Personal Relationships

The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides stated that “all moral principles concern the relationship of man to his neighbour”, being “given to man for the benefit of mankind”. Therefore it can be said that the practice of these principles by each Jew is mandatory. The rabbis claimed that the wellspring of all moral values was love, keeping to the same theme of “love thy neighbour as thyself”, “hate not thy brother”, “avenge not”, “bear no grudge” and “love the stranger”. Hillel urged Jews to “let the honour of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own”, meaning that every person should be his “brother’s keeper”. In keeping with this is the warning by the Talmudic sages of the destructive consequences of slander.

The rabbis stressed the necessity for people to help each other. In order to survive, all human beings must practice mutual aid. Rabbi Akiva argued that the prior duty of every person is to him/herself in order that s/he be able to care for others.

The ideal Jew should be gentle in thought, word, outlook, feeling and action; not merely in manner. In traditional Jewish thought the opposite of gentle is angry. The Bible tells us that “He who gives way to his anger shall be considered in thine eyes as an idolator.” Gentleness in response to provocation and insult is another ideal. This is illustrated by the Talmudic saying “If others speak evil of you, make no answer.”

Compassion, humility, a spirit, forgiveness and good manners are also desirable qualities of the Jew in personal relationships.