means compassion, the feeling of sharing another
creature's suffering, together with the wish to
help. It is
the norm governing the relationship between men
and also regulating their behavior toward
is one of the great principles of Judaism and a
central part of Jesus' teachings.
is also translated as 'pity or mercy,' as
well as 'compassion.' RACHAMANUT can also be
thought of as a form of prayer. The best kind
of RACHAMANUT is shown when we don't seek credit
for our actions.
Here is a story that will help you better
understand this principle.
Israel Salanter was about to eat a meal. His
students watched as he washed his hands. They were
surprised to see how little water he took
from the full pail. They
remembered how important keeping clean was to
Hillel and Rabbi Akiba. So they
asked him, "Rabbi, why are you using so
The pail is full. And if we
need more water, the servant will bring
rabbi answered, "That servant has to
fetch water from a distant well and carry the
heavy pails all the way back to the house. I know it
is a Mitzvah (Commandment) to keep clean. But my
feelings of RACHAMANUT tell me it is not
right to carry out a Mitzvah by making other
principle extends beyond one's fellow man to
include the animals.
For example, if your friend is walking in the
street with his ox and it topples over because
its burden was too heavy.
to the principle of RACHAMANUT you are to run
quickly, help the ox up, and lighten its load. If one knows
that the average ox can only carry half the load
that was placed on this ox, he must help carry
the other half of the load. We are not to
put one ounce more on this ox's back. To do so
would be a violation of RACHAMANUT (pity, mercy,
or compassion). The
Torah teaches that we must be merciful to man,
woman, child, and animal.
Midrash tells us that when Moses saw the Egyptian
taskmaster strike a Jew he said, "Wicked
man, why do you strike your neighbor?" Notice that
the first words that came out of his mouth were
"wicked man." How did Moses
know that the Egyptian taskmaster was a wicked
man? He knew
it because the man lifted up his hand toward his
fellow man. The
principle of RACHAMANUT doesn't allow it.
a father slapped his child across his fanny. One of the
first things he would probably say is, "It
hurt me more than it hurt you." Do you want
to know the truth?
It didn't hurt the father; but the child more.
did he do it in the first place? There could
be many reasons, but one of the most common is
that he didn't stop to consider what he was about
to do. There
are a thousand ways to punish a child without
taking a swing at him.
However, prior to any punishment the parent is
obligated to teach the child. The objective
is to help the child not repeat the mistake by
teaching God's will in this situation. Pain will not
solve any problem, as a matter of fact, it will
probably make it worse!
rabbi told me a story one time that applies here. He said that
he never slapped his children or grandchildren. He thought it
was very unfortunate that people slapped their
children out of anger, frustration, or misguided
will tell you, in all honesty, that I have
very good children. So my
wife would say to one of my children,
"Do me a favor please. The
garbage is full in the kitchen, would you
please take it out?"
sure mother, just a moment, after this
inning," one of the children would
I want you to take the garbage out now,"
she would say.
be right there mother, as soon as there is a
commercial. I'll be there, I promise, don't
worry, Mother, I will take it out. Just give
me a chance."
wouldn't say a word after that. All I
would say to her is, "Honey,
don't worry about it, I'll take it out."
I would start to get up from my chair. Once I
got up from my chair "all hell would
Every child is running to take the garbage
would call that respect, but I don't. I think
it's the concept of RACHAMANUT being
demonstrated by my children. My
getting up was the spark that suddenly
kindled the flame in their system which is
full of compassion.
people say that Jews are a very prejudiced people
and don't give Jewish women their rights. No one in the
writings of Judaism portrays the essence of
compassion more than a Jewish mother. The greatest
honor in the Talmudic writings is given to a
woman when they call a Jewish mother "the
mistress of compassion." It is one of
the most magnificent concepts of Judaism.
must also be demonstrated between countries. This is why a
Jew can stand up and be angry when the army of
Israel goes into Lebanon. It is why a
Jew can argue and say: "But the Palestinians
are people too, so throw stones, shoot water on
them, but don't shoot bullets. They don't
You still have to show RACHAMANUT.
level of morality given to the Jewish people is
higher than the level that was presented to other
people because they were given the Torah. Because of
his law and being chosen by God, the Jew has to
be better. Is this fair? No, it is
world has two standards -- one for the world and
one for the Jewish people. That's just
the way it is and it has never changed. My rabbi
friend said, "It's terrible, but we are
stuck with it, because we are `chosen people' and
were given the Torah.
Since we have the Torah we have to live by it. And since the
Jew, and not the Gentile, is commanded to perfect
himself, to be more godly, to be holy, then he
has to live by a dual standard. Again is this
fair, oh no, and we have turned to God so many
times and said to Him, don't do me any favor,
choose me. Don't punish me. Take back the
me be like all the other people. Why should I
suffer by this dual standard? Don't give me
Israel, let me live in West Palm Beach."
continued, "But we were chosen. Like nooses
around our necks we have to live to perfection,
we have to strive.
For those who want to become Jewish it is very
difficult and yet the easiest thing in the world. It is the
most moral, the most righteous, the most
compassionate, most just concept of law ever
possessed by man.
3,400 years the Torah has been tried and tested
on the fires of criticism. People have
questioned and criticized everything there is
about Judaism. But
they have never succeeded in destroying it
because it is still here. It is still
the highest moral lesson and standard by which
man can live. Unfortunately,
in today's world, too many Jews don't live by it. Those who do
are saintly in the sight of God."
you haven't been very good in the past but now
you want to become a good Jew or Christian. What do you
you must study and learn what God's will is and
what you are supposed to do. As you do,
you learn to take one step at a time. Do one little
deed at a time.
You will see that once you perform the first
deed, the second is easier than the first and the
third is easier than the second. Before you
realize it, people will say: "Now, that's a
You will probably say, "Me righteous? I
am far from it."
you know who prays the hardest for forgiveness on
the Day of Atonement? the most righteous. Those who are
less righteous say: "I didn't do
The very pious are the ones turning to God and
crying: "I've done wrong, God, please
We begin to see the weaknesses about which man
is engulfed as we perfect ourselves and become
should a Christian be interested in these
Jesus was a Jew.
he was a rabbi.
his movement was a Jewish movement and
wasn't called 'Christianity' by its
for Gentiles to become part of his
movement they first had to become
semi-proselytes to Judaism.
the only way to understand the teachings
of Jesus, or any of his disciples, is to
reconnect the Jewish meanings to their
Christ was not Jesus' last name. It was
a title that should be translated as
'Messiah' and understood from the Jewish
perspective, not from Roman Catholic
the Roman Emperor Constantine made it
illegal for 'Roman Christians' to have
anything to do with the Jews or their
The result of this decision was to
sever Jesus' movement from the religion
and beliefs of its founder.
Christianity is not a single religion but
consists of a large number of different religions
that just happen to all use the same name.
Catholics are called Christians but their belief
is that Protestants, who are also called
Christians, are not saved. Even within
Protestantism, some Protestants teach that unless
other Protestants are
baptized according to their specific
baptismal formula they are not 'saved.'
some reason it seems that a vast majority of
Christian theologians and leaders simply want to
ignore this dangerous situation.
has resulted from looking the other way and
hoping that things will get better? 'Christians'
continue to divide and attack each other as they
create one new sectarian movement after another. Each new group
identifies itself asChristian, even though in
many cases it absolutely contradicts and
conflicts with its mother group.
situation is not hopeless and there is a solution
to it. Christians
must return to the Jewish roots of their faith. They must
clearly understand the Jewish teachings of Jesus
and his disciples.
The ancient teachings must become the standard
by which every modern Christian organization
tests the accuracy of its doctrines. The teachings
of Jesus are the foundation upon which every
Christian organization bases its message of
conversion and salvation. Shouldn't
every Christian strive to make sure his or her
beliefs are in agreement with Jesus' ?
kind of an impact would the 1,600,000,000+
Christians and Jews have on our world if they
yoked themselves together and agreed to all push
in the same direction?
What kind of impact would they have on the
immoral, unethical, and drug-infested societies
that dominate our world?
does this journey begin? It begins in
your house with you.
The information web sites is not new. It has been
around for many years, in most cases. People seem
to be waiting for their church or synagogue to
get hold of this information and make some
will probably not happen until people like you
make it happen.
is the first step to take? Make a
decision to follow this principle:
Beliefs Must Be Large Enough To Include All
The Facts, Open Enough To Be Tested, Flexible
Enough To Change.
making this decision, begin to look for the
facts. It is
a fact that Jesus was a Jew, not a Catholic or
is a fact that he was a rabbi. It is a fact
that we must understand the culture of a person
if we are to accurately understand his message. It is a fact
that the culture of Jesus was Jewish.
it be the goal of every Christian to be like
should you start this journey?
we acquire an understanding of the five
principles of Rabbinic Judaism we will understand
much more clearly what the Bible is all about. These
(righteousness or charity)
Rachmonute (mercy or compassion)
Judaica (Keeter Publishing House, Jerusalem).
Judaism For Young People (Behrman House
notes of R. Zucker lectures.
THE BIBLE - Volume 3, 1991, Number 5]