why do you think that the people of Israel would be forbidden to go
near the mountain?
PREPARATION FOR THE FINAL EXAM IN TORAH-GRADE 8. THERE WILL BE TWO PARTS TO
THE EXAM. ONE WILL BE TAKE HOME, DUE JANUARY 18, THE OTHER IN CLASS. THE FIRST
PART OF THE FINAL, THE TAKE HOME, WILL DEAL WITH THE FOLLOWING CHAPTERS OF
BERESHIT COVERING THESE TOPICS:
1) CREATION ACCOUNT AND THE CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN
2) ABRAHAM'S CHALLENGE TO G-D CONCERNING THE IMPENDING DESTRUCTION OF SODOM
3) THE BINDING OF ISAAC
TO DOWNLOAD THE TEXTS FOR THE ABOVE TOPICS,PLEASE GO TO 'LINKS' ON MY WEBSITE,
AND CLICK ON 'CHABAD.ORG' WHICH WILL BRING YOU TO THE PAGE INDICATING 'TANACH
WITH RASHI'. CLICK ON 'PENTATEUCH' WHICH WILL BRING YOU TO BERESHIT. DOWNLOAD
CHAPTERS ONE AND TWO AS WELL AS CHAPTERS 18 AND 22 OF SEFER BERESHIT. FOR THE
IN CLASS FINAL, YOU ARE TO DOWNLOAD CHAPTERS 3 AND 19 OF SEFER SHEMOT (EXODUS)
WITH THE RASHI. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DOWNLOAD THE RASHI FOR THE BERESHIT
TAKE HOME FINAL, BUT YOU MAY IF YOU WISH.
TO REVIEW FOR THE FINAL, PLEASE LOOK AT LAST YEAR'S TAKE HOME EXAM IN TORAH 8
TO GET AN IDEA WHAT QUESTIONS COULD BE ASKED. PLEASE REVIEW ALL QUESTIONS THAT
APPEAR IN MY TEACHER WEBSITE THIS YEAR AS WELL AS ANY SHEETS OF QUESTIONS AND
MATERIALS I HAVE DISTRIBUTED SINCE SEPTEMBER. YOU MAY USE ANY SOURCES OR NOTES
FOR BOTH THE TAKE HOME AND IN CLASS EXAMS.
THE MAIN QUESTION ON THE IN CLASS FINAL WHICH WILL BE CONCENTRATING ON THE
BURNING BUSH INCIDENT AND ON THE PREPARATION OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL IN ORDER
TO RECEIVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IS:
DO A COMPARISON STUDY OF THE TEXTS IN BOTH CHAPTERS 3 AND 19 OF SEFER SHEMOT
THAT DISCUSS THE REVELATION OF G-D TO MOSES AND LATER TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
THE SPECIFICS OF THIS QUESTION WILL APPEAR ON THE FINAL FORMAT OF THE EXAM
ITSELF. IN THE INTERIM, YOU MAY PREPARE NOTES ON THESE ACCOUNTS AND BRING THEM
WITH YOU TO THE FINAL EXAM WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE IN MY CLASSROOM OF 204 DURING
THE FINAL EXAM PERIOD. MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW.
SEMESTER TWO STARTING FEBRUARY, 2012
COURSE OUTLINE- ETHICAL AND MORAL ISSUES FROM A TORAH PERSPECTIVE
This new course for the second semester is designed to expose our students to
some of the ethical and moral issues of our time as seen through the wisdom of
our Torah and our sages. Our focus of attention will be on chapter 19 of the
book of Leviticus which is also known as the Leviticus Code. The following
topics will be covered:
What moral responsibilities do we have as a holy people?
Relations between children and parents- some of the concerns and conflicts
that our students will face as they and their parents grow older.
Lying: Is it ever justified?
Issues concerning business relations between workers and employers
Corruption in the court system
Gossip and its consequences
Hatred and Love
Bearing a grudge and the desire for revenge
How to relate to your fellow human being
How to relate to the elderly
Words that hurt
Deceit and fraud
Other issues of morality and ethical behaviour
On our first day of this new semester, we began to examine the concept of
holiness as mentioned in the opening sentences of chapter 19 of Leviticus. We
discussed the difference between Rashi and the Ramban as to what holiness
implies. According to Rashi, holiness is defined as the ability to separate
from what is sinful, while the Ramban explains it refers to the ability to
separate from excesses be it in behaviour, action, style of life, etc. We also
began to examine the concept of love thy neighbour as an admonition cited by
Hillel not to do something hurtful to somebody which you would not want to
happen or to be done to you.
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT- PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
1) Why should the Torah tell us to be holy? Aren't we holy already?
2) Rashi tells us that holiness means we should separate ourselves from doing
things that are sinful. Do you agree with Rashi's interpretation? Why or why
3) The Ramban explains that holiness means separating from excesses. Give
three examples of what one should not do to excess.
4) The Ramban describes an individual who does something to excess as a
'criminal with the permission of the Torah.' What do you think he means? Could
you give an example of somebody (no names) who gives the impression of being
religious, but really isn't?
5) List what you think are important character traits.
You are an inmate in a concentration camp. A sadistic guard is about to hang
your son who tried to escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath
him. He says that if you don’t he will not only kill your son but some other
innocent inmate as well. You don’t have any doubt that he means what he says.
What should you do? (taken from listverse.com)
QUESTIONS: WHAT ARE THE ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE ABOVE CASE?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
REFER TO THE SOURCES DOWN BELOW FROM MAIMONIDES AND RELATE THEM TO THE CASE
AFTER REVIEWING THE SOURCES, WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR OPINION WHICH YOU
Mishne Torah of the Rambam
The entire house of Israel are commanded regarding the sanctification of
[God's] great name, as [Leviticus 22:32] states: "And I shall be sanctified
amidst the children of Israel." Also, they are warned against desecrating
[His holy name], as [the above verse] states: "And they shall not desecrate
My holy name."
What is implied? Should a gentile arise and force a Jew to violate one of the
Torah's commandments at the pain of death, he should violate the commandment
rather than be killed, because [Leviticus 18:5] states concerning the
mitzvot: "which a man will perform and live by them." [They were given so
that] one may live by them and not die because of them. If a person dies
rather than transgress, he is held accountable for his life.
When does the above apply? With regard to other mitzvot, with the exception
of the worship of other gods, forbidden sexual relations, and murder.
However, with regard to these three sins, if one is ordered: "Transgress one
of them or be killed," one should sacrifice his life rather than transgress.
When does the above apply? When the gentile desires his own personal benefit -
for example, he forces a person to build a house or cook food for him on the
Sabbath, he rapes a woman, or the like. However, if his intention is solely
to have him violate the mitzvot, [the following rules apply:] If he is alone
and there are not ten other Jews present, he should transgress and not
sacrifice his life. However, if he forces him [to transgress] with the
intention that he violate [a mitzvah] in the presence of ten Jews, he should
sacrifice his life and not transgress. [This applies] even if [the gentile]
intended merely that he violate only one of the [Torah's] mitzvot.
All the above [distinctions] apply [only in times] other than times of a
decree. However, in times of a decree - i.e., when a wicked king like
Nebuchadnezzar or his like will arise and issue a decree against the Jews to
nullify their faith or one of the mitzvot - one should sacrifice one's life
rather than transgress any of the other mitzvot, whether one is compelled [to
transgress] amidst ten [Jews] or one is compelled [to transgress merely]
If anyone about whom it is said: "Transgress and do not sacrifice your life,"
sacrifices his life and does not transgress, he is held accountable for his
When anyone about whom it is said: "Sacrifice your life and do not
transgress," sacrifices his life and does not transgress, he sanctifies
[God's] name. If he does so in the presence of ten Jews, he sanctifies
[God's] name in public, like Daniel, Chananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Rabbi
Akiva and his colleagues.
February 15- working in groups, answer the following questions based on the
Halachot cited above from the works of the Rambam (Maimonides)
1. What does the Rambam mean by the sanctification and the desecration of the
name of G-d? Give an example for each.
2. Why would the Halacha state that for some mitzvot if ordered to violate
one should violate, and for some other mitzvot one should give up one's life
rather than violate?
3. If you were asked to judge the following people, how would you judge them?
A) The Jews of Spain who decided to remain in Spain in 1492 and converted
publicly to Christianity although secretly practicing their Judaism.
B) The Jews of the Crusader period who gave up their lives rather than
convert out of the faith.
C) The Jews of the Holocaust who decided to pretend that they were not Jewish
in order to escape the Nazis.
In March, we spent some time covering the topic of honouring of parents and
the various ramifications that ensue coming from this area of study. Students
concentrated on the study of text and the analysis of contemporary relevant
As a prelude to future study of Jewish law, it became necessary to include a
section of the study of Jewish law as to trace its development from the Torah
to the Talmud, Codes of Jewish Law and the area of responsa literature.
Below is a chart of the books of study spanning thousands of years that trace
that development of Jewish law.
תורה שבעל פה
משנה ששה סדרי משנה
תלמוד בבלי תלמוד ירושלמי
End of March- As a diversion from the normal course of study in Torah, I have
decided to introduce the study of Talmud to the students through the
examination of Mishnaic texts dealing with the Seder of Pesach. The texts are
taken from the last chapter of the tractate Pesachim.
STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JOB- CONTINUATION OF COURSE ON SPIRITUALITY DEALING WITH
THE ISSUES OF EVIL AND SUFFERING IN THE WORLD WITH AN EYE TO THE ETHICAL
ISSUES THAT ENSUE.
QUESTIONS ON THE OPENING CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF JOB
1. Prove from the text that Job was a well-to-do person.
2. Why would Job bring sacrifices after his children went to a party?
3. Who is the Adversary?
4. Describe the conversation between Hashem and the Adversary regarding
found in chapter one.
5. What is the goal of the Adversary regarding Job?
6. What catastrophes befall Job and his family?
7. How does Job react to what happened to him and to his family?
QUESTIONS ON CHAPTER TWO OF JOB
1. Why does the adversary want to physically harm Job?
2. What physical problem does Job suffer?
3. Why does Job's wife want him to curse G-d and die?
4. How does Job react to his wife?
5. How did Job's friends react when they saw him?
6. Why did they not talk to Job for seven days?
7. Why did Job curse the day of his birth?
KEY POINTS OF CHAPTER FOUR
1. Job's friends believe Job did something wrong to deserve his punishment.
2. Implications for modern day concepts of suffering.
KEY POINTS TO CHAPTER 38
1.G-d's response to Job's friends that they were not with G-d when He created
the universe. Therefore, how could they know why G-d causes people to suffer?
JEWISH VALUES MATRIX-We discussed in class the following values: (these values
relate to our course curriculum for term 2 which emphasizes moral and ethical
issues in addition to our program dealing with spirituality).
AHAVAT HABRIOT- Love of all of G-d's creations
AREVUT- Jews are responsible for each other
CHILUL HASHEM- Desecration of Hashem's name
DERECH ERETZ- proper behaviour
HAKARAT HATOV- gratitude
HALBANAT PANIM-do not humiliate people in public
HOCHEACH TOCHIACH- rebuke people
KEDOSHIM TIHYU-you shall be holy
KIBUD AV VA'EM-honouring of parents
LIFNEI IVER- do not mislead people
LO TAAMOD AL DAM RAECHA- help somebody in need
LO TELECH RACHIL- do not gossip
LO TIKOM VELO TITOR-do not bear a grudge/ do not take revenge
MIPNEI SEIVA TAKUM- respect for the elderly
ONAAT DEVARIM- use of hurtful words
PIKUACH NEFESH-saving of a life
SHALOM BAYIT- harmony in the home
TZELEM ELOKIM-image of G-d in all of us
VEAHAVTA LEREACH KAMOCHAH-love your neighbour as yourself
FINAL EXAM REVIEW YOU MAY FIND ON MY WEBSITE IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT HAND CORNER:
FINAL EXAM GRADE 8 JUNE 2012
JEWISH VALUES MATRIX (taken from Panim website, www.bbyo.org/panim). Below is
a quick reference for each of these values.
JEWISH VALUES MATRIX
Adam Yachid – אָדָ ם י חִ יד – a single human being – The rabbinic concept
that one human being was
created originally so that no one can say, ‘my father was greater than your
father.’ In other words, every human
being is unique and inherently precious (M ishna Sanhedrin 4:5).
Ahavat Ger – אַהֲ בַ ת גר – love of “the stranger in your midst” – A series of
laws insisting on
compassionate behaviour towards strangers, empathy with foreigners, and their
inclusion in every aspect of
society (Exodus 22:20,;23:9; Deuteronomy 16:14; Tractate on Strangers, Minor
Tractates of Talmud).
Ahavat Ha-Beriot – אַהֲ בַ ת הַ בְּ רִ יוֹת – love of all of God’s creations – A
principle that encourages
appreciation for the world and all of its inhabitants (Leviticus 19.18; Avot
of Rabbi Nathan 16).
Anei Ircha Kodmin = עַנִיֵי עִ ירךָ קֳדְמ יִן = “the local poor are the priority”/
The concept that your
primary tzedakah responsibility is to those closest to you (your family, then
the poor of your city, then the poor
of other cities). (Bava Metzia 71a)
Arevut – עֲ רֵ בוּת – the concept that Jews have a special obligation to other
Jews – A series of ideas and
laws encouraging commitments of mutual aid and devotion among Jews (Sanhedrin
27b; Shevuot 39a).
Bakesh Shalom V’Rodfehu – בַּ קֵ שׁ שָׁ לוֹם ו רוֹדְ פֵ הוּ – seek peace and pursue
it – The obligation to actively
reduce conflicts. A series of laws and ethical teachings advocating peace,
conflict resolution methodologies, and
prohibiting violence against the innocent (Psalms 34:15; Chapter on Peace,
Minor Tractates of the Talmud).
Chesed, Rachamim – חֶ סֶ ד, רַ חֲ מִ ים – compassion, especially for those who
are disadvantaged or
vulnerable (Zechariah 7:9; Hosea 2:21; Sabbath 151b; Bezah 32b; Sotah 14a).
Dan L’Kaf Zechut – דָ ן לְ כַּ ף ז כוּת – the presumption of innocence – We
should never initially believe
someone has acted wrongly, even if it may be difficult to find merit in their
actions (M. Avot 1:6).
Darchei Shalom – דַ רְ כֵ י שָׁ לוֹם – ways of peace – Talmudic rulings intent on
preserving societal peace and
maintaining positive inter-ethnic relations; includes directives to feed the
poor of the gentiles and care for their
vital needs (M. Shevi’it 4:3; Gittin 61a).
Derech Eretz – דֶ רֶ ך אֶ רֶ ץ – proper behaviour – We must behave in a
respectful, socially acceptable manner
when interacting with others, including family members (Shabbat 114a; Yoma
4b; T.B. Hullin 84a).
Hakarat HaTov – הַ כָּ רַ ת הטוֹבָ – [recognition of good]; gratitude – Much of
Judaism is based upon the
principle of gratitude and thanksgiving (Comments of Rashi on Exodus 7:19 and
Hakaim Takim Imo – הָ קֵ ם תָּ קִ ים עִ מּוֹ – you shall surely lift up with him –
A law designed to encourage
aid to one in distress, even one’s enemy (Exodus 23:4; T.B. Baba Metzia 32a).
Halbanat Panim – הַ לְ בָּ נ ת פָּ נ ים – avoidance of humiliating someone in
public – The loss of personal
dignity at the hands of others is considered one of the gravest wrongs in
Judaism, akin to murder (T.B. Moed
Katan 9b; T.B. Baba Mezia 58bff.; Tractate Kallah, Minor Tractates of the
Hochai’ach Tochee’ach – הוֹכֵ חַ תּוֹכִ יחַ – you shall rebuke – The obligation to
be a social critic when you
see that society or individuals are making terrible mistakes. Such criticism
is viewed as an expression of care
for others (Leviticus 19:17; Genesis Rabbah 54).
K’vod Nashim – כְּ בוֹד נָ שׁים – the honor of women – A rabbinic value and law
designed to encourage the
dignity and honor of women (T.B. Baba Metzia 59a; T.B. Yevamot 62b).
Kupah – ( קֻ פָּ ה (תַּ מְ חוּי, פּלאַטעֶ ן – community fund for the needy – It is
the obligation of every Jewish
community to establish a communal agency to collect resources and distribute
them to the needy (M. Avot 2:7).
Lashon Harah, Rechilut – לָ שׁוֹן הַ רָ ע, רְ כִ ילוּת – tale bearing – Rechilut
prohibits statements which are not
true, whereas lashon harah expands this prohibition to include even factually
truthful speech if it might possibly
malign an individual or ruin a reputation. The gravity of the offence results
from the fact that it is nearly
impossible to retract these types of statements (T.B. Erchin 15b; Maimonides,
Mishneh Torah, Laws of De’ot, chapter 7).
Lifnei Iver Lo Titen Michshol – לִ פְ נ י עִ וּ ר לא תִּ תֵּ ן מִ כְ שׁוֹל – do not
place a stumbling block before a
blind man – Applied to the sin of keeping someone in ignorance from
information that will protect him/her, or
to the sin of making it easier for someone else to commit crimes (Leviticus
19:14; Maimonides, Book of
Commandments, neg. 299).
Lo Ta’amod Al Dam Rei’echa – לא תַּ עֲ מוֹד עַ ל דָ ם רֵ עֶ ךָ – do not stand by the
blood of your neighbor
– The prohibition against passivity in the face of violence to others
(Leviticus 19:16; T.B. Sanhedrin 73a).
Mishpat, Din – מִ שְׁ פָּ ט, דִּ ין – justice, law – A foundational set of
rabbinic assumptions about the need for good
government and a just legal system (Zechariah 8:26; M. Avot 1:18; 3:2;
Deuteronomy Rabbah 5; Sanhedrin 7a, 8a).
Pidyon Sh’vuyim – פִּ דְ יוֹן שְׁ בוּי ים – the redemption of captives – The
obligation to do everything in one’s
power to help release people who are trapped and suffering in some way
(Isaiah 58:6; 61:1; Baba Bathra 8a;
Talmud Yerushalmi Gittin 4:4; Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the
Pikuach Nefesh – פִּ קוּחַ נֶפֶ שׁ – the saving of life – The highest Jewish
obligation that overrides almost
every other law (Yoma 85b; Sanhedrin 4:5; Baba Mezia 62b).
Rodef – רוֹדֵ ף – pursuer – The obligation to actively intervene to prevent
the murder or injury of innocent
victims, even to the point of killing the aggressor (Leviticus 19:16; T.B.
Shalom Bayit – שָׁ לוֹם בָּ י ת – for the sake of peace in the house – The need
to ensure that there are peaceful
relations in one’s home and family. This can also be extended to one’s
synagogue, workplace, or community
(Sanhedrin 76b; Yevamot 62b).
Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayyim – צַ עַ ר בַּ עֲ לֵ י-חַ יּ ים – the pain of living
creatures – A set of laws prohibiting
cruelty to animals and obligating acts of compassion and proper treatment of
animals used to perform labor
(Shabbat 117b; Deuteronomy 22:9).
Tzedakah – צְ דָ קָ ה – righteousness; charity – One of the best known aspects
of Jewish communal and religious
life, encompassing a wide range of Biblical, Rabbinic and medieval
institutions of Judaism (T.B. Bava Batra 8b).
Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof – צֶ דֶ ק צדֶ ק תּרְ דוֹף – justice, justice, you must
pursue – The obligation to actively
promote justice (Leviticus 19.36; Deuteronomy 16.20; Zechariah 8.16-17; M.
Tzelem Elohim – צֶ לֶ ם אֱ להִ ים – image of God – The foundational principle
of Jewish ethics that every
human being is created in the image of God and must be treated accordingly
(Genesis 1:27; Genesis Rabbah 24).
Umot ha-Olam – אוּמוֹת הָ עוֹלָ ם – other nations of the world – A set of
principles recommending care and
respect for gentiles, especially those who are vulnerable or in need
(Kiddushin 33a; Pesachim 113b; Berachot 17a).
Ush’martem Et Nafshotaichem – וּשְׁ מַ רְ תֶּ ם אֶ ת נ פְ שׁוֹתֵּ יכֶ ם – and you shall
protect your health – The
obligation to protect the general health of oneself and one’s society
(Deuteronomy 4.15; Maimonides, Mishneh
Torah, Book of Knowledge, Laws of De’ot, chapter 4).
V’Shinantam L’Vanecha – ו שִׁ נּ נ תָּ ם לְ בָ נ יךָ – and you shall teach your
children – The mandate to teach
and transmit the Torah to one’s own children, one of the most important tasks
of any Jewish parent
(Deuteronomy 6:7; Maimonides - Laws of Talmud Torah).
Yatom, Almanah – י תוֹם, אַלמָ נ ה – orphan, widow – Series of laws obligating
special care for orphans and
widows (Deuteronomy 24:17; Isaiah 1:17; T.B. Ketubot 50a; Maimonides, Mishneh
Torah, Book of Knowledge, Laws of