Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Judaism's Top 40: Introduction and #40 - Pikuach Nefesh

Judaism's Top 40!

This year the entertainment world mourned the loss of Casey Kasem, known among other things for his weekly listing of  “America’s Top 40.”  Kasem, an American of Lebanese Druze descent, was an avid supporter of reconciliation among the peoples of the Middle East. 

The “Top 40” of the Jewish calendar are undoubtedly the forty days between the first of the Hebrew month of Elul and the end of Yom Kippur.  These are the days of repentance, punctuated by reflection, special prayers and the sounding of the shofar.  For Jews, it’s also become a time for reconnection with our ancient heritage and value system, which, while old, lends the kind of wisdom that is so needed in these difficult times.

In order to reinforce those values and to promote Jewish literacy, for each day of this period of soul searching I’m going to count down “Judaism’s Top 40” concepts and values.  Like any list, this one is subjective and I’m not revealing them in order of importance.   But a nice exercise might be to come up with your own list or to prioritize this one. I’d love to see your list and compare.  Let me know which ones you wish to explore in more depth. 

Of course, you can also study these on your own - I'll provide links.  And even more, find ways to incorporate these values into your life. 

To catch up on prior entries, click here.

Today: Elul 1 - and #40 of Judaism’s Top 40:

Pikuach Nefesh: the saving of life / the highest Jewish obligation that overrides almost every other law. Click here for more.

"For this reason was the human being created alone, to teach you whosoever destroys a single soul, Scripture imputes [guilt] to him as though he had destroyed an entire world; and whosoever preserves a single soul, Scripture ascribes [merit] to him as though he had preserved a complete world." Sanhedrin 4:5

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