by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: “And a man shall stumble upon his brother …” (Leviticus 26:37). Rashi cites the Sifra (a midrash) which explains this verse thus: “One shall stumble through the iniquity of another, for all the people of Israel are responsible for each other.”
Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, related the following analogy: Mr. Cohen loaned Mr. Green a large sum of money. Mr. Shapiro agreed to guarantee the loan; he would pay Mr. Cohen if Mr. Green will be unable to pay. If Mr. Green were investing his money in a business that was sure to lose money, Mr. Shapiro would definitely do everything in his power to prevent Mr. Green from becoming involved in that business. Mr. Shapiro knows that if Mr. Green wastes his money, the obligation to repay the loan will be his.
“The same applies to preventing others from transgressing,” said the Chofetz Chaim. “If someone has the ability to stop another person from transgressing and fails to do so, he is held liable for that offense. Therefore, we must do everything we can to prevent transgressions.”