What Are the Most Important Values in Judaism? – Cape May County Herald

Posted By on August 23, 2017

I recently received a question on my Ask the Rabbi website regarding Judaisms most important values. There are so many good ones to choose from, but several that especially resonate with me as can be found in the Talmudic tractate of Yevamot 79a. The Talmud is part of Judaisms so-called rabbinic oral tradition and here is the verse from the Talmud:

The (Jewish) people are recognized by three qualities: they are compassionate, they are modest, and they perform deeds of lovingkindness.

I see this as a combination of a historical judgment and an ideal. The sage that wrote this is saying that Jewish tradition asks us to try to emulate these three qualities as much and as often as possible.

First and foremost, notice that there is no ritual performance in this list of qualities that a person must live up to. They are all moral and ethical qualities.

Compassion is a trait that covers a multitude of moral and honorable qualities. A person who is compassionate is caring, empathetic and loving.

A person who is compassionate is generally slow to anger, patient, and focused on how to help. In the Jewish heritage, action is primary. Compassion must include a strong component of reaching out and doing concrete acts of caring and helping, not just feeling good thoughts in ones heart.

Modesty refers to behavior that is reserved rather than boisterous or loud. It refers to a behavior of humility and being unpresumptuous. Too often we act out with attention-seeking behavior and lose sight of these qualities.

This Talmudic statement might serve as a useful corrective for modern societys looseness and laxity in these matters.

Acts of lovingkindness include a wide range of behaviors. Included in what is often considered the Rabbinic interpretation of Gods Top Ten acts of kindness are:

Showing hospitality to strangers

Offering consolation to the bereaved

Making peace between people

There is a special society in many Jewish communities known by the Hebrew abbreviation Gemachan abbreviation of the Hebrew words gemilut chasadimwhose mission it is to perform such acts.

Anytime you wonder what it means to be a good person; this Talmudic statement provides an answer that is sound, traditional and fulfilling.

I invite you to Cape Mays fourth annual Shabbat on the Beach prayer experience which will take place Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. in Cape May on the beach directly across from the Montreal Beach Resort.

People of all faiths are welcome to attend.

This musical experience in song and worship will include lots of singing with accompaniment of guitar, melodica (featuring the musical talents of composer and pianist Barry Miles) and the rhythm accompaniment of drums and tambourines.

Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs.

Looking forward to greeting you for a spiritual, musical experience.

I want to thank those who have e mailed me with questions or comments about my articles. If you have a question or comment, do be in touch.

With blessings of shalom,

ED. NOTE: Rabbi Isaacs is the interim rabbi at Beth Judah Temple, Wildwood. He invites questions emailed to his website http://www.rabbiron.com.

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What Are the Most Important Values in Judaism? - Cape May County Herald

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