Middah k'neged Middah: Jewish "Karma"

(ו) אַף הוּא רָאָה גֻלְגֹּלֶת אַחַת שֶׁצָּפָה עַל פְּנֵי הַמַּיִם. אָמַר לָהּ, עַל דַּאֲטֵפְתְּ, אַטְפוּךְ. וְסוֹף מְטִיפַיִךְ יְטוּפוּן:

(6) [Hillell] saw a skull that was floating on top of the water. He said (to it): "Since you drowned [others, others] drowned you. And in the end, those that drowned you will be drowned.



Pronunciation /ˈkɑːmə//ˈkəːmə/


  • 1(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.


From Sanskrit karman ‘action, effect, fate’.


Middah k'neged Middah מדה קנגד מדה

Pronunciation/mee-dah k-negg-ed mee-dah


Meaning: Measure for Measure or "Justice Prevails" or "What goes around comes around"

Origin: Hebrew Bible

(י) אִמְר֥וּ צַדִּ֖יק כִּי־ט֑וֹב כִּֽי־פְרִ֥י מַעַלְלֵיהֶ֖ם יֹאכֵֽלוּ׃ (יא) א֖וֹי לְרָשָׁ֣ע רָ֑ע כִּֽי־גְמ֥וּל יָדָ֖יו יֵעָ֥שֶׂה לּֽוֹ׃
(10) (Hail the just man, for he shall fare well; He shall eat the fruit of his works. (11) Woe to the wicked man, for he shall fare ill; As his hands have dealt, so shall it be done to him.)

(א) אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם שִׁעוּר. הַפֵּאָה, וְהַבִּכּוּרִים, וְהָרֵאָיוֹן, וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה. אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶן בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְהַקֶּרֶן קַיֶּמֶת לוֹ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם, וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, וַהֲבָאַת שָׁלוֹם בֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ, וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה כְּנֶגֶד כֻּלָּם:

(1) These are the things that have no measure: Peah [corner of the field which, while harvesting, must be left for the poor], Bikurim [First-fruits that must be brought to the Temple and given to the priest], the appearance-sacrifice [brought to the Temple on Pilgrimage Festivals], acts of kindness, and the study of the Torah. These are things the fruits of which a man enjoys in this world, while the principal remains for him in the World to Come: Honoring one's father and mother, acts of kindness, and bringing peace between a man and his fellow. But the study of Torah is equal to them all.

Mishnah Pe'ah 8:8

....Whoever does not need to take [gifts for the poor] but takes, will not die of old age until he becomes dependent on people. And whoever needs to take but does not take will not die of old age until he supports others from his own. About him it is stated: Blessed is the person who trusts in HaShem, then HaShem will be his security. [Jeremiah 17:7] And similarly, a judge who renders a true judgement according to its truth. And anyone who is neither lame, nor blind, nor crippled, but makes himself as one who is, will not die of old age until he becomes like one of them. As it is stated: He who seeks evil, it shall befall him. [Proverbs 11:27] And it is further stated: "צדק צדק תרדוף-- Justice, justice shall you pursue." [Deuteronomy 16:20] Similarly, any judge who takes a bribe and perverts judgment will not die of old age until his eyes grow dim. As it is stated: You shall not take a bribe...for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, etc. [Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19]

Yerushalmi Pe'ah 73a (Schottenstein)

R. Yohanan and R. Shimon ben Lakish went to bathe in one of the hot springs of Tiberias. A poor person met them and said: Provide for me. They said: When we return. When they returned, they found him dead. They said: Since we did not provide for him during his life, let us attend to him in his death [prepare his body for burial]. While attending him, they found a purse of dinars hanging on him. This is what R. Abahu said in the name of R. Lazar: We must be grateful to the frauds among the poor, for if not for the frauds among them, if one of them were to demand charity from a person and he would not give him, he would be punished immediately!l

Yerushalmi Pe'ah 73b (Schottenstein)

Nehemyah of Shichin met a poor Jerusalemite. The person said: Give me one hen. Nehemyah told him: Here is enough money to go buy beef! The pauper took the money, bought the beef, ate it, and died. Nehemyah said: Come and eulogize Nehemyah's murder victim!

Nachum Ish Gam Zo was bringing a gift to his father-in-law's house when he was met by a man afflicted with boils. The man said to Nachum Ish Gam Zo: Provide for me from what you have with you. Nachum told him: On my return. When Nachum returned, he found him dead. Nachum said [to the corpse]: May the eyes that saw you but did not give to you immediately become blind; may the hands that did not reach out to hand you food be cut off; may the legs that did not run to bring you provisions be broken. And indeed, those calamities befell him. R. Akiva, his disciple, went to visit him, and said: Oy! That I see you in such a state! Nachum replied to him: Oy! If I don't see you one day in such a state! R. Akiva said: Why are you cursing me? Nachum replied: And why are you spurning afflictions?

R. Acha taught [a baraita] in the name of R. Chinana: Anyone who needs charity but does not take is deemed a murderer and it is forbidden to have mercy on him. For if on his own soul he has no mercy, is it uncertain that he will not have mercy on others?

Bavli Bava Batra 9A

Rava said to the people of Mehoza: I beg of you, strive with each other [to perform acts of charity and righteousness] so that you will live in peace with the government. And R. Elazar says: When the Temple is standing, a person contributes his shekel and achieves atonement. Now that the Temple no longer stands, if people act charitably, it will be well for them; but if not, the nations of the world will come and take them by force.