Social responsibility plays a big role in today’s daf. We are told that a householder who does not reprimand the members of his house who sin is responsible for the sin, right up to the exilarch being responsible for the actions of the whole world!
I often feel, and have heard it said that there is no point in reprimanding people or equally, campaigning on issues of social justice, because nothing will be achieved. On our daf, Rav Shimon says just that but he is told by his student, Rebbi Zeira “reprimand them even if they will not listen”.
Maybe, sometimes it is important for people behaving in a way they shouldn’t, to know that their actions are wrong, even if they will not change them as a result of the rebuke!
However we must really look at ourselves before rebuking others and consider the other side of the coin from the Jewish approach to interpersonal relationships…
1) “Judge every person favorably” (Avos 1:6)
2) “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.” (Avos 2:5)
3) There are countless statements of Chazal about the importance of humility, and publicly criticizing other people (the alternative to “live and let live”) isn’t exactly humble.
4) Embarassing another person (such as through public criticism) is considered as bad as shedding blood.
5) Rav Hillel the Elder said that no one in his generation was qualified to offer reproof. And that was a generation of spiritual giants!
Practically speaking it may be easier to differentiate between rebuking individuals and taking action on broader social issues which can be protested about without falling foul of 1) and 2) above.
Food for thought.