There probably aren’t very many people outside of the Jewish community who are familiar with traditional Jewish values. But I believe if more people understood and applied these universal values to how they lived their lives, it would change the world.
You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate Jewish values.
Especially in today’s world.
Over the past two years, since a worldwide pandemic hit the scene, life hasn’t been the same. Here we are, two years later, and the pandemic is still raging. China has once again shut down its economy and others are still crippled because of the pandemic.
But the pandemic isn’t the only thing that’s taking the world by storm.
The threat of famine, inflation, high gas prices, and intense weather conditions, are all signs the world needs relief. And that doesn’t even touch the issue of Russia invading Ukraine as the world watches in horror.
Relief comes when we choose to see the world from a different perspective.
For me, I see the world differently because of the pieces of Judaism that are most important to me, like the Seven Jewish Values of an inclusive community.
These are the values I grew up with, and the values that I have passed down to my own children. It’s not about religion, it’s about being the good in the world, and being the good for the world. These values have helped to define my journey.
The Jewish Value of Kavod (Respect)
Kavod is about treating ourselves and others with respect, including strangers. It is regarding the rights, dignity, and feelings of others, and respecting and valuing people’s differences, rather than ostracizing them and judging them because of those differences.
By applying this value, there would be less contention, fewer wars, and more respect for one another.
The Jewish Values of Shalom Bayit (Peace in the Home)
Shalom Bayit reminds us that we all need to have a safe space where we feel comfortable and respected. It is about learning how to settle disagreements respectfully, and with dignity. This idea goes beyond our own homes and drives how we treat one another in our synagogues and other community events.
By applying this value, the world would be more tolerant, less judgmental, and increasingly kind.
The Jewish Value of B’tzelem Elohim (In God’s Image)
We are taught that we are all in the image of God, which guides how we treat others. If we see the image of God in others, we can see the good and the humanity in all people.
By applying this value, we would focus more on the good we see in others and in ourselves. Because what you look for, you will find.
The Jewish Value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh (Communal Responsibility)
This literally translates to “All Israel is responsible for one another.” This means that we have the responsibility to take action to make the world a better place. We also have the responsibility to inspire others to take positive actions as well.
If we applied this principle, we would each look for the needs of the world and do our best to fill those needs. There would be fewer poor and more community connections. The world would become a better place one kind act of service at a time.
The Jewish Value of Sh’mirat Halashon (Guarding one’s use of language)
In the Jewish community, we learn that our words matter. They can hurt others, or they can heal, depending on what words we use. Speaking about others behind their backs can be damaging and is wrong. We need to be aware of the language we use.
If we applied this value, we could use our words to build people up and strengthen them. Rather than using our words to create contention or tear people down.
The Jewish Value of V’ahavta L’reiacha Kamocha (Love your neighbor as yourself)
This is fundamental to Judaism. It starts with loving ourselves. If we wholly love and accept who we are, we gain the ability to extend that love and genuine acceptance to others.
If we applied this value, love would heal so many relationships, including the relationship we have with ourselves.
The Jewish Value of Al Tifrosh Min Hatsibur (Solidarity)
Everyone needs to be part of a community. We should never isolate ourselves, even if we feel that we are different from others. We all need to find allies and friends to support us in our times of trial. And when we see someone struggling, we should strive to be that ally and support for them.
If we applied this value, we could eradicate loneliness and strengthen one another through unity and connectedness.
It’s the lessons I’ve learned through the Jewish culture that I treasure the most.
It’s knowing that what I do matters and that I have a real responsibility to make a difference for someone else. I hope that if I can see the world just a little bit differently, and share that perspective with others, maybe someone else will see the world a little bit differently too.
I don’t look at Judaism and believe that everyone should be Jewish.
Judaism has taught me that I need to respect everyone for what they believe and for who they are. I hope that others will respect me as well. Being Jewish has allowed me to appreciate the world and its people. The world is full of differences, and it’s those differences that make us stronger.
We all have our own belief system, and people should believe what they want to. For me, Judaism isn’t only about what I believe, it’s about the values I hold dear and has everything to do with the importance of family and repairing the world.
Our world definitely needs repairing.
These 7 Jewish values have motivated me to always do my very best to make a positive difference in the world.
By sharing this part of who I am, I hope it provides a new perspective that you may have never recognized before as you seek to repair the world.
The world needs healing—and applying these 7 Jewish values is a great way to help that healing happen.