While researching my rabbinic thesis, I came across what is now, by far, one of my favourite teachings from the Talmud. I might be obsessing a bit over it – I’ve written about it here and here. I find its philosophy to be such a relevant antidote to our hyper-partisan age.
I’m thankful to have be asked to share a quick window into it on video, as part of the CCAR’s One Minute of Wonder series.
One of the Talmud’s ideas about pedagogy is that innovation is vital to the Jewish understanding of Torah education.
Anticipating the anxiety of every Bar and Bat Mitzvah student, the Talmud poses a brilliant question: if there are seemingly limitless interpretations of Torah, how could we ever learn it all? And moreover, what happens when different interpretations disagree?
The Talmud’s answer is simple, yet sublime: sucks to your anxiety. You need to listen to everyone. And you need to do it empathetically with love and care.
Of course, this is not an “anything goes” idea. We can (and should) have foundational beliefs and practices – things upon which we’re willing to stake ourselves. But that doesn’t absolve us of the duty to listen to others – even when we fundamentally disagree.