Protesting and Rosh Hashana 19a

תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף יט עמוד א

בעשרים ותמניא ביה אתת בשורתא טבתא ליהודאי דלא יעידון מאורייתא. 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.

On the twenty ninth day of it [Adar – Rashi, based on Megillat Taanit], good news came to the Jews, that they wouldn’t be disconnected from the Torah. The evil empire (Rome, not the Yankees - AR) decreed apostasy on Israel: that they may not engage in Torah, that they may not circumcise their sons, and that they violate the Sabbath. What did Yehuda b. Shamu’a and his friends do? They consulted with a matroness who was frequented by all of the Roman nobles. She said to them, “Go protest (hafginu) at night.” The went and protested at night, saying “For God’s Sake! Aren’t we brothers, sons of one father, and sons of one mother?” And they were rescinded. And that day was made into a holiday.
A few points are in order:

First, note what the protests are about in the Gemara and today. Shabbat. Bris. Torah. Not the right of some group to march. Not mixed seating in public transportation.

Second, notice the method of protest. Build bridges with someone from the other side. Appeal to common ground. No violence. No name-calling. No rock-throwing.

Of course, the Romans were different. Had the Yidden tried anything too funny, heads would have rolled. For 2000 years in Galus, we took the non-violent approach (except on Purim, a la Elliot Horowitz) because it was most tactical. But in Israel, where everyone is INDEED the son of the same parents, where we know that the blood will not flow between brothers, the situation is exploited to gain concessions that the Galus-Yid would never dream about. It’s ironic considering that it’s generally NOT the Chareidi viewpoint that we’ve left the Galus; that you’ll find in National Religious circles. So why the agitation? Is it simply because here they can get away with it?

A few years ago, my very pregnant, chareidi sister got on a separate-seating bus in Kiryat Sefer (yeah, RBS is behind the times; KS is the cutting edge). There were no seats left on the women’s side. So she sat in an empty row on the men’s side. As the men’s side filled up, some yutz tried to kick my sister out of her seat, so there would be more room on the men’s side. She refused, and he backed off. My sister, the chareidi Rosa Parks.

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