May 22, 2024

The Meaning of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh

Group Photo of Men with The Western Wall in The Background

In times of adversity, such as during centuries of persecution and exile, Jews have relied on each other for survival. The phrase “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh” emphasizes the notion that we are all in life together – our actions or lack thereof can impact others and our community at large. This article explains the meaning behind Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh and provides examples of its practical applications in modern-day Jewish philanthropy.

What Does Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh Mean?

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh is a phrase that can be found in traditional Jewish teachings and texts. It is often translated as “All Israel are responsible for one another” or “Every Jew is accountable for one another.” This powerful statement encapsulates the idea of communal responsibility and unity within Jewish values.

It has held particular significance amidst centuries of persecution and diaspora. Influential Chabad figures from every corner of the world show us that our identity lies not in where we live but in our connection to each other. This is part of the reason why Synagogues and community charity are so intertwined.

Historic non-profit Jewish organizations all have their roots in shared settings of worship, which grow thanks to a common appreciation of the importance of community service by Israeli families.

The Origins and History of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh

The origins of this phrase can be traced back to several sources, including the Talmud and Midrash. In tractate Shevuot 39a, the Talmud states, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh,” which translates to “All Jews are guarantors for one another.” This suggests that each member of the Jewish community is responsible not only for themselves but also for their fellow Jews.

There are plenty of examples of the concept in action – or the lack of it – throughout Jewish history. In the book of Genesis, when God confronts Cain after he kills his brother Abel, He asks him, “Where is your brother?” to which Cain responds with a famous question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). While Cain implied he did not have a duty to look after others by saying this, it is clear from this story that God expects us to take care of one another.

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh In Action

Jewish law (Halacha) provides us with clear examples of ways to fulfill the community responsibility prescribed by Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh.

One of the most well-known is tzedakah, or charitable giving. In Jewish tradition, donating a portion of one’s wealth to those in need is not only an act of loving-kindness but an obligation. It’s easy to find a charity to donate to in any Jewish community, whether it’s a local organization for the poor or an international organization providing aid during times of global crisis.

Another example of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh in action can be seen in the practice of visiting the sick, Bikur Cholim. This mitzvah, or commandment, involves visiting those who are sick or in need of healing to provide comfort and support. It not only helps the person being visited but also strengthens community bonds.

While donations during Hanukkah and gifts for Purim are always welcome, Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh is a year-round commitment. Ma’aser Kesafim, which means “giving a tenth of your wealth”, is a simple principle Jews follow to give tzedakah regularly. This can be in a variety of forms, from a monthly donation to charities for children’s education or regular donations to fight chronic hunger.

In addition to financial charitable donations, Jews are also encouraged to volunteer and actively participate in making positive changes within their community. This can include volunteering at local organizations that care for orphans, contributing time to support groups for widows, and helping non-profit organizations for healthcare plan fundraising initiatives.

How Colel Chabad Makes Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh Possible

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh is far more than a unifying statement. It’s a way of life for the Jewish community. It’s also one of the core Chabad teachings we embrace at Colel Chabad. Established in 1788, our non-profit is the oldest Jewish charity in all of Israel. The programs we run address a variety of commendable causes pertinent to what Israel needs help with right now.

Soup Kitchens

Our soup kitchens serve thousands of Israeli families with dual access to warm meals and community support.

Big Brother/Big Sister

It’s hard to think of a better example of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh than Big Brother/Big Sister. This initiative shows how powerful relationships can be by connecting young mentors with at-risk Jewish children.

Widow and Orphan Support

Our programs are a critical resource for widows and orphans who have nowhere else to turn in the face of loss.

Make an Impact Today

Regardless of how much you donate, Israeli non-profits like Colel Chabad deeply appreciate and meaningfully use donations to support worthwhile causes. We make it easy to embrace the principle of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh in a variety of ways; you can get involved anywhere on the scale of Eight Degrees of Giving, from committing to regular online donations to registering to volunteer.


Yizkor Donation

בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁבְּלִי נֶדֶר אֶתֵּן צְדָקָה