Guilt and Repentance

“Judaism, with its belief in an invisible God who created the world with words, is an attempt to base the moral life on something other than public opinion, appearance, honour, and shame. As God tells Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Hence the ethic of the Divine word; hence the key term in Judaism, Shema: “hear” or “listen.” Hence the importance of the inner voice, of conscience, of guilt rather than shame; of repentance, not rejection; of forgiveness rather than appeasement; of the integrity of the individual regardless of his or her deeds. This was, and remains, one of the most revolutionary shifts in the history of ethics, and Western civilisation owes a great deal to it.”

Morality, p. 218