> Judaism 101 > Philosophy > Deed and Creed

8. Measure for Measure

April 27, 2014 | by Rochelle Lev and Rabbi Benjamin Blech

God directly links a person's actions to the nature of the reward and punishment.


Required Reading Understanding Judaism, p. 79-100

Required Reading Mishnah Sotah 1:7-9

The way that a person acts, is the way that God acts toward him in kind. The suspected adulteress dressed herself up for sin, so God commanded that she be dressed shabbily in the Temple; she acted immodestly for sin, so God commanded that she be deposed in shame before the public...

Samson [the Judge] went after his eyes [telling his father that he wanted to marry for beauty], and so the Philistines poked his eyes out... Absalom was conceited about his long hair, so he was hung by his hair...

[This principle applies] also for good: Miriam waited for Moses for an hour [after he was placed in the Nile River as a baby] and so the entire Jewish people waited a week for her [when she was exiled from the camp for having spoken ill of her brother]... Joseph merited to bury his father, and in turn his reburial in Israel was later attended to by Moses.



(1) How many positive commandments are found in the Torah? How many negative commandments are found in the Torah?

(2) What reasons does Rabbi Blech give for the specific number of negative and positive commandments, and the way they are divided?

(3) How did Avraham know how to keep the mitzvot if he lived many years before the Torah was given? How do we see the answer expressed in his name?

(4) The statement "all mitzvot are equal" refers to positive commandments only. Why is this so?

(5) Negative commands are not equal and carry different punishments. What are the three types of punishments prescribed for transgressing a negative commandment?

(6) What is meant by the term "measure for measure"? How does the punishment given to one who steals reflect this principle?

(7) Give three examples of the principle of "measure for measure" in the Torah.

(8) Why is "measure for measure" considered to be the ideal method of Divine punishment?

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