This may sound like a weird question, but I was wondering if it is written anywhere (Gemarah, Commentators, etc) that one has an obligation to stand up for something he believes is right, continuing to believe and behave accordingly, even in the face of peer pressure. Is it?

  • 4
    The question is broadly worded. An example might help clarify what you mean.
    – Fred
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 2:41
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    @Bochur613 Isn't Modern Orthodoxy a subset of Orthodoxy? How can a subset of something be worse than the parent set?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 2:49
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    מוטב לי להקרא שוטה כל ימי ולא ליעשות שעה אחת רשע לפני המקום Eduyos 5:6
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 2:56
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    @Bochur613 Ok, you should reword the question accordingly.
    – Fred
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 2:57
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    A black hat is not halacha. The other things you mention which are machlokes haposkim, why do you call that beliefs. Unless you are a talmid chochom on their level you have no right to give an opinion. And certainly not to others. I am not sure how you quantify standing firmly. How you yourself should act. Certainly you do as you please. But as far as others. If you are among others there may be an issur of loi sisgodadu. And not standing amongst the sitting. One shouldnt make oneself stand out. Again please try and explain again to me the question.
    – user2709
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 8:10

5 Answers 5


This comes to mind:

ולא יתבייש מפני בני אדם המלעיגים עליו בעבודת השי"ת

A person should not be embarrassed by people who jeer him regarding his service of God

(שולחן ערוך, אורח חיים א:א בהגה)


The two quotes that come to mind are:

מוטב לי להקרא שוטה כל ימי ולא ליעשות שעה אחת רשע לפני המקום
[In response to requests that he change his rulings on certain issues:] I'd rather be called insane for all my days, but not be made evil in front of the Omnipresent even for a moment. (Eduyot 5:6 (English))


יקוב הדין את ההר
Let the law cut through the mountain (ie. the strict ruling of the law will not be pushed aside). (Sanhedrin 6b (English))

  • As for the first quote: note that if we have a real Sanhedrin that votes and decides a majority position, the rabbi in the minority position is allowed to continue his own personal practice otherwise, or even to give lectures explaining the theory behind his view. But if others bring him practical questions, he may not rule in any way other than the majority opinion. (He could simply decline to rule.)
    – Shalom
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 3:23
  • @Shalom Indeed, and in fact he would get capital punishment for ruling contrary to the court.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 3:24
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    These quotes are on the right track for your question, but be careful to understand their contexts before trying to apply them to a given situation.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 3:26

"In a place where there are no men strive to be a man." Pirkei Avot 2:6.

"Every single person is obligated to say, 'The world was created for my sake"' (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5)."

These two quotes don't exactly say to stand up for what you believe to be right, but they do suggest the vast importance of an individual's individual action. You can't say, leave it to someone else to stand up for the truth.

I don't have it in front of me now, but in Orchos Tzaddikim the author emphasizes that one should forcefully combat heretics (rather than remaining humble or honoring them). After all, we are enjoined to "Know what to answer to an unbeliever." Avos 2:14. So this could include standing up for your beliefs.

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    אם אין אני לי, מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי
    – Seth J
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 14:41

A few commonly cited adages from Pirkei Avoth come to mind, which speak about doing that which is right, and doing your best at all times. Some of these may be more broadly applicable than your question, but I still think a lesson can be derived about persevering in the face of adversity.

Ch. 1:12,14

הלל אומר: הוי מתלמידיו של אהרן, אוהב שלום ורודף שלום, אוהב את הבריות ומקרבן לתורה.‏
Hillel says: "Be of the students of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace, love [all of G-d's] creatures and bring them closer to the Torah."

הוא היה אומר: אם אין אני לי, מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי?‏
He used to say: "If I'm not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am [only] for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"

Ch. 2:14-16

רבי אלעזר אומר:‏ הוי שקוד ללמוד תורה, ודע מה שתשיב לאפיקורוס. ודע לפני מי אתה עמל. ומי הוא בעל מלאכתך שישלם לך שכר פעולתך.‏
Rabbi El'azar says: "Be diligent to study Torah, and know what to respond to an Apikoros. And know before Whom you toil. And [also know] who is the Master of your work Who will reward your efforts."

רבי טרפון אומר: היום קצר והמלאכה מרובה, והפועלים עצלים, והשכר הרבה, ובעל הבית דוחק.‏
Rabbi Tarfon says: "The day is short, and the work is plentiful, and the laborers are lazy, [yet] the reward is great, and the Master of the house is pressing [for the work to be done]."

הוא היה אומר: לא עליך המלאכה לגמור ולא אתה בן חורין לבטל ממנה. אם למדת תורה הרבה, נותנים לך שכר הרבה. ונאמן הוא בעל מלאכתך שישלם לך שכר פעולתך. ודע מתן שכרן של צדיקים לעתיד לבוא.‏
He used to say: "The task is not upon you to complete, [yet] you are not free to be absolved from it. If you learned much Torah, (they) give you much reward. And the Master of your work is faithful that He will will pay you the reward of your labor. And know [that] the giving of the reward of the righteous is in the future [yet] to come."

Text is copied from Chabad.org (see links provided above); translation is my own.

  • Not sure if this is a perek shiur or an answer to the question. You have to read between the lines of what the questionnaire really meant hence my reply
    – user2709
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 17:17
  • @shulem, fair enough. Better?
    – Seth J
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 18:05

Exodus 23:2

לֹא-תִהְיֶה אַחֲרֵי-רַבִּים, לְרָעֹת; וְלֹא-תַעֲנֶה עַל-רִב, לִנְטֹת אַחֲרֵי רַבִּים--לְהַטֹּת

Do not be after the majority to do ill and do not respond to an argument to lean after the majority to turn.

Onkelos on the verse:

לא תהי בתר סגיאי, לאבאשא; ולא תתמנע מלאלפא מא דבעינך על דינא, בתר סגיאי--שלים דינא.

Don't be after the majority to do ill, and do not refrain from explaining what is in your eyes concerning judgement, complete judgement by the majority.

Rashi brings this down as well, saying that the verse is abjuring the individual to judge with integrity, regardless of what others decide.

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