Does the concept of כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה (all Jews are responsible for one another) obligate us to put up a mezuzah on a non-frum Jew's door, if he did not, and he will not remove it if we did?

If not why not?

(Please give sources for answers)

  • Oh, and your question would also be much stronger if it would either include or link to an explanation of kol Yisrael arevin….
    – msh210
    May 9 '18 at 11:07
  • @RibbisRabbiAndMore question seems better now. Do you have an example of kol Yisrael arevin being used in a similar way as that you are asking about (some jurisprudence, to something similar as the mezuzot-question)?
    – RonP
    May 9 '18 at 11:22
  • Can KYA obligate you to spend money? Or are we assuming the non religious Jew owns a mezuza and just can't be bothered to put it up
    – Double AA
    May 9 '18 at 11:48
  • Interesting question. Can you say more about "he won't remove it"? Are we talking about a case where the person has agreed to leave it alone? Otherwise, we might be concerned about mistreatment of the klaf (which contains the divine name). May 9 '18 at 14:28

I think you are asking an interesting question on the definition and limits of כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה -- all Jews are responsible for one another.

I didn't find it addressed anywhere so let me try to offer an approach: there are at least two sources in the gemara that discuss arvut between Jews, one in a positive context, one in a negative one.

Rosh Hashana 29a explain one can recite a blessing for others even when one has already said it for himself because all Jews are responsible for one another (see Rashi there). This is why we can make kiddush multiple times on shabbat morning. Artscroll notes on this that arvut only works if the person repeating the blessing was himself obligated. That is not the case with mezuza where you were never obligated in your neighbor's mezuza to start with. In other words arvut allows you to repeat a blessing you had to say for yourself, it doesn't per se obligates you to say it (as in your question).

The second mention in the gemara (Shevuot 39a) explains the verse "And a man will stumble over his brother (Lev 26:37)" as meaning that all Jews are responsible for one another and will be punished one for the other but limits it to a case where people could have protested and prevented the individual from sinning but they did not protest.

So perhaps one can learn from these two passages the parameters and limits of arvut

  • one can say a blessing on behalf of someone when one is obligated
  • one should protest (or kindly suggest) to his neighbor to put on a mezuza

But none of these sources obligates us to do something we are not obligated in on behalf of our neighbor.

Interestingly the idea that one regularly puts on a mezuza for his neighbor is explicitly codified in halacha and the language of the blessing is different whether you do it for yourself ("likboa mezuza") or for your neighbor ("al kviat mezuza") - see Rambam MT Brakhot 11:13 or Pninei Halakha.


The Rema at the end of Yoreh Deah, siman 334, writes:

אף על פי שחייב אדם למחות בעוברי עבירה וכל מי שאינו מוחה ובידו למחות נתפס באותו עון, מכל מקום אין אדם חייב להוציא ממונו על זה, ולכן נהגו להקל מלמחות בעוברי עבירה שיש לחוש שיהיו עומדין על גופינו ומאודנו (מהרי"ו סימן קנ"ז)

Thus, according to the Rema, the obligation of tochechah does not require spending one's money. The Pri Megadim in his Teivas Gomeh, cited by the Pischei Teshuvah in Yoreh Deah 157, maintains that the Rema is discussing only a case of potential danger; according to the Pri Megadim, one would be obligated to spend a fifth of his wealth in order to fulfill the mitzvah of tochechah (and perhaps all his wealth to prevent violation of a lo sa'aseh). However, the Pischei Teshuvah points out that the language of Rema cited above does not sound this way.

This is the teshuvah of Mahari Weil that Rema cites:

רב טוב לאהו' מהר"ר מיישטרלין י"ץ מה שכתב מר אהא דאמרו רבותי' כל שיש בידו למחות כו' ואינו מוחה שאלת טעמא מאי איך אנו יוצאים ידי חובותינו שאין אנו מוחי'? כיון שרבו פרצי עמינו המלעיגין ומלעיבין בתורה ובלומדיה ואינם שומעי' למוכיחי' אם היינו מוחים בידם איכא למיחש לסכנה שהיו עומדי' עלינו על גופינו ועל מאודינו. והא דאמר מי שיש בידו למחות ואינו מוחה כו' היינו היכא דליכא סכנה. וכה"ג אמרינן פרק עשרה יוחסים ובדקו עד לסכנה ופירשו. ומה שכתבת אם חייב אדם להוציא ממון על זה נראה דאינו חייב וראייה מדאמרינן פרק בן סורר דילפינן מלא תעמוד על דם רעך דחייב להציל חבירו ומקשה תלמודא האי מהכא נפקא מהתם נפקא אבידת גופו מניין תלמוד לומר והשבותו לו ומשני אי מהתם ה"א ה"מ בנפשיה אבל למיטרח ואגורי לא קמ"ל. אלמא אי ליכא קרא יתיר' לא הוה אמרינן שמחוייב להוציא ממון אפילו להציל נפש חבירו. וכ"ש הכא גבי עשה דתוכיח דאין חייב להוציא ממון. ועוד מדאיצטריך קרא לכתוב בכל מאודך שחייב אדם למסור כל ממונו בשביל קידוש השם ואם היה חייב להוציא ממון להציל חבירו מן העבירה אם כן כ"ש עצמו ואם כן מאי איצטריך בכל מאודך? ודוחק לומר דהתם איירי דחייב למסור כל ממונו אבל הכא גבי עשה דתוכיח אינו חייב למסור כל ממונו רק מקצת דא"כ מה שיעור יש בדבר? דבשלמא גבי הכאה עד שיכנו כל דהו אין צריך להוכיחו יותר


The question hinges on first understanding the meaning of the saying, "כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה", to which Alshich on Devarim 29:9:4 says:

עוד יתכן על פי דרך זה באומר כל איש ישראל פירש ענין היות כלם צדיקים והוא כי ישראל נקרא גוי אחד ונפש אחד כמה דאת אמר שבעים נפש שהוא להיותם משורש הקדושה שהיא אחדות שלימה ועל כן ישראל ערבים זה לזה יחשבו כל איש ואיש מישראל כאשר אחד מגוף שלם וכל הכללות כגוף מקובץ מאברים רבים ונפשותם כנפש א' המחיה את כלם יחד והנה בהיות קצת ישראל צדיקים ונמצאו בעמנו רשעים בטל האחדות כי הלא אם עיקר אילן שיש לו ענפים רבים עם שראש העליון מהענפים נפרד זה מזה הלא יחשבו כל הענפים אחד מפאת חבור שרשי כל הענפים בעיקר האילן

Although the Jewish people are comprised of individuals like other nations, they have an additional state of being that the nations do not possess. Like HaShem, the Jewish people are one. And that is the meaning of כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה. The individual Jews are a mixture that makes up a single being.

An individual has a responsibility to safeguard their own life. And in the same way, the Torah commands each of us to be proactive in safeguarding the lives of our fellow Jews, like is seen in VaYikra 19:16 and Sanhedrin 73a.

One of the ways we safeguard our own lives is through having kosher mezuzot in our homes. And so, one has a responsibility, when possible, to safeguard his Jewish neighbors life if it is at risk. This includes mezuzot.

And that is the foundation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Mezuzah Campaign, like is found here. The article paraphrases the words of the Rebbe in his talks at the time that he was pushing the campaign which says:

In the Shema it says that fulfilling the mitzvah of mezuzah “assures long life for you and your children.” In other words, a mezuzah protects the Jewish person and home even when its inhabitants are not at home.

Someone informed the Rebbe that twenty-one mezuzos in the school premises were later found to be not kosher – corresponding to the exact number of students murdered. In the home of the massacred family, every mezuzah was invalid.

[The Rebbe explained that he] was wondering what pushed him to campaign for this particular mitzvah over the past few months. It was obvious now that the mitzvah of mezuzah is one which requires greater attention and focus. It is critical that all Jews around the world, especially in the Holy Land, become strengthened in this important mitzvah by ensuring that a kosher mezuzah is affixed to every required doorpost, and the mezuzos must be checked that they are still kosher – as the code of Jewish Law maintains – at least twice in seven years. (The Rebbe also pointed out that the women should not solely rely on their husbands to take the mezuzos to be checked, but they should help make sure it gets done.)

It should be done with permission and cooperation because the emphasis is on maintaining the unity of the Jewish people, that we are one. If done via compulsion or force, the benefit would be lost.

And this is what is expressed by the Tur, Choshen Mishpat, 177:4 which says:

ושותף אינו חייב באחריות חבירו דשותפין הן שומרי שכר זה לזה בעסק הממון אבל בעסק שמירת גופות כל אחד שמירת גופו עליו ואין חייב בשמירת חבירו

The obligation to safeguard ones body falls on every individual. When the Jewish people are seen as one, like it says in davening, "מי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ", then your fellow Jew is not a partner to whom you have no obligation. They are yourself literally.

  • 1
    What does the Tur say which has any relevance to this?
    – wfb
    May 9 '18 at 18:49
  • @wfb That every individual has an obligation to safeguard their own body. May 9 '18 at 19:51

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