Taking Responsibility

Responsibility, in society has negative connotations.  When something goes wrong, everyone looks for who is Responsible.  Responsibility has become a synonym for “guilt.”  Whoever is responsible, is the one who is guilty.  Yet this is not really what the term was designed for.

Responsibility refers to the one on whose shoulders the burden or obligation rests.  This too is negative, but the person who bears responsibility is the one to whom we look for things to get done.  When we talk about a man taking responsibility for the care and provision of his family, we say he has to “man up,” which means he has to do what he is supposed to do.

Most people don’t like to take responsibility.  They try to blame someone else when something goes wrong.  It takes a person of maturity and courage to take responsibility whether at home, or at work, or in society.  Taking responsibility means you have to pay the price and do what needs to be done instead of what you would like to do.  Paying for something on your credit card is assuming responsibility, but paying your credit card bill is being responsible.

The Torah calls us to live lives of responsibility; whether for our families, our business, or our culture or people.  That’s what it means when it says you are to love your neighbor as yourself.  If your neighbor’s donkey falls into a ditch, it is your responsibility to help him get his donkey out of the ditch.  I Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  We are expected to help those in need, starting with our own families, but also our own people, as well as all people.  Its our responsibility as children of the Most High.

Its much easier to turn away and say its someone else’s responsibility to help others, but when you think about it, God put us here to help one another.  As Keith Green observed, “How can you be so numb, not to care if they come, you close your eyes and pretend the job’s done!”  We are either those who turn away, or people who do something to alleviate the situation that needs fixing.

I spend my time advocating on behalf of the Jewish poor, primarily in Israel and the Former Soviet Union; primarily Holocaust survivors.  I am not a rich man.  I don’t have the resources to change their lives.  The one thing I can do is advocate on their behalf and raise money to help their situations.  Other people don’t have much they can do living in America, but they can contribute to help these people.  Some people don’t do anything, while others do something.  We can either take or shirk responsibility.

Yeshua taught a parable about a “Good Samaritan.”  In this parable, a man is attacked on a lonely highway from Jerusalem to Jericho and left for dead.  Religious men see him and walk on the other side of the road to avoid him.  A Samaritan traveler sees him, rescues him, takes him to a place of safety and pays for the man’s expenses.  It was the Samaritan who took responsibility for the poor victim.  Yeshua’s point was that being religious does not fulfill a person’s duty in life.  If you see someone in need, it is your responsibility, whether or not they are your faith, your color, your people, or not, to help them.

An elderly Catholic lady, who was known to be an anti-Semite was honored by the State of Israel for saving Jews in the Holocaust.  When she was interviewed, they asked her why, if she didn’t like Jews, did she help save these people.  Her response was, “because they asked me.”  She understood the concept of doing the right thing, and it overshadowed her dislike of Jews.

Life presents us with opportunities to help people every day.  We can find reasons to turn away, or we can do something to help them.  It’s called, “Taking Responsibility” for one another.


7 thoughts on “Taking Responsibility

  1. Shalom! Dr. Schiffman. You know many years ago there was a man who loved so much a child that he wasnt his son that he took him, raised him and gave him a home. This man was my jewish grandfather and that boy now is a CEO of a corporation and for many years was the principal manager of and international bank. He is very greateful. In the 90’s too, my jewish uncle took a little baby that was homeless and she wasn’t her child but she loved and raised her. Now she is a proffesional and works in and university, here in my country Paraguay (south america). My grandpa and my uncle are with the Lord but his legacy of responsability continues and they gave a example. In the present I always try to help and follow that example. We the jewish people have the RESPONSABILITY to shine in the the darkness. Be blessed. By Osmar Torres

  2. Shalom! Dr. Schiffman. You know many years ago there was a man who loved a homeless child that he educated and raised him in his own house like his father even when the boy wasn’t his son. That boy now is a CEO of a finantial organization and many years was a CEO of a very important bank in my country and that man who raised him was my jewish grandfather. In the 90’s too a woman took a responsability for a little girl in an extreme poverty situation and lover her and raised her. Now that girl is a proffesional and works at the most important university here and that womanwas my jewish uncle. Both my grandpa and my uncle are with the Lord now but the example of love and responasbility that they gave with his life i treasured in my heart and try to follow it. We the jewish people have always the responsability to help others and shine in the darkness. God bless you!! You have an excellent blog. By Osmar Torres

  3. Dear Dr. Schiffman.
    I frequently read your blogs because it gives me a jewish viewpoint to my very catholic upbringing of the past. Some of your view points I agree with and some I disagree. Thats understanable you might say. About this fellow the good samaratin I would like to add:
    to who is my neighbour?
    If you are a religious then everybody becomes your neighbour or how else can you apporach them and plant the seed if that be your main line of work?
    However if you are a layperson, you might come across a really bad one in sheeps clothing. therefore if you are not sure of that persons values wait and watch. You never can tell what you might be wading into.
    In the good samartins case the man on the road was in capable of harming the one who went to help him;.
    He was a safe victim. .
    The above is my own point of view. SRT.

    • Actually, the Samaritan didn’t ask the victim’s values, and Yeshua didn’t bother to tell us his values. If another person is in need, he shouldn’t have to submit a resume about whether or not he “deserves” help. The man asked Yeshua,”Who is my neighbor.” – Yeshua’s answer, via the parable was that this was the wrong question. You don’t ask WHO is your neighbor, the point is, you need to BE A Neighbor. Sometimes it can cost you to be a neighbor. Its costly to help others. the point is, you should still do it.

  4. Tony’s comments and Rabbi’s response show an interesting contrast between Jewish thought patterns and Roman Catholic thought patterns. I prefer the Jewish.

    This also puts me in mind of the concept of a man’s word being his bond. When a man makes a promise to anyone, including G-d, he takes upon himself the responsibility to make the promise come true, and if he doesn’t know how he will do that he really shouldn’t make the promise. There could be a valid reason for failure to keep the promise, but there cannot be an excuse. An excuse means the promise wasn’t real in the first place, and the man’s word is no good. We should never again trust that man for anything. A reason, on the other hand suggests something the maker of the promise could not have foreseen and could not overcome, despite herculean efforts. For society to continue to exist in any viable form, a man’s word MUST be his bond.


  5. Pingback: The Messianic Week of April 22-28 - cornertassel.com

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