The quality of being godly, i.e., godlike, manifested in character and conduct expressive of the conscious recognition and realization of man's divine origin and destiny, and in the discharge of the duties therein involved. Regarding man as fashioned in the likeness of God (Gen. i. 26, 27), Judaism predicates of every man the possibility, and ascribes to him the faculty, of realizing godliness. According to its anthropology, this faculty was never vitiated or weakened in man by original sin.
In the Authorized Version "godly" corresponds to the Hebrew "ḥasid" (Ps. iv. 3, xii. 2 [A. V. 1]); but the term 'ẓaddiḳ" (righteous; Ps. i. 5, 6) equally connotes the idea. The characteristics of the godly may best be derived from the fuller account given of their antonyms. The ungodly ("resha'im"; Ps. i. 1, 5) are described as men compassed about with pride, clothed in violence, speaking loftily and corruptly, denying God's knowledge, prospering by corruption in this world, and wrongfully increasing their riches (Ps. lxxiii.). They are those that make not God their strength (ib. lii. 7). Godliness is thus also the antithesis to the conduct and character of the wicked ("mere'im"), the workers of iniquity ("po'ale owen"; ib. lxiv.), "who whet their tongue like a sword"; who encourage themselves to do evil, denying that God will see them.
The godly, by contrast, is he whose delight is in the Torah of
According to the Rabbis, the beginning and the conclusion of the Torah relate deeds of divine benevolence. God clothed the naked; He comforted the mourners; He buried the dead (Soṭah 14a; B. Ḳ. 99a; B. M. 30b based on Mek., Yitro, 2 [ed. Weiss, 68a; ed. Friedmann, 59b]; comp. the second "berakah" in the Shemoneh 'Esreh). Godliness thus involves a like disposition and readiness on the part of man to come to the relief of all that are in distress and to be a doer of personal kindness to his fellow men ("gomel ḥasadim"; comp. Ned. 39b, 40a). Thus, whatever is involved in "gemilut ḥasadim" (see Charity) is characteristic of godliness. Matt. xxv. 31 et seq. is an enumeration of the implications of Jewish godliness, the context ("then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory"; ib. xxv. 31) indicating that this catalogue was derived from a genuinely Jewish source (comp. Midr. Teh. to Ps. cxviii. 20, ed. Buber, p. 486). Jewish godliness also inculcates modesty and delicate consideration of the feelings of one's fellow man. According to Eleazar ben Pedat, "to do justly" (Micah vi. 8) refers to judgments rendered by judges; "to love mercy [love]," to the doing of acts of love ("gemilut ḥasadim"); "to walk humbly," to quiet, unostentatious participation in burying the dead and the providing of dowries for poor girls about to be married. "If," he continues, "for the prescribed acts the Torah insists on secrecy and unostentatiousness, how much more in the case of acts which of themselves suggest the propriety of secrecy" (Suk. 49b; Mak. 24b). He who is charitable without ostentation is greater than Moses (B. B. 9b). Greater is he that induces others to do kindly deeds than one that thoughtlessly or improperly performs them himself (B. B. 9a). He who does justly and loves mercy fills as it were the whole world with divine love (Ps. xxxiii. 5; Suk. 49b). Jewish godliness is not an "opus operatum," as is so often held by non-Jewish theologians. Charity without love is unavailing ("en ẓedaḳah meshallemet ela lefi ḥesed she-bah"; Suk. 49b). It comprises more than accurate justice, insistence being laid on "exceeding" justice (Mek., Yitro, 2, cited above).Consideration for Others' Feelings.
Godliness also comprehends the sense of dependence upon divine grace and of gratitude for the opportunity to do good. "Prayer is greater than good works" (Ber. 32b). The question why God, if He loves the poor, does not Himself provide for them, is answered by declaring it to be God's intention to permit man to acquire the higher life (B. B. 10a). Jewish godliness is careful not to put another to shame (Ḥag. 5a, on public boastful charity); God's consideration for the repentant sinner (Hosea xiv. 2) is commended to man for imitation (Pesiḳ. 163b). He who gloats over the shame of his fellow man is excluded from the world to come (Gen. R. i.). "Better be burned alive than put a fellow man to shame" (Soṭah 10b).
It is ungodly to remind the repentant sinner of his former evil ways; as is it to remind the descendant of non-Jews of his ancestors (B. M. 58b). There is therefore no forgiveness for him who puts another to shame or who calls him by an offensive name (B. M. 58b). Godliness includes the forgiving disposition (Prov. xvii. 9; Ab. i. 12, v. 14; R. H. 17a). To be beloved of God presupposes to be beloved of men (Ab. iii. 13). Slander and godliness are incompatible (Pes. 118a). Pride and godliness are absolute contraries (Prov. vi. 16-19; Ta'an. 7a; Soṭah 4b, 5a, b; 'Ab. Zarah 20b: humility is the greatest virtue). To be among the persecuted rather than among the persecutors is characteristic of the godly (Giṭ. 36b). "God says, 'Be like unto me. As I requite good for evil, so do thou render good for evil'" (Ex. R. xxvi.; comp. Gen. R. xxvi.).