Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh – Bazeh

Each Jew is responsible for every Jew

Jewish people are taught that ‘Each Jew is responsible for every Jew’ and the rabbis remind us that this mitzvah should shape our relations with our fellow Jews and with humanity in general.

We are all responsible for our own behaviour. JAT practices a message of safe and ‘safer sex’. Safe sex is abstinence. If you are abstinent from all sexual activity then you will be one hundred percent safe. Safer sex is when you are sexually active but you have the knowledge and resources to protect yourself from any possible harm. JAT’s message of safe and ‘safer sex’ stresses the importance of taking responsibility not only for our own health but also other people’s health. This means that we may have to grapple with some traditional taboos and ask ourselves whether, in the light of the mitzvah of Pikuach Nefesh, we need to rethink our boundaries to education and the things we are comfortable addressing in our personal, family and communal lives.

In the sexual health context, the principle of mutual responsibility requires two things; an informed awareness about sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) and informed behaviour. Each adult is responsible for making him or herself aware of up-to-date facts about STI transmission, and treatments. Such information is vital in terms of health education and it can also be the basis for constructive and meaningful relationships with others.

Adults have a responsibility to children. Jews endeavour to instruct their children in the value and strength of being in loving relationships. Adults take the responsibility to teach them about STIs – to protect them and to help them become responsible people.

Rabbi Hillel said,
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”

  • If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” – It is our own and no one else’s prerogative to take responsibility for our own personal health and safety in any circumstance including our romantic and sexual relationships.
  • If I am not for others, what am I?” – If we are not prepared to take responsibility for others, in whatever form that responsibility takes, education, care, protection etc. then we are not considered to have any substance in ourselves.
  • If not now, when?” – We have to act now, if we tell ourselves we will act later, it will either not get done or it will be too late.

If sex is mysterious, anxious, angry, threatening or guilt provoking, we run the risk of alienating those who we wish to protect. The person becomes more vulnerable when isolated and the family unit may start to break down.

What can you do to take responsibility?

  • Become knowledgeable about STIs and healthy relationships
  • Support JAT by running fundraising events
  • Support JAT by donating to our cause