Collective punishment and mutual responsibilty-Parshas Nitzavim/Vayeilech

“הנסתרות לה’ אלקינו והנגלות לנו ולבנינו עד עולם ”

“Hidden things are for Hashem, our G-d; and the revealed things, are for us and our children forever”

The Torah has already told us that we are all responsible for one another, and that when one see’s someone doing something wrong, he is obligated to rebuke him, gently, in a way that he will want to listen.

If one fails to do so, or does so in a way that makes him more rebellious or shames him unnecessarily, one shares some responsibility for his wrong-doing. (Vayikra/Leviticus 19/17 and commentaries there-on )

In the parsha we just read, Hashem warns us once again that people who forsake the ways of Hashem can bring collective destruction upon all of us. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 29/17-27)

After the Torah tells us that the result of people who betray Hashem’s covenant can be catastrophic for all of us, people might feel that if we all responsible for each-other’s numerous  failings most of which we are  unaware of, then there is no hope for any of us , G-d forbid.

To this- the answer is clear:

We are NOT responsible for things that we have no way of knowing about, or things that we have tried to correct and failed- “Hidden things are for Hashem, our God.”

However, failure to protest constructively against wrongs and  injustice , once one is aware of it, is the moral  equivalence of participation in it – “The revealed things are for us and our children forever…”

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