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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 — 1:27 image

Once we appreciate that all human beings are created in G-d’s image, it is evident that a negative generalization about another religious or ethnic group, or displaying disrespect toward those who are not of our faith, is also an offence against G-d.  Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, the sixteenth-century kabbalist, explains: “This may be likened to an expert goldsmith who fashions a vessel with great skill, but when he displays his work, one of the people begins to mock and scorn it. How angry that goldsmith will be; for by disparaging his handiwork, one disparages his wisdom.  Similarly it is evil in the sight of the Holy One, blessed be He, if any of His creatures is despised” (The Palm Tree of Dvorah [Tomer Dvorah], chapter 2). Therefore, it is wrong for Jews to use terms such as shaygetz or shiksa (meaning, literally, “an abomination”) when referring to a non-Jewish man or woman. Although very few Jews are aware of just how ugly this word is, people should realize that if they are speaking in English and refer to another group in a foreign language, the word they use is probably not a term of endearment.  TELVOL 2:286-7
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GENESIS — 1:27 image

Loving, compassionate behavior extends to all humanity, and grows out of the biblical teaching that every human being, both Jew and Gentile, is created in G-d’s image.  (See also Leviticus 19:34) As the biblical prophet teaches: “Have we not all one Father? Did not one G-d create us? Malachi 2:10. Justice and tolerance, the virtues that demand from us fairness and respect, are also based on the love we should feel for those, like ourselves, created in the image of G-d.  TELVOL 2:1
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GENESIS — 1:29 food

A careful reading of the Bible suggests that G-d’s ideal diet for human beings is vegetarian, not carnivorous.  (But see also comment Genesis 4:4).  Adam and Eve, the first human beings, are commanded by G-d to limit their eating to vegetables and fruit.  Generations later, after the sins of lawlessness and violence committed during the time of Noah Genesis 6:11-13, followed by the devastating flood G-d wreaks on the world, G-d permits human beings to eat animals Genesis 9:3.  The Bible never explains why G-d now permits the eating of animals.  Perhaps He was convinced that a vegetarian diet would be too difficult nutritionally for most people to observe, or perhaps He felt that people would not observe it since meat eating is a strong desire.  The late Bible scholar Nechama Leibowitz--summarizing an argument offered by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook--explained that the permission to eat meat had less to do with nutrition than with humanity’s propensity for violence: “…after the deluge, the descendants of Noah, that is, all mankind, were permitted to be carnivorous.  Since the land had become filled with violence and man had given free rein to his worst instincts, man was no longer required to make the supreme moral exertions required to forgo the slaughter of animals. It was far more important that he should, at least, utilize what moral fiber he still possessed to refrain from killing his own kind and respecting the life of his neighbor.” (Studies in Bereshit/Genesis, page 77).  Thus it should be viewed as no coincidence that immediately following the permission to eat meat is the law ordaining capital punishment for murders: “Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed” Genesis 9:6.  On the other hand, the fifteenth century Spanish rabbi Joseph Albo argued that the slaughtering of animals was deleterious to man’s character development: “In the killing of animals there is cruelty and aggression and the ingraining in men of the negative trait of spilling innocent blood…” Sefer Ha-Ikkarim 3:15.   TELVOL 2:331
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GENESIS — 1:31 very good

The chief rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook, was a seminal figure in the movement for a meat-free diet.  While Rabbi Kook himself was not a vegetarian, he clearly believed the world, in its move toward messianic redemption, would and should evolve in this direction: “It is quite impossible to imagine that the Lord of all works, Who has compassion for all His creatures, Blessed be He, would enact an eternal law in his ‘very good’ [human beings] creation, so that the human race can survive only by shedding blood, even if only the blood of animals.”  TELVOL 2:335
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GENESIS — 2:7 man 

Judaism regards life as of immeasurable value.  In the most famous formulation of this belief, a passage in the Mishnah teaches: “Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he saved an entire world.” Sanhedrin 4:5  The Rabbis based this teaching on the fact that G-d created humankind with only one person, Adam. Had he been killed, all humanity would have been destroyed; and, if he were saved, all humanity would survive.  Because G-d deemed it worth creating the world for the sake of one person, Judaism reasons that each person’s life, like Adam’s, is of infinite value.   TELVOL 2:379-80
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GENESIS — 3:21 clothed 

Because imitating G-d is one of the Torah’s 613 commandments Deuteronomy 28:9 “walk in His ways,” the Rabbis carefully studied the Bible to find acts performed by G-d that human beings could emulate.  Thus, in the evolution of Jewish law, the two acts [of] providing clothing for those in need and arranging a burial, are regarded as among the great acts of kindness and charity that we can do for others.  TELVOL 2:139
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