How often do we bicker over our differences? Is it so offensive when someone doesn’t agree with us that we MUST resort to name calling and disparaging remarks? Perhaps the later is in part the result of an electronic world in which we can say nearly anything without having to face a person, and additionally, can choose to surround ourselves with people whose comments only agree with our stand. In the real world, after all, don’t we count ourselves lucky to be told by a friend, privately and tactfully, that we may have made an error, if only to correct it.
I’ve heard it said that, “All those who are more observant than me are fanatics, all those less observant than me, heretics.” And who hasn’t lived this? And before you get too comfortable, thinking that, after all you are not really religious-so it can’t be you, let me remind you it goes both ways!
In my personal experience in the past we have been criticized as being “too religious” by members who knew of my husband’s background and his Orthodox smecah. Although he is very careful to tell people what the laws are and what one should do to prepare for particular life events, he is gentle with people. One of his favorite remarks is “I’m a teacher, not a preacher.” We regularly have a people with a number diverse practices, degrees of observance, if you will.
On the other hand judgments go the other way, too. More recently, I was asked, in a private email of course, not to comment on a page because I am not an Orthodox Jew (and hence, it was later mentioned not a “real” Jew). Also, my husband was disparaged as was my shul, which was referred to as, “Temple Beth El Shabbos Desecrator.” I could wax on, but who wants that? We all have our tale to tell. Hillel said, “What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. That is the whole law, the rest is Commentary.” It sounds so simple and yet…
Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful to have debates about halaka and discussions about minigs, but discussions and intelligent argument are not the same as bandying about inflammatory remarks or name calling.
It may seem like a long look at one subject, but that’s because I think solving this problem would go a long way to solving issues of unity. It is hard to make a conscious decision to fight fair, especially when in the back of ones mind they are holding on to the idea that “we are right”! Try to put it down.There maybe more than one right approach for some things.Tomorrow the person you are disagreeing with about a kipa could be wearing one!!!
One thing we can agree on is that we are all Jewish and are commanded to “love a fellow Jew.” One way to do that is to speak to each other respectfully and try to answer our differences tactfully. It is not a slight to our own beliefs to listen to an others and share our point of view without tearing anyone down.