‘What does the Lord require of you?’ (Micah 6.8)
Jewish ethics are not a set of rules but a response to this question.
1. They are the society’s pattern for moral living. They were given to a community for its moral action direction and unity.
2. They are set in a faith context – ‘I am the Lord your God.’
3. And within the context of the covenant – ‘I brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.’
Paraphrased the 10 commandments read:
1.Worship no god but me
2.Don’t make yourselves images
3.Don’t use my name for evil purposes
4. Observe the Sabbath
5. Respect your Father & Mother
6. Don’t commit adultery
7. Don’t Kill
8. Don’t steal
9. Don’t accuse anyone falsely
10. Don’t desire another man’s house
Judaism teaches three ethical requirements as laid down in the PIRKE ABOTH – ‘Ethics of the Fathers’:
’By three things is human society sustained, by the Law, by worship and by deeds of kindness’.
LAW (Torah) – The Torah means instruction as well as law. It is a basis for right living and instructs in morals and religion:
’The rabbis wondered who would sit at the right hand of God. One of them said: ’It is they who come before God because of their knowledge of the Law, and because of their good deeds.’
WORSHIP – It is the response of the whole life (body & spirit) to God.
KINDNESS – The Pirke Aboth does not define the requirements but sets them in positive behaviour and are derived from the Torah. The Shema implies that you should love your neighbour as yourself. Hillel sums up:
’The pious man is he who loves the world and hallows life in such a way that his daily activities of eating, drinking, labouring, pleasure are raised to the highest level, so that all his acts are sacred and reflect the divine image.’