We are living in what some have described as an “age of protest.” Nevertheless, protesting has been around for thousands of years, and some core features of contemporary discourse are already prominent in antiquity. In this article I explore three key dimensions of protest and rebuke within early rabbinic (tannaitic) literature: power, violence, and responsibility. Although protest and rebuke overlap in many respects, tannaitic discussion of these actions diverge in significant ways that grant us greater clarity into the dynamics the early rabbis perceived to be at play when attempting to effectively confront others on the individual level. I argue that the differences between rabbinic discourse about these two types of confrontation in the three aforementioned areas stem from crucial differences in the ways these acts are perceived and received. The notable nuances between rabbinic portrayals of protest and rebuke can provide insight into thinking about effective interpersonal confrontation today.

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