Our Responsibility to Right Injustices

    At the end of the weekday reading, we read הנסתרות לה אלקנו והנגלות [1]לנו ולבנינו עד עולם there are some dots about the words לנו ולבנינו עד. Why are those dots present? It’s because sins done in secret we leave to God to handle. Sins done in public, however, are our responsibility to address each and every generation. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander in Judaism. One is responsible for correcting injustices that are in their midst.

          This is an important lesson right before the High Holy Days. One of the hardest commandments to fulfill, especially in our contemporary era of rampant individualism, isתוכיח את עמיתך  הוכח,[2] you shall surely rebuke your fellow. How do we rebuke others doing wrong if there is no absolute standard of right and wrong? While we need to be careful and think before doing it if we see a blatant injustice, such as theft, bullying/abuse or destruction of property, it is our responsibility to address it in that moment and to rebuke the one committing the damage. If we do not than according to Judaism we are guilty-perhaps as guilty as the one who committed the offense.

          As we approach the High Holy Days and think about how we can better become the people we want to be in the world, I would urge us to think about this. Sometimes it’s not good to sit back and be the nice guy or girl-true leadership requires responding to injustices through rebuking the perpetrators. May we hear this lesson and take it to heart in 5782.


[1] Deuteronomy 28:29

[2] Leviticus 19:17

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