Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ancient World Morality vs. Talmudic (Orthodox Jewish) World Morality: Attitudes and Laws toward the *OTHER*

5th century bce Perisa under Cyrus: Laws and attitudes toward the *OTHER*

1000 years before Chazal, there was precedent for the concept of equal rights for all ethic groups. See Human Rights in 5th century bce. Perisa under Cyrus “The Achaemenid Persian Empire of ancient Iran established unprecedented principles of human rights in the 6th century BC under Cyrus the Great. After his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, the king issued the Cyrus cylinder..... The cylinder declared that citizens of the empire would be allowed to practice their religious beliefs freely. It also abolished slavery,....... These two reforms were reflected in the biblical books of Chronicles and Ezra, which state that Cyrus released the followers of Judaism from slavery and allowed them to migrate back to their land. ...[Most significant] In the Persian Empire, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were also given the same rights, while women had the same rights as men.

3rd century bce. India: Laws and attitudes toward the *OTHER*

3rd century bce. India, 700 years before Chazal, provides another interesting contrast to Talmudic morality and laws See Human Rights in 3rd century bce. India “The Maurya Empire of ancient India established unprecedented principles of civil rights in the 3rd century BC under Ashoka the Great. During his reign, he pursued an official policy of nonviolence (ahimsa) and the protection of human rights, as his chief concern was the happiness of his subjects. The unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished, such as sport hunting and branding. Ashoka ……. offered common citizens free education at universities. He treated his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics or caste, and constructed free hospitals for both humans and animals. Ashoka defined the main principles of nonviolence, tolerance of all sects and opinions, obedience to parents, respect for teachers and priests, being liberal towards friends, humane treatment of servants, and generosity towards all. These reforms are described in the Edicts of Ashoka.
In the Maurya Empire, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups also had rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war was also condemned by Ashoka. Slavery was also non-existent in ancient India.

5th Century Talmudic (Orthodox Jewish) Laws toward the *OTHER*

For a complete exposition of all the relevant sources and halachas see here

1.Killing a gentile (even an idolater, without a court hearing) in peaceful times
is forbidden. However, a Jew who murders a gentile (even in peaceful times and even intentionally) is not punishable by death in the human courts (under normal circumstances). According to some opinions he is not punishable at all (under normal circumstances) by the human courts. But a gentile who kills a Jew, even purely by accident and unintentionally, must be put to death. This applies to a ger toshav as well. There is a single opinion according to which a ger toshav who killed a Jew by accident is not put to death, but only goes into exile (like a Jew who killed by accident).

Mishna, Tractate Makkot 2:3, Sanhedrin 9:2, Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 57a, Avodah Zarah 13b
Maimonides, Laws of Murder and the Saving of Lives 1:1, chapter 2, 5:4, 10
Maimonides, Laws of Idolatry chapter 10

2.It is forbidden to save a gentile who is in mortal danger or cure him from a fatal condition, even for payment, unless there is a danger that a failure to do so will cause animosity towards Jews. According to one opinion it is permissible to save a gentile in mortal danger, but one doesn't have an obligation to do so. This law doesn't apply to a ger toshav, whom Jews have an obligation to sustain.

Babylonian Talmud Tractate Avodah Zarah 26a, 64b; Pesachim 21b, Rashi on Pesachim 21b
Babylonian Talmud Tractate Avodah Zarah 64b
Maimonides, Laws of Idolatry chapter 10
Tur Yoreh Deah 158, Beit Yosef Yoreh Deah 158, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 158:a, Shach Yoreh Deah 158
Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 425:5

3.It is forbidden to desecrate the Shabbat to save the life of a gentile, unless there is a danger that a failure to do so will cause animosity. There are different opinions whether this law applies to a ger toshav.

Mishnah, Tractate Yoma 8:7
Maimonides, Laws of the Sabbath, chapter 2
Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 329:2
Nishmat Avraham (Abraham S. Abraham) part 4, Orach Chayim 330:2

4.If a Jew is chasing a gentile in order to murder him, it is forbidden to kill the Jew in order to save the gentile, even if there is no other way to save the gentile's life. A person who kills the Jewish pursuer in order to save the gentile's life must be put to death. But if a gentile (or a Jew) is chasing a Jew in order to murder him, one must kill the pursuer in order to save the pursued person (if there is no other way to save his life). This law applies to a ger toshav as well.
Minchat Chinuch commandment 600

5. In a case where someone orders a Jew to kill some innocent person or else he will himself be killed: If the person he is ordered to kill is a Jew then he must not kill him,__even if it will result in his own death. If the person he is ordered to kill is a gentile, then it is permissible to kill him to save the life of the Jew (in this situation).It appears that this law applies even if the person whom the Jew is ordered to kill is a ger toshav.

Palestinian Talmud Tractate Shabbat chapter 14 14d, Maimonides, Laws of Torah Fundamentals 5:7
Rashi on Sanhedrin 74a, Amud HaYemini (R' Shaul Yisraeli) 16:8-9
Safra on Behar, parasha 5, HaTorah V'HaMitzvah (Malbim) on Safra on Behar parasha 5

6.A gentile, as opposed to a Jew, can be easily sentenced to death in a court of
law. This can be done by a single judge, based on the testimony of a single witness or on the defendant’s own addmission, with no prior warning, even if the witness is a relative [of either the judge or the victim]. This applies to a ger toshav as well.
Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 57b, Maimonides, Laws of Kings 9:14

7.The death penalty may be imposed on one (Jew or gentile) who abducts a Jew,
but not on a Jew who abducts a gentile. Sources:
Sifrei Devarim piska 273, Maimonides, Laws of Theft chapter 9

Sample:(Orthodox Jewish) attitudes toward the *OTHER*

Rabbi Abraham Issac HaCohen Kook
In the book "Orot," Orot Yisrael chapter 5, article 10 (page 156), Rabbi Kook wrote: "The difference between the Jewish soul, in all its independence, inner desires, longings, character and standing, and the soul of all the Gentiles, on all of their levels, is greater and deeper than the difference between the soul of a man and the soul of an animal, for the difference in the latter case is one of quantity, while the difference in the first case is one of essential quality."

Rabbi Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin
In the book "Poked Akarim" page 19, column 3, he wrote: "Concerning what is explained in Yevamot, 'You are called men,' and not the other nations, [the meaning is] that the Gentiles were deprived of the title 'men' only where Israel were called 'men,' because in comparison to Israel, who are the primary form of man in the Divine Chariot, it is irrelevant to call any of the Gentiles 'men'; at most, they are like animals in the form of men. Taken as themselves, however, all the children of Noah are considered men…and when the Messiah comes…they too will recognize and admit that there are none called 'man' except Israel…anyway, in comparison to Israel even now they are in the category of animals…"

The Arizal and Rabbi Chaim Vital
On the difference between souls of the Jews and Gentiles it is written in the book "Etz Chaim" (Heichal Abi'a, Sha'ar HaKlipot, chapter 2): "So we find that Israel possesses the three levels of soul (nefesh, ruach, neshama) from holiness… The Gentiles, however, possess only the level of nefesh from the feminine side of the klipot…for the souls of the nations, which come from the klipot, are called 'evil' and not 'good,' are created without the da'at [knowledge], and therefore they also lack the ruach and neshama."
In Sha'ar Klipat Noga, chapter 3, it is written: "Now you will understand what the animalistic soul of man is; it is the good and evil inclination in man. The soul of the Gentiles comes from the three klipot: wind, cloud, and fire, all of them evil. So is the case with impure animals, beasts, and birds. However, the animalistic soul of Israel and the animalistic soul of pure animals, beasts, and birds all come from [klipat] noga."