Jewish teachings on law and morality relationship

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jewish teachings on law and morality relationship

Judaism: beliefs about love and sex to be celibate because marriage and the family are such an important part of Jewish teaching. Once people are married, sex is controlled by the laws of niddah (sexual purity). Religion and Ethics. The Jewish relationship with God is a covenant relationship. The Jews keep God's laws; The Jews seek to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives. to set an example of holiness and ethical behaviour to the world. The halakhah [Jewish law]endowed the spoken word with legal force and in the area of vows and oaths applied the biblical teaching: “He shall not breach The morality of Judaism includes concern for man's relationship to all living creatures.

The "immorality" of the people was in reality their "illegal" behavior. The major shift which distinguishes the literary prophets from their predecessors was that the notion of corporate legal-moral responsibility was given a vital new component.

jewish teachings on law and morality relationship

In the Pentateuch, national doom was threatened for cultic sins in particular and for neglect of the divine commandments in general. The prophets introduced the notion that the most decisive factor in the corporate fate of the nation was that aspect of mandated legal-moral behavioral norms which encompassed social relations.

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Thus when Amos threatens national doom and exile, he speaks of the sins of the normal life context, of social, economic, and political behavior, but maintains complete silence with regard to the sin of idolatry.

In Isaiah and Micah too, the threat of national destruction is created by social corruption — the violation of the legal-ethical behavioral norms of everyday life. Failure to observe the divine command results in the corporate punishment of the nation whether the sin is cultic or legal-moral in nature. The Talmudic Period There was not yet any development of a specific moral order as distinct from the legal system in the talmudic period. However, it is already clearly recognized in tannaitic literature that legal sanctions could not enforce every form of behavior which was morally desirable.

Indeed the Mishnah and Tosefta make occasional references to situations where, despite justification, one party lacks any legal recourse against the other and "… he has nothing but resentment [taromet] against him" e.

This recognition of a gap between sanctionable behavior and behavior which though desirable is not enforceable produced three types of relationships between the two realms: Two terms in particular were often used to indicate the presence of a moral interest as the basis for tannaitic legislation: This term is a composite, indicating that the legislative purpose of the statute is the prevention of communal conflict which would result from some immoral practice not otherwise limited by law.

The specific forms of immoral behavior viewed by the tannaim as likely to produce communal conflict included unequal distribution of religious honors, threat to the good reputation of a group or an individual, taking by force where property rights are uncertain, unearned benefit from the labor or initiative of another, and the exclusion of groups from societal privileges and responsibilities.

In all of these instances, the methods used to avoid the conflict were either to legalize a status quo which was both orderly and fair, or to extend legal rights to situations or persons otherwise excluded e. This tannaitic term is also a composite, reflecting the presence of a moral interest being translated into an enforceable legal norm.

The unique character of the situations governed "for the benefit of society" is that the moral interest involved, while produced by an existing or incipient legal relationship, affects primarily persons outside the relationship itself.

The legislation affecting that relationship is thus primarily designed to have general communal benefit. The amoraim did not themselves use darkhei shalom or tikkun ha-olam as bases for further translation of morality into law. However, their awareness that in tannaitic legislation morality was being used as a source of law is clearly indicated through their use of the notion of the prevention of hostility mi-shum eivah as a legislative end. While no legislation in tannaitic literature is described as having been designed to prevent hostility, the amoraim often ascribe that very purpose to tannaitic legislation.

The source of the ill-feeling would be the inequality resulting from the husband's being obliged to support his wife without being entitled to ownership of whatever she earns. This recognition that legislation based on the tendency of ill-feeling to undermine an existing relationship was an attempt to cure legislatively the underlying inequality led the amoraim to limit the application of the statute to those situations where its motivating moral interest was relevant.

Thus where the marital relationship is in any case about to be terminated, ill-feeling may be a matter of indifference BM 12band further, where the relationship must be terminated by law, ill-feelings between the parties may actually be functional Yev. The role of morality as a source of law continued into the legal work of the amoraim themselves, although it shifted from the realm of legislation to that of juridical interpretation.

Two standards of moral behavior, one positive and one negative, predominate in this amoraic process: Two amoraic laws are based on this verse: In both casesdoing the "right and good" involves the restoration of a legal right which a person had lost through no fault of his own. The fact that "pleasantness" was viewed as a basic characteristic of biblical law dictated to the amoraim the rejection of any juridical interpretation which could lead to the establishment of a law that could cause either the loss of personal dignity or injury to a marital relationship e.

There are occasions which arise in any legal system where, despite the existence of a law prohibiting certain action, the hands of the court are tied because of evidentiary or procedural principles.

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The absence of enforcement in such instances, while producing an inequity in that particular case, could only be remedied by the abandonment of a principle which on balance is of value to the legal system. An entire codex of such situations where "his case is passed on for divine judgment" is found in Tosef. For the reverse formulation, see BB 8: In such cases the amoraim suggest that a man assume liability upon himself if "he wishes to fulfill his duty in the sight of heaven. Both are literary legal fictions in that they attempt to explain tannaitic statements or actions which in reality might have been based on completely different reasons.

While the Talmud on one occasion rejects R. This device too, emerging from the school of Rav, is used consistently to resolve the disparity between existing law and the behavior of some earlier scholar e.

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While it may be the case that in each instance the scholar behaved in full accord with the law of his own time, the exemption from liability not yet having become applicable, the significance of the amoraic suggestion lies in its openness to the acceptance and desirability of such private assumption of higher standards of legal liability.

Indeed, by eradicating the time difference between the existing law and earlier behavior, the amoraim in effect maintain the viability of the entire history of legal development as a source of rules devised to produce the result most morally desirable in any particular case. Thus, while formal legislation was basically absent and no admission would be made that juridical interpretation really involved the creation of new law, such reinterpretations to create higher standards of enforceability were in fact part of the continuity of the process of the use of morality as a source of new law.

In this way the use of morality to create private, higher standards of liability has often led to the eventual adoption of those new standards as law for everyone. The unwillingness of the rabbinic mind to accept seriously any substantial gap between the two realms is evidenced by the gradual assimilation into the realm of law, of forms of behavior which were not initially enforceable but were formulated in the terminology of illegal behavior. The two prime categories in this pattern are where immoral behavior is compared to illegal action and where the seriousness of the behavior is indicated by a disproportionate penalty.

jewish teachings on law and morality relationship

The term ke-illu, in its legal usage like na'asah keusually introduces a legal fiction BM 34a; Yev. Judaism is the faith of a Community Jews believe that God appointed the Jews to be his chosen people in order to set an example of holiness and ethical behaviour to the world.

Jewish life is very much the life of a community and there are many activities that Jews must do as a community. Jews also feel part of a global community with a close bond Jewish people all over the world.

A lot of Jewish religious life is based around the home and family activities.

jewish teachings on law and morality relationship

Judaism is a family faith Judaism is very much a family faith and the ceremonies start early, when a Jewish boy baby is circumcised at eight days old, following the instructions that God gave to Abraham around 4, years ago. Many Jewish religious customs revolve around the home.

One example is the Sabbath meal, when families join together to welcome in the special day. Who is a Jew? Jews believe that a Jew is someone who is the child of a Jewish mother; although some groups also accept children of Jewish fathers as Jewish. A Jew traditionally can't lose the technical 'status' of being a Jew by adopting another faith, but they do lose the religious element of their Jewish identity.

Someone who isn't born a Jew can convert to Judaism, but it is not easy to do so. Judaism means living the faith Almost everything a Jewish person does can become an act of worship. Because Jews have made a bargain with God to keep his laws, keeping that bargain and doing things in the way that pleases God is an act of worship.

And Jews don't only seek to obey the letter of the law - the particular details of each of the Jewish laws - but the spirit of it, too. A religious Jew tries to bring holiness into everything they do, by doing it as an act that praises God, and honours everything God has done. For such a person the whole of their life becomes an act of worship.