“Life is sacred.” It is one of the essential doctrines of Judaism that they are passing on, not just to the next generations of Jews, but to every single person on Earth. It was based on God’s creation of humanity (Adam and Eve) according to his Divine image as written in the first chapter of Genesis verses 26-27.
Everything That God Created Is Special
All that we see around us is God’s amazing creation. The light, body of water, land, sun, moon, and the stars, all animals in the water, land, and air, all insects, all plants are His handiwork that we have to take care of.
All these living creatures are made in huge numbers, except for man. God created Adam alone. And after some time, God created Eve, and they together had offspring who filled the face of the earth over time.
Adam Was Created Alone But For Someone And With A Purpose
According to the Talmud, specifically in Sanhedrin 37 a, Adam was created without anyone to teach us the importance of each one of us. That if anyone destroys human life, it is considered that he ravaged the whole world. And if anyone preserves someone’s life, he has protected the world as a whole.
Adam may have been created alone, but God gave him a companion in the person of Eve. Together, they were given the task to be stewards of everything God had created. Their lives have a purpose. They were given the power to rule over them. It is a power that they should not abuse, as no human should harm anyone or anything.
We, like Adam and Eve, are individually called to be good stewards of everything around us.
But also, like Adam And Eve, we are just human, and we all fall short and sin because of free will. The virtue of free will is something that is exclusive to all human beings. God created us with characteristics and traits of a human called “nature.” It is just like how flowers bloom in the sunlight or the birds’ target and dive on to catch their prey.
The human’s inner nature is not far from what animals are like. We, too, desire for things, foods, territory, and satisfaction of innate passion. But according to the Jewish teachings, what makes us unique and extraordinary among God’s creation is that laws rule us. God has given us Divine commands for us to be able to control and change our animal nature. With these commands, God also has given us a choice if we will follow and be changed or merely maintain our animal nature. This is what makes human beings special and different from animals.
Kindness And Goodness Bring Redemption
According to Lubavitcher Rebbe, acts of goodness and kindness will bring redemption. Your actions have a huge impact on everything else around you. That’s why it is essential to be conscious and aware of your thoughts, words, and activities.
The Laws of Repentance chapter 3 verse 4 introduce the belief that we must look at the whole world as a place where the fair balance between good and evil exists. We, as individuals, also have a balance of good and evil in us. Imagine, when you do one act of goodness, you cause the balance (yours and the world) to lean towards the side of good. This could mean influencing the world to take the path to deliverance.
Thou Shalt Not Murder
We are God’s unique creation, each man and woman. It may remain a puzzle as to how and why we are created. But no one can discount the fact that we are all precious given the privilege of free will. We should never take for granted this life given to us. No one has the right to take it away just like that.
Jews are known for being rooted in their values. They are taught, even the young children, to give high regard for life. It is one of the supreme Jewish values.
Whether you are a Jew or not, murder or taking away of life is forbidden. God is always about showing compassion, kindness, and love. However, if there is someone who attempts to ruin or kill you, you must get up immediately to destroy him first according to the Talmud as inscribed in Sanhedrin 72a. The teacher of Torah even teaches that your keenness to guard yourself will save not just your own life but your enemy’s as well.
The Jews are always under intimidation, and so is the sacredness of life. To preserve life, one must be ready to defend it. Recognizing the importance of life and awareness of things that you must do to preserve it is essential to your role as a good steward to what God has made with His hands. It is not just for the Jews, but for every human being, to take on the responsibility of tipping the balance for the benefit of humankind and the world.
The world has different perceptions of the Jewish people and their teachings. But it is hard to discount the fact that their education orients an individual toward the society and other human beings. Others may call it an act of heroism, altruism, sacrifice, but to the Jewish, it is compassion and courage that could teach others and the future generation about the sanctity of life.
Loewenthal, T. (n.d.) The sanctity of human life. Retrieved from https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/291946/jewish/The-Sanctity-of-Human-Life.htm.