All or Nothing

A philosophy that just doesn't work.

See More

Comments (17)

(17) Ann, October 7, 2013 7:11 PM


This is especially helpful to me right now. I have a nonobservant background and have taken on some regular practices like not eating shellfish or pork, going to Torah study, lighting candles, etc. But I don't think it matters because G-d is so angry at at all trangressions or omissions.
This was very helpful!

(16) paul solon, December 20, 2008 1:21 PM


As Socrates said, no act of kindness is meaningless. It is a good pt here by the Rabbi, he knows his stuff.

(15) Allie, December 16, 2008 5:42 PM

Agree 100%

I completely agree with this. I am not in a place in my life where I have a desire to be 100% observant. But that doesn't mean I have to eschew every aspect of Judaism. I do what I am able, and I think that's perfectly okay. To do all or nothing would mean I would do nothing, which I am not comfortable w/. Perhaps a better philosophy is to do all all we are able.

(14) SusanE, December 6, 2008 2:44 PM

A bunch of 10%'s Can Add up to 100%.

Hello Rabbi Salomon, Thank you for a timely video this week. In a previous article on Aish, I read about this very thing. It talked about mizvots and observance, and the ALL or Nothing concept. Before reading it, I thought in terms of black and white, ...everything was either wrong or right. I lived by, 'do something 100% or don't do it at all'. After much reading and asking questions on Aish, I finally realized how much of my life I have been drifting along, not doing anything. Your article this week will help many people to understand how they can give and be observant on many will inspire them to.. Do something! Do anything! Give a little or give a lot. Good advice Rabbi, thank you.

(13) Marty Birnbaum, December 6, 2008 9:03 AM

Preaching to the Choir

Too bad this brilliant video is geting to mostly those who already practice some form of Judaism. It's premise deserves to be seen by everyone. I intend to pass it along to some of my friends who are Jews in name only. Thank you Rabbi Salamon for sharing your wisdom with all of us. It helps me to understand what Hashem really asks of us.

(12) Joey, December 3, 2008 1:52 PM

Small Acts

While not exactly a Jewish source, this just made me think of a few quotes from Mother Teresa: “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Also, “We can’t all do great things, but doing small things with great love makes them great.” God bless!

(11) dovid, December 3, 2008 11:38 AM

Doesn't Rabbeinu Yona hold (Shaarei Tshuva) that

if one states that he accepts 612 of the total of 613 mitzvos, he is a rebel?

(10) Grace Fishenfeld, December 2, 2008 2:14 PM

All Jews are Jews

Well said, Rabbi. That goes for the way some of our sister and brother Jews feel about the different forms of Jewish expression. The range of thought may vary but the desire to do good by serving mankind in the manner set down for us, are the same.We can enjoy the community of Judiasm and respect our variences. After all we always find ourselves in the same boat during periods of antisemitism. In the end,it is better to embrace the idea that we are all one or we may become nothing.

(9) Katie, December 2, 2008 11:34 AM

Wow, thanks!

So, I started being shomerette shabbat in August and kept shabbat for 4 months in a row, but I had to move this past weekend and couldn't keep shabbat. I felt weird and sort of guilt-ridden, so I gotta say a HUGE thank you for this commentary, because I don't think I can stand the pressure of the all-or-nothing philosophy. And I went from never lighting a candle on shabbat to jumping into shomer shabbat... It was sort of too much, too quick. I guess I need to accept the changes little by little so I don't get overwhelmed!!

(8) Michael, December 2, 2008 10:28 AM

All or Nothing rhetoric in the Jewish community

With respect, I would like to feel that Judasim does not support All or Nothing thinking, but in fact it often encourages it. At the concluding prayer on Yom Kippur, Neillah, you have either been accepted or rejected totally, (written in the Book of Life or not). I have heard conversations in Brooklyn Orthodox households stereotyping gentiles, non-Orthodox Jews, Upper West Side singles or single people who are older. Sometimes your observance is suspect if you have certain political beliefs. I'd like to believe the Rabbi's assertion is true, but I personally have experienced that it is not the case.

(7) Pierrette, December 2, 2008 8:38 AM

Yes indeed!

Dear Rabbi, Everyday we are offered opportunites to do something good and help someone, yesterday standing in a food line, the girl waiting on me was not very good looking, but she had a sweet smile and I told her so, her face lighted up! It wasn't much I know but I hope it made her day sweeter, Too many times we think of "mitzvoths" as being act of charites,when sometimes it's just a matter of making someone else feel good.

(6) karen, December 1, 2008 10:20 PM

comment after john d miller

sir, with all due respect, ALL religion will cause some to fall away..(more than some). Religion is man reaching to God.. Only God is good and HE reaches to Man with Goodness. we are NOT good .. if not for HIM..

(5) Dvirah, December 1, 2008 1:26 PM

Lo Alecha...

"It is not encombent on you to finish the work, neither are you free to neglect it." - Ethics of the Fathers (free translation).

(4) John D. Miller, November 30, 2008 3:26 PM

Excellent video

And Christianity causes some to fall away because of the "All or Nothing" attitude of leadership. This short video has made think. Thanks

(3) Rosen, November 30, 2008 1:50 PM

middle/common ground

All or nothing is like being overwhelmed by an opportunity or gesture that is similar to "now or never". People need time to think thru on their decisions, because there is a lot more grayscale, if not color, than black and white when it comes to taking things in moderation. I never really knew or thought "all or nothing" wasn't a Jewish value, but it certainly doesn't surprise me. We do the best we can, and we should get rid of that voice or thought in our head that says "not enough" or "not good enough."

(2) ross, November 30, 2008 8:41 AM

We must do it ALL!

You see, if they get rid of this silly city ordinance, then they they have to get rid of ALL of them. They can't do that, so they won't get rid some of them either. It all fits.

(1) benjy, November 30, 2008 5:48 AM


there's no such thing as "all" ,because no human is/was/will be perfect. the only "all" that may exist is "all" the effort. this is "all" that g-d wants of us, & this is "all" that we can ask of others.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy