Judaism and Human Rights

Front Cover
Milton Ridvas Konvitz
Transaction Publishers, 1972 - Religion - 427 pages

Areligion or a culture like Judaism, at least three thousand years old, cannot be expected to be all of one piece, homogeneous, self-contained, consistent, a neatly constructed system of ideas. If Judaism were that, it would have died centuries ago and would be a subject of interest only to the historian and archaeologist. Judaism has been a living force precisely because it is a teeming, thundering, and clamoring phenomenon, full of contrary tendencies and inconsistencies. Although there are no words or phrases in Hebrew Scriptures for "human rights," "conscience," or "due process of law," the ideals and values which these concepts represent were inherent in the earliest Jewish texts.

This volume begins with four essays on the concept of man's being born "free and equal," in the image of God. The underpinning of this concept in Jewish law is explored in Section 2, entitled "The Rule of Law." Section 3, "The Democratic Ideal," traces the foundations of democracy in the Jewish teachings in the Bible and the Talmud, which in turn influenced the whole body of Western political thought. Relations between man and man, man and woman, employer and employee, slave and master are all spelled out. Section 4 presents essays analyzing man's freedom of conscience, and his God-given rights to dissent and protest. Section 5 deals with aspects of personal liberty, including the right of privacy. Section 6, entitled "The Earth is the Lord's," deals with the Jewish view of man's transient tenancy on God's earth, his obligations not to destroy anything that lives or grows, and to share the earth's bounty with the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. Section 7 delivers an analysis of the "end of days" vision of Micah and man's continuing need to strive for peace and not for war. The volume concludes with three new essays, dealing with contemporary issues: "In God's Image: The Religious Imperative of Equality under Law"; "The Values of a Jewish and Democratic State: The Task of Reaching a Synthesis"; and "Religious Freedom and Religious Coercion in the State of Israel."

This enlarged edition is accessibly written for a general and scholarly audience and will be of particular interest to political scientists, historians, and constitutional scholars.

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Contents

Mans Dignity in Gods World
27
Judaism and Equality
33
A Common Humanity under One God
55
Many Are Called and Many Are Chosen
75
The Rule of Law
85
Editors Note
87
The Bible and the Rule of Law
89
Kingship under the Judgment of God
92
Editors Note
215
The Good Life
216
The Right of Privacy
225
There Shall Be No Poor
234
The Earth Is the Lords
247
Editors Note
249
Man as Temporary Tenant
251
Do Not Destroy
259

The Rule of a Higher Law
99
The Democratic Ideal
115
Editors Note
117
Judaism and the Democratic Ideal
119
Foundations of Democracy in the Scriptures and Talmud
140
Democratic Aspirations in Talmudic Judaism
145
Freedom of Conscience
157
Editors Note
159
Conscience and Civil Disobedience
161
Freedom of Religion Absolute and Inalienable
179
The Right of Dissent and Intellectual Liberty
190
Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
213
Ecology and the Jewish Tradition
265
Pursuit of Peace
275
Editors Note
277
The Vision of Micah
278
Human Rights in an Israeli Context
289
Religious Freedom and Religious Coercion in the State of Israel
291
The Religious Imperative of Equality Under Law
335
The Task of Reaching a Synthesis
353
Contributors
419
Index
421
Copyright

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Page 348 - I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes ? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is...
Page 14 - And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
Page 332 - In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
Page 117 - And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites : and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life : that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them...
Page 65 - Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him?
Page 221 - Thou shalt also consider in thine heart that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways and to fear him. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills...
Page 72 - When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ? And the son of man, that thou visitest him ? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor ; thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet...
Page 348 - Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
Page 135 - This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you : He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
Page 112 - But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

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