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    Last week the
    Charedi community
    in Israel was
    outraged to hear
    that the chairman
    of Angel Bakery
    and former Public
    Security Minister, Omer Bar-Lev, protested
    outside the home of the elderly Gadol
    Hador, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevizh,
    Rabbi Gershon Edelstein Shlit”a. This act
    was viewed as a direct insult on the Rabbi
    and desecration of the Torah.
    Leaders of the Charedi community around
    the country immediately have called for a
    boycott on Angel Bakery, Israel’s largest
    commercial bakery. This boycott indeed
    took a heavy toll on the bakery’s revenue
    as several significant yeshivas such as
    the Mir, Hevron and many others have
    announced that they will cut ties with the
    The boycott spread quickly from the
    Haredi community to other religious
    communities as well, and even many
    people who are secular joined the boycott

    as a form of respect to the Rabbi as they
    feel that the act of Bar-Lev was wrong
    and distressful.
    How do we view a boycott in Halachic
    Rebuking vs Protesting.
    What is the purpose of a boycott? Is it a
    form of rebuke תוכחה?
    The Mitzvah of rebuking must be done
    with a purpose that the person being
    rebuked should change his ways and
    repent; but in a case where the person is

    totally secular—and certainly if he is anti-
    religion such as Bar-Lev—then our Sages

    say (ב סה דף יבמות )that it’s not permitted
    to rebuke him because he won’t listen:
    אמר רבי אילעא משום ר‘ אלעזר בר‘ שמעון:”
    כשם שמצוה על אדם לומר דבר הנשמע]]דכתיב
    )ויקרא יט( הוכח תוכיח להוכיח מי שמקבל הימנו
    – רש“י[ כך מצוה על אדם שלא לומר דבר שאינו
    נשמע. רבי אבא אומר: חובה, שנאמר אל תוכח לץ
    “פן ישנאך, הוכח לחכם ויאהבך
    Just as it is a mitzvah for a person to
    say that which will be heeded, so is it

    a mitzvah for a person not to say that
    which will not be heeded. Meaning that
    one should not rebuke those who will
    be unreceptive to his message. Rabbi
    Abba says: “It is obligatory for him to
    refrain from speaking, as it is stated: ‘Do
    not reprove a scorner lest he hate you;
    reprove a wise man and he will love
    To understand this further, we must
    first understand the distinction between
    three different concepts: the Mitzvah
    to rebuke, the obligation to protest, and
    taking action and using means to stop
    The Mitzvah to rebuke is different from
    the Mitzvah to protest in various ways,
    but the main difference is that the purpose
    of rebuking is to change the ways of the
    sinner, while the obligation to protest is
    in order to express disagreement with that
    which was done.
    When one rebukes he must understand
    that he is doing so in order that the person
    sinning will change his ways, thus the
    Mitzvah of rebuking is only if one has
    a relationship with the person being
    rebuked; otherwise he is exempt
    because he won’t listen (הלכה ביאור
    .(סימן תרח ד״ה חיב
    There is also a difference between a
    person who sinned privately and one
    who sinned publically. Those who sin
    privately should be rebuked privately,
    whereas if one sins publicly then one
    should do whatever it is necessary to
    stop the Chilul Hashem (סימן משנ״ב
    .(תרח סק״י
    Another difference is that if the person
    being rebuked gets physical, or even
    just starts being verbally abusive, one
    is exempt from rebuking, because we
    aren’t obligated to get hurt verbally
    or physically while helping another.
    When we protest however, the purpose
    is for ourselves to show that we aren’t
    agreeing with whatever was said or
    done, and therefore one should protest
    even if he might get hurt (היהודי הבית
    .(עמוד 309
    Also, when rebuking the public at
    large that are doing something wrong
    it is sufficient to rebuke one time, but
    when rebuking a single person we
    should rebuke as many times as it
    takes until he changes his ways (רמ״א
    .(סימן תרח ס״ב
    That is for rebuking, but when

    protesting there in no obligation to protest
    more than once, even a single person,
    because protesting is only to express that
    we aren’t agreeing with whatever was
    .(חוט שני, יוה״כ עמוד קיט) done or said
    If a person witnesses something wrong he
    must rebuke (unless he is exempt because
    of the reason explained above), and if he
    doesn’t, he gets punished together with
    the sinner.
    Protesting in Demonstrations.
    There is a third category that is different
    from the above two. This category is if
    we see that people are trying to do things
    that might affect our Yidishkeit, then we
    should go out and use our influence, as
    directed by the Gedolei Torah, for the
    .(חוט שני עמוד קכג) religion the of sake
    Rav Elyashiv was asked (ח״א תשובות קובץ
    מד‘ סי (if going out to the streets to protest
    those who violate Shabbat fall under the
    category of rebuking. The rabbi answered
    that it isn’t a form of rebuke, rather its
    purpose is to try to stop, as much as
    possible, the widespread desecration of
    Shabbat in public areas.
    When we hear of someone who is
    assaulting or degrading a rabbi in any
    way, we must protest or risk being
    punished for keeping silence.
    of speaks) בבא מציעא פד,ב) Gemara The
    the great Rabbi Eliezer that was punished
    because of a single incident that he didn’t
    protest the honor of a Talmid Chacham.
    Another story is told (ב,מד סנהדרין רש״י (of
    a great person who was buried in disgrace
    because he didn’t protest when he heard
    someone speak negatively of the Rabbis.
    The amazing response of the public in this
    particular case with the bakery is actually
    very much aligned with the Halacha, as
    the Gemara (א,כג יומא (says that a Talmid
    Chacham should not forgive those who
    insult him until they ask for forgiveness,
    he also shouldn’t take active revenge but
    rather others should avenge his honor.