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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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GENESIS — 1:1 began

The Rabbis teach that G-d created repentance even before He created the world. Genesis Rabbah 1:4.  G-d knew that He would endow human beings with free will, which they would sometimes misuse.  Thus, G-d needed to provide humankind with a way to atone for and correct wrongful behavior. Without a process such as teshuva (repentance), even good people would be overwhelmed by guilt, both toward G-d, Whose laws they had broken, and toward those whom they had hurt.  TELVOL 1:151
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GENESIS — 1:26 rule

Because they lack free will, the Bible regards animals as being on a lower plane than human beings; it also teaches that G-d gave human beings dominion over the animal world.  In Genesis 1:28, G-d reiterates this idea in His blessing to humankind.  These verses are viewed in the Jewish tradition as a warrant for human beings to use animals for labor (for example, on farms), to benefit from animals (such as through using wool shorn for sheep, and through necessary medical experiences conducted on animals; and to use animals for food (though permission to do so was only given later).  On the other hand, because animals are sentient creatures with emotions and in many cases with strong familial feelings, they must be treated with compassion.  Dominion, as an examination of biblical and other Jewish teachings reveals, does not mean that human beings man rule over animals without restraint.  TELVOL 1:300-1
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

[One of the sources of humility] is the awareness that every human being with whom we interact is created in G-d’s image, and therefore as valuable as we ourselves.  The Talmud records the story of a man who came to Rava, the fourth-century sage, with a most disturbing moral dilemma: The governor of his town had ordered him to murder an innocent person; if he refused to do so, he himself would be put to death.  When the questioner asked Rava whether he was permitted to kill the man in order to save his own life, the rabbi answered, “What reason do you have for assuming your blood is redder [than the other person’s? Perhaps his blood is redder” (Pesachim 25b).  Indeed, by killing another, we may make ourselves less worthy of living than our victim.  Another ramification of this Talmudic teaching: Don’t exploit others, as historically was done through slavery, and as is done today by those who overwork, underpay, or otherwise wrong their employees.  How can one assume that one’s blood is more precious than the blood of those whom one mistreats?  This teaching has implications in far less serious areas than matters of life and death and exploitation.  For example, a humble person will not push ahead of someone else in line.  Rather, he will think, “What gives me the right to assume that my time is more valuable than his?”  TELVOL 1:213-4
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

Even prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Bible underscores the paramount significance of the ethical.  Thus the Torah’s opening chapter teaches that human beings are created “in the image of G-d.”  In Jewish thought “in G-d’s image” is understood as meaning that human beings are like G-d, and unlike all other living creatures, in that they know good from evil (see, for example, Genesis 3:5, 22).  It is this ability that marks human beings as unique and in G-d’s image.  TELVOL 1:13
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

Rabbi Abraham Twerski notes how healthy self-esteem enables a person to heed many important ethical admonitions of the Sages, while low self-esteem discourages one from doing so.  People with a healthy self-image: * are more apt to judge others fairly and favorably, as urged by The Ethics of the Fathers 1:6, because, unlike people with low self-esteem, they do not need to disparage others to raise themselves in their own eyes * have no need to feel superior or in control; thus they show respect and honor to others rather than demanding recognition The Ethics of the Fathers 1:10 “Despise lording it over others” and The Ethics of the Fathers 2:10 “Let your fellow’s honor be as dear to you as your own”) * tend to associate with the wise and avoid the ignorant, because they don’t need to be with people to whom they feel superior The Ethics of the Fathers 1:4 “Let your house be a meeting place for the Sages” * are likelier to welcome constructive criticism. Because they believe they can improve, such peoples are usually not afraid to have their weaknesses pointed out to them Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to advice…in order that you may be wise in the end” TELVOL 1:240
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

You, the person reading these words, are precious.  Your worth is not rooted in your wealth, physical attractiveness, or status in society, but derives from the fact that you, like every other human being, are created in G-d’s image.  During moments of self-doubt or even self-loathing, which almost all of us experience, remember the divine image inside you, and that G-d loves you: “Humans are beloved for they were created in the image of G-d. An extra measure of love is shown them by [G-d’s] making it known to them that they are created in G-d’s image” (The Ethics of the Fathers 3:14). A well-known passage in the Mishnah notes that, by originally populating the world with only one person, Adam, G-d intended to teach that each life is of infinite value: “Therefore was Adam created singly to teach us that he who saves one life it is as if he saved an entire world, and he who destroys one life it is as if he destroyed an entire world.” The Mishnah goes on to teach that each person, as Adam’s direct descendant, should say, “For my sake was the world created” Sanhedrin 4:5.  There is always some special mission for you, something in this world that only you can accomplish.  TELVOL 1:239-40
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GENESIS — 1:31 very good

In order to feel self-esteem, we must appreciate our accomplishments.  On six occasions in the opening chapter of Genesis, the Bible informs us that G-d was proud of what He had created.  For example, “G-d saw all that He had made, and found it very good.”  Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 31 The text’s unusual repetition of this phrase makes it clear that G-d took pleasure in seeing that His work was good.  In contrast, there are many people who seem to feel guilty about, or who are reluctant to take pleasure in, their accomplishments; instead they minimize them so as to make them seem insignificant.  Like G-d, however, we should be pleased to take pleasure in our accomplishments and good works, and be even more pleased knowing that we have reason to believe that those good works are pleasing to G-d.  TELVOL 1:240
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GENESIS — 2:17 die

Don’t lie even on behalf of a good cause, not only because lying is wrong, but also because people will come to doubt the truthful things you say.  Thus, G-d instructed Adam not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life in the Garden Eden.  But Adam, fearing that Eve would violate the edict, apparently told her that not only had G-d forbidden them to eat from the tree, but that He had also forbidden them to touch it.  Genesis 3:3 A Midrash, picking up on the discrepancy between G-d’s original words and Adam’s, and Eve’s claim to the snake that G-d had forbidden them to even touch the tree, teaches that the serpent pushed Eve into the tree.  When she saw that no injury ensued, she assumed that Adam had likewise lied when he told her that G-d had forbidden them to eat of the tree.  So, Eve proceeded to eat the fruit, with disastrous results.  From this we learn that even when our cause is just, we must be completely truthful.  Thus, Jewish laws forbids a person who is soliciting for a charitable cause to say that he gave a larger gift to the charity than he did, in order to influence the person whom he is asking to give a larger gift.  TELVOL 1:407
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GENESIS — 2:18 alone

When you have a problem, consult with people you know to be wise. “The more counsel, the more understanding” The Ethics of the Fathers 2:8 Indeed, one reason “it is not good for man to be alone” is that we are forced to make major life decisions without the counsel of a sympathetic friend.  For example, some years ago, a friend did something that hurt me deeply.  I wrote him an angry but, in my opinion fair, letter, then showed it to several friends before I sent it.  Two of them told me that one paragraph in the letter was too hurtfully personal.  I deleted it.  My friend responded to my letter, and apologized.  Thus the matter was resolved amicably.  To this day I am certain that had I not shown the letter to other people and followed their advice to delete the offensive paragraph, the letter would have been counterproductive and might have ended our friendship.  TELVOL 1:146-7
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