A common feature of assertiveness training involves one internalizing an assertiveness "bill of rights". Below is a an example of a popular list of such rights from Manuel J. Smith:

I: You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.
II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.
III: You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.
IV: You have the right to change your mind.
V: You have the right to make mistakes and be responsible for them.
VI: You have the right to say, “I don’t know.”
VII: You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.
VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.
IX: You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”
X: You have the right to say, “I don’t care.”

Does Jewish philosophy/law subscribe to this overall category of rights? Please provide sources. To clarify, my intent is not to determine the particular parameters of these rights, or to debate each point in the above example, but to ask if Judaism believes in the general philosophy of personal rights in this area. (I hope that is a clear and valid distinction.)

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    Fundamentally, Judaism is based on obligations, not rights. However, obligations imply responsibility, and to be responsible you need to be autonomous, because if you are not autonomous then you are not in control of your own actions. All the rights you quoted can be rephrased as, "I have a right to be autonomous." So it boils down to the same thing.
    – pcoz
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 3:09
  • 1
    On number 2, if by not explaining yourself people might misunderstand what your doing, in some cases that could be chillul Hashem. Number 10, saying I don't care, or no, if it's against the Torah then you don't have that right.
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 3:24
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    Judaism believes there is an OBLIGATION to say you don't know if you don't, and one can't learn without being willing to admit ignorance.
    – N.T.
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 8:29
  • You can ask the question for everythings. And the "right" in judaism is linked to logic, to mitzvot, and mitzvot are generally logical and underatandible. The "right" is divided in Ben Adam Lamakom and Ben Adam Lachavero. I have the right to put my shoes before my pants if I want and nobody can no one can force me not to. But in an other spectrum, this is wasting of time and I have not the right to wast my time.
    – kouty
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 5:59

1 Answer 1


Rebbe Nachman, in the end of Likutei Moharan II:72, says as follows:

אֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים כְּלָל מַהוּ שִׁפְלוּת אֲמִתִּי, כִּי בְּוַדַּאי אֵין זֶה תַּכְלִית שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שָׁפָל וְנִבְזֶה וְעָצֵל, שֶׁקּוֹרִין רֹעַ־מַזָּל (וּבְלַעַ"ז: שְׁלֵים־מַזְלְנִיק). כִּי הַשִּׁפְלוּת הוּא עִקָּר הַחַיִּים שֶׁל כָּל אֵיבָר וְאֵיבָר, וְהוּא כָּל תַּעֲנוּג עוֹלָם הַבָּא כַּנַּ"ל, וּבְוַדַּאי אֵין זֶה הַתַּכְלִית שֶׁל עוֹלָם הַבָּא, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה נִבְזֶה וְעָצֵל וְכוּ', חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.

...we have no idea at all what true lowliness is. For the goal is certainly not to be of low self-esteem, contemptuous and pathetic, someone whom people call “an unfortunate” {in Yiddish, a schlimazel}. For lowliness is the essential life within each and every limb, and it is the entire delight of the World to Come, as mentioned above. And it is certainly not the purpose of the World to Come that one should be contemptuous and pathetic…, God forbid.

You aren't meant to be a wet rag, and the principles of עניוות (humility) within Judaism do not demand that of you.

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