Friday, June 13, 2008

Masechet Cyberspace #9 - Taking Responsibility

Today’s New York Times contained an ad for a Liberty Mutual sponsored website designed to increase personal responsibility and ethical decision making. Check it out at It seems especially designed for young people, but resonates with general audiences as well. As with so much on the web, the focus is not on a top-down approach where some ethicist lectures at is, but mor ef a “wiki” approach, where anyone is able to contribute films or blogs detailing moral dilemmas. So many of them remind me of issues discussed in basic Talmud classes at our Hebrew High School or with B'nai Mitzvah as they consider their speeches.

One featured case is a recent hit-and-run incident in Hartford that was recorded on camera. See it here. No one came to help him! The camera shows dozens of people just walking on by, or gawking motionlessly. The man survived, barely, and the drivers who hit him have not yet been apprehended.

This lack of concern is perfectly legal in American law, but not in Jewish law. We cannot stand idly by the blood of our neighbor. This disturbing tape tells us much about our sense of community – and it is not pretty to see.

Perhaps through sites like this one, we might learn to become less desensitized to the pain of others.

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