Embracing Multiple Perspectives

August 28, 2020

 

We live in a world of duality. In fact, some would even say that our world was created through contradictory forces. As we will read in a few short weeks from now, in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.” From the darkness G-d then creates light, and calling the light Day and the darkness Night, G-d declares that with “an evening and a morning” we now have our first day.

 

However, the contrasting forces do not end there. In day two G-d divides the waters into the heavens above and the waters below. In day three, G-d separates the waters from the lands creating the Earth and Seas. And so it continues, the yin and yang of creation, which brings us to today.

 

Some say that we are living in the most polarizing time in history, I respectfully disagree. History is replete with times of conflict, war, and disagreement. Contradiction has been built into the foundation of who we are and how we function. Is someone a “big picture” person or are they a “detail-oriented” individual? Do they lead with their heart or their head? Are they an extrovert or an introvert?

 

Our ancient sages understood and were weary of this danger so much so that our Talmud, our primary source of religious law and Jewish theology, contains not only the “winning” decision of every scholarly argument, but also documents the opposing perspectives. Our American judicial system is built on a similar foundation. In every Supreme Court decision, we follow the majority opinion, always making sure, however, to include the minority position.

 

In fact, in the Jewish community, the joke, “two Jews, three opinions” comes from this very position that as Jews we have always embraced the idea that multiple perspectives to any struggle is a good thing. Israel was founded on the fundamental theory that there is more than one solution to any challenge. “Arguing” is arguably one of any Israeli’s greatest qualities. It is ingrained in our culture. We simply cannot accept that there is one single solution.

 

But duality, Israel, and the US Supreme Court, are not the focus of this missive. Today’s message is a statement of commitment by the Jewish Federation of San Antonio to bring our community together. As the Jewish community we are tasked with being an or la’goyim (“a light unto the nations”). As Jewish brothers and sisters, we must respect our multiple differences of opinions. As the children of Israel, we must listen to our neighbors and be able to agree to disagree. It is incumbent upon us to find the path to lead the way through the black-white, right-left, insider-outsider, world in which we find ourselves today.

 

The Jewish Federation’s annual campaign does not differentiate between the old and the young, between the secular and the observant, nor between the spiritual programs and the educational. We do not fund political parties in the US nor Israel, rather, we support the people who live under their elected leadership. We are not Switzerland, taking a neutral position. We are Jewish, accepting the varied multitude of passionate positions that collectively provide vibrant discussion (yes, and even argument) toward a future full of multiple possibilities!

 

The Jewish Federation of San Antonio is:

 

Here for you.

Here for our community.

Here for our future.

 

Shabbat shalom,

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