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8 Tammuz, 5779 - July 11, 2019 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Point of "Pointless" Protest

By HaRav Shaul Lerner

Why do we sometimes protest things such as chilul Shabbos even when we know our protest will not help?

Chazal say in Maseches Sotah, "Three were included in that counsel" - which Pharaoh asked [of his advisors]: `Let us outsmart them.' These were "Bilaam, Iyov and Yisro. Bilaam, who promoted it, was slain. Iyov, who remained silent, was sentenced to suffering, and Yisro, who fled, gained that his descendants were in the Lishkas Hagozis."

Bilaam always sought the evil counsel until the end of his time when he met his death by sword. We encounter Yisro as Moshe Rabbenu's father-in-law, who additionally merited having his descendants as members of the Sanhedrin. Iyov has become the example par excellence for all those riddled with suffering.

The Brisker Rov was once asked: Where do we see the measure-for-measure punishment for Iyov through his suffering for having maintained silence?

Maran replied that Iyov was silent because he maintained that even if he expressed a negative opinion, it wouldn't have made a difference. So why should he speak up? He was punished with suffering because it is human nature that when something hurts, a person cries out, whether or not it will make any difference. When one is in pain, he screams; if someone does not scream, it means that it doesn't hurt enough.

By his silence in Egypt, Iyov showed that the matter didn't interest him since at any rate, his response wouldn't help. But he was duty-bound to register his protest and opposition. He was punished with suffering to show him that when something involves him, he must not remain indifferent and complacent.

Apparently, this analysis which has become a fundament in every beis medrash, has spread wings and flown beyond its threshold to the street and found a different expression even amongst the Ethiopian community to the point of public demonstration to justify what we have seen this past week.

HaRav Shach used this edifying example of Iyov at the election rally for the Torah public in 5741: "We are culpable for the fact that in our midst are people who do not interest themselves in politics since, in their opinion, what they say won't make a difference anyway. Such a person sits in his home and does not go out to vote. But this is foolish.

"Whoever can do something on his own but chooses to sit quietly and not become involved in what is going on shows that he is not pained and doesn't care if Shabbos is being violated or decrees are passed against religion, for had it touched him, he would not sit so complacently. Those who do not go to vote prove that [the situation] doesn't hurt them. And they will have to pay for their indifference!"


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