Moral Matters

Moral Matters are one of three focus areas Torah Judaism delineates in human activity:

  1. Bein adam leMakom - between a person and Hashem (God) - (See Definition of Ritual)
  2. Bein adam lechaveiro - between a person and their fellow person - interpersonal (see Jewish Ethics)
  3. Bein adam leatzmo - between a person and themselves – intrapersonal
Moral matters start with you - a woman ticking that statement

From a Torah perspective, moral matters refers to bein adam leatzmo. As such, we are discussing the obligations and foci that a person is required to fulfil in the perfection of their relationship with themselves, ie. their inner being.

Interestingly enough, this aspect to morals, means that it is a totally personal avoida (spiritual service) that might never be revealed in worldly interaction and might in fact never be known to anyone else.

Moral Matters in the Torah

The Chazal (Chachamim zichroinam livracha – Sages of blessed memory) on the mitzvah of going in Hashem’s ways (Devarim 11:22) explain, just like He is merciful, so should you be merciful ... (Sifri 11:22.)

To be merciful is a classic mitzvah (commandment) bein adam leatzmo. Having mercy means empathising with another person or creature within oneself. If it leads to any action on one’s part to assist the other that is good, but is not an element in this mitzvah.

So the Torah commands a Jew to make himself or herself a person who has mercy and this, by definition, is a moral person.

How does one become such a person if one is not naturally so and how does the Torah command such a thing? 

Like any other human pursuit, one needs to start with a mental effort to change, find sources for catalysing the change and then set about the hard work of thinking and acting in accordance with the goal.

This aspect of Torah observance is probably the hardest to achieve because, whilst behaviour patterns can and must be utilised to influence one’s inner being, the change is internal and very hard to quantify. 

The umbrella term for personal character traits is midos. The root of this word means measurement. This connection becomes clear when we see that this endeavour is how we can measure the real person. 

The following article relates to the subject of morals:

  • Moral development - Discover a fundamental tool for moral development from a verse in Tehillim and learn how to utilise the festival cycle to implement this.

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