Judaism and Ethics

Assessment Task – Judaism and ethics

How do the ethical teachings of Judaism contribute to an understanding of the religious tradition of Judaism as a whole?

Judaism is a lot more than what many think in terms of it being a religion; it is a way of life. There is a correct Jewish way for everything in all aspects of life and the Hebrew people believe there is a proper attitude and response to every ethical and moral issue. Ethics are concerned with human values and behaviour. Jewish ethics therefore define Jewish behaviour. The Jewish law, also known as the Halakah is the main source that Jews can refer to for their morals and ethics. Since biblical times, it has attempted to raise the moral conscience of the Hebrew people. Through advances in technology and the such, especially advances in medical technology, we now have the means to tamper and change life, but to what extent is the question. Judaism is a life-affirming and oriented religion which believes each life is of precious value, bioethics are of major importance in the Jewish faith. The teachings remain the same even if the medical technology available increases.

An ethical issue, more specifically a bioethical issue that is raised in Judaic teachings is abortion. Jews obtain their moral values from the Halakah, and the entirety of the moral law is described as the Torah, which is very similar to Islam and Christianity. From both the written and oral Torah there are four golden rules to bioethics which are; do not kill; each individual life is of infinite value and no one is more valuable then another; a person's life belongs to God; there is a duty on all to save life and heal the sick. The basic teaching in Judaism when referring to Abortion is that the mother's physical and mental health always takes precedence over the foetus. An unborn child is said to have the status of “potential human life” until most of the body has emerged from the mother. This life is valuable and may not be terminated...