The Individual and the Community

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, The Lonely Man of Faith

If God had not joined the community of Adam and Eve, they would have never been able and would never have cared to make the paradoxical leap over the gap, indeed abyss, separating two individuals... Only when God emerged from the transcendent darkness... did Adam absconditus and Eve abscondita, while revealing themselves to God in prayer and in unqualified commitment - also reveal themselves to each other in sympathy and love on the one hand and common action on the other... Friendship - not as a social surface-relation but as an existential in-depth-relation between two individuals - is realizable only within the framework of the covenantal community where in-depth-personalities relate themselves to each other ontologically and total commitment to God and fellow-man is the order of the day. (ibid., p. 45)


חידושי הריטב"א ראש השנה כט.

כל ברכות המצות אע"פ שיצא מוציא שאע"פ שהמצות מוטלות על כל אחד הרי כל ישראל ערבין זה לזה וכולם כגוף אחד וכערב הפורע חוב חבירו.

Ritva, Rosh Hashanah 29a

All blessings over commandments, even though one already fulfilled the obligation, he may still fulfill another’s obligation. For even though the commandments are placed on each individual, behold all Jews are guarantors for one another, and they are all as a single body, and as a guarantor who repays his friend’s obligation.


תלמוד ירושלמי נדרים פרק ט

גמ' כתיב לא תקום ולא תטור את בני עמך. היך עבידא הוה מקטע קופד ומחת סכינא לידוי תחזור ותמחי לידיה.

Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim Chap. 9

It is written, “Do not take vengeance against your brethren. What is the instance? One who was cutting meat and the knife fell onto his hand: would that hand take vengeance against the other hand?”


Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot

The relationship between the Jewish people and its individual members is different than the relationship between any other national group and its constituents. All other national groups only bestow upon their individual members the external aspect of their essence. But the essence itself each person draws from /the all-inclusive soul, from the soul of God, without the intermediation of the group... This is not the case regarding Israel. The soul of the individuals is drawn from ... the community, the community bestowing a soul upon the individuals. One who considers severing himself from the people must sever his soul from the source of its vitality. Therefore each individual Jew is greatly in need of the community. He will always offer his life so that he should not be torn from the people, because his soul and self-perfection require that of him. (p. 144)

This does not constitute man's greatest joy. This applies to a regular state ... which is not the case regarding a state founded on an ideal, in which is implanted in its very existence the most sublime ideal content, which is truly the individual's greatest joy. This state is truly the highest on the scale of happiness. And this is the case with our state, the state of Israel. (ibid., p. 160)