My colleague Rabbi Avi Schulman shared the following observation with me.
When our ancestors stood at Mt. Sinai and received the commandments, it was the first, and the last time, that we were all in agreement with one another. Sinai represents the moment of total unanimity in the Jewish community. In Exodus 24:7, we read: "Then [Moses] took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, 'All that the Eternal has spoken we will faithfully do!' (Na'aseh v'nishmah)."
Ever since Sinai, though, Jews have not seen eye-to-eye. What guidelines can we derive from our tradition about disagreeing with one another?
This will be the topic for this year's Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, the evening of study we conduct annually together with Temple Beth Torah.
Our Tikkun will take place here at CBE on Tuesday, May 30, immediately following Shavuot evening services, which include Confirmation. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. Following a delicious Oneg Shavuot, we will begin our study session shortly after 9:00 p.m.
Rabbi Schulman and I will address two topics: the Biblical commandment of Tochacha, literally "reproof," and the Talmudic principle of Makhlochet L'shem Shamayim, "disagreement for the sake of heaven."
How do we talk to one another when we disagree? How do we share constructive feedback, when we believe that the other is wrong?
These are the hard conversations. To imagine that Jews can exist without such disagreement would be a fantasy. Yet, the value of Ahavat Yisrael, love of fellow Jews, compels us to find ways to talk without breaking the bonds that unite us.
Genesis Rabbah teaches: "Love without Tochacha is not love, and peace without Tochacha is not peace."
Hard conversations are necessary, and avoidance is not a virtue. At this year's Tikkun, we will explore the parameters of constructive communication, as understood in Jewish tradition.
Everyone is welcome to join Rabbis Milder and Schulman for services and study on May 30. If you have questions call one of the synagogues.
Beth Emek, Pleasanton, 925-931-1055
Beth Torah, Fremont, 510-656-7141