• Is human dignity something innate that we are born with or does it have to be earned? Are some people worthy of more Kavod than others?
  • Where does Kavod come from?


(כז) וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

(27) And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

מנחם אלון

...לעתים קרובות, במקום הביטוי "כבוד האדם" בא הביטוי "כבוד הבריות". והלא דבר אחד הוא. "כבוד הבריות" פירושו כבודם של הנבראים, של כל הנברא בצלם אלוקים

Menachem Alon, Israeli Supreme Court Justice

[In Judaism] we often use the phrase ‘human dignity’ (kavod ha-adam) and ‘respect for creations’ (kavod ha-beriyot) interchangeably because they are one and the same. ‘Respect for mankind’ is in fact respect for all created beings as we were all created in the image of God.


  • What does it mean to be created in God’s image?
  • How might this idea inform our conversation about respect? What ramifications might it have?
  • Do you agree with Menachem Alon that human dignity is inherently tied to our creation in the image of God or may there be another source of human dignity?a

(א) בֶּן זוֹמָא אוֹמֵר... אֵיזֶהוּ מְכֻבָּד, הַמְכַבֵּד אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת

(1) Ben Zoma said... Who is he that is honored? He who honors his fellow human beings


  • What do you think it means that respect breeds respect? Have you seen this play out in your own experiences?
  • Where does self-respect fit in this picture? Does respecting others give me self-respect? Do I need self-respect in order to respect others?
  • Is this intrinsic or extrinsic respect?

תנו רבנן (ויקרא יט, לב) מפני שיבה תקום יכול אפילו מפני זקן אשמאי ת"ל זקן ואין זקן אלא חכם... רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר אין זקן אלא מי שקנה חכמה

§ The Sages taught with regard to the verse: “Before the hoary head you shall stand and you shall revere the face of an elder, and you shall fear your God” (Leviticus 19:32): One might have thought that it is obligatory to stand before a simple [ashmai] elder. Therefore, the verse states: “elder,” and an “elder” means nothing other than a wise man... Rabbi Yosei HaGelili says: An “elder [zaken]” means nothing other than one who has acquired wisdom.


  • Is this intrinsic or extrinsic respect?
  • Do you feel that you should respect someone for their age? What age do you think would warrant that respect (one year older than you vs. fifty years older)?
  • What type of wisdom do you think entitles an elder to respect from you?
  • How might one exhibit respect for one’s elders based on this verse?


(יב) כַּבֵּ֥ד אֶת־אָבִ֖יךָ וְאֶת־אִמֶּ֑ךָ לְמַ֙עַן֙ יַאֲרִכ֣וּן יָמֶ֔יךָ עַ֚ל הָאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽךְ׃ (ס)

(12) Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that the LORD your God is assigning to you.


  • Why does the Torah command us to respect our parents?
  • What are practical ways you exhibit that respect?
  • When have you struggled with respecting your parents?

ת"ש שאלו את ר"א עד היכן כיבוד אב ואם אמר להם כדי שיטול ארנקי ויזרקנו לים בפניו ואינו מכלימו ואי אמרת משל אב מאי נפקא לי' מיניה בראוי ליורשו

The Gemara further suggests: Come and hear: They asked Rabbi Eliezer how far one must go in honoring his father and mother. Rabbi Eliezer said to them: Such that the father takes a purse and throw it into the sea in front of his son, and the son does not embarrass him. And if you say that the son honors him from the money of the father, what difference does it make to the son? Why would the son care if his father throws away his own purse? The Gemara answers: This is referring to a son who is fit to inherit from him. Since the son thinks that the money will eventually belong to him, he has cause for anger.


  • Do you think Rabbi Eliezer believes that one must always respect one’s parents regardless of the situation?
  • Are there other people/positions to whom you would afford this level of respect?
  • Can you think of other examples when intrinsic and extrinsic Kavod conflict one another? How would you proceed?
  • How might this conflict arise in a philanthropic process? How might you respond?

(יא) עַל־פִּ֨י הַתּוֹרָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יוֹר֗וּךָ וְעַל־הַמִּשְׁפָּ֛ט אֲשֶׁר־יֹאמְר֥וּ לְךָ֖ תַּעֲשֶׂ֑ה לֹ֣א תָס֗וּר מִן־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־יַגִּ֥ידֽוּ לְךָ֖ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל׃

(11) You shall act in accordance with the instructions given you and the ruling handed down to you; you must not deviate from the verdict that they announce to you either to the right or to the left.

(א) ימין ושמאל. אֲפִלּוּ אוֹמֵר לְךָ עַל יָמִין שֶׁהוּא שְׂמֹאל וְעַל שְׂמֹאל שֶׁהוּא יָמִין

Even if he tells you about what appears to you to be right that it is left, or about what appears to you to be left that it is right, you have to obey him


  • Do you agree that respect necessitates following all judicial rulings?
  • Are there other people/ranks you are expected to respect even if you disagree with them?
  • How do you manage the challenge of respecting those you disagree with?


  • What do you now know about honoring that you did not know before?
  • How does the “deep dive” into Kavod affect your understanding of your justice issue? How does it affect your understanding of philanthropy in general?
  • How do you plan to incorporate Kavod into your philanthropy practices?