Responsibility – The Need To Share


The Need To Share

Chapter 1 Why Do We Feel The Need To Be Responsible?



Taking Responsibility


We all reach a point in our lives when we realize that if we don’t take responsibility for ourselves, no one will.




We also learn to be responsible to our families and friends, and to those in society who are less fortunate.


But how far should these responsibilities go, and how should we prioritize them?


Even more importantly, why do we feel the need to be responsible in the first place?


The answer lies in the fact that G-d created us for a reason – to actively pursue a virtuous life and perfect this imperfect world.


To that end, responsibility is a basic human need, just like food or oxygen; we cannot fulfill nor justify our existence without it.




Your first responsibility is to yourself, for you can hardly hope to civilize the world at large if your own life is out of sync.




We are all responsible for our own conduct; you cannot blame your parents or your teachers, your employers or your leaders.


Nor can you blame G-d for making your life so difficult.


For no matter how intimidating any obstacle may seem, G-d would not have placed it in your path without also providing you with the abilities to overcome it.


Practice and Theory


This independence is the greatest manifestation of human dignity.


You – and no one else – are responsible for what you make of your life.




Of course, certain people will always need to be cared for – children, obviously, and adults who are unhealthy or incapacitated.


But we must recognize that every single person, from a special child to a handicapped adult has deep inner resources that must be cultivated to the fullest.


So you are also responsible for the welfare of others and for society as a whole.


We have all been given a choice – to see life as it truly is, with each human being connected to the next, all linked in one large cosmic destiny, or to be consumed with self-interest.




A revered Rabbi once journeyed to visit a younger Rabbi who was known for his religious devotion.


The older Rabbi was very much impressed with the young man’s total immersion in prayer and study, and asked the secret of his unwavering piety.


The younger man replied that by concentrating deeply on his studies, he was able to ignore any outside influences that might distract him.


Indeed the older man had noticed that many of the nearby villagers were involved in activities that were quite contrary to piety.


He said to the younger man “When it is very cold, there are two ways to warm yourself.


One is by putting on a fur coat, the other by lighting a fire.


The difference is that the fur coat warms only the person wearing it, while the fire warms anyone who comes near.”


Practice and Theory

Using Your Talents


Each of us has been given distinct talents and abilities, and it is our responsibility to share them in a positive way.


Practice and Theory


A leader must lead, a teacher must teach, a writer must write.


A skill that you take for granted, may fill an indispensible need for someone else, or may have a far greater impact than you could have ever imagined.


It is your obligation to regularly ask yourself, how can you use your unique abilities to improve the world.


Giving versus protectionism

It might seem possible to look the other way, to insulate yourself and your family from influences that you may consider dangerous or corrupting.


But that is not responsible behavior; that is simple protectionism.




When we see someone in need, we must respond.




When we see injustice we must cry out.




When we see imperfection, we must do everything possible to help perfect the situation.


This does not mean that we should think of ourselves as saviors, sweeping in to rescue people from themselves.


It simply means acknowledging that we are not self-contained individuals, that we are all part of a larger community and are therefore responsible for each other.


It means building a fire instead of putting on a fur coat.


Practice and Theory


No matter how unseemly a person may be, we are responsible for him, and must do everything in our power to help him grow.


We have a special responsibility to assist the incarcerated for instance, giving them every possible opportunity to achieve and grow and rehabilitate.


Practice and Theory

It matters little if you see the result or not


Sometimes we will see the effect of our help, but often we will not; it doesn’t make a difference.


We may feel frustrated and helpless, as if we had been asked to move the entire ocean one spoonful at a time.


But it is not only the result that counts; it is your efforts, and the sincerity behind the effort that fill your innate need to be responsible.


And ultimately, every effort does bear fruit.


Chapter 2 What does responsibility mean in today’s world?





We are all greatly indebted – to the families who raise us, to the friends who guide us, to the educators who teach us and to the nations that protect us.


It is obvious that we must repay these debts by doing whatever we can to better society.


Just think for a moment how different your life would be if no one had exercised the responsibility to care for and educate you.




Never before has there been such an urgent need to reach out, to listen for the cries of those in need.


This is a critical generation, with so many people lacking direction in their lives and their relationships.



You Can Make A Difference


And yet many of us are tempted to say, “How can I possibly think about someone else’s problems when I have so many of my own?”


Practice and Theory


One must never doubt one’s ability to help.


“What can I really accomplish?” we ask ourselves.


“Who will listen to me?”


Every person without exception has been given the abilities to illuminate his or her corner of the world.



The Current Human Chain


As history continues to show us, humanity is a chain – something that happens in the farthest corner of the planet will eventually affect your life.


In earlier generations, we were far more isolated, and may have been able to insulate ourselves and our communities.


But that is plainly no longer the case.


We interact with each other at every turn, at every level; personal standards influence universal ones, and vice versa.



Ignorance and aimlessness are not neutral


We cannot afford to remain on the defensive, waiting for a crises.


Ignorance and aimlessness are not neutral; they are active destructive forces.



We Must take Responsibility For Our Fellow Man


Each one of us today must take responsibility for his fellow man.


Practice and Theory

Helping despite imperfections


In order to help each other of course, we must first help ourselves by being properly educated and prepared.


But in times of great need, it would be foolish and selfish to wait until we reach a state of total personal perfection before reaching out to help another in need.


Practice and Theory

Your Effort Breeds New Abilities


You must not fear leaving your comfortable environment for a world that sometimes seems hostile, for as in many matters, the challenge of a new situation draws out a level of determination you never knew you had.


After all, your very life originates by G-d uprooting your soul from its comfortable spiritual environment and transplanting it to a foreign, material world.

Practice and Theory

Your mission must be connected to the Divine mission


There is but one condition for fulfilling your responsibilities – that you are connected to a Divine and absolute code of ethics and morality.



If you depend on your own subjective views, and let your own personality dictate your actions, you may do more harm than good to yourself and to others.


Practice and Theory

Our Responsibility To The Environment


Besides our responsibility to ourselves and our fellow man, we are also responsible to the environment around us.


The human being is the jewel of creation, but every single thing in our physical world – animal mineral and vegetation – has also been charged with Divine energy and purpose, and must be treated accordingly.


The environment is sacred and no man has a right to destroy it; we are invited to take advantage of its elements only as they relate to our mission on earth.


So yes, we raise animals and vegetables for sustenance, we cut forests to build houses and schools, and we extract fossil fuels from the earth to warm ourselves.


But unless we are using the environment responsibly, for wholly productive purposes and higher ends, we must protect it as vigilantly as we protect ourselves.


Practice and Theory

One World


We all live in the same world.


If one person is in pain, we should all feel it; if one person succeeds we should all benefit.




Each of us has been given the choice to see this underlying unity or to look the other way and worry only about himself, even at the expense of others.




Responsibility is the one great gift G-d gave us – the gift of being active participants in the dynamic unfolding of the world’s destiny.


We must never ignore this gift, in the delicate balance in which the fate of the world hangs, in may be one deed of virtue, goodness or kindness, that tips the scale.



Take Responsibility Now For All Your Future Encounters


You can have a positive effect on every person you meet, to an extent far beyond the scope of your vision.


Through your simple hello and congeniality you might even be saving a life, and each life is an entire world.


And because responsibility is one of the most fundamental human needs, fulfilling your responsibilities means saving your life as well.


Wherever you go, whomever you meet, look for an opportunity to help, to inspire, to lend support.


Practice and Theory


In this complicated and troubling world, we must always remember to take responsibility for ourselves, each other, and our environment.


For besides G-d, we are all that we have.


Remember the teaching of the sages, “If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself then I am selfish! And if I don’t act today, then when will I?”

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