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"Examine the ways in which according to Jewish teaching, belief in God influences human conduct."

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Introduction

Danielle White 12.1 April 2nd 03 "Examine the ways in which according to Jewish teaching, belief in God influences human conduct." Jewish ethics are not systematic, but organic, and the term ethics is not to be found in literature. They grew out of different situations; Jewish literature does not mention ethics. Judaism is often described as an ethical monotheism -- a religion worshipping one God, with strong concern for issues of right and wrong in the world. For Judaism, all ethical issues ultimately flow from the nature of God -- his righteousness, his holiness, and his love. The dominant concern of Judaism has always been the question, 'And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you?' (Deuteronomy 10:12) The bible and rabbinic literature all strive for an answer. It is particularly evident in the general statements of the prophets, and the specific mtizvot, an obligation to God. Mitzvah means commandment, it is a rule of conduct or ritual which is seen as an obligation one owes, not to any human authority but to God. Jews belief that by carrying out this obligation they are bringing themselves and the world, into closer harmony with God. ...read more.

Middle

was declared the greatest principle of the Torah, by Akiva. It is the 'golden rule'. Hillel thought this was very true and is believed to have said of this principle: 'that is the essence of the Torah, the rest is commentary.' The Golden Rule can be understood in a positive and negative sense. Negatively, it means that it is wrong to harm fellow human deliberately, in any way at all. Sanctity if life is regarded very highly, it is based creation in God's image. The rabbis were very strict regarding wrongful conviction, in order to avoid unjustly split blood: 'He who destroys a life destroys the world entire' (Sanhedrin). There are other violations of the Golden Rule which are condemned in the nineteenth chapter of Leviticus, such as not stealing and not to lie to one another. There are other revealing principles including that one's neighbour's property should be dear to one as one's own (Avot 2). All verbal wrongs and malicious talk are condemned and shaming ones neighbour equates with 'shedding blood'. There are also lots of positive action of the Golden Rule. The positive fulfillment of the Golden Rule is known in Jewish tradition as gemilut chasadim, 'the performance of deeds of loving kindness'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Employers must be just, and slavery was humanized, including Shabbat and a limited service of six years. Commerce must be conducted honestly and justly: 'You shall have just balances, just weighs, a just epah, and a just hin'. (Leviticus 19:36) It also says you must not wrong a neighbour when buying and selling. The old, widowed, poor, foreigner, orphaned, handicapped and stranger should be singled out for special help. Interest was forbidden, although it became a necessity in the middle of ages. Judaism teaches respect for nature as God's creation: 'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and those who dwell therein' (Psalms 24:1). Ibn Ezra said man is God's steward on earth. There are lots of passages on animal welfare, like one may not buy an animal if they are not able to look after it, and that one should always feed their animals before sitting down for their own meal. Hunting would not be looked on favorably. It was strongly condemned by the eighteenth century rabbi, Ezikiel Landau, in one of the response. He said: 'It is not the way of the children of Abraham, Issac and Jacob'. The Noahchide Laws teaches compassion for animals. Conservation is an obligation for one's descendents: 'As my ancestors labored for me, so I labored for my children' (Midrash). ...read more.

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