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Chaim Ingram
Chaim Ingram

ACUTE ANGLES. An Australian Bill of Rights?

Shalom, Rabbi. There have been several attempts over the years to institute an entrenched Bill of Rights federally in Australia all of which have failed. You say there is a Jewish angle to everything!  So what is the Jewish view on this?  Regards. Rafi.

Shalom, Rafi,

Judaism holds much more store by duties than rights. Even where the Torah recognizes, for example, the right of the poor not to be left destitute by a creditor (Exodus 22:26), the law is couched in the form of the mitzvah (duty) of the creditor rather than the rights of the indigent debtor.

However, if there were to be such a Bill of Rights in Australia as you describe, I would like to see it contain, among others, these core principles broadly drawn from the Seven Universal (Noachide) Laws prescribed by the Torah for all humanity:-

  • The right of every citizen, including the terminally ill, to live out the full span of his or her allotted years as determined by G-D. Any attempt to assist any person to shorten their life by committing suicide by any medical practitioner or other individual to be reclassified as unlawful killing.
  • The right of the unborn child to the gift of life, save only that the genuine physical and mental health of the mother is an overriding consideration.
  • The right of every child to be able to know and to respect a nurturing mother and a caring father.
  • The right of every citizen to express his or her views no matter how ‘politically incorrect’ without fear of being publicly vilified, shamed or ‘cancelled’ – the sole exceptions being defamatory statements or unequivocal incitement to violence.
  • The right of every accused or defendant to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a court of law, and to not be pre-‘judged’ by the massed kangaroo courts of social and other media.
  • The inalienable right, whichever future government may be in power (even the Greens, so help us!) to authentically practice religious rituals such as circumcision and shechita without interference, e.g. spurious requirement for pre-stunning (which merely paralyses the animal and frequently misses).
  • The unconditional right of any employer to hire staff strictly in accordance with the ethos of the company, practice, business or school which s/he fronts.

I don’t expect any of these clauses to surface in any bill of rights imminently. But as that wise king once had engraved on his signet ring: This too shall (eventually) pass!

About the Author
Rabbi Chaim Ingram is the author of four books on Judaism and honorary rabbi of Sydney Jewish Centre on Ageing.
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