Individual and Social Responsibility

Judaism has very clear teaching about how people should be treated:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Many of the Jewish prophets wrote about social injustice:

Spare Me the sound of your hymns,

And let Me not hear the music of your lutes.

But let justice well up like water,

Righteousness like an unfailing stream (Amos 5:23-24).

Yet you ward off [the thought of] a day of woe

And convene a session of lawlessness.

They lie on ivory beds,

Lolling on their couches,

Feasting on lambs from the flock

And on calves from the stalls.

They hum snatches of song

To the tune of the lute-

They account themselves musicians like David.

They drink [straight] from the wine bowls

And anoint themselves with the choicest oils-

But they are not concerned about the ruin of Joseph (Amos 6:3-6).

Judaism believes it is a religious responsibility to try to help anyone or any country in terms of money and development. Jews should fight injustice in whatever way they can and make financial contributions to help people.

Jews should give a tenth of their wealth as tzedaka (righteousness). This money is owed to the poor and so if it is not given it is robbing them. Even the poorest people should try to give tzedaka.

The best way to give tzedaka is to lend money to them indefinitely and without interest. By doing this people are saved the embarrassment of taking a gift. The hope is that the money will help the poor to become self-supporting.

This view of life has been demonstrated by the many great Jewish benefactors.

The experience of the 20th century Holocaust has also had considerable significance for Jewish outlooks on the world and issues of injustice.

Download the entire essay here

Judaism

.pdf

383.4 KB

Download resource