With regard to his idea of "positive" vs. "negative"Judaism, he wrote that it is important
to recognize that the essence of spiritual activism is to ignite the Jewish spark within each of us. The activist who is grounded exclusively in physical defense - demonstrations, rallies, protests, political lobbying - doesn't understand the higher purpose of activism. If I am a Jew only to fight anti-Semitism, that is negative Judaism. If, however, I am a Jew because I appreciate the Sabbath, I treasure the Jewish laws and rituals that ennoble the life of the Jew, and I devote time to reading Jewish books and to Torah study, that is positive Judaism. Negative Judaism will not endure; positive Judaism will.And here is what he wrote upon the topic of speaking out for others and speaking out on behalf of one's self:
Yediat Yisrael, "Jewish knowledge," including the Torah education, is inextricably bound with ruach Yisrael, "the spirit of Israel." Yediat Yisrael is crucial to Jewish identity, Jewish activism, and Jewish survival. In its absence, Jews are in danger of forgetting who they are, of ceasing to stand up for Jewish causes, and of casting away Jewish values and rituals, which become meaningless without learning and understanding. The inevitable result is assimilation and loss. Yediat Yisrael, "Jewish knowledge," and ruach Yisrael, "the spirit of Israel," together encapsulate positive Judaism.1
Speaking out for others carries relatively little risk and even brings acclaim and approval from the larger community. Speaking out on behalf of our own interests, on the other hand, touches upon our insecurities and heightened sensitivity to what others may think of us - insecurities and sensitivities that we, as Diaspora Jews, have acquired and absorbed over the years. As a result, we feel strong and unhampered when fighting for others, yet deferential and afraid when fighting for ourselves.2Rabbi Weiss continues on and writes
As Jews, we have a responsibility to be both universalists and particularists. While our spiritual activism shares the universalist agenda, it can never be at the expense of the commitment to our own people. We easily remember that our sage Hillel asked, "If I am only for myself, what am I worth?" Yet we too often forget his more important question that immediately precedes it - "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"3
1 - Rabbi Avraham Weiss, Spiritual Activism: A Jewish Guide to Leadership and Repairing the World (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008), 36-37.
2 - Ibid., 56.
3 - Ibid.