It has often been observed, sometimes ironically, that the one thing on which all Jews agree is that we don’t like to agree. Jews love their machlokot (conflicts). The question is: how do we manage those conflicts in a constructive and productive manner?
The Talmud recounts the story of the initially peaceful and constructive conflict between the students of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai some 2,000 years ago that tragically erupted into violence over eighteen legal issues, ultimately leading to the deaths of 3,000 students. The date of those deaths—the 9th of Adar—was later set as a fast day commemorating this terrible loss of life and trust, but until now that day has never been observed.
Now, for the second year, the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution will observe the 9th of Adar (falling this year on February 9) as the International Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict (yom machloket l’shem shamayim), a day of study, action, and contemplation, focusing on the teachings of our tradition regarding peaceful and constructive conflict resolution. In recognition of the eighteen legal matters that divided the Schools of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, Pardes has created eighteen ways in which the 9th of Adar can be observed at home, in the workplace, in synagogues, in schools and in our communities, including charitable contributions, self-reflection, prayer, Torah study, and actually attempting to pursue peace with and between others. Jewish leaders and organizations around the world will be participating in the 9th of Adar observances aimed at creating a global network of rodfei shalom (pursuers of peace), uniting individuals and communities across personal, political and religious divides around the shared values of peaceful conflict resolution embedded in our classic texts and reflected in contemporary conflict resolution theory and practice.
Pardes, similar to our Wexner network, has always been about promoting healthy machlokot, whether in text study or in community building. The 9th of Adar presents us with a real opportunity to help ensure the continued centrality of the Jewish values of constructive conflict in our communities and in the very way we live our Jewish identities.
To learn more, and to participate as an individual, or to have your organization join formally in observing this day, please visit the 9th of Adar website at www.9adar.org.
Editor’s note: The Wexner Foundation will be participating in 9 Adar: The Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict, by offering two separate opportunities to think about gender dynamics. On February 6th we will be hosting a Lunch & Learn in the New York City Office for alumni, members, and fellows who can come in person, and then a webinar at 2pm EST for the entire Wexner network titled, “What Do We Think About Jewish Men,” with Rabbi Daniel Brenner. (Publicity to follow in next week’s WexnerLEADS). For information please contact Erika Stiel.
Michael Rosenzweig, a Wexner Heritage alum from the original Atlanta class, is President and CEO of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies (www.pardes.org.il) in Jerusalem. Pardes brings together men and women of all backgrounds to study classic Jewish texts and current issues in an open, warm and challenging learning environment, offering a variety of programs including a Year Program, Educators Program, a variety of summer programs and events throughout the year. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.