The article examines the contribution of Jewish thinking to the concept of human rights in Western philosophy and in positive legal systems. This contribution is surprising considering that Judaism is a religious system engaged primarily in spelling out duties rather than advocating rights. The explanation is based on the fact that Judaism is not merely a religion but also a civilization that incorporates within it a comprehensive legal system. Notions of human rights derive from the centrality of the self in Jewish religion and from liberal elements contained in its basic teachings. Important factors in Jewish law are the absence of a supreme authority and the consideration of minority views. The article evaluates the role played by Judaism in advancing human rights and human dignity and suggests non-conservative manners of reading Jewish texts in order to further enhance these aspects.
Human Rights Law
Date of this Version
Asher Maoz, "Can Judaism Serve as a Source of Human Rights" (January 2005). Tel Aviv University Law Faculty Papers. Working Paper 7.