Responsibility, “Achrayut,” is so important because it is really all about community and being a part of something bigger than just oneself. We are all interdependent in this world and that connection makes us stronger. Shortly after World War II — not long after his release from a Nazi concentration camp — German Protestant theologian Pastor Martin Niemoller said, “In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for me. And by that time, there was no one left to speak up.” Each of us must speak out for the others — we are responsible for one another: Am I my brother’s keeper? YES!
Achrayut is also about being able to take responsibility for your own actions and choices. Responsibility is about keeping our promises, being honest and fair, admitting our mistakes and showing our willingness to make things right.
“Those who think they can live without others are wrong. But those who think that others can survive without them are even more in error,” Chassidic Folk Saying
“In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human being,” — Ann Landers
Family Talk Time
- What does it mean to be responsible? What things are you responsible for at home, with your friends at school or at camp?
- Think of a time when you have been blamed for something someone else did. Why didn’t that person take responsibility for their actions?
- When you are on a team, you are responsible to that team. What happens if you cannot go to a game? Should you choose to go to a party instead of the game?
If God is the owner of the earth, what is our role?
A Story for Shabbat: King Solomon and The Queen of Sheba
— from ‘Brainteasers From Jewish Folklore’ by Rosalind Chaney Kaye
King Solomon was known as the wise king, but the Queen of Sheba was not one to believe all she had heard. Arriving in Jerusalem with a magnificent caravan and many precious gifts, she decided to test Solomon’s wisdom with some riddles.
“What water does not fall from the sky, or gush down from the mountains? It always come from the same place, but sometimes it is sweet and sometimes it is bitter.”
“What do you bury that isn’t dead, and the longer it lies underground, the more alive it becomes?”
“What doesn’t move anywhere when it is alive, but moves all over when it is dead?”
King Solomon guessed all the answers and made a very good impression. Can you do as well?
3. Timber used to build a ship
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.