Jewish ethics is based on the Commandments of God and summarised within the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God. The Ten Commandments (or Decalogue) is a set of instructions given to Moses by God. This occurred on Mt Sinai in the desert wilderness as Moses was leading the people of Israel away from the slavery in Egypt. While the Israelites had been freed by God, they had not followed the Law of God and had reverted to the immoral behaviour and were no longer worshipping God. As the Israelites travelled to the Promised Land God gave them these ethical commandments to maintain their focus. The Decalogue is part of the set of instructions on how the Jews were expected to live their life obedient to the will of God.
Over the long history of Judaism, other sources of ethical guidance have been used to add meaning and understanding to the commandments in the Torah to help Jews discern God’s will. These include the Mishneh rabbinic text, the Aggadah or ethical teachings spread through the legally-oriented parts of the Mishneh and Tulmud and other writings. Other sources are used because while Jewish ethics are initiated by God, in the Torah, there are some situations that have not been covered by the historical writings. For these responses need to be determined.
There are six commonly accepted principles of Jewish ethics particularly important for ethics. Human life has intrinsic value – it is important. For this the preservation of life is most important – it is the highest moral imperative. All human lives are equal – each life has the same value. Our lives are not ours – all life belongs to God. The sacredness of human life belongs to, or is part of, the human being as a whole therefore my actions towards others are the manifestation of my imitation of God.
Bioethics concerns itself with the ethical questions that come about in the relationship between biology and medicine, the research and practice in these areas and the...