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Traditional Jewish text - Shabbat 54b (Responsibility for the sins of others)

Whoever can prevent his household from committing a sin but does not, is responsible for the sins of his household; if he can prevent the people of his city, he is responsible for the sins of his city; if the whole world, he is responsible for the sins of the whole world.

Discussion Questions: 
  1. What is the difference between responsibility for one's household, one's city, and the whole world? What does responsibility look like in each of these realms? What does it take to prevent sinning in each of these realms?
  2. This text does not address how one knows if one has the power to prevent the committing of a sin in one's household, city, or the world. How do you think one should determine this?
  3. Do you think this law is fair? Why or why not? If not, how might you amend this statement to reflect your view of what would be a more fair statement about responsibility?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Traditional Jewish text - Shabbat 54b (Responsibility for the sins of others)." (Viewed on April 16, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/shabbat-54b-responsibility-for-sins-of-others>.