A Time to Speak Up
“When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.” — Ezekiel 3:18–19
The year 2018 is important for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. You can be part of this momentous milestone with Rabbi Eckstein’s 70 devotions offered now through April 19, Israel’s Independence Day. These devotions are tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land using the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L.
This devotion is part of ten devotions focusing on the letter “E” for Educate — the need to arm ourselves with the truth about Israel and share that truth with others.
More than 30 years ago as a newly ordained rabbi, I was sent by the Anti-Defamation League to raise community support to protest a proposed march of a neo-Nazi group in Skokie, Illinois, a Chicago suburb where a large number of Holocaust survivors lived. Do you know who were the most willing to stand against this march? The Christian community. Why? Because of their love for the Jewish people and their sense of responsibility to stand against anti-Semitism.
One of the best ways to combat anti-Semitism — or any form of prejudice — is with love. A loving attitude toward others ensures that you will think the best of them and treat them well. If you “love your neighbor as yourself” you will not “seek revenge or bear a grudge” (Leviticus 19:18). But what if you don’t harbor any ill thoughts toward others, but you encounter someone who does? Again, love is the best response.
Oftentimes, a loving but straightforward reply is all that is needed. People might not realize that what they have said is offensive unless someone tells them. And sometimes people will stop speaking hatefully if they know that such remarks do not gain them approval. Leviticus 19:17 reminds us to “Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” But why would we share in the guilt of someone else who harbored anti-Semitic attitudes?
By doing nothing to stop it, we bear the responsibility. God said that if you do not warn a wicked man “or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways . . . I will hold you accountable for his blood” (Ezekiel 3:18).
The Bible says to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8). When you hear someone speak hatefully, you can speak up in love. There may not be anyone else present to speak up for people being verbally attacked, so we may be only ones to speak up on their behalf.
It may be difficult or uncomfortable to speak up against hatred, and it may take some courage. But it is our God-given duty to defend those who cannot defend themselves. If we all made a loving, but firm response to anti-Semitism, we could make great strides toward eliminating this harmful attitude.