What are some major principles of judaism?
- Relative importance of Torah-Commands: Judaism holds that the Torah is eternal, including its laws, its ethics and its beliefs. The rabbis treated moral/ethical and ritual commandments with equal respect. Rabbinical Judaism, whose main record of tradition is contained in the Talmud, takes a unified view of the halakhic (Torah-law) system, according to which no greater intrinsic importance is place on any one mitzvah (Torah-commandment) over another.
- How is the Torah interpreted? The legal methodology of Midrash Halakha, whereby the rabbis have ruled upon new questions basing themselves on Torah-verses and ancient precedents, is based on thirteen rules of scriptural interpretation (these can be found in the Hebrew prayerbook, right before the Baruch She'amar prayer in the morning service). As a consequence, halakha (law) derives from an ongoing process of Biblical exegesis that is tempered by previous accepted practice.
- The authority of Halakha: In Jewish tradition there is no independent source outside of the halakha (the laws of the Torah). Though many explanations may be given concerning each mitzva (command), at the fundamental level the laws of the Torah should be obeyed because they reflect the will of God (Talmud, Berakhot 33b).
- The scholarly approach to halakha begins, of course, with the words of the Torah itself, which contains (for example) prohibitions against killing, injuring, endangering, causing monetary or property damages, stealing, slandering, coveting, adultery, cruelty to animals, and interfering with nature's course. The Torah also includes the positive injunctions to love God, love the stranger, love your fellow as yourself, pursue justice, feed and clothe the needy, practice kindness, etc. Such Biblical principles led the Prophets and the rabbis to an overarching affirmation of the sanctity and dignity of human life, the respect for and kindness to all of God's creatures, and a general deference to natural law as a reflection of the Divine plan.
- Torah-ethics in practice: Orthodox ethicists rely on rabbinic legal precedent as the authoritative source for deciding controversial moral and ethical questions. For one example, when discussing organ transplants, Jewish ethicists do not refer to theological questions about the nature of the human soul, body or organs. Rather they turn to rabbinic codes and responsa that discuss, in a legal and medically practical vein, issues of endangering or preserving life. In such cases, Judaism is not as concerned with theology, as it is with the pragmatic questions of how to fulfill the laws of God, including areas of belief, morals and faith, as well as the day-to-day commands.
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Tikkun olam - to repair the world. And the idea of mitzvot -
good deeds - it is not enough to speak of goodness, we must act to
accomplish good. And one of the best ways to do that is through the
study of Torah - one who studies Torah and brings that back into
the world is living it!!