By Rabbi Daniel Roth
Event – Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict (JDCC) FEBRUARY 19, 2013
Join Us in Commemorating the 9th of Adar – Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict
Please join us in commemorating this pilot year of the Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict by reading and studying more about it and by attempting to truly approach conflicts in a more cooperative and constructive spirit.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) has joined in an international effort to mark the 9th of Adar as the annual Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict, dedicated to the study and practice of Jewish models of conflict resolution, particularly the model of “mahloket leshem shamayim/controversy for the sake of heaven.” This year the 9th of Adar falls on February 19th.
At this link, please find a page with a section from the Mishnah (Avot 5:17) with contemporary commentaries, arranged like a page of Gemara. Below are links to additional readings on Jewish conflict engagement and the 9th of Adar. We encourage you to share these materials, along with the invitation to participate in this day from Rabbi Daniel Roth, Director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution in Jerusalem. We see these as excellent adult study materials for congregations and community meetings.
For more in depth study, we are pleased to include at this link discussion questions on Eruvin 13b and commentaries by Dr. Erica Brown, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Rabbi Doug Kahn, and Rabbi Sheldon Lewis. And at this link please find a commentary on Mahloket Leshem Shamayimby Rabbi Steve Gutow. We also invite you to read the Pardes Center occasional paper at this link.
Happy Jewish Constructive Conflict Day to everyone (including those with whom we disagree!).
Invitation from Rabbi Daniel Roth:
Scholars of conflict resolution have often referred to the relationship between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai as the quintessential Jewish model of constructive conflict or mahloket l’shem shamayim/disputes for the sake of Heaven. As the Mishna (Avot 5:17) says, “What is mahloket l’shem shamayim/”controversy for the sake of heaven”? The dispute between Hillel and Shammai.”
Living approximately 2,000 years ago, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai represented two dominant conflicting Jewish schools of thought, both considered “the words of the living God” (Talmud, Eruvin 13b). Despite their sharp differences of opinion, the two groups are often described as nevertheless succeeding in maintaining strong peaceful relationships, respectfully disagreeing with one another, and continuing to marry into one another’s families. (Talmud, Yevamoth 14b)
However, it appears that the relationship between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai was not always peaceful, and their conflict was not always constructive. On the 9th of Adar, their conflict turned destructive and violent when students violated the prohibition against bringing weapons into a house of study (Talmud, Sanhedrin 82a) on the day of a critical vote regarding 18 areas of Jewish law (Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 1:4 [3c]). The end result, according to some sources, was the death of some 3,000 students (Eliyah Rabbah, Orach Chayim, #580), a day said to be as tragic as the day the golden calf was created (Exodus 32:28).
This day was later declared a fast day (Shulchan Aruch #580), however it was never observed as such. The Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution, together with its institutional partners around the world, including the JCPA, has therefore chosen this day, the 9th of Adar, to be a new annual Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict, or mahloket l’shem shamayim, dedicated to the study and practice of Jewish models of conflict resolution.
It is our prayer that through commemorating this day in this manner, we may indeed merit to transform the day from a tragic fast day into a day full of rejoicing and happiness, as it was said, “Rabbi Eliezer said in the name of Rabbi Chananyia:‘Torah Scholars increase peace in the world.’ ”
Please join us in commemorating this pilot year of the Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict by reading and studying more about it (http://pcjcr.pardes.org/?page_id=1234) and by attempting to truly approach conflicts in a more cooperative and constructive spirit.