July 25, 2024

How Arvut Hadadit and the Concept of Mutual Responsibility Inspire Jewish Charity

Women Volunteers Packing Food for Charity

The Jewish community wouldn’t be as large and strong as it is today without mutual responsibility. Arvut Hadadit, as it’s known in Hebrew, supports the beliefs of Judaism while driving the direction of philanthropic initiatives small and large. In this article, we explain what mutual responsibility means, where the concept comes from, and what it looks like in practice.

What Does Arvut Hadadit Mean?

Arvut hadadit, translated from Hebrew as ‘mutual responsibility’ or ‘mutual guarantee’, is a central tenet and value in Jewish law (halacha). The idea revolves around all Jews’ shared obligation and responsibility to care for and support one another. This unity transcends geographical borders, generational divides, and individual differences.

Arvut hadadit encompasses a wide range of mutual obligations, including:

  • providing financial assistance to those in need
  • offering emotional support during challenging times
  • actively using prayers and blessings in the interest of others.

The principle also emphasizes the importance of Jewish history and education, with each generation bearing the responsibility of passing on Jewish knowledge, values, and traditions to the next.

Where Does Arvut Hadadit Come From?

The exact origins of arvut hadadit are unknown. The basic principle of shared responsibility and mutual support has been a cornerstone of Jewish life since biblical times. We’ve had many opportunities to put arvut hadadit into practice since then, from providing for the poor to building communal institutions. 

Many consider the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel as two of the most profound examples of arvut hadadit in action in the 20th century. Our strength as a people today serves as evidence of this principle’s truth. 

Jewish Values Associated with Arvut Hadadit

Jewish charity tradition is rich with examples of mutual responsibility in action. They’re all broadly covered by a phrase that we use to describe our commitment to shared work and service – ‘kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh’, or ‘all Jews are responsible for one another’. 

Practices like empathy (kiddush hashem), compassionate giving (bitachon), hospitality (hachnasat orchim), humility (anavah), and justice (tzedek) are significant to Jews, while promoting acts of loving-kindness through charity (tzedakah) creates positive psychological benefits for givers and receivers alike. From individual men and women in philanthropy to entire synagogue-wide charitable initiatives, mutual responsibility is what has sustained the entire Jewish diaspora throughout its many years of trial and tribulation. 

How the Jewish Community Embraces Mutual Responsibility

The well-known phrase ‘Olam Chesed Yibaneh,’ which translates to ‘I will build this world with kindness’ in Hebrew, can look like many things in practice. 

Giving Charity to the Poor In Tangible and Intangible Forms

While one-time donations on Chanukah and the charitably significant holiday of Passover are important, Chabad rebbes encourage us to embrace philanthropic religious values every day of the Jewish calendar year. This doesn’t necessarily mean donating to a Jewish charity in monetary form – the Eight Degrees of Giving outline many ways we can intangibly give tzedakah (charity) to others. Visiting the sick (bikur cholim), for example, requires nothing more than a bit of time yet is capable of inspiring great healing. 

The Many Means Through Which We Can Give Back to the Jewish Community

From groups for widows and charities for orphans to non-profits for children’s education, community healthcare projects, and initiatives against hunger, there are many ways to promote arvut hadadit while remaining cognizant of what Israel needs help with most today. 

It’s easy to sign up to volunteer with organizations that serve the poor and even easier to spread the word about important causes. Those who don’t have enough time to get involved in person can make donations through online giving platforms on altruistic Jewish holidays or commit to contributing a specific amount on an ongoing basis. 

What Mutual Responsibility Means to Colel Chabad

Arvut hadadit isn’t merely a theoretical concept – it’s a call to action. And at Colel Chabad, it’s what we do every single day. As the oldest Jewish charity in the country, our non-profit’s history of building support networks for families in need spans centuries. 

Prominent Chabad leaders founded Colel Chabad in 1788 to provide food and support to the needy in the Holy Land. Over 230 years later, we’re still carrying out the mission of the Chabad movement, providing food, housing, clothing, medical care, and social services to impoverished families, the elderly, and widows and orphans in Israel. Donations make programs a reality for everyone. 

Non-Profit Supermarkets

Colel Chabad’s network of non-profit supermarkets provides critical sustenance to hundreds of families every year. It’s our mutual responsibility to ensure no man, woman, or child in the tight-knit Jewish community goes hungry.

Daycare Centers

Arvut hadadit manifests in our daycare centers, which provide a safe, nurturing environment for children from struggling homes. We take responsibility for ensuring these precious children receive the care, education, and emotional support they need to thrive.

Gett Chesed

Project Gett Chesed aims to support the loneliest members of our community through volunteer-based outreach initiatives. Sometimes, company is all it takes to make a profound difference in someone’s life. 

Arvut Hadadit starts with you. Make an impact by making an online donation today.


Yizkor Donation

בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁבְּלִי נֶדֶר אֶתֵּן צְדָקָה