Take an empty room and put two Jews in it. When they argue (and make no mistake, there will be an argument), you will hear a minimum of three opinions between them.
Why do Jews love to argue, and why does each of us take multiple perspectives on every issue?
Debaters (lawyers and politicians, when it comes to arguments, can be categorized as debaters) take up a position and argue that position, attempting to prove their singular point. He takes a stance.
A Jew, on the other hand, is not a debater. He is a thinker. I don’t need to cite from the liturgy to say this. I know this from my own experience in the Jewish community. We do not argue in order to make judgments, and though stubbornness is a quality many of us share, we embrace multiple perspectives. Hillel never called Shamai stupid or uneducated, because though they argued, they did not argue solely to prove a point.
Hillel taught that “one who does not study deserves to die” (Pirkei Avot 1:13). It is my contention that we study not to learn facts, to amass knowledge, or to be indoctrinated with Jewish values. The greatest rabbis, or Jews in general, were the thinkers: those who asked questions of the Torah, of the world, of their peers, and of themselves. They took up perspectives and did not isolate themselves in the cell of a singular ideology.
The next time you have an argument, watch what you say. Are you trying to prove something, or are you embracing the act of the thought process itself? Post your thoughts in the comment section below!
(This post is from our friend Daniel Lewis, a High School Senior out of Northern Cali. Thanks Daniel!)