Justice, Accountability and the Power of Protest
1 א

Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Religion and Race,” January 1963

A silent justification... makes possible an evil erupting as an exception becoming the rule and being in turn accepted. An honest estimation of the moral state of our society will disclose: Some are guilty, but all are responsible.

2 ב

(א) מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה מִן הַתּוֹרָה לִזְעֹק וּלְהָרִיעַ בַּחֲצוֹצְרוֹת עַל כָּל צָרָה שֶׁתָּבוֹא עַל הַצִּבּוּר. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר י ט) "עַל הַצַּר הַצֹּרֵר אֶתְכֶם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶם בַּחֲצֹצְרוֹת". כְּלוֹמַר כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁיָּצֵר לָכֶם כְּגוֹן בַּצֹּרֶת וְדֶבֶר וְאַרְבֶּה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן זַעֲקוּ עֲלֵיהֶן וְהָרִיעוּ:

(ב) וְדָבָר זֶה מִדַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה הוּא. שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁתָּבוֹא צָרָה וְיִזְעֲקוּ עָלֶיהָ וְיָרִיעוּ יֵדְעוּ הַכּל שֶׁבִּגְלַל מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם הָרָעִים הוּרַע לָהֶן כַּכָּתוּב (ירמיה ה כה) "עֲוֹנוֹתֵיכֶם הִטּוּ" וְגוֹ'. וְזֶה הוּא שֶׁיִּגְרֹם לָהֶם לְהָסִיר הַצָּרָה מֵעֲלֵיהֶם:

(1) It is a positive commandment from the Torah to cry out and to sound trumpets for all troubles that come upon the community; as it is stated (Numbers 10:9), "upon an enemy who attacks you and you sound trumpets." That is to say, [with] every matter that troubles you — such as famine, a plague, locusts and that which is similar to them — cry out about them, and sound the trumpets.

(2) And this thing is from the ways of repentance. For when a trouble comes and they yell out about it and sound [trumpets], everyone will know that it was because of their evil deeds that this bad was done to them. As it is stated (Jeremiah 5:25), "It is your iniquities that have diverted, etc." And this is what will cause them to remove the trouble from upon them.

3 ג
תָּנָא: לֹא שֶׁלּוֹ הָיְתָה אֶלָּא שֶׁל שְׁכֶינְתּוֹ הָיְתָה, וּמִתּוֹךְ שֶׁלֹּא מִיחָה בָּהּ נִקְרֵאת עַל שְׁמוֹ. רַב וְרַבִּי חֲנִינָא וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן וְרַב חֲבִיבָא מַתְנוּ: בְּכוּלֵּיהּ דְּסֵדֶר מוֹעֵד כָּל כִּי הַאי זוּגָא חַלּוֹפֵי רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן וּמְעַיֵּיל רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן. כׇּל מִי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לִמְחוֹת לְאַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ וְלֹא מִיחָה — נִתְפָּס עַל אַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ. בְּאַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ — נִתְפָּס עַל אַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ. בְּכָל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ — נִתְפָּס עַל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ. אָמַר רַב פָּפָּא: וְהָנֵי דְּבֵי רֵישׁ גָּלוּתָא מִיתַּפְסוּ אַכּוּלֵּי עָלְמָא. כִּי הָא דְּאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: מַאי דִכְתִיב ״ה׳ בַּמִּשְׁפָּט יָבֹא עִם זִקְנֵי עַמּוֹ וְשָׂרָיו״ — אִם שָׂרִים חָטְאוּ, זְקֵנִים מֶה חָטְאוּ? אֶלָּא אֵימָא: עַל זְקֵנִים, שֶׁלֹּא מִיחוּ בַּשָּׂרִים. רַב יְהוּדָה הֲוָה יָתֵיב קַמֵּיהּ דִּשְׁמוּאֵל. אֲתַאי הַהִיא אִיתְּתָא קָא צָוְוחָה קַמֵּיהּ, וְלָא הֲוָה מַשְׁגַּח בַּהּ. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לָא סָבַר לֵיהּ מָר: ״אוֹטֵם אׇזְנוֹ מִזַּעֲקַת דָּל גַּם הוּא יִקְרָא וְלֹא יֵעָנֶה״? אֲמַר לֵיהּ: שִׁינָּנָא, רֵישָׁךְ בְּקָרִירֵי, רֵישָׁא דְרֵישָׁיךְ בְּחַמִּימֵי. הָא יָתֵיב מָר עוּקְבָא אַב בֵּית דִּין? דִּכְתִיב: ״בֵּית דָּוִד כֹּה אָמַר ה׳ דִּינוּ לַבֹּקֶר מִשְׁפָּט וְהַצִּילוּ גָזוּל מִיַּד עוֹשֵׁק פֶּן תֵּצֵא כָאֵשׁ חֲמָתִי וּבָעֲרָה וְאֵין מְכַבֶּה מִפְּנֵי רוֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיהֶם וְגוֹ׳״. אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי זֵירָא לְרַבִּי סִימוֹן: לוֹכְחִינְהוּ מָר לְהָנֵי דְּבֵי רֵישׁ גָּלוּתָא. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לָא מְקַבְּלִי מִינַּאי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אַף עַל גַּב דְּלָא מְקַבְּלִי לוֹכְחִינְהוּ מָר.
The Gemara answers: It was taught in the Tosefta: The cow was not his; rather, it was his neighbor’s. And because he did not protest her conduct and tell her that doing so is prohibited the cow was called by his name to his discredit, as if it were his. It was related that Rav, and Rabbi Ḥanina, and Rabbi Yoḥanan, and Rav Ḥaviva taught the statement cited below. The Gemara comments: Throughout the order of Moed, wherever this pair of Sages is mentioned, exchange Rabbi Yoḥanan and insert Rabbi Yonatan in his place. In any event, they said: Anyone who had the capability to effectively protest the sinful conduct of the members of his household and did not protest, he himself is apprehended for the sins of the members of his household and punished. If he is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the people of his town, and he fails to do so, he is apprehended for the sins of the people of his town. If he is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the whole world, and he fails to do so, he is apprehended for the sins of the whole world. Rav Pappa said: And the members of the household of the Exilarch were apprehended and punished for the sins of the whole world. Because their authority extends across the entire Jewish world, it is in their hands to ensure that nobody commit a transgression. As indicated by that which Rabbi Ḥanina said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “The Lord will enter into judgment with the Elders of His people and its princes, saying: It is you who have eaten up the vineyard; the robbery of the poor is in your houses” (Isaiah 3:14)? The question arises: If the princes sinned by committing robbery, what did the Elders, i.e., the Sages of that generation, do that was considered a sin? Rather, say: God will enter into judgment with the Elders because they did not protest the sinful conduct of the princes. The Gemara relates: Rav Yehuda was sitting before Shmuel when this woman came and cried before Shmuel about an injustice that had been committed against her, and Shmuel paid no attention to her. Rav Yehuda said to Shmuel: Doesn’t the Master hold in accordance with the verse: “Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13)? He said to him: Big-toothed one, your superior, i.e., I, your teacher, will be punished in cold water. The superior of your superior will be punished in hot water. Mar Ukva, who sits as president of the court, is responsible for those matters. And from where is it derived that this responsibility is incumbent upon the house of the Exilarch? As it is written: “House of David, so says the Lord: Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor, lest My fury go forth like fire, and burn so that none can quench it because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 21:12). The Exilarch is a direct descendant of the house of David. With regard to the issue of reprimand, it was related that Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbi Simon: Let the Master reprimand the members of the house of the Exilarch, as Rabbi Simon had some influence over them. Rabbi Simon said to him: They will not accept reprimand from me. Rabbi Zeira said to him: Let my master reprimand them even if they do not accept it.
4 ד

נתפש - נענש על עבירות שבידן: בכל העולם כולו - בכל ישראל כגון מלך ונשיא שאפשר לו למחות שיראין מפניו ומקיימין דבריו:

...Held accountable: punished on account of their offenses. For the entire world: For all of Israel, for example: a king or a prince, who has the power to protest, because people fear them, and uphold their words.

5 ה
(ה) הַזֹּרְעִ֥ים בְּדִמְעָ֗ה בְּרִנָּ֥ה יִקְצֹֽרוּ׃ (ו) הָ֘ל֤וֹךְ יֵלֵ֨ךְ ׀ וּבָכֹה֮ נֹשֵׂ֪א מֶֽשֶׁךְ־הַ֫זָּ֥רַע בֹּֽ֬א־יָב֥וֹא בְרִנָּ֑ה נֹ֝שֵׂ֗א אֲלֻמֹּתָֽיו׃
(5) They who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. (6) Though he goes along weeping, carrying the seed-bag, he shall come back with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves.
7 ז
דִּלְמָא מְעַבְּרִין לָךְ. אֲמַר לַהּ: לִשְׁתַּמַּשׁ אִינָשׁ יוֹמָא חֲדָא בְּכָסָא דְמוֹקְרָא, וְלִמְחַר לִיתְּבַר. אֲמַרָה לֵיהּ: לֵית לָךָ חִיוָּרָתָא. הָהוּא יוֹמָא בַּר תַּמְנֵי סְרֵי שְׁנֵי הֲוָה, אִתְרְחִישׁ לֵיהּ נִיסָּא וְאִהַדַּרוּ לֵיהּ תַּמְנֵי סְרֵי דָּרֵי חִיוָּרָתָא. הַיְינוּ דְּקָאָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה: הֲרֵי אֲנִי כְּבֶן שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה. וְלֹא ״בֶּן שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה״.
There is room for concern. Perhaps they will remove you from office just as they removed Rabban Gamliel. He said to her, based on the folk saying: Let a person use an expensive goblet one day and let it break tomorrow. In other words, one should take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself and he need not concern himself whether or not it will last. She said to him: You have no white hair, and it is inappropriate for one so young to head the Sages. The Gemara relates: That day, he was eighteen years old, a miracle transpired for him and eighteen rows of hair turned white. The Gemara comments: That explains that which Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya said: I am as one who is seventy years old and he did not say: I am seventy years old, because he looked older than he actually was.