Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashana 19a
תלמוד בבלי ראש השנה יט.
שגזרה מלכות הרשעה שמד על ישראל שלא יעסקו בתורה ושלא ימולו את בניהם ושיחללו שבתות מה עשה יהודה בן שמוע וחביריו הלכו ונטלו עצה ממטרוניתא אחת שכל גדולי רומי מצויין אצלה אמרה להם בואו והפגינו בלילה הלכו והפגינו בלילה אמרו אי שמים לא אחיכם אנחנו ולא בני אב אחד אנחנו ולא בני אם אחת אנחנו מה נשתנינו מכל אומה ולשון שאתם גוזרין עלינו גזירות קשות וביטלום ואותו היום עשאוהו יום טוב
When the oppressive government decreed destruction upon Israel, forbidding them from studying Torah and from circumcising their sons, and requiring them to desecrate the Sabbath, what did Yehuda ben Shamu'a and his colleagues do? They went and sought counsel from one woman who was frequented by all the high-ranking Romans. She said to them, "Come and protest at night." The came and protested at night and said, "Heavens! Are we all not brothers? Are we all not children of the same father? Are we all not children of the same mother? Why are we different from every other nation and tongue that you make harsh decrees against us?" They rescinded the decrees, and they declared the day a holiday. [translation by Mechon Hadar]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why is it that this dark moment produces such powerful universalistic thinking?

2. Do you think that the protesters meant their complaints in earnest, or were looking for the most effective means of protest?

3. Who are the mother and father shared by all peoples?

4. What peoples would make such a protest today? Against whom?

Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)