Updated: Jun 26
By Rabbi Scott Kramer
In the Talmud, our magnus opus on Jewish law and lore, in discussing the domino effect of sin, in Shevuot 39a, it concludes with the Aramaic phrase Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh -
All of Israel are responsible for each other.
This phrase is the basis of the notion of communal responsibility in Jewish law. If one Jew sees another Jew at the verge of sinning, he has an obligation to step in and help. Even more so, it implies an obligation on all Jews to ensure that other Jews have their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter taken care of.
Simply by virtue of being a Jew one is responsible for the well-being of other Jews and vice versa.
Fifteen hundred years ago, the rabbis who passed down and modified our traditions saw a time in the future where it would be incumbent on all of us to be mindful of the needs of our friends and neighbors.
In this new global village of the modern age we must extend this care and support not to just other Jews but to people of all faiths. We all have to take care of each other in times of plague, natural disaster, man-made disaster or pandemic.
I am thinking of each and every one of you at every service we offer. I am wondering if you are all in good health or suffering from the coronavirus or other malady. I am wondering if you are able to get out and get food and supplies for yourselves. I am wondering if you are under stifling debt due to un-employment or medical issues.
If you know of someone whois in need of food or assistance, please let me know. We have ample resources due to one of our congregants with a very generous heart. I am here to follow the Talmudic dictum of being responsible for each other.
I know this cannot be easy for anyone to be cooped up in their homes for endless weeks and being very careful when venturing outside. In order to take care of each other it is important that we follow the advice of doctors and infectious disease professionals.
We need to wear masks to protect others from getting the virus from us. We need to make sure we use hand sanitizer often and keep the 6-foot social distance from each other.
Even though others are not following these precautions, that is no reason to put yourself or others at risk. We have to continue being responsible for each other even after a vaccine is found or we can be tested for antigens.
Even though your synagogue is shut down, we are thinking of ways of reach out to each and every one of you. We have been live streaming services since Feb. 21. Seems like yesterday.
We have begun a Saturday night Havdalah that includes Turia Stark- Williams and Miriam Wyman.
The music and ruach (spirit) is so pleasant that the board has decided to continue this on a weekly basis.
I miss all of you and look forward to seeing you in person. Until then, find us online from the synagogue’s website aieamontgomery.org.
Check out our Torah study on Tuesdays and join us for a musical, spiritual Havdalah on Saturday night as Shabbat is ending.