One of my favorite commandments of the Torah is included in this week’s portion: “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil.”
Yes, so many times in history have we seen people follow the masses and fearing to stand up for what they believed to be right and honorable. Regardless of our age, it is easy and simple to conform to the majority, however wrong or immoral their behavior and attitudes. Courage and idealism are essential if we are to adhere to our principles and convictions when they are not popular.
What an important message for children, for teenagers, and for us as adults: to stand up for what we believe, regardless of what others are thinking or doing. (How many parents have said to their children: “I don’t care what everybody else is doing?”)
So was Moses chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He could have gone on with his life of luxury and ease as a prince in Egypt. But when he saw Israelite slaves being viciously beaten, he could not restrain himself from running out of the palace and killing the cruel taskmaster. And from him we learn the lesson that we dare not turn away from evil, and that we dare not believe that our voices and our actions will not make a difference. At the very least, to stand up against evil keeps us human, even as none among us alone is able to resolve the evils that our world knows. But we can all make a difference for that which is good and righteous.
Judaism calls upon us to live lives of decency and integrity, and to courageously stand up for what is right, and not be a “follower” or remain silent in the face of pain and injustice. May we be strong enough to listen to that voice within us and dare to walk the path of righteousness.
Rabbi David Greenberg