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Kavod – Honor, Respect, Dignity

“Who is honored? The one who honors others.” (Pirke Avot 4:1)

Expressions of Kavod in Jewish life

Self

Each person is a priceless, irreplaceable soul created in the image of the Divine. Jews are obligated, therefore, to preserve and protect the dignity of others, including ourselves.

“The Creator formed each person in the image of the Divine” Hebrew: K’vod atzmi
(Genesis 1:27)


“The body is a vessel of the soul, through which the soul functions.” Hebrew: Shmirat Ha-guf
(Rabbi Aaron HaLevi, Sefer Chinuch)

Others

“What is hateful to you, do not do to others.”
(B. Talmud Shabbat 31a)

We do not always like everyone, but we are still expected to treat every being with respect and kindness.

“Do not judge by the container, but by what is inside.”
(Pirke Avot 4:27)

“A person’s attitude toward another person should always be sympathetic.”
(B. Talmud Ketubot, 17a)

“Your friend’s honor should be as dear to you as your own.”
Avot 2:10:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Hebrew: V’ahavtah l’rei’echa kamocha
(Leviticus 19:18)

Community

Honoring all people’s religious practices and beliefs is important in building and sustaining a community comprised of both Jews and non-Jews. Every effort is made to bring honor to the public community, and by doing so, we bring honor to the Jewish community. It is only then that we can openly explore the values and practices we can share regardless of differences in beliefs.

Hebrew: Lichvod ha-Tzibur

Parents

“Honor your father and mother” is one of the Ten Commandments. As children, we are taught that this means listening to our parents and doing what they ask of us. If they become need or as they age, we shift our focus to preserving the dignity of our parents based upon their changing needs.

Hebrew: Kibud Av v’’Eim

Sacred Aging

Just as we preserve the dignity of our own aging parents, we demonstrate Kavod for all of the elderly in our community giving them the dignity-preserving help they may need.

Hebrew: K’vod z’kenim

The Deceased

Traditions surrounding preparation for burial, and burial itself, are guided by profound respect for the body that housed the gentle soul while living.

Hebrew: K’avod ha-meit

Creation

The earth was given to us as a gift. As partners with The Creator of All, we through speech and deed, participate in the re-creation of the world each and every day. This means caring for every living creature, and the land that sustains it.

The great sage Hillel taught,

“In a place where no one behaves like a human being, you must strive to be human.”
(Pirke Avot 2:5)

Hebrew: K’vod ha’briot

Time

The Torah teaches us to experience time in a way that brings meaning to our lives and deepens our appreciation for the blessings of Creation and Freedom. The Jewish calendar guides us through seasons of planting and harvest, and establishes times for repenting, rejoicing, fasting, remembering and marking the cycles of the moon. The sacred obligation of marking time consciously came was the first act of a freed people, following the Exodus from Egypt. And, from the Creation story itself, we are taught that just as The Creator rests on the seventh day, we rest and refrain from work each Shabbat.

“And The Creator declared the Sabbath Day holy” – set apart from all the other days of the week.”

Hebrew: Lichvod Shabbat

Spiritual Oxygen

Kavod is like the air we breathe – necessary for life. Perhaps this is why we are taught, “The whole world is filled with the The Source of Kavod” -M’lo chol ha’aretz k’vodo. With every breath we take, this kavod enters into our hearts and elevates our humanity.

Hebrew: Lichvod HaShem

Kavod in the military – Think about it:

Compare and contrast the Navy’s notion of “honor” and the Jewish value of “kavod.”

Links about Kavod
http://www.jchoice.org/ViewVideos.aspx – Jchoice.org Videos
http://www.jewishveg.com/asacredduty/ – Judaism and Vegetarianism