Friday, February 11, 2022

Disagreeing with Respect

I have been very encouraged by the reaction of the shul membership since the Mechitza initiative was rolled out. I do not mean to suggest I am encouraged in the sense that everyone subscribes to the position that I have articulated on this issue. I recognize that there is a great diversity of viewpoints in the community and some people who I respect greatly have an opinion on this issue that is not necessarily aligned with my position. I am specifically referring to the tenor of the communal conversation on a potentially divisive issue. Just because something has an issue to become potentially divisive does not mean it has to be divisive. The ability of a community to have a level of mutual respect and tolerance towards others with different viewpoints is not always easy. It requires a great deal of listening and reflecting. This is not to suggest that one should seek to adopt the opposing view of someone else. It is essential for someone to accept the opposing viewpoint from a family, friend, or community member as their reality. The Gaon of Vilna writes that the highest form of listening is acceptance. The Gaon clarifies that acceptance does not mean agreement. If a family member or friend expresses a different point of view, it is so important to listen, reflect and accept that this is their position. If you ultimately conclude differently than your friend on an issue, that is fine. The barometer of a successful conversation is in what manner people will listen to each other with respect despite the opposing views of others. It is with this sentiment that I am excitedly anticipating the Town Hall meeting upcoming this week for our membership on the Mechitza initiative. I am not expecting everyone to have a monolithic position on a complex issue. I am also not assuming everyone will align with the position of the Rabbinic leadership of the shul. I am confident that no matter someone feels, the conversation will be conducted with tolerance, mutual respect, and Derech Eretz. In an era of increased polarization and division both in the Jewish world and in society at large, let us become role models in our ability to tackle complex issues with grace. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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