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Rabbi's Week in Review - 4/3/2023

04/03/2023 03:39:03 PM


It is probably no secret by now that Pesach, our Passover celebration, is a favorite of mine (notwithstanding that the dietary restrictions get a little old by the end). Yes, it is a holiday to celebrate our freedom from bondage, a statement that, in and of itself, raises all kinds of questions about the many forms of bondage we potentially face: bondage imposed upon us and bondage we impose on ourselves.

My favorite part of the chag, this special holiday, is how it opens us up to discussion, to exploration of yet-to-be-discovered knowledge and argument. Our Pesach seder is meant for in-depth study and leads into Machloket LeSheim Shamayim, argument for the sake of heaven.

Respectful and loving disagreement is how we, as Jews, learn. It is also how we engage in disagreement without demonizing one another. Our engagement in a friendly verbal jousting match seems to be a forgotten art, not only outside our Jewish world but also, sadly, within our Jewish communities as well.

A caveat: Machloket LeSheim Shamayim does not require us to engage with those whose only response is hate and anger, or require us to tolerate that hate and anger. And, certainly, there is never room for violence as a means of advocating for or against policy. Intimidation is not a legitimate means to win an argument. 

Yet we can work harder to engage each other without anger, hate or distrust being our first response. Let us use our own teaching of Machloket LeSheim Shamayim to encourage open and free discussion; to use disagreement as a means to learn from one another; and, on this Passover, to be an Or l’Goyim, a light to the nations, and an example for others.

Mon, December 11 2023 28 Kislev 5784