I get that God can hold one to account for whatever He'd like to regardless of if a person accepted to abide by certain behavior or not however I don't believe that He would as it does not seem to be just.

Humankind was held to account many a time even prior to the giving of the torah (think Cain, the flood generation, Sodom etc) with the explanation given that humans naturally know morality and are punished for acting immorally.

Obviously what is not included in natural morality would require an agreement or covenant to be bound by.

There were indeed many such covenants in our history.

Geirim too commit to abide by a certain standard and it is sensible that they can be held to account.

My question relates to born Jews.

How can Judaism with all of its demands devolve upon birth when the person did not consciously accept to abide by all those extra-moral commandments?

I am asking purely from a rational jurisprudential standpoint.

I am not looking for answers based on that somehow our forebears are able to obligate us or kabbalah or that our neshamos were there etc

  • 1
    If we could prove that our forefathers are able to legally obligate us, why would that be rejected under your terms?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 11 at 17:27
  • I strongly suspect that an answer could be written that develops and applies a principle of national obligation. I think R' Hirsch probably has material on this.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 11 at 18:10
  • 4
    would this be the same question as "how can born American citizens be held to the laws of the land?"
    – rosends
    Jan 11 at 18:21
  • 1
    @RabbiKaii As I wrote in the body of the q I'm not talking about what we all naturally understand to be unethical. I'm specifically discussing laws that aren't included in our natural sense of morality.
    – Nahum
    Jan 11 at 18:48
  • 1
    @Nahum please feel free to add that to the question. Understanding it as "things only Jews are bound to" was my initial understanding, and it seems Isaac's understanding too. I think something about the wording of the question ended up confusing me, and perhaps others. Hopefully some of this feedback can be used to help you edit the question to get better answers. Thanks for that suggestion btw, looking forward to checking it out
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 11 at 20:35

1 Answer 1


I'm gonna take a stab at trying to answer this.

Some may have alluded to parts of this in the comments to the question however I'm gonna attempt to pull it together in a way that adds up for me.

Basically, history up until Avraham can be viewed as a failed attempt of natural morality to produce a just and moral society.

More was necessary to keep the world on track.

A core group of extraordinarily God aware people became necessary—in tandem with the general moral code—to keep awareness of God front and center.

A ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש to inspire and guide the world.

No reason is given for Avraham's selection.

Someone was needed to be chosen to head up this new core.

It could have been anyone that would prove to be a good choice, which Avraham was certainly shown to be.

His family blossomed into a nation and eventually received this additional Torah, which they agreed to.

In this reading, for humanity's inborn compass of right and wrong to function properly it became necessary to have a core of ever more God aware folks than the rest.

It is well nigh possible that born Jews never personally accepted the extra-moral parts of the Torah and yet God commands us in them and holds us to account.

Everyone is born with different life circumstances, be that as it relates to gender, health, smarts, looks, talents and ones family situation to name a few.

Everyone contributes to the smooth running of society in their own way.

I'm not getting involved with the potential randomness or arbitrariness of it.

Being that a group such as the Jews is a necessary ingredient in the preservation of society someone's got to do the job.

The fact that the world has shown that it requires such a group to keep it on the straight and narrow morally speaking makes it just for some people to be pressed into the job, especially as their forebears have already agreed to it and they've ostensibly been raised and trained to conform to it.

If a Jew is unaware of his heritage then he obviously will not be taken to task for the additional commandments however if he is aware of them then he will be, despite him not necessarily being amenable to them, via the coercion of punishment.

The world needs different people to make it work and everyone has to do their part.

That someone is born into more demanding life circumstances is no different than say someone born with any other type of difficulty or impediment that needs to be surmounted.

I'm not dealing with the potential lack of fairness that presents itself in anyones individual life circumstance.

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