Masechet Zechuyot Ha'Adam:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
With Corresponding Jewish Text References, In English and Hebrew Introduction to the document:
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."
International human rights law was made necessary in large part because of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews during the Holocaust. The Jewish focus on the creation of the human being in the divine image, the right of each person to be free from oppression and shame, and the idea that we cannot forget that we were strangers in the land of Egypt link Jewish values with those expressed in the Universal Declaration. As Jews, we study this text as a sacred text, one that ensures that the world never forgets the obligations of its citizens to respect each other at their core. Please notice that the text first listed in each section is from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is followed by a corresponding Jewish source in English and then in Hebrew.
(כז) וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃ (כח) וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֮ אֱלֹהִים֒.
And God created human in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created him; male and female God created them. And God blessed them. [JPS translation]
Preamble: Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.
(ו) הֲל֣וֹא זֶה֮ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵהוּ֒ פַּתֵּ֙חַ֙ חַרְצֻבּ֣וֹת רֶ֔שַׁע הַתֵּ֖ר אֲגֻדּ֣וֹת מוֹטָ֑ה וְשַׁלַּ֤ח רְצוּצִים֙ חָפְשִׁ֔ים וְכָל־מוֹטָ֖ה תְּנַתֵּֽקוּ׃ (ז) הֲל֨וֹא פָרֹ֤ס לָֽרָעֵב֙ לַחְמֶ֔ךָ וַעֲנִיִּ֥ים מְרוּדִ֖ים תָּ֣בִיא בָ֑יִת כִּֽי־תִרְאֶ֤ה עָרֹם֙ וְכִסִּית֔וֹ וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ֖ לֹ֥א תִתְעַלָּֽם׃ (ח) אָ֣ז יִבָּקַ֤ע כַּשַּׁ֙חַר֙ אוֹרֶ֔ךָ וַאֲרֻכָתְךָ֖ מְהֵרָ֣ה תִצְמָ֑ח וְהָלַ֤ךְ לְפָנֶ֙יךָ֙ צִדְקֶ֔ךָ כְּב֥וֹד יְהוָ֖ה יַאַסְפֶֽךָ׃ (ט) אָ֤ז תִּקְרָא֙ וַיהוָ֣ה יַעֲנֶ֔ה תְּשַׁוַּ֖ע וְיֹאמַ֣ר הִנֵּ֑נִי.
This is the fast that I desire: to unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke. To let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your homes; When you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin. Then shall your light burst through like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly; Your Vindicator shall march before you, the presence of God shall be your rear guard. Then, when you call, God will answer. When you cry, God will say, "Here I am."
Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
(ה) כֵּיצַד מְאַיְּמִין אֶת הָעֵדִים עַל עֵדֵי נְפָשׁוֹת, הָיוּ מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתָן וּמְאַיְּמִין עֲלֵיהֶן. שֶׁמָּא תֹאמְרוּ מֵאֹמֶד, וּמִשְּׁמוּעָה, עֵד מִפִּי עֵד וּמִפִּי אָדָם נֶאֱמָן שָׁמַעְנוּ, אוֹ שֶׁמָּא אִי אַתֶּם יוֹדְעִין שֶׁסּוֹפֵנוּ לִבְדֹּק אֶתְכֶם בִּדְרִישָׁה וּבַחֲקִירָה. הֱווּ יוֹדְעִין שֶׁלֹּא כְדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת, אָדָם נוֹתֵן מָמוֹן וּמִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ. דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת, דָּמוֹ וְדַם זַרְעִיּוֹתָיו תְּלוּיִין בּוֹ עַד סוֹף הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ בְקַיִן שֶׁהָרַג אֶת אָחִיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ד) דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים, אֵינוֹ אוֹמֵר דַּם אָחִיךָ אֶלָּא דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ, דָּמוֹ וְדַם זַרְעִיּוֹתָיו. דָּבָר אַחֵר, דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ, שֶׁהָיָה דָמוֹ מֻשְׁלָךְ עַל הָעֵצִים וְעַל הָאֲבָנִים. לְפִיכָךְ נִבְרָא אָדָם יְחִידִי, לְלַמֶּדְךָ, שֶׁכָּל הַמְאַבֵּד נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, מַעֲלֶה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב כְּאִלּוּ אִבֵּד עוֹלָם מָלֵא. וְכָל הַמְקַיֵּם נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, מַעֲלֶה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב כְּאִלּוּ קִיֵּם עוֹלָם מָלֵא. וּמִפְּנֵי שְׁלוֹם הַבְּרִיּוֹת, שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ אַבָּא גָדוֹל מֵאָבִיךָ. וְשֶׁלֹּא יְהוּ מִינִין אוֹמְרִים, הַרְבֵּה רָשֻׁיּוֹת בַּשָּׁמָיִם. וּלְהַגִּיד גְּדֻלָּתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁאָדָם טוֹבֵעַ כַּמָּה מַטְבְּעוֹת בְּחוֹתָם אֶחָד וְכֻלָּן דּוֹמִין זֶה לָזֶה, וּמֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא טָבַע כָּל אָדָם בְּחוֹתָמוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן וְאֵין אֶחָד מֵהֶן דּוֹמֶה לַחֲבֵרוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד חַיָּב לוֹמַר, בִּשְׁבִילִי נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם. וְשֶׁמָּא תֹאמְרוּ מַה לָּנוּ וְלַצָּרָה הַזֹּאת, וַהֲלֹא כְבָר נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא ה) וְהוּא עֵד אוֹ רָאָה אוֹ יָדָע אִם לוֹא יַגִּיד וְגוֹ'. וְשֶׁמָּא תֹאמְרוּ מַה לָּנוּ לָחוּב בְּדָמוֹ שֶׁל זֶה, וַהֲלֹא כְבָר נֶאֱמַר (משלי יא) וּבַאֲבֹד רְשָׁעִים רִנָּה:
How do they exhort witnesses testifying in capital cases? They brought them in and admonished them: Perhaps you will speak from supposition, and from hearsay, evidence from the mouth of a witness, or "We heard it from the mouth of a trustworthy person"; or, perhaps you do not know that afterwards we will test you by inquiry and examination. Know that capital cases are not as monetary suits: monetary suits - a person may give his property and effect atonement; capital cases - his blood and the blood of his offspring depend on him until the end of the world, for we find concerning Cain who killed his brother, it is written, "the bloods of your brother cry" (Genesis 4:10); it does not say, "your brother's blood" but "bloods" - his blood and the blood of his offspring. Another interpretation of "brother's bloods" - his blood was dashed on the trees and on the stones. Therefore man was created singly, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if he had destroyed a full world; and whoever saves one soul of Israel, Scripture accounts it as if he had saved a full world. And for the sake of peace among men, that one should not say to his fellow, "My father is greater than yours;" and that heretics should not say, "There are many powers in Heaven." Again, to declare the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, for man stamps out many coins with one die, and they are all alike, but the King, the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, stamped each man with the seal of Adam, and not one of them is like his fellow. Therefore each and every one is obliged to say, "For my sake the world was created." And lest you say, "What do we need with this trouble?" Has it not already been said, "He being a witness, whether he has seen or known, if he does not utter it..." (Leviticus 5:1). And should you say, "What need is there for us to be responsible for the blood of this one?" Surely it is said, "And when the wicked perish, there is joy" (Proverbs 11:10). [Moreshet translation]
Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 7. *All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.*
I charged your magistrates at that time as follows, “Hear out your fellow people, and decide justly between any person and a fellow Israelite or a stranger. You shall not be partial in judgment: hear out low and high alike. Fear no one, for judgment is God’s. And any matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me and I will hear it.”
Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted hum by The Constitution or by law.
שֹׁפְטִ֣ים וְשֹֽׁטְרִ֗ים תִּֽתֶּן־לְךָ֙ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ לִשְׁבָטֶ֑יךָ וְשָׁפְט֥וּ אֶת־הָעָ֖ם מִשְׁפַּט־צֶֽדֶק׃ לֹא־תַטֶּ֣ה מִשְׁפָּ֔ט לֹ֥א תַכִּ֖יר פָּנִ֑ים וְלֹא־תִקַּ֣ח שֹׁ֔חַד כִּ֣י הַשֹּׁ֗חַד יְעַוֵּר֙ עֵינֵ֣י חֲכָמִ֔ים וִֽיסַלֵּ֖ף דִּבְרֵ֥י צַדִּיקִֽם׃ צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף לְמַ֤עַן תִּֽחְיֶה֙ וְיָרַשְׁתָּ֣ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽךְ׃
You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that Adonai your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice. You shall not judge unfairly: you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that Adonai your God is giving you. [JPS translation  edited for gender-neutrality]
Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Cursed be the one who misdirects a blind person on his/her way. -- And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed be the one who subverts the rights of the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. -- And all the people shall say, Amen. [JPS translation edited for gender-neutrality]
Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.