«Brit Shalom» – a guide to practical Noahide daily life, brief version

Chapter Fourteen. Ethical Behavior

And you shall do what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:18)
He has told you, O man, what is good, And what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice And to love goodness, And to walk modestly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

This is a brief version.

To get a full version [hide] 1. It is stated in the Torah:436 What does the Lord your Gоd ask of you, only to fear the Lord your Gоd, to walk in all of his ways and to love Him. (Deuteronomy 10:12) The sages explained how to walk in his ways.437 Just as He is merciful, you, too, should be merciful; just as He is charitable, you, too, should be charitable; just as He clothes the naked, you, too, should clothe the naked. And the general principle is that a person should perform all of his deeds and activities ethically and with integrity in a matter that he likens himself to the Creator, walking in paths that are good and straight.438

2. Therefore, a person should scrutinize his deeds and his character traits, and examine the qualities of his soul to see if he is walking in these paths.439

3. Among the good traits that a person should acquire for himself are: love for people, generosity, inner strength, a pleasant appearance, humility, a pleasant demeanor, shyness, compassion, joyfulness, tranquility, speaking well of others, being content with little, restraint, alacrity, integrity, and positivity.440

4. King Solomon said:441“Whoever loves silver will never have enough silver.” And the sages said:442“Who is rich? Whoever is happy with his lot.”

5. The desirable path is to adopt moderation in all character traits and not to go to extremes.443

6. Although it is impossible for a person to rectify all of his deeds at once, he should always make every effort to improve and become better little by little. And by so doing, he will accustom himself to walk in the good and straight path since a person’s character depends on his habits.444

7. A person has the responsibility to educate his children so that they acquire good character traits and a proper outlook on life. When someone does not educate his children, it is as though he hates them.445

Practical Instructions

8. A person should be very careful not to behave in a manner that will lead to desecration of Gоd’s name, in other words, that will bring shame to the name of the Lord or to His Torah or His commandments or to the nation of Israel.446 And everything a person does that brings honor to Gоd, Torah, or Israel, sanctifies Gоd’s name.447

9. It is fitting for a person to stand by his word, to verbalize what he truly holds in his heart,448 and to distance himself from lies.449

10. A person should not do anything to arouse suspicion that he is a thief,450 or that he is involved in any other wrongdoing.

11. A person should neither cause a blind person to stumble nor curse someone who is deaf.452 Similarly, a person should not cause someone else to violate a commandment, since the violator is likened to someone who is blind since he did not know what he did was forbidden.453 For this same reason, it is forbidden to assist others in committing sins.454

12. Giving harmful counsel is akin455 to causing a blind person to stumble and, all the more so, if done for the benefit of the malefactor.456

13. It is appropriate to have compassion on helpless strangers and not to cause them suffering.457 No one should cause a widow or an orphan or any depressed spirit to suffer, and they should be treated with respect.458

14. No one should cause another person to suffer either through speech or through action, to hurt or embarrass him.459 The sages said:460 It is better for a person to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to embarrass someone else in public.

15. No one should engage in controversy or fights.

16. The sages said:461 Do not appease your fellow when he is angry and do console him when his dead relative lies before him and to not attempt to see him at the time of his degradation.

17. Working at a trade is one of the ways to serve Gоd.462 The sages said that whoever does not teach his son a trade is as though he teaches him to steal.463

18. Being healthy and physically and mentally fit is one of the ways to serve Gоd. Therefore a person needs to preserve his health and should refrain from doing things that harm his body.464

19. Since a person is greatly influenced by the people around him, a person should choose good and honest people, who will influence him favorably, to be his friends. He should also attach himself to wise people and righteous people, and should distance himself as far as possible from degenerate society.465

Acts of Loving Kindness

20. Charity and acts of loving kindness are of a stature equivalent to all the commandments in the Torah. Yet, while charity is only given to the living, acts of loving kindness benefit both the living and the dead. Charity is for the poor while acts of loving kindness are for poor and rich alike. Charity concerns a person’s finances while acts of loving kindness concern a person’s finances as well as physical well-being.466

21. Included in acts of loving kindness is hospitality, which was the practice of Abraham.467

22. Visiting the sick encourages the patient and causes the visitor to learn about and address the patient’s needs.468

23. A person needs to make a bride and groom joyful.469 And if they are poor, he should give them financial support in order that they can get married.470

24. Included in acts of loving kindness is comforting mourners who are relatives of the deceased. And whoever does so performs an act of kindness both with the living and the deceased.471

25. It is fitting to mourn a relative who has passed away,472 and to eulogize him473 and to bring him to burial,474 especially on the day that he passes away. And the relatives of the deceased are especially obligated to do this, the husband or the wife, the father or the mother, the son or the daughter, the brother or the sister.475

26. It is a profound act and an enormous kindness to bring someone to burial who has no one to be preoccupied with his burial.476

27. Any person who accompanies the deceased along his final path to the grave performs an act of loving kindness for him.477


28. A person who sees his fellow sin needs to tell him, pleasantly and in a manner likely to be acceptable to him,478 that such an act is not good.479 Such reproof must flow from love for his fellow480 and must be done in a manner that does not embarrass him.481

29. Even if a person sinned, he can return to the way of Gоd and repent for his bad deeds. Whoever repents with all his heart and with sincerity, is once again loved and desired by his Creator and all his sins are forgiven.483

30. There are three parts to repentance:484 regret over the past, confession,485 and commitment not to repeat the bad act ever again. Confession is performed by standing in front of Gоd and confessing one’s sins, saying: “Please, Gоd, I have sinned before you, I did such and such, and I hereby regret my actions and will never do them again.”486

31. If a person sinned against his fellow, he is to request his forgiveness.487

32. A person whose fellow requested forgiveness from him should forgive with ease488 and should not be vengeful towards the one who was bad to him.489 And it is an ethical path to completely forgive in his heart and to forget the bad that was done to him.490


33. “Truth and peace you must love.”491 “Peace with the far and the near – said the Lord – I will heal them.”492

34. “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”493 The Sages said:494 “Seek it in your immediate surroundings and pursue it everywhere else”.

35. Hillel says: Be among the disciples of Aaron: loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and bringing them closer to Torah.495

36. A person needs to distance himself from quarreling and controversy and needs to spread love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.496

37. Therefore, a person should endeavor to bring peace between man and his fellow, and between husband and wife, and he should always actively pursue peace.497

38. Great is peace, for its importance is equivalent to all other priorities combined.498 Blessing only resides where there is peace,499 and even one of the names of Gоd is Peace.500

“Just be strong and very courageous to observe and do in accordance with all of the Torah that Moses My servant has commanded you. Do not stray therefrom right or left, in order that you succeed wherever you go.” [Joshua Chapter 1:7]


432 Leviticus 15:19; Mishneh Torah, Mikva’ot 1:1.

433 Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Siman 4:1.

434 Ibid. Paragraph 18.

435 Mishneh Torah, Berachot 6:1.

436 Deuteronomy 10:12.

437 Sifrei, Deuteronomy, Parashat Eikev, Paragrah 49; Bavli Sotah 14a; Mishneh Torah, De’ot 1:6.

438 Mishneh Torah, ibid.; Tomer Devorah, Chapter 1 (beginning).

439 Mishneh Torah, ibid. 1:4-7.

440 According to Rambam’s Preface to Tractate Avot, Chapter 4; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Kedushah, Part 1, Gate 2, and other sources.

441 Ecclesiastes 5:9.

442 Mishnah Avot 4:1.

443 Mishneh Torah, De’ot 1:1-4; Rambam’s Preface to Tractate Avot, Chapter 4.

444 Ibid. 1:7; see Mesillat Yesharim, Zehirut (Watchfulness).

445 Proverbs 13:24.

446 Leviticus 22:32; Joshua 7:9; Ezekiel 36:17-20; Bavli Yoma 86a; see Kad HaKemach, topic of Chilul HaShem.

447 Bavli Yoma 86a; Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah 5:11.

448 Mishneh Torah, De’ot 2:6.

449 Exodus 23:7.

450 Mishnah Shekalim 3:2.

451 See Bavli Shabbat 64b, Bavli Beitzah 9a.

452 Leviticus 19:14.

453 Bavli Avodah Zarah 6b.

454 Mishneh Torah, Gezeilah Ve’Aveidah 5:1.

455 Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 232.

456 Sifra Kedoshim, Parasha Beit, ד”ה ולפני עוור.

457 Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 10:19; see Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 431 (end).

458 Exodus 22:21; Mishneh Torah, De’ot 6:10.

459 Leviticus 25:17; Bavli Baba Metzia 58b; Mishneh Torah, Mechirah 14:12-18.

460 Bavli Berachot 43:2.

461 Mishnah Avot 4:18.

462 Ibid. 1:10, 2:2.

463 Bavli Kiddushin 29a.

464 Mishneh Torah, De’ot 4:1.

465 Psalms 1; Mishnah Avot 2:9; Mishneh Torah, De’ot 6:1.

466 According to Yerushalmi Pe’ah 1:1, ד”ה וגמילות חסדים .

467 Genesis 18:1-8; Bavli Shabbat 127a.

468 Bavli Nedarim 40a.

469 Yerushalmi Pe’ah 1:1, see the story of Rav Shmuel Bar Rav Yitzhak; Bavli Berachot 6:2; Mishneh Torah, Evel 14:1.

470 Bavli Sukkah 49b; Mishneh Torah ibid.

471 Mishneh Torah, ibid. 14:7.

472 Genesis 23:2; Mishneh Torah, ibid. 1:1.

473 Genesis ibid.; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 344:1.

474 Genesis 23:19.; Bavli Sanhedrin 46b; cremation of a corpse was not forbidden to Noahides.

475 Mishneh Torah, Evel 2:1.

476 Bavli Megillah 3:2.

477 Mishneh Torah, ibid. 14:1.

478 Bavli Yevamot 65b.

479 Leviticus 19:17.

480 See Mishnah Avot 1:12.

481 Mishneh Torah, De’ot 6:7-8.

482 Bereishit 18:21; Targum Onkelos ibid.; Jonah, Chapter 3; Ezekiel 18:21-23.

483 Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 7:6.

484 Ibid. 2:2.

485 Numbers 5:6-7.

486 Mishneh Torah, ibid. 1:1. We found vidui (confession) for Noahides: Exodus 9:27; Daniel 2:47, 4:31-4.

487 Mishnah Yoma 8-9; Mishneh Torah, ibid. 2:9.

488 Mishneh Torah, ibid. 2:10.

489 Leviticus 19:18.

490 Mishneh Torah, De’ot 7:7-8.

491 Zechariah 8:19.

492 Isaiah 57:19.

493 Psalms 34:15.

494 Yerushalmi Pe’ah 1:1, ד”ה והבאת שלום, Yerushalmi Berachot 9:1 on the story of Rebbe Yoachanan and Rebbe Yonatan.

495 Mishnah Avot 1:12.

496 Sifrei Bamidbar, Parashat Naso, Paragraph 42.

497 Bamidbar Rabbah, Parashat Naso, Parasha 11, Siman 7.

498 See Mishnah Uktzin 3:12.

499 Sifrei Bamidbar ibid.; Bavli Shabbat 10b.

500Mishnah Pe’ah 1:1.