The Importance of Speaking Out Against Sinners

The Talmud

Anyone who has the ability to protest against the sins of his family members, but does not, is punished for their sins. If he does not protest against the people of his city, he is punished for their sins. If he does not protest against the whole world, he is punished for the whole world’s sins.
(Talmud, Shabbos 54b)

At first G-d told the angels not to harm the people with the sign of righteousness on them, but then the Attribute of Justice spoke up and said, “They should have protested.” G-d said, “I know that the other Jews would not have listened to them.” The Attribute of Justice said, “Master of the Universe, You know that, but do they know that?” G-d agrees with this argument and instructs the angels to begin killing these righteous Jews as well
(Shabbos 55a).

After having been cast out from the feast, Bar Kamtza said to himself: Since the Sages were sitting there and did not protest the actions of the host, although they saw how he humiliated me, I learn from it that they were content with what he did. I will therefore go and inform against them to the king. He went and said to the emperor: The Jews have rebelled against you… this led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.
(Talmud, Gittin 55b)

Rashi, Biblical and Talmudic commentator (1040-1105)
When the Torah says that all the people of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house, it does not mean literally that all of them came, but that no one in the city protested against the attack.
(Commentary on Genesis 19:4)

Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, Biblical commentator (1089-1164)
When the Torah says Sodom would have been saved for the sake of fifty righteous people who are “in the midst of the city,” this means that they fear G-d in public.’ (That is, Sodom was destroyed because even the righteous among them were afraid to publicize their opinions in the streets of the city.”
(Commentary on Genesis 18:26)

Rambam, Known as Maimonides, foremost codifier of Jewish law (1138-1204)
There are other deeds which are also included in the category of the desecration of G-d’s name, if performed by a person of great Torah stature who is renowned for his piety – i.e., deeds which, although they are not transgressions, will cause people to speak disparagingly of him. This also constitutes the desecration of G-d’s name. For example, a person who purchases merchandise and does not pay for it immediately, although he possesses the money, and thus, the sellers demand payment and he pushes them off…

The converse is also true. When a sage is stringent with himself, speaks pleasantly with others, his social conduct is attractive to others, he receives them pleasantly, he is humbled by them and does not humble them in return, he honors them – even though they disrespect him – he does business faithfully, and does not frequently accept the hospitality of the common people or sit with them… to the extent that all praise him, love him, and find his deeds attractive – such a person sanctifies G-d’s name. The verse (Isaiah 49:3): “And He said to me: `Israel, you are My servant, in whom I will be glorified'” refers to him.
(Laws of the Fundamentals of the Torah 5:11)

Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law)

One who saw his fellow drowning, or threatened by thieves or by a wild animal, and could have either saved him himself or hired others to save him – and he did not – or someone who heard that idol worshippers or informants are plotting against someone or preparing to ensnare him – and he did not reveal this to his friend and tell him – or someone who knew that an idol worshipper or violent man was approaching his fellow, and he could have appeased him and changed his attitude towards his fellow – and he did not appease him – in all such situations, he has transgressed, “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:16)
(Choshen Mishpat 426:1)

Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, Leader of Sephardic Jewry and major Biblical commentator (1696-1743)
The Torah warns that the Holy Land will not tolerate sinners: “So that the land not spit you out, when you make it unclean, as it spit out the nation that was before you.” (Leviticus 18:28) Why does it repeat this theme in Chapter 20? The answer is, to teach us to be careful not only that we should keep the mitzvos, but that all Jews should keep them, for if not, the land will vomit out everyone. Those who kept the mitzvos will be punished as well, for not protesting against those who did not keep them.
(Ohr Hachaim, Parshas Kedoshim)

Why did the entire Jewish people need atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, if it was only three thousand of them who sinned, and those sinners were executed on the spot? Furthermore, the Talmudic Sages (Exodus Rabbah 42) say that the mixed multitude of Egyptians who accompanied the Jews, were the ones who made the calf. Why then was the Jewish people held responsible?

Now, it cannot be that the Jewish people agreed to what they did, even in their hearts, for had they agreed, they would be considered partners to the sin. The rule is that when it comes to idolatry, G-d punishes even for a thought (Kiddushin 39b). But their sin was that they did not protest.
(Ohr Hachaim on Exodus 32:4)

Rabbi Moshe Sofer, Rabbi of Bratislava, known as Chasam Sofer (1762-1839)
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments, he heard from a distance the sounds of the worship of the Golden Calf. Joshua said, “The sound of war is in the camp.” Joshua also understood that there was blasphemous singing going on in the camp, but he reasoned, “It is impossible that the righteous could be silent at such an act! There must be a war in the camp!” Moses also shared this assumption, and this explains why he did not break the tablets on the top of the mountain, as soon as he heard from G-d that the people worshipped the golden calf. He reasoned that there were certainly faithful Jews who were fighting the worshippers of the calf, and for these faithful Jews he would bring down the tablets. When he came down, however, and saw that there was no war, he broke them. Such was the reasoning of Moses and Joshua: that whenever an abomination is committed by a segment of the Jewish people, there must be at least some faithful ones who fight it. Even if they are not strong enough to stop the sinners, the mere fact that they are fighting is precious in the eyes of G-d, and for such people it is worth bringing down the holy tablets of the Torah.
(Chasam Sofer)

Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe (1887-1979)
We must make all efforts to make known to all the nations that the Zionists are not the representatives of the Jewish people, and that observant Jews have no connection with them. We must make this known even at the risk of our lives.
(Kinus Haklali 5721)

It is an obligation upon every person and community to protest and cry out in any way he can, and to do anything in his power for the sake of the honor of G-d, which has been desecrated by the Zionists. One must respond at all times and in all places… What did Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai do at that terrible time when the zealots forced their own rule over the Jews in opposition to the Romans? He made whatever efforts he could, and with the agreement of the other sages he went out to the Romans to save the remnant of the Jewish people in the Holy Land… We have already established that it is a holy obligation to declare our faith… Everyone is legally obligated to do as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai did… and to cry out in protest against the brazen sins of the Zionists.

We must let everyone know that the Zionists are not the Jewish people; they are the destroyers of the vineyard of G-d. The true Jewish people are those who keep and live by G-d’s Torah. The true and holy Jewish people are not responsible for the evil deeds of all the Zionists and secularists of all stripes. When confronted with this scene of heresy and permissiveness, we are commanded to proclaim in the streets the connection between the Jewish people, G-d and the holy Torah, in order to lessen somewhat the embarrassment of the Zionists’ desecration of G-d’s name…

Not long ago the Zionist leader declared before all the delegates of the nations of the world that the Jewish people has no connection with the holy Torah, G-d forbid. There is no greater desecration of G-d’s name than this, and it is certainly a holy obligation to announce before those same gentiles that the Zionists do not speak for the Jewish people. The Jewish people is holy and the holy Torah is our life and the length of our days.
(Drasha, 5718)

Rabbi Amram Blau, leader of Neturei Karta, Jerusalem (1900-1974)
It is incumbent upon every Jew to emulate Chananya, Mishael and Azariah and announce even at the risk of his life that he is not part of this false Israel. He is a Jew and not a Zionist. He has no connection with these Zionist heretics or with their heretical leadership of the state.
(Announcement in the year 1957)

Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Freund, chief rabbi of Jerusalem (1904-1996)
When G-d’s name is being desecrated from one end of the world to the other by the actions of the Zionists and their collaborators, we have a holy obligation to raise our voices like a ram’s horn and announce before the entire world and all its nations that we have no connection with these actions, and that according to the true Torah view we are obligated to seek peace with the nations of the world and not to start fights with them.
(Ateres Yehoshua, Leviticus p. 4)

Rabbi Refoel Blum, Kasho Rebbe (1910-2005)
Whenever the leaders of the Zionist state commit terrible desecrations of G-d’s name, in the name of the Jewish people, we are obligated to come out against them with constant protests and demonstrations. We must not limit our protest to speaking behind closed doors where nobody sees or hears. The protests must not be [just] against one specific sin or the other, but rather to let the voice of the Torah be heard: that the very existence of the state is like a bonfire, burning, G-d forbid, the parchment and the letters of the Torah. It is not enough just to say that a certain problem needs to be rectified. Rather, the main stress should be that the entire state is forbidden according to the holy Torah. It is entirely founded on uprooting the Torah, and it is poison for everything holy to us. We must announce in the streets before the eyes of all the gentile nations that the Zionists are not the leaders of the Jewish people, that they have no right whatsoever to speak in the name of the Jewish people.
(Ketzei Hashomayim, p. 56)