experiments, instruments & measurement book

Looking Out for One Another


By Susie Tessel

the barrel

Click to read The Barrel


Lot of things have been coming to mind recently about the importance of looking after each other. One core value of Judaism and a tenant of the Purim story is:  “Everyone is responsible for one another. ” This value is illustrated in The Barrel story by Rabbi Steven Z. Leder from Three Times Chai: 54 Rabbis Tell Their Favorite Stories. In the story each member of the village assumed they could get away with filling the barrel with water instead of wine. Plenty of examples have been seen throughout history of one’s tendency to turn a blind eye, not take action, or not do their part – assuming someone else will – especially when they are just one of many. We were reminded of one such event this week on the 50th anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese, a case made infamous for no one responding to her cries for help. Psychologists studied this tragic event and dubbed it, “The Genovese phenomenon,” or the Bystander Effect, when everyone assumes someone else will take action so they do nothing. In her case, as in many others, no one was prepared to assume responsibility. Judaism has plenty of its own stories to demonstrate this necessity of assuming responsibility. In the Purim story, Esther puts the needs of her people before her own safety. She is not sure whether King Achoshverosh will kill her when she tells him that she is Jewish, but after she decides the needs of the whole are greater than protecting herself, she is rewarded with safety for herself, her people, and the destruction of her enemy, Haman. What opportunities do you see as an educator to instill these values?


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