BabylonianTalmud, Shavuot 39a


תלמוד בבלי, שבועות לט.

Original Text:

כל עבירות שבתורה מכל העולם לא? והכתיב (ויקרא כ"ו) וכשלו איש באחיו - איש בעון אחיו, מלמד שכל ישראל ערבים זה בזה!


And for all transgressions of the Torah is not the whole world punished? Lo, it is written, "And they shall stumble one upon another" (Leviticus 26) - one because of the iniquity of the other; this teaches us that all Israel are responsible for one another.
[Soncino translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. How do we know that we are all responsible for each other?
2. What does it mean to be responsible for the people around you?
3. What are the social implications of this text? How does this text affect how you see yourself in the world?

Time Period:
Related Texts:
Related Sourcesheets:Covenantal Responsibilities , Koach Lunch and Learn-Maryland Hillel, A Day in the Life: Bringing Vision and Values to Practice, Rabbi Joy Levitt (Limmud NY 2008)

Comments on this Text

What could the word areivim mean in this context?

What does the metaphor of the boat teach us about the nature of
living as part of a community?

The key to this text is to understand the word areiv. In legal terms, it means
a guarantor: one who guarantees an obligation and has a legal duty to fulfill
it. Simply by virtue of being a Jew, I am responsible for you and you are
responsible for me. I promise to take care of you and you promise to take
care of me.

Another meaning of areiv is being mixed up or bound together with sometthing.
That is, Jews are bound together not just legally but emotionally,
historically, and culturally.

Living as part of the community can necessitate giving up individual
freedom. Our independence extends only to the extent that it does not
compromise the welfare of the group.

Have you had experiences in which you have felt bound up, or
responsible, for other Jews?

Do you feel responsible for other communities or groups in the same
way? Which other communities and why?