The Talmud teaches that

All Jews are responsible for one another -- כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה . [Sanhedrin 27b].

It also teaches that

Anyone who can protest [the sinful conduct] of the members of his household and does not protest, [he himself is] apprehended [… and punished. If he can protest the sinful conduct of] the people of his town [and does not do so, he is] apprehended [and punished. If he can protest the sinful conduct of] the whole world [and does not do so], he is apprehended for [the sins of] the whole world. [Shabbat 54b]

Is the first contained in the second, making the first superfluous, or is there a subtle difference?


Is the first contained in the second, making the first superfluous, or is there a subtle difference?

There's a not-so-subtle difference. The idea expressed in the first passage is the idea behind the ability to recite kidush (for example) for another even if I've already fulfilled by personal obligation to recite kidush: because he hasn't, I'm considered to also be responsible for the fulfillment of the command, so I can recite kidush for him. The second passage, of course, doesn't touch on that.

  • Are you saying the first only makes you responsible for fulfilling the positive commandments of other Jews if they don't fulfill them themselves, while the second says you will be punished for the sins of others (Jewish or not) if you don't speak up against those sins? But the first also implies you will be punished for the sins of other Jews. Jul 12 '20 at 12:19
  • 1
    @MauriceMizrahi, I didn't say "only". I said that the "כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה" idea is behind the ability to make kidush, etc. It's behind other things, too.
    – msh210
    Jul 12 '20 at 12:37
  • It seems to me that both are saying the same thing, namely: "Every person, Jew or Gentile, is responsible for making sure every other person in the world follows the commandments (positive or negative) applicable to them." Jul 12 '20 at 15:09

In addition to the answer given by @msh210 there's an important nuance as well.

The concept of "Arvus" means that I'm a guarantor for you, individually. The Jewish people undertook the responsibility to watch out for each other.

The second source isn't focused on the people doing the sin. It's not the same mitzvah a "tochacha", rebuke. That is a mitzvah to rebuke and correct my fellow Jew- as the verse states Vayikra 19:17:

לֹֽא־תִשְׂנָ֥א אֶת־אָחִ֖יךָ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃

You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him.

Tochacha is based upon my concern for the person, and my desire/obligation to distance him from sinning. The obligation is only to rebuke someone who is still halachically considered my kinsman, and there a numerous regulations about how much I am obligated to rebuke him. (See Gemara Erachin 16b and thererabout) Tochacha fits very well with the concept of arvus.

Here, it's a different mitzvah- macha'ah, protest. There's a mitzvah to protest evil being done in the world.
This obligation is not out of concern for the individual, but for the resulting chillul Hashem cause by sin. Thus even for those people for whom I have no need to rebuke ("the whole world" who are clearly not my kinsmen), I still need to protest- to avoid being part of his chillul Hashem.

This point is discussed a lot in conjunction to chillul shabbos here in Israel. By making a public rally against cars driving in religious neighborhoods, it might fulfill the mitzvah of machaah-protest but it will not fulfill the concept of tochacha-rebuke. By reaching out to individual drivers, in a nice way, it might be a fulfillment of tochaha but generally you'll need to avoid making a public statement of protest. There's lots discussion regarding how to determine which approach to take. I've heard lots of oral discussion on this point. They all quote Ritva, which I looked up in his commentary once (I think on maseches beitza, in the sugya of "mutav yehiyu shoggegim", but I can't check it now) who discusses this issue.

The point is that the two concepts are very different conceptually, and come from different sources, even though there may practically be some overlap.


The is a not so subtle difference.

In gemara rosh hashana 29a, rashi states "אע"פ שיצא מוציא - שהרי כל ישראל ערבין זה בזה למצות:"

There is a whole "sugya" (topic) as to what extent a jew is responsible for another jew keeping mitzvos. The topic is called ערבות. Here is a relatively short list of what the topic includes.

So a jew has a double responsibility for his fellow jew. That is to help him fulfill mitzvos avoid sin.

For a non-jew, it's just the latter.

  • 2
    This looks like an exact duplicate of my preexisting answer. Or am I missing something?
    – msh210
    Jul 12 '20 at 14:36
  • You are correct. However it is due to the fact that when I started writing my answer, there were NO answers yet. Apparently, sometime during my writing up my answer, you submitted yours. It took me a significant amount of time as I usually try to provide sources for my answer, which I did by finding the gemara in R.H.. Otherwise I'd have been done in two minutes. You didn't bother to provide sources and, of course, the moderator doesn't jump on your head for that as he does for me so I look like I copied your idea which I did not.
    – Geltman
    Jul 13 '20 at 5:48
  • Good point. I think if you edit into this answer a point or two of the included topics you link to (which are in Hebrew only and thus useless to many people) -- perhaps even copy-paste what I wrote about kidush, which you have my permission to do -- then I'll delete my answer as a duplicate of yours.
    – msh210
    Jul 13 '20 at 7:18

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