Yesterday I was ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt. I had just pulled out of my parking spot and was fastening the belt when I was spotted. Not surprisingly, all my protestations fell on deaf ears. "Strict enforcement, sir. Your safety belt must be secured before the vehicle is put in motion," was the flat response.

I called my wife to tell her that I would be late, and while the officer took his time writing up the ticket — he didn't have any appointments to make — I sat back and fumed at the injustice of it all. Who gave the government the right to regulate my every move? I could understand being ticketed if I failed to properly secure my children in appropriate safety seats, after all, I have no right to endanger others, but why should it be the public's concern if I wished to act foolishly and take unwise risks? What's next, fining consumers of heavy mayonnaise because of its high cholesterol content?

What's next, fining consumers of heavy mayonnaise because of its high cholesterol content?As is usually the case, after my original anger subsided I was able to think rationally and consider the other side of the issue. (And yes, the officer was still writing up the ticket...) Can I honestly say that my imprudent actions are of no concern to the public? How much is the government doling out to cover the health care costs of people injured in auto accidents? How does this affect everyone's taxes? How much have insurance premiums been inflated by claims which stem from preventable accident injuries? Is it a bit naïve to believe that an individual can live in a bubble, his or her actions not affecting the public?

I think we can all agree that we can't enact intrusive laws requiring everyone to exercise and take vitamins daily, but we also have to respect the greater public good. Thankfully I am a writer, not a legislator, so I have the liberty to analyze both sides of the issue without having to render a decision. There's a large expanse of gray area, and understandably the lawmakers will bicker regarding where to set the line.

The lesson I took from this unfortunate incident — aside for the obvious one, to always fasten my seatbelt before shifting the car into drive — perhaps made it all worth it.

Once again we see how as we approach the Messianic Era, the world is increasingly mirroring its spiritual source. In the past it was difficult to see how every individual's actions had an impact on society. Today, however, it is apparent that our destinies are all intertwined. A fact which Jewish philosophy has long maintained.

We were all created by one G‑d, with one mission — to make our world a better place. This is especially true with regards to the Jewish people. The master kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, the "Arizal," taught that our entire nation is akin to one large body. Some are more emotional, stemming from the heart; others are action oriented, for their souls are rooted in the hands; and others are more intellectually disposed, the mind of the nation. We are one body with one mission — illuminating this world with the light of Torah and mitzvot — each "limb" contributing his or her part in achieving the greater cause. Every limb is indispensable, as it serves a function which no other can accomplish. When one limb furthers the cause, it benefits the entire body, and vice versa.

This idea has two primary practical implications:

I owe it to every other Jewish person to contribute my part to the collective cause

1) I have no right to compromise the greater good by acting foolishly. It's not "my business" — just as a person's decision to drive while intoxicated isn't "his business." I owe it to every other Jewish person, both those alive today as well as generations past and future, to contribute my part to the collective cause. Otherwise, it's akin to a passenger on a cruise who chooses to drill a hole in the hull of the ship, arguing that he has the right to do as he wishes as long as it is done in the privacy of the cabin he was allocated.

2) There's no such thing as "live and let live." I cannot focus on my own spiritual advancement and service of G‑d without concern for my neighbor's behavior and spiritual state. If my friend is hurting, by extension so am I. It is the duty of every Jew to do all within his ability to lovingly introduce others to Torah and mitzvot; to encourage and prod them along their spiritual path. It is your business.

We are all in this together!