Everyone has two main sides to them- their external side, the side that they choose to show to the world, and the internal side that is found only in their head. When meeting new faces, people generally try to put their best foot forward, trying not to make any waves, and say only things that they think other people want to hear. Or at least I tend to be like that.
But that’s just one side of me. The side I generally choose to show to the public. That’s the nice, peace loving, non confrontational side of me.
But then there’s the inside, the part of me that starts stewing when I hear something that really raises my ire, that goes against those core beliefs that I hold dear. The part of me that makes me want to shout and scream and yell and fight.
For most of my life, I didn’t fight for what I believed in, thinking that getting along with everyone was more important than being on a quest for justice. I recently heard a story about one of the Gedolim (Jewish leaders) of the previous generation that changed my outlook and helped me understand why standing up for Kavod HaTorah (the honor of the Torah) and Kavod Hashem (G-d’s honor) is not wrong, even if it makes you enemies.
When asked why he stood up and fought for Kavod Hatorah, the Rav said “Someone is walking into my house and stealing the gold and silver, and when I try to stop them, I’m the one accused of causing problems?!?!”
This story really made it hit home for me.
Would you defend your home against robbers?
Would you stop people from defacing your property?
What if you were given the responsibility to take care of someone else’s property and then hooligans came in and tried to destroy the property- would you stand up to them?
As a Jewish nation, we were given the Torah- it’s G-d’s, but it was entrusted to us. We, as G-d fearing people, have a responsibility to safeguard the Torah, to safeguard Yiddishkeit from those people who want to steal it and claim it as their own.
Shai Dromi did the right thing when he stood up to and shot Arab intruders- can people honestly claim he was an instigator when all he was doing was self defense?
When someone is attacking your way of life and the Torah you hold dear, is standing up for your way of life and the Torah a lack of Ahavat Yisrael (love of your fellow Jew)?
No! It’s self respect and self preservation.
Of course there are ways to do things and ways not to do things, and being hateful is never right. Being understanding and loving is the right way to do things- understanding and loving while not letting people trample what you hold dear or walk off with your silver and gold, that is.
So now I am no longer quiet about what bothers me, because this is more than just about me. Its about the gift that G-d gave us, the Torah, that is demanding our respect, and that there is a mitzva to fight for his honor.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Those on a quest for righteousness are not always popular, and I realize that stating my opinions on things may make people think badly of me, but I can hold my head high and know that I’m doing the right thing, and that in 20 years, I can look back and say “Thank G-d I stood up for Hashem’s honor and His Torah.”
Life isn’t a true life when you don’t stand up for the truth. Going with the flow is what Nazi’s did in Germany, and what Cossacks did in Russia. If people had stood up to meddlesome troublemakers and rabble-rousers in the past, they wouldn’t have been nearly as successful in wreaking the havoc that they did.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
And so I stand up for the causes I believe in, stand up to those people whose goal is to dishonor G-d, and tell those people “Don’t you dare steal that silver and gold.”
And to those that tell me “You hater! Just leave them be!”, you’re free to do what you feel, but I’ll take my inspiration for the Maccabees- “Mi LaHashem Elai!” Whoever is on G-d’s side, come join me.
Come fight for justice.
Come fight for the honor of the Torah. And don’t let haters get you down.
And that, my friends, is the real Ronit Peskin. The one who fights for Kavod Hatorah. Because there are more important things in life than trying to please everyone, all the time.
Ronit is the founder of the grassroots organization WomenForTheWall.org, an organization dedicated to preserving Kedusha (sanctity) and tradition at the Kotel HaMaaravi (Western Wall) and promoting Ahavat Yisrael.