Compassion for Humanity in Jewish Tradition

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Jewish tradition teaches compassion for all people

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The following review of the book in Publisher’s Weekly quotes just a few of the many citations from Torah sources that are presented by the author, David Sears:

In order to demonstrate the depth from which Judaism speaks in a universalistic voice, Sears collects a wide range of sources from a number of periods in Jewish history. In the section on “Judaism and Non-Jews,” the Talmudic teaching of Rabbi Yochanan, “Whoever speaks wisdom, although he is a non-Jew, is a sage,” urges respect for the wisdom of other traditions. In the section on “The Chosen People,” … Midrash passages demonstrate the idea of Israel [being chosen to serve as] as spiritual model: “G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people so that all nations might benefit by it”… Finally, in a section on “Messianic Vision,” … Jewish writings state that it is the Messiah’s primary task to return the “entire world” to [the One] G-d and G-d’s teachings [in Torah]. Sears’s extensive sourcebook is a rich collection of primary writings on the role of compassion [for all human beings] in the Jewish tradition.

From the author’s Preface:

Although most of the texts cited here are not obscure, this anthology may contain some news for many readers… It demonstrates that the Jewish people were indeed chosen, but not merely to sustain themselves as fugitives of history. Instead, the Torah instructs the Israelites to be a “light unto the nations,” a model of spirituality and moral refinement that will inspire the rest of the world to turn to G-d of it’s own accord. This is one of the main forms of kiddush Hashem – sanctification of G-d’s Name…

When the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome and the last and longest exile of the Jewish people began, the nation almost despaired of its future. However, some two thousand years later, we find that the Torah’s teachings have influenced societies all over the world. And, despite a long succession of dire predictions, the Jewish people have outlived all those who sought their destruction…

It is hoped that [these answers] will promote a spirit of tolerance between those of differing world views.

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