My earlier posting about the crisis of Religious Zionism, reminded me that I hadn't finished discussing R. Zekharia b. Avqulos. As noted, most people know of him from the Qamtza/Bar Qamtza story in Gittin. However, there is another version of Q/BQ in Midrash Eikha Rabbah (Parsha 4 s.v. (3) ma'aseh). In that version, it turns out that R. Zekharia b. Avqulos was sitting at Qamtza's party and was a witness to the way Qamtza publically humiliated Bar Qamtza. The Midrash says that Bar Qamtza was deeply wounded by the serene way in which RZA and the others sat there and let Qamtza humiliate him when they could have protested the violation of the rabbinic injunction against humiliating another person. Hence, he decided to avenge himself on everyone.
I understand the Midrash to be conveying a very serious social message. Rabbis (and religious Jews, generally) are halakhically obligated to intervene to prevent others from being hurt; to object to verbal and physical abuse; and to take stands on social issues. If the Torah is reduced to ritual, it ceases to be the Torah (though the opposite is eqully true). The Qiddush HaShem that could be done if the RZ community were more involved in general social issues and more open about its Hesed activities, that Qiddush HaShem would go a long way to redeeming society, rejudaizing the country and really bringing the redemption closer.