Are you Ashkenazi or Sephardi? Chassid or Misnaged? Dati Leumi or Chareidi? Anglo
or Israeli? Belz or Satmar? Chevron Geulah or Givat Mordechai? Toldos Aharon or
Avrohom Yitzchok? Regular Lubavitch or Meshichist? Yekke or Litvish? Yeshivish or
YU? Settler or Tel Avivian? Regular Breslov or Na Nach? Bnei Braker or Yerushalmi?
Brisk or Mir? Son'im or Mechablim (you really have to be in the know to get
that reference!)? Gimmel or Shas? Hatfield or McCoy?
I have looked far and wide for weeks and weeks, and it's amazing! I couldn't
find anyone against achdus, ahavas Yisroel, and shalom! Of course,
a few fights broke out when different groups started arguing about who, then, is
responsible for the pirud (divisiveness), sinas chinam, and machlokes
that is all too prevalent amongst Klal Yisroel. Nu, nu, what's a little fight
when it's for the purpose of having shalom?
The Gemara in Sanhedrin says, "He who maintains a machlokes (just maintains
– that is, he doesn't take positive steps to prevent it, or to stop it!) violates
a prohibition…" And there are many who hold that this is a real "lav," a Torah-prohibition.
But, we all want to know, does that mean everyone has to hold the same ideas?
Isn't there room for diversity, allowing for different emphases in life, different
ways of living, different hashkofos, different outlooks? Weren't there 12
shevatim, and aren't we proud of that fact? Don't we say that they indeed
had different approaches in their avodas Hashem? Why do different
opinions sometimes break out into huge fights, and sometimes not? If we can hold
different things, and have different opinions, when is it machlokes, and
And when is it machlokes, and when is it just an argument? Is there ever
a difference? If we are in beis din over a sum of money that I may or may
not owe you, are we having a machlokes and violating an issur?
The poskim clarify that two people, and even two groups, who are having
an argument do not violate this issur. Although the Torah recommends making
compromises and concessions to restore peace – [peace, Rashi says wisely in the
name of Chazal, never ends up resulting from a knock-down hot-tempered argument
(Devarim 25:1, with Rashi)], it is not forbidden halachically.
BUT – if the dispute degenerates to the point where the parties are divided into
two camps, "us" and "them," when it becomes "personal," when there is loyalty to
one's side, and antagonism to the other, then you have a schism, machlokes,
two camps, and you probably have machlokes, cognate with chiluk, a
division. And, generally, an issur.
As long as it is a dispute, as long as it hasn't reached the two-teams point,
it is an undesirable disagreement, but not yet a machlokss.
(Do political parties represent machlokes by their very nature? Perhaps
– something to think about, at the very least.)
That is why Rashi in Parshas Korach says, in explanation of the words of the
posuk "Vayikach Korach (and Korach took), "What did he take? He took himself
to one side to be divided from amongst the congregation." So now there were "two
teams" – The Mesorah Moshes and the Korrupt Korachs. Such is a machlokes,
almost always forbidden by the Torah.
And anyone who joins a side, or even is in a position to try to settle the
machlokes and fails to do so, is in violation.
And guess what? Even if you are in the right (Whaddya mean? Of course I'm
in the right!!), and the other side is wrong (Wrong? They are misguided,
off-track, and horribly mistaken – and I'm being nice!) you, nevertheless, are
obligated to make every effort that the machlokes cease. And even if the
wrong side (that's the other side, the ones who are not me) continues the
machlokes and continuously antagonizes, the right side (i.e, my side)
is still obligated to continue its efforts to make peace, and failing to do so when
possible is violating the issur. (This is learned out from Moshe Rabbeinu
who acted thusly with Korach – see Rashi to Bamidbar 16:12.)
A person who is entangled in a machlokes must make every attempt to extract
himself from it – even if his standing in his circle suffers, and he feels embarrassment.
It is also forbidden to give aid to one side of a machlokes. Even if one
side is a parent – it is the equivalent of a parent telling a child to violate the
Law of the Torah.
Next week, im yirtzeh Hashem: What are the roots of machlokes?
What is a machlokes l'shem shamayim – isn't it (almost) always "l'shem
shamayim"? What are the practical, emotional and intellectual steps one can take
to avoid machlokes? How can you have "two teams" – Ashkenazi and Sephardi,
Chassid and Misnaged, Dati Leumi and Chareidi, Anglo and Israeli, WITHOUT machlokes?
Yes, it absolutely can be done – not through platitudes and slogans, but through
a deep understanding of the forces involved.
As a result of , and as a follow-up to, the "Just What Are Mehadrin Standards"
series, the Editor of Jerusalem Kosher News will iy"H be presenting an approximately
90-minute lecture/slideshow explaining and educating the public what to look out
for when food shopping, and when eating out. The lecture will take place on Sunday
July 4th,for women at 10:30 a.m.,and for men and women (and mechitzah)
at 8:45 p.m. at Beis Tefillah Yonah Avraham, corner Refa'im and Luz. There will
be questions and answers. Hoping to see you – it will be invaluable!