“Tzedakah is obligatory upon every member of the community…
A rabbinic story tells about a group of people traveling in a boat. One passenger takes out a drill and begins drilling a hole under his seat. The other passengers, quite understandably, complain that this action may cause the boat to sink. ‘Why should this bother you?’ the man responds, ‘I am only drilling under my own seat.’ The others retort, ‘But the water will rise up and flood the ship for all of us!’ (Vaykira Rabbah 4:6)
The moral of this story is clear: one person’s destructive action may literally drown the entire community. But we might add that the inverse is also true: a single positive change may transform an entire community…”
Excerpt from There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, 2009.