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    Human rights – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. According to Judaism, what rights does a human being have?

    Human RightsA. Lord Jakobovits once told the Institute of Directors in Britain that “we must expunge the word rights and replace it by duties”.

    Nonetheless there is a concept of rights in Judaism, in both the man-and-man and man-and-God arenas.

    The first category includes the rights of disadvantaged groups such as the poor, the orphan, the widow and the stranger, and everybody’s right to have their lives, property, marriage, reputation and integrity honoured.

    The second category includes the right to exercise the free will that God awarded us, the right to use the capacities of heart and mind He has given, even the right not to believe in Him.

    There is a covenant between man and God which gives God rights against us but also invests human beings with the right to be treated justly and fairly by the Almighty. The fact that He sometimes seems to let us down is one of the hardest problems of theology.

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