Monday, 3 March 2014

What Nishma is Really All About

T.B. Eruvin 13b states that we follow Beit Hillel because, in presenting their views, they still presented the views of Beit Shammai first. Have you ever thought of the difference between presenting a view independently and presenting it subsequent to a presentation, with respect, of the opposing view?

The result is the dialectic. Ideas are so often presented in a monolithic manner. Beit Hillel  challenged this. In offering Beit Shammai's view first, they declared that ideas did not arrive from this monolithic approach but were the reasoned conclusions of individuals who recognized the multi-dimensional nature of reality. They had to quote Beit Shammai first for it was only within this context that the true nature of their own idea could be understood.

This is what Nishma is all about. Too much, within this world, ideas are presented within a monolithic context. Within the growing fragmentation of the Jewish and Torah world, there is a lack of presenting the other side honestly, let alone first. We must again pronounce the value of the dialectic. This is Nishma.

I know that I have said this before. I know that this rallying call of Nishma has been proclaimed before. I just think it has to be said again -- and again!

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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