26 March 2012

A Field Guide to Jewish Disputes

This post is based on something I heard from a rabbi I shall call Rabbi St. Helens, because he is ancient, majestic, and grey, and so always reminds me of the mountain by that name.
Rabbi St. Helens learnt from Rav Elya Lopian.

Torah distinguishes between two types of disputes. There is a machlokes leshem shamayim, a dispute for the sake of Heaven. And there is a machlokes shelo leshem shamayim, a dispute not for the sake of Heaven - by default, for the sake of someone's ego.

machlokes shelo leshem shamayim, stay away from. Do not get involved.
As for a machlokes leshem shamayim...?

Rabbi St. Helens rumbled at us:
 "Leave the machlokes leshem shamayim for someone else!"

Good advice.

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