Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Protesting:

I Was Brought Up Not to be Silent When There is a Need to Scream out, and Therefore I Do Not Worry About Damage to My Reputation

"It is absolutely irrelevant whether the protest will or will not be effective. The reason for crying out is not based on the assumption that it will be effective, but rather because the situation is painful! I assume that everyone is embroiled in this matter — but not because they expect to gain any recognition or honor from it; if a person gains anything, he gains the opposite of honor, but I have already stopped paying attention to that!

Someone asked me, how can it be that I am not affected when someone denounces me and calls me names, another person calls me a different name, and a third calls me something even worse? I told him that for me, this is something that has been ingrained in me from my youth. Not that it doesn’t bother me at all, but it doesn’t bother me enough to make me change my approach. That is, when we’re dealing with matters of life and death we cannot be silent! This is a clear ruling in the Code of Jewish Law, based on the undisputed ruling in the Talmud that it is forbidden to remain silent in matters of life and death!

G-d helped me (not through my free will or choice in the matter) in that I was the firstborn son to my father, who became the Chief Rabbi of Yekatrinislav. The situation in the country at that time was, that someone always had to conduct debates in Russian, or to respond to the antagonistic questions and arguments which people would pose. Since I was the Chief Rabbi’s eldest son, the task fell upon me.

Since those days (60 — 65 years ago), I became accustomed not to expect any honor or recognition. If others wish to sit and remain silent, I do not approve of it, nor am I allowed to approve of it, for that is not the way I was raised and educated. I will continue in the path of that education; when the issue at hand is one of life and death, we are forbidden to be silent. This is true even when we know that as we speak (or tomorrow or in two days) people are going to begin slandering us.

This does not affect me — I am not part of this group of defamers, who are only damaging themselves. What does cause damage, though, is when someone else totally misrepresents the issue. We are not concerned here with the prohibition of ingratiating oneself to the nations — we are dealing here with life and death! In the past, we tried to ensure that there be no misunderstanding, by repeatedly stating, writing, printing, publicizing and requesting that whoever wished, should publicize the fact, that pertaining to this issue, there exists a law in the Code of Jewish Law, in the laws of the Sabbath, Chapter 329, which explicitly determines this issue. Notwithstanding this unequivocal position of Jewish Law, it affects him (the Prime Minister of Israel) like water off a ducks back, because he is ‘bribed.’ As we explained above, this approach of not remaining silent, was the education of my childhood. I am not saying that I enjoy this, or that when I am name called, I react the same as if I had been praised. Nevertheless when it comes to action, I am not prepared to alter the path that my father and my father-in-law paved. A path that required me never to reckon with the possibility that the voicing of my beliefs may bring me reduced honor. A path that even required me to disregard an evil decree issued by the gentiles."

20th Menachem Av, 5739 (1979)

No comments: