“Jewish thinkers don’t talk all that much about love. All too often we leave that to Christian theologians. But in this excellent volume, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin puts the commandment to love at the center of Jewish theology and experience. This is a book that will change the way you think about–and practice–Judaism.”
–Professor Ari L. Goldman, Columbia University, and author of The Search for God at Harvard
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the best-known commandment in the Bible. Yet we rarely hear anyone talk about how to apply these words in daily life. In this landmark work, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, one of the premier scholars and thinkers of our time, gives both Jews and non-Jews an extraordinary summation of what Jewish tradition teaches about putting these words into practice.
Writing with great clarity and simplicity as well as with deep wisdom, Telushkin covers topics such as love and kindness, hospitality, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, charity, relations between Jews and non-Jews, compassion for animals, tolerance, self-defense, and end-of-life issues. This second volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics written in the English language is breathtaking in its scope and will undoubtedly influence readers for generations to come. It offers hundreds of practical examples from the Torah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and both ancient and modern rabbinic commentaries–as well as contemporary anecdotes–all teaching us how to care for one another each and every day.
A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 2: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself is a consummate work of scholarship. Like its acclaimed predecessor, which received the National Jewish Book Award, it is rich with ideas to contemplate and discuss, while being primarily a book to live by. Nothing could be more important in these strife-torn times than learning how to love our neighbors as ourselves. The message of this book is as vital and timely now as it has been since time immemorial.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 2|
|Release Date: 02-10-2009|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 2
THE MAJOR PRINCIPLE OF THE TORAH
The central commandment
1. Even though the Torah ascribes no special significance to the verse “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Jewish sources have long understood this commandment as having special—and in some ways preeminent—significance. Rabbi Akiva (second century) declared that the injunction to love your neighbor “is the major principle of the Torah” (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9:4).
2. More than a century before Akiva, Hillel presented a negative formulation of this law, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” He also declared this to be Judaism’s central teaching: “This is the whole Torah! All the rest is commentary” (Shabbat 31a).* Occasionally, I have heard people describe Hillel’s formulation of the Golden Rule as representing a lower, more pragmatic ethic than the positive but vaguely phrased “Love your neighbor.” But, in fact, Hillel was concerned with offering people practical guidance on how to make this law part of their daily behavior, and he understood that it is first necessary to teach people what not to do.
In defining Judaism initially by what one shouldn’t do, Hillel may have been emulating God’s articulation of the Ten Commandments. Thus, my friend Dr. Isaac Herschkopf notes that “God did not command us to be honest, truthful, and faithful. Rather, He commanded us, ‘Don’t steal,’ ‘Don’t bear false witness,’ ‘Don’t commit adultery.’ It might be less positive, but it is undeniably more effective.”
*For more on the