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WELCOME TO “THE ETHICAL TORAH” WEBSITE!

This website compiles thousands of Jewish ethical teachings from over 90 commentaries, each citing a Torah verse.

Detailed Excerpt Overview

Each teaching is cited by author to a specific Torah verse, thus facilitating the study of ethics and the Torah as they interrelate. Teachings often cite secondary sources (i.e. Talmud, Codes or Proverbs) and are verbatim.

Teachings are fully searchable by words and phrases, by Torah chapter and verse, by weekly Torah portion (parashah), and by author/source. Each excerpt appears w/pin-cite to its source to facilitate further study in the author's original text.

Excerpts may be studied in companion with any Chumash (Pentateuch/Printed Torah/Tanakh/Bible) or website containing the Scriptural text. Each excerpt also suggests a thematic keyword, although translations vary.

The Ethical Torah

“You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.” — Deuteronomy 6:18.

WHY THIS COMPILATION OF ETHICS COMMENTARY EXCERPTS?

Ethical behavior is central to Judaism

"Do not allow our Evil Inclination to dominate us; attach us to the Good Inclination and to Good Deeds." — Traditional morning prayer

For many Jews, especially those who engage in relatively little religious ritual, ethics is Judaism's most essential and attractive value. How are we to know, in any given situation, which behavior Judaism considers to be “the right and good” and "the paths of the just?"

How should we determine what to teach our children and grandchildren about how to behave, and how to assess our and others' conduct?
Can we trust our own emotions, our education, our self-interests, and our experience to make these determinations?
Are there standards -- forged from ethical principles and honed through thousand of years of human experience -- to learn and apply?

Exploring Ethics in Judaism


It could be argued that the entirety of Jewish law -- halachah – is an attempt to develop and teach pragmatic, livable standards, and to provide answers, based on commandments, values, and long experience, to questions of right and wrong. Our Sages, both living and of blessed memory, have much to teach us about "the right and good."

But the careful study of Jewish law is not something that most English speaking, non-Orthodox Jews will ever undertake -- or wish to. Yet, many are interested in accessing the treasure of Jewish ethics.

Nearly all books in English about Jewish ethics are organized by subject. While useful for topical research, this neither facilitates regular ethics study nor permits comparison of different ethicists' perspectives.

It is hoped that this website's organization of ethical commentary teachings in Torah-verse order will significantly facilitate ethical learning.

It should also serve as a valuable aid for those writing Divrei Torah (i.e. sermons or Torah portion introductions), as Torah verses are also immediately accessible by weekly parashah. As many of the teachings also cite Talmud and other sources, further study in primary sources is also encouraged.

An important caveat! The teachings-excerpts here are just that; incomplete representations of each author's treatment of the ethical issue. It is hoped that reading these excerpts will encourage the purchase of the authors' original work. Suggested links for this purpose are provided in the "Authors" pages.

Join Our Community and Share Your Wisdom!

Add a comment to any excerpt to start or continue a discussion. Simply use the "Comment" module at the bottom of the page when viewing a full-text excerpt as part of a "search result." All website subscribers (please use the pop-up subscription form) will be notified of comments added.


"The Ethical Torah" is not complete!

Indexing work (i.e., identification of excerpts in source texts by Torah verse) from roughly 75 books has been on-going project of many years.

For health reasons, the compiler, Rabbi Dr. Arthur Levine, is unable to complete transcription of many indexed excerpts (please see "Transcribed Sources on Search Engine page). We sincerely hope that, G-d willing, others will add to this website by using Rabbi Levine's completed Torah reference indices to transcribe and upload to this website additional excerpts, and, eventually, by indexing and transcribing excerpts from additional sources, all for the benefit of those interested in learning and teaching about Jewish ethics.

Please see the "Contributors" page for information regarding how to add obtain indices and transcribe excerpts!

READY TO BEGIN?

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The goal of this website is to gather, organize, and make accessible samples of teachings of many leading Jewish ethicists, including their citation to Scripture and rabbinic sources for further learning.

The Ethical Torah

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

To G-d, the source of all Jewish ethics.

To Jewish sages -- including the authors of excerpts included in this website -- who studied and wrote to disseminate ethical knowledge throughout the generations.

To Barbara, eshet hayil, my wife of 45 years.

To my parents, Max and Theda Levine, z"l, who modeled Jewish ethical behavior, and to my sister, Judith Ann Glick, z"l, Jewish religious school administrator, camp director, and educator.

To my teachers and mentors, including Rabbi Mel Gottlieb and others at the Academy of Jewish Religion, California.

To the builder and administrator of this website, Dylan Lopez, Web Developer at INNO Software Inc on Vancouver Island, Canada.

THANK YOU FOR VISITING

We would love to learn how you use this website and hear your ideas regarding making it more helpful. Please send any questions, suggestions, corrections, problem alerts and/or other feedback to Rabbi Dr. Art Levine and Dylan Lopez

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