BF Virtue: <insert Hebrew>

HEBREW TERM: נזְיִרוּת

In the Hebrew Bible, “nazirites” were those who took on vows of abstention. Some of the most famous engagers in “nazirut” were Samson and Samuel whose devout lives led to remarkable gifts. Their acts of avoidance kept them away

from the “dullness” that Franklin warns against.


BF Virtue: Silence

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

Shtika, or silence, is one of the principles of Mussar, the Jewish ethical practice, In our ever-deafening world, the ability to embrace silence and “avoid trifling conversation” has become all the more important.


BF Virtue: Order

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

The word seder has come to be identified with the traditional meal for Passover where Jews gather to tell the story of the Exodus. Its meaning is order as it relates to the precise structure in which the meal happens. The seder of the seder follows Franklin’s idea that all things should “have their place.”


BF Virtue: Resolve

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

In Exodus, God describes the Israelites as a people that is kh’she oref, stiff-necked or stubborn. Though it seems to be an insult, it has taken on a complementary valence as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks suggested, “stubbornness will be not a tragic

failing but a noble and defiant loyalty”-- and maybe that stubbornness will lead one to “perform without fail what you resolve.”


BF Virtue: Frugality

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

In Deuteronomy 20:19, Moses relays God’s instructions about wartime behavior and explains that trees are not to be harmed. The Rabbis later broadened this direction in order to caution against unnecessary waste by explaining that

“nothing that God created in the world was superfluous or in vain.” Rav Hisda articulates his own theory of frugality by saying “one who can manage by eating [inexpensive] barley bread, but instead eats wheat bread, has violated the commandment of ba’al tashkhit.” Bal Tashkhit was the Rabbi’s way of saying: “waste nothing.”


BF Virtue: Industry

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

Avodah has a dual meaning-- profane, regarding normal work, and sacred, regarding the service of God. Both suggest a lack of frivolity and align with Franklin’s direction to “lose no time.”


BF Virtue: Sincerity

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

“Prayer without kavanah,” the philosopher Bachya ibn Paquda explained, “is like a body without a soul.” Kavanah, often defined as intentionality but literally meaning direction, is deemed essential by the rabbis for prayer. They decreed that one could not just move one’s mouth in prayer but had to be sincere or have kavanah in reciting the words.


BF Virtue: Justice

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

“Tzedek, tzedek-- justice, justice-- shall you pursue” exhorts Deuteronomy 16:20. This declaration is of such primacy that tzedek, justice, repeats twice. The pursuit of justice is at the heart of the biblical and rabbinic project and continues to be our responsibility today.


BF Virtue: Moderation

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

Emsteyut comes from emsta, middle. The ideal person should aim, as Rabbi Natan explains, “to walk in the middle” and thus “avoid extremes” as Franklin suggests.


BF Virtue: Cleanliness

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

For the Rabbis, there was a strong connection between physical cleanliness and ritual purity. The Talmud states that the a person’s body is a sanctuary and thus should be treated appropriately. Though Jewish texts do not stress cleanliness for cleanliness’ sake, cleanliness provided a vehicle to achieve other aims.


BF Virtue: Tranquility

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

Menuchat ha-nefesh translates literally to rest or repose of the soul. Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv suggested “a person who has mastered peace of mind has gained everything.” Such a state of equanimity would make it easier to “be not disturbed

at trifles.”


BF Virtue: Humility

HEBREW TERM: <insert Hebrew>

Does strength, mental acuity, or leadership define Moses and his heroic efforts to lead the Israelites from slavery to freedom? Rather, Moses is defined by his anava, his humility, as Numbers 12:3 describes him as more humble “than any person on earth.” While Franklin wished for us to imitate Socrates or Jesus, we have a representative of humility in Moshe Rabbeinu-- Moses, our Rabbi.


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