For all the discussions, ancient and modern, on Jewish ethics[i] the fact remains that there is no equivalent term for ethics in the classical Jewish sources of the Bible and the Talmudic literature. Like religion, ethics is too abstract a term to be used in the very concrete Hebrew and Aramaic of these sources. As Zangwill remarked: ‘The Rabbis were deeply religious men yet they had no word for Religion.’ Yet while the actual word ‘Ethics’ never occurs in the sources there are a number of terms denoting moral conduct over and above the requirements of the Law, the Halakhah. The Halakhah is heteronomous and categorical whereas these terms refer to situations in which there is much scope for choices governed by individual character and temperament.
- derekh eretz, lit. ‘the way of the earth’.
This term refers to the way in which well-mannered, decent people generally conduct themselves. The term is universal in application. It is nowhere suggested that derekh eretz has been invented by Jews or that its practice is confined to Jews. On the contrary, Jews, as human beings, are expected to live up to the standards accepted as the norm by all human beings .The minor tractate of the Talmud, Derekh Eretz does deal with the good manners demanded specifically of the Jew but this only means that guidance is offered on how the Jew can best realise his humanity not his Jewisliness. It is true, however, that the ethical demands of the tractate are presented in a Jewish religious context. The concept derekh eretz is applied anthropomorphically even to animal behaviour in a remarkable Talmudic passage (Eruvin 100b): ‘Rabbi Johanan said: “If the Torah had not been given we could have learnt modesty from the cat, robbery [i.e.to be industrious and cooperate with others rather than steal from them] from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners [derekh eretz] from the cock who first coaxes and then mates”’. The implication is that in ethical matters the Torah simply confirms what is known in any event from the way various creatures have been formed. In similar vein is the Talmudic passage (Sotah 44a) that the Torah, in connection with exemptions from military service (Deuteronomy 20: 7), gives the order: the man who has built a house, the man who has planted a vineyard and the man who has taken a wife, in order to teach derekh eretz that a man should first build a house and plant a vineyard and then take a wife he can afford to keep. The meaning here is that the particular order is of no relevance to the Deuteronomic law itself, which simply states three exemptions, but is simply stated because that is how things should ideally be. The Midrash (Leviticus Rabbah 9: 3) states that derekh eretz preceded the giving of the Torah by 26 generations, which can only mean that derekh eretz was the universal property of all mankind independent of Revelation.
- maasim tovim , ‘good deeds’.
This expression, denoting general acts of benevolence, is usually found in association with ‘repentance’. In the so-called ‘Ethics of the Fathers’ (a common misnomer for tractate Avot in the Mishnah) we find: ‘Repentance and good deeds are as a shield in face of punishment’ (4: 11) and: ‘Better is one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than all the life of the world to come; and better is one hour of calmness of spirit in the world to come than all the life of this world’ (4:17); the latter a paradoxical saying that presumably seeks to achieve the correct balance between this-worldly and other-worldly religious attitudes. The actual term ‘good deeds’ is not found in precisely this form in the Babylonian Talmud. This expression is not to be confused with ‘Torah and mitzvot’ (e.g. in Shabbat 30a; Pesahim 50b). The essential difference between the two expressions is that the latter is legalistic, calling attention to obedience to the study and practice of the precepts, whereas the former refers to the response of the individual character.
- lifnim mi-shurat ha-din, ‘beyond the line of the law’.
This term refers to what we call ‘equity’. This term has a quasi-legal connotation. Even where the strict law does not demand compensation for an offence it is said to be good to go beyond the line of the law in order to compensate the one who has been offended. The Talmud (Bava Kama 99b) tells, for instance, of the second century teacher, Rabbi Hiyya, who advised a woman that a denar she had shown was good currency whereas in fact she was unable to spend it because it turned out to be to be a bad coin. Strictly speaking, Rabbi Hiyya had no obligation to compensate the woman for her loss since he was an expert in coin evaluation and as such was exonerated when he erred. For all that, Rabbi Hiyya did provide the woman with a good denar out of his own pocket since he wished to act ‘beyond the line of the law’.
Nahmanides (1195-1270), in a famous comment on the verse; ‘Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 6: 18) extends the concept to embrace general ethical conduct, although by so doing he can be said to be going beyond the line of the law of the beyond the line of the law, so to speak, since the whole concept in the Talmud is applied only to individual, legal cases. Nahmanides writes: ‘At first, the Torah tells us to keep the laws which God has commanded but now it goes on to say: Do that which is right and good also in matters where He has issued no command for He loves the right and the good. This is an important idea. For it is impossible for the Torah to mention all matters regarding a man’s behaviour towards his fellows and neighbours, all his business dealings and matters concerning the improvement of society and political matters. Hence, after mentioning many of them such as “Thou shalt not go about as a tale-bearer” [Leviticus 19: 16]; “Thou shalt not take revenge or foster hatred” [Leviticus 19: 18]; “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour” [Leviticus 19: 16]; “Thou shalt not curse a deaf man” [Leviticus 19: 14]; “Thou shalt rise before the hoary head” [Leviticus 19: 32] and so forth, the injunction is further given to do that which is right and good in all matters so as to include the need for compromise and to go beyond the line of the law, and, for example, the law regarding the sale of a neighbouring field [that precedence should be given to the one who has an adjacent field] and even that of which the Rabbis say that a man’s conduct should be beyond reproach and that he should speak gently to others so that he can be called right and upright in everything’.
- musar, ‘reproof’.
This all-embracing term is based on the verse: ‘Hear, my son, the instruction [musar] of thy father’ (Proverbs 1: 8).The term denotes urging people to improve their character and conduct but the appeal embraces religious as well as ethical obligations. The Musar literature produced during the middle ages covers the whole range of Jewish obligations, whether ethical or religious. Bahya Ibn Pakudah’s Duties of the Heart, for instance, is, as its title denotes, a call to inwardness in the fulfilment of the Torah in all its ramifications. The same applies to the Musar movement, founded by Rabbi Israel Salanter in the 19th century. It is, consequently, quite incorrect to translate the term Musar (this is done frequently) as ‘Ethics’. Musar only falls under the heading of ‘ethics’ insofar as every call to follow the path of duty and obligation is ‘ethical’. Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto (1707-1747) writes in his Introduction to his Path of the Upright, a foremost work of Musar, that he has not compiled the book to teach his readers things of which they have no knowledge but only to remind them of the obligations they know they have without being informed what these are: reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln’s saying that it is not the Scriptural passages he does not understand which bothers him but the passages he understands only too well.
- middot tovot, ‘good qualities’, of character.
This term is not found in the Talmud but originated in the mediaeval, moralistic literature. The word middah in itself means ‘measures’ and, so far as character dispositions are concerned, refers also to bad qualities, middot raot. A baal middot, literally, ‘master of qualities’, is, however, applied to a person with notable, good character traits. The emphasis is on these rather than the actions which inevitably result from them.
As with the term Ethics itself, the abstract term ‘values’ is not found in the classical sources of Judaism, which is not to say, of course, that there are no teachings about justice, compassion, benevolence, modesty and generosity. These and similar desirable traits, again like ethics as a whole are not advocated as specifically Jewish. When, for example, the Talmud (Yevamot 79a) states that there are three distinguishing marks of the Jewish people, they are, compassionate, bashful and benevolent, the bizarre notion is certainly not postulated that these are virtues because Jews possess them. On the contrary, the implication is that these are admirable traits in all human beings but are especially prominent among Jews who are thereby singled out as examples of true humanity. The statement is naturally hyperbolic; partaking far more of apologetics and preaching than of any assessment of human virtue. The meaning is surely, if you want to be a true Jew you must strive to realise those virtues implanted by nature into the human character. Even when it is said (Betzah 32b) of one who has no compassion that his ancestors did not stand at the foot of Sinai, the meaning is not that the Revelation created Jewish compassion but that Revelation reinforced it.
Is There a Jewish Ethic?
It follows from the above that there is no such thing as a specific Jewish ethics. Since ethics are universal it makes as little sense to speak of kosher goodness as to speak of kosher mathematics. To be sure the Halakhah contains rules about how a Jew should conduct himself ethically but that is because Halakhah, in the course of its development, has appropriated certain ethical practices to treat them as law rather than ethics. Questions such as whether artificial insemination, abortion and contraception are forbidden, belong not to ethics but to religious law. Until recent times no attempt was ever made by the Halakhists to heat such questions as whether and when a man may lose his temper or whether and when a man should be modest as falling under the scope of Halakhah.
Relevant here is Maimonides’ statement (Yad, Berakhot 11: 2) on why the special benediction over the precepts is not recited over ethical precepts such as the practise of benevolence. Solomon Ibn Adret of Barcelona (d.c. 1310), the Rashba, in a famous Responsum (No 18) explains it differently from Maimonides. According to Rashba there can be no benediction over ‘ethical’ precepts because the recipient may be unwilling to accept the act of benevolence performed on his behalf and a benediction is only recited where the act depends solely on the one who performs it. Maimonides’ analysis is quite different. Maimonides writes: ‘It is necessary to recite a benediction [“who has sanctified us with His commandments”] before carrying out a precept between man and the Omnipresent, whether the precept is obligatory or whether it is not obligatory’ (italics mine). The very popular Orthodox Bible Commentator, Baruch Epstein (1860-1942), understands Maimonides’ statement to mean that a Jew cannot say ‘who has sanctified us’ before carrying out the ethical precepts because with regard to these there is no specifically Jewish form of ‘sanctification’ since, with regard to ethical norms, Jews are no different from Gentiles. Such an interpretation is not implausible but it is better to understand Maimonides as saying that ‘who has commanded us’ is inappropriate since the Jew ought to carry out these ethical precepts not because God has so commanded but because it is right and proper for him to be the sort of person who would carry them out even if he were not commanded. The Jew who is benevolent solely in obedience to a divine command is not really benevolent. There is a divine command in these matters but the command is for him to strive to be the sort of person who is naturally benevolent.
This, I suggest, is the significance of the distinction Maimonides makes between precepts ‘between man and the Omnipresent’ (religious precepts) and those ‘between man and his fellow’ (ethical precepts). Take, as an example of the first category, hearing the sound of the shofar on Rosh Ha-Shanah, and, as an example of the second category, giving alms to the poor. Even the authority who holds that a man has fulfilled his religious obligation even without any express intention, ‘precepts do not require intention’, this only means that if a man had heard the blowing of the shofar without any intention so to do, passing by the synagogue, for instance, where the blowing takes place, he has fulfilled his obligation. But it is obviously meritorious to hear the sounds of the shofar with intention to carry out the divine command and this is the purpose of the benediction, as if to say : ‘I do this because God has commanded me to do so’ and if there were no command there would be no meaning to the act. The act gains all its significance from the fact that it is a divine command. With regard toalmsgiving, on the other hand, the ideal is for a man to be so naturally of a benevolent disposition that even if he were not commanded so to do he would still wish to help the poor. Almsgiving is an act significant in itself. With regard to a religious obligation the ideal is for the act to be carried out with the clear intention of performing God’s will. With regard to an ethical obligation the ideal is rather for a man to be ‘caught in the act’ that stems naturally from his benevolent and caring nature. Religious precepts should ideally be carried out with intention. Ethical precepts should ideally be carried out without intention or, rather, the intention should follow on the disposition not the disposition on the intention. The Jew who says: ‘I eat matzah on Passover because God has so commanded’ is a good Jew because of this very intention. Why else would be eat the matzah? But the Jew who says: ‘I give charity because God has so commanded’ is inferior in his ethical stance to the Jew who simply gets on with it.
Ethics Jewish and Humanistic
It is interesting to find two Halakhists of the old school discussing the relationship between Jewish ethical standards and the standards of a humanistic ethic, significantly enough, in the Introduction to their Responsa collections, which deal with the demands of the Halakhah. Rabbi Yitzhak Schmelkes (1828-1906), in the Introduction to his Bet Yitzhak, argues that Kant’s categorical imperative is virtually identical with the basis of Jewish ethics. He finds this notion stated in ‘Ethics of the Fathers’ (Avot 2: l): ‘Which is the right course that a man should choose for himself? That which he feels to be honourable to himself, and which also brings him honour from mankind’. It is doubtful, however, whether this saying can be interpreted in the way Schmelkes does. He also relies on the saying attributed to Hillel (Shabbat 31a): ‘That which is hateful unto thee do not do unto thy neighbour’. For all that, Schmelkes remarks, Hillel added ‘The rest is commentary, go and study’. Schmelkes understands this to mean that a humanistic ethic in itself is ineffectual in drawing up a detailed ethical scheme. The ‘commentary’ to be studied is the aspect of revelation i.e., the Torah ethic which provides the detailed rules. Thus, according to Schmelkes, the basis of ethics is not that of revelation. Man knows the distinction between good and evil and for this no revelation is required. The need for revelation is for man to know how to apply his innate feelings of the good in the details of his ethical life. Furthermore, says Schmelkes, a humanistic ethic cannot result in individual perfection, which can only be attained through ethical behaviour that is in obedience to a divine command.
Very forced is Schmelkes’s contention that the Torah says little about the cultivation of good character traits because, he maintains, if such descriptions were found in the Torah this would make them very attractive in themselves, whereas they should not be attractive but should be cultivated because God wills it so, an extremely odd notion. If Schmelkes is correct it would mean that good character traits should ideally be unattractive in themselves, the very opposite of the idea, mentioned above, that with regard to ethical conduct spontaneity alone is wholesome and it is this spontaneity that the Torah wants human beings to have with regard to the ethical life.
The second Halakhist to discuss our question is Abraham Zevi Perlmutter (d.1926), in the Introduction to his Responsa collection, Damesek Eliezer. Perlmutter admits that ethical obligations are innate but maintains that the ethical laws of the Torah go far beyond a purely humanistic ethic in the following respects.
- A humanistic ethic does urge a man not to harm his neighbours but the Torah ethic enjoins positive love of the neighbour.
- A humanistic ethic does not frown on usury, as does the Torah.
- A humanistic ethic does not demand that the life of the neighbour be saved from danger, whereas the Torah enjoins: ‘Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour’.
- The Torah enjoins love and care not only for the native but also for the alien.
- The Torah ethic enjoins a man to be a loving husband (or wife) i.e. the marriage ideal is based on revelation and is not necessarily demanded by a humanistic ethic. In point of fact, most of these are found in all Western ethical systems, though Perlmutter could argue that this is largely due to the fact that the humanistic ethics of the West owe much to the Hebrew Bible and are, in a way, the Torah ethic.
The religious dimension is added to the ethical in the Rabbinic idea of imitating God. The Sifre comments on the verse: ‘to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways’ (Deuteronomy 1 l: 21): ‘Just as He is called “Merciful” be thou merciful; just as He is called “Compassionate”, be thou compassionate’. A third century teacher spell it out in greater detail (Sotah 14a): ‘What is the meaning of the verse “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God” [Deuteronomy 13: 5]? Is it possible for human beings to walk after the Shekhinah; has it not been said: “For the Lord your God is a devouring fire” [Deuteronomy 4: 24]? But the verse means to walk after the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He. As He clothes the naked, for it is written: “And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife coats of skin and clothed them” [Genesis 3: 21], so do thou clothe the naked. The Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick, for it is written: “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre” [Genesis 18: 1], so do thou visit the sick. The Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners, for it is written: “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son” [Genesis 25: 11 ], so do thou comfort mourners. The Holy One, blessed be He, buried the dead, for it is written: “And He buried him in the valley” [Deuteronomy 34: 6], so do thou bury the dead’. The suggestion is not that clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting mourners and burying the dead are only good because of the doctrine of Imitatio Dei. The implication is rather, as suggested above, that by doing these things in the imitation of God, another dimension, the religious, is added to acts which decent human beings would do of their own accord.
Ethics and Religion
It seems to follow that, in Jewish teaching, ethics does not depend on religious beliefs and attitudes. An atheist can also be virtuous. From this point of view, the basic ethical stance is the same whether adopted by a Jew, a Christian or an atheist. Benevolence is benevolence whether practised by a Jew or a Gentile. Yet the Jewish religion does have something to say about ethics by introducing the dogmatic and the legal into some of the details of the ethical life. To make this more clear examples should be given of some of the ways in which Judaism stresses ethical conduct differently from, say, Christianity, although these emphases do not stem from different views of the ethical as such but are based on the difference in dogma between the two religions. While both Judaism and Christianity frown on divorce, generally speaking Christianity has refused to allow the dissolution of a marriage so that there can[’t] be a second marriage while the spouse is still living. The difference in this matter between the two religions is essentially because Christianity believes marriage to be a ‘sacrament’ which husband and wife vow to keep and so cannot be abolished with the marriage vow annulled. This difference owes everything to differing, dogmatic attitudes towards the rite of marriage and can hardly be said to express different ethical standards. On the question of celibacy, generally speaking, Judaism, unlike Christian monasticism, does not consider this to be in any way meritorious but this is due not to any basic difference in ethical stance but to the fact that Judaism considers procreation to be a religious duty. Both religions frown on contraception but the Christian opposition is based on the practice being unnatural while in Judaism the opposition is on the different grounds of ‘wasting seed’. These consideration are religious not ethical in nature. Both religions are concerned with the promotion of the just society but there are few if any differences regarding the means of achieving the just society and these differences cut across the religious divide in any event. Risking a generalisation, it can also be said that Judaism places greater stress on the ethical deed while in some versions of Christianity faith is greater than works. But this, too, owes much not to different ethical norms but to the Jewish, religious concept of the mitzvah (‘divine command’). As it has been said more than once, Judaism is the religion of doing the will of God.
[i] The basic theme of this study is discussed in the following works: M. Lazarus: Die Ethik Des Judenthums, Frankfurt am Main, 1899: Aharon Lichtenstein: ‘Does Jewish Tradition Recognise an Ethic Independent of Halakha?’ in: Contemporary Jewish Ethics, ed. Menachem Marc Kellner, New York, 1978, pp. 102-123; David Weiss Halivni: ‘Can a Religious Law be Immoral?’ in Perspectives on Jews and Judaism: Essays in Honor of Wolfe Kelman, ed. Arthur A Chiel, New York, 1978, pp.165-170; Louis Jacobs: ‘The Problem of the Akedah in Jewish Thought’ in: Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling Critical Appraisals, ed. Robert L. Perkins, Alabama, l981, pp. 1-9; Shubert Spero: ‘Is There a Morality Independent of Halakh?’ in: Morality, Halakha and the Jewish Tradition, New York, 1983, pp. 167-168; Menahem Kellner: ‘Jewish Ethics’ in: A Companion to Ethics, ed. Peter Singer, Oxford, 1993, pp. 82-90.
 Levy, Worterbuch s.v. veset understands this word, which occurs frequently in the Talmudic literature (e.g. of the menstrual cycle in Mishnah Niddah 1: 1) to be the Greek word ethos but only in the sense of a regular happening not in the sense of Ethics and see Jastrow, Dictionary, who gives a different etymology from the Hebrew.
 The two minor tractates, Derekh Eretz Rabba and Derekh Eretz Zuta are Geonic but contain material going back to Talmudic times, see H. L. Strack and G. Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, Edinburgh, 1991, pp. 250-251.
 Tractate Derekh Eretz Rabba, for example, opens with a statement of the laws governing religiously forbidden marriages.
 Cf Midrash Genesis Rabbah 6: 16, ed. Theodor-Albeck, p. 42 that the reason why the Roman calendar is solar and the Jewish calendar lunar is that it is derekh eretz that the descendants of Esau, the older brother, should reckon the years by the greater luminary, the sun, and the descendants of Jacob, the younger brother, by the lesser luminary, the moon.
 Thus the oft-quoted maxim ‘Derekh Eretz is prior to the Torah’ does not refer to the relative significances of the two but only to precedence in time, i.e. in history.
 Avot does contain maxims both religious and ethical but the thrust of the tractate is to describe the ‘chain of tradition’, the teachers of the Mishnah of which the tractate is part, and it is totally incorrect to call it a ‘Treatise on Ethics’.
 See, however, Kiddushin 33b where Rabbi Ezekiel is described as ‘a master of deeds’, baal maasim.
 It is astonishing that the great Talmudic scholar, J. B. Soloveitchik (Ish HaHalakhah, Jerusalem, 1979, p. 36; English translation by Lawrence Kaplan: ‘Halakhic Man’, Philadelphia, 1983, p.30) should quote the passage in Avot 4: 17 as if it read ‘Torah and mitzvot’ in support of a thesis that is, in fact, contradicted by the correct reading as in all texts of Avot.
 This is in accord with Nahmanides’ famous discussion of the command to be holy (Leviticus 19: 2) which he understands to embrace separation from the licit which, if not followed, can lead a man to be ‘a scoundrel by permission of the Torah’.
 A comprehensive work on the Musar movement is Dov Katz: Tenuat Ha-Musar, five vols, Tel-Aviv, 1956-1963, and the same author’s Pulemos Ha-Musar, Jerusalem, 1972.
 Luzzatto’s Mesillat Yesharim (translated into English as ‘The Path of the Upright’ by Mordecai M. Kaplan, Philadelphia, 1936 is a much-favoured text among the latter day Musarists.
 The sole reference to middot tovot in the Babylonian Talmud is Hagigah 9b but there the meaning is simply ‘all good things’ and has nothing to do with dispositions of character.
 God’s attributes are frequently referred to in the Talmud as middot and this is relevant to the whole question of Imitatio Dei but the term middot tovot as referring directly to human beings is not found until post-Talmudic times.
 The Biblical writers always assume that the nations around Israel are no different from the Israelites so far as the possession of the basic human qualities are concerned, see, for example, Jeremiah 6: 2 where the prophet castigates the people of the north country who ‘lay hold on bow and spear, they are cruel, and have no compassion’, and witness the prophet Amos’s denunciation of the various non-Israelite peoples for their wanton cruelty.
 An attempt was made in the 19th century by Menahem Abraham Treves (Dreifus), in his Orah Mesharim (‘The Way of the Upright Ones’, Jerusalem ed, 1969) to apply Halakhic categories to ethical questions. The subtitle of the work is, in fact, ‘A Shulhan Arukh of Character Traits’ (Shulhan Arukh Le-Middot) but for all its learning the work fails, as it was bound to do, since the majority of its sources are Aggadic and these are inapplicable to Halakhah. Cf. Louis Jacobs: ‘Halakhah and Ethics’ in A Tree of Life: Diversify, Flexibility and Creativity in Jewish Law, Oxford, 1984, chapter 12, pp. 182-192.
 Torah Temimah to Exodus 24 note 30.
 See Dov Katz: Tenuot Ha-Musar. op.cit., Vol.5, pp. l38-139 that the Musarists debated whether to recite the Kabbalistic formula: ‘For the sake of the unification’ (leshem yihud) before carrying out ethical precepts. There were those who objected to this on the grounds that benevolence and acts of kindness ought to stem spontaneously from the character and should not require the spur of religious intention. And the effect on the recipient ought to be taken into account. He will be humiliated if he overhears his benefactor saying that he helps him not because of any regard for him but because he is obliged to do so because of the religious imperative.
 Berakhot 13a.
 Bet Yitzhak, Orah Hayyim, Przemysl, 1875.
 See Charles Taylor: Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, Cambridge, 1877, pp. 41-42 for other interpretations and variant readings.
 See Rashi to the passage that ‘unto thy neighbour’ may mean literally, the human neighbour, or, more fancifully, this is not an ethical maxim at all but a religious one, the ‘neighbour’ being God!
 Damesek Eliezer, Pietrikov, 1905. On Perlmutter, a scholar whose work has unfortunately been overlooked, see EJ, vol. 13, pp. 297-298.
 Maimonides, Guide, I, 54, holds that it is illegitimate to speak of God as Merciful if the intention is to describe His true nature. We are only permitted to ‘call’ God Merciful in that such acts of care as protecting the embryo and bringing it to birth, if they could be performed by humans, would be because they are merciful.
 The little ethical treatise by Moses Cordovero (1522-1570), Tomer Devorah describes the Kabbalistic understanding of Imitatio Dei, see the Introduction to the translation by Louis Jacobs: ‘The Palm Tree of Deborah’, London, 1960, pp. 18-37.
 It is, of course, true that the religious attitudes are bound to have an influence on the ethical so that any attempt to divide the two into neat categories is bound to be too sweeping.
 In Judaism, too, divorce is seen as objectionable, though allowed, but this opposition is based on the idea that in divorce the wife has been betrayed, see Gittin 90b.
 It is incorrect to state categorically that Judaism knows nothing of celibacy as an ideal, see the well-known case of Ben Azzai whose ‘soul was in love with the Torah’, Yevamot 63b, and the permissibility granted to others as well in Shulhan Arukh, Even Ha-Ezer, 1: 4.
 See David M. Feldman: Birth Control in Jewish Law. New York/London, 1968.
 The same may be said of such matters as the just war and vegetarianism.
 But see the discussion in Kiddushin 40b whether study (talmud) or deeds (maaseh) is the greater. Typically the conclusion reached is that study is the greater because it leads to deeds!