Bal Tashchit is the Hebrew term for “do not destroy” and prohibits unnecessarily destroying or disposing of useful things. Although the Bible specifically mentions the senseless destruction of fruit trees, the Rabbis understood the prohibition to include other types of senseless waste.
Freedom is a concept prevalent throughout Jewish texts. The term is often associated with the biblical story of the Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, as well as with the ability to perform good deeds and make positive choices.
Gratitude, or the concept of being thankful, is prevalent throughout Jewish texts. It is the theme of the first prayer uttered upon waking up in the morning, Modeh Ani (“I give thanks”), and is a value that drives countless other Jewish practices, traditions, and customs.
The commandment to honor one’s parents (kibud horim) is on par with having reverence for God. Just as we acknowledge the gifts that God gives us, we must also show gratitude for the gift of life that our parents gave us.
A kehillah is a community of individuals who come together for a common goal or purpose. Although a kehillah can become a chaotic mass—such as during the sin of the Golden Calf—when positive character traits are combined in pursuit of a goal, much good can be achieved.
Knowing God (Yediat HaShem) refers to how a person gains better awareness and understanding of God. There are many ways that people enhance their knowledge of God, such as through meditation or asking philosophical questions.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is a quote from Leviticus 19:18. It is the basis for a central principle known as the Golden Rule, or the concept of treating others as one wants to be treated themselves. Much commentary has been penned attempting to understand the verse’s moral message, scope, practical implications, and role in Judaism.
A machloket is a dispute between two different interpretations of Torah law. Although these disagreements can be incredibly destructive, disputes like those between Hillel and Shammai are considered constructive and known as “disagreements for the sake of heaven.”
Renewal is a concept that can involve revitalizing, reinvigorating, or returning to an original state. In Judaism, the term can be used to refer to a specific 20th-century Jewish movement, but is also a concept found throughout biblical and rabbinic literature. The idea is particularly prevalent throughout chasidic texts, which emphasize performing routine commandments as if it were one’s first time performing them.
Shalom bayit describes harmony between spouses and literally means “peace in the home.” Judaism places a high priority on building a peaceful, nurturing atmosphere through acts of loving-kindness and respect in order to achieve shalom bayit.
Teshuvah (repentance) literally means “return” and is presented in the Jewish sources as a gift from God because it allows one to return to the path of righteousness. Although teshuvah can be done at any time, Yom Kippur is the Jewish holiday most well-known for doing teshuvah.
Tikkun means “repair” or “mend” and is used alongside the word olam (world) to express the Jewish responsibility to “repair the world.” Tikkun also refers to specific texts read on various holidays, including the seventh day of Passover and on Shavuot.
Torah study involves the study of sacred Jewish texts, like the Five Books of Moses, Mishnah, Talmud, and works of midrash, kabbalah, and Jewish thought. It is considered central to religious practice, with blessings acknowledging the commandment to engage in Torah study and thanking God for giving the Torah featuring at the beginning of daily liturgy. The subject, form, and nature of Torah study vary between individuals and communities.
The word tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word for tzedek (justice) and is charity given to the poor in pursuit of a just, ethical society. Whereas acts of loving-kindness (gemilut hasidim) can be done for the rich or poor, living or dead, tzedakah is only for the living poor.
Yirat Shamayim translates as “fear of heaven,” but is understood to apply to God too. Yirat Shamayim is an important and central spiritual quality that includes having both a fear and an awe of God and creation.