Rabbi Yosef Hazdan
Johannesburg Torah Institute
Throughout their travels they had disputes, but here all their hearts were likened as one. (Midrash, Mechilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 19:2)
כל מקום שהוא אומר ויסעו ויחנו, נוסעים במחלוקת וחונים במחלוקת, אבל כאן השוו כולם לב אחד.
(מכילתא דרבי ישמעאל יט:ב)
Something special happened on the day that we arrived at Mt Sinai: “Throughout their travels they had disputes, but here all their hearts were likened as one.”1
The Rebbe explains that naturally people have different opinions for no two minds are alike.2 Yet when we arrived at Mt. Sinai, the Torah gave us the ability to think alike.
Is this really possible? Isn’t the Torah itself filled with disputes?
Let’s talk about the Torah for a moment. If the Torah was merely a wisdom amongst the nations, it would not be able to resonate with everyone. Since it is G-d’s wisdom, it can. This is because G-d is the ultimate truth and truth remains true with every environment, circumstance and person.
In this light, we can understand a perplexing story in the Mishna.3 Rebbi Yehoshua was under the understanding that Yom Kippur would fall out on a different day than the day that Rabbon Gamliel - the Av Beis Din - had established. In order to ensure that his verdict was accepted, Rabbon Gamliel asked Rebbi Yehoshua to travel to him with his walking stick and wallet on the day he had thought to be Yom Kippur. Rabbi Yehoshua did as was requested of him and when he arrived Rabbon Gamliel kissed him on his head and said to him: “Come in peace, my teacher and my student. My teacher in wisdom and my student because you have accepted my decision.”
Why did Rabbon Gamliel ask Rebbi Yehoshua to do something that he had understood to be a violation of the holiest day of the year? How was Rebbi Yehoshua comfortable doing this?
Because the Torah teaches that after a matter is disputed and a ruling is issued, the dissenting opinion revisits the matter and toils on it until he too reaches the same understanding.4 Rabbon Gamliel was telling Rebbi Yehoshua that he wants him to revisit the matter till it resonates so much within him that he is comfortable to travel with his wallet on the day he had previously understood to be Yom Kippur.
There are a few lessons that we can take from this.
Firstly, when encountering a perplexing or disturbing passage of the Torah, we ought to exert our minds and hearts on the matter until the wisdom of G-d begins to resonate with us in a most comfortable and beautiful way.
More importantly, when we don’t see eye to eye with another Jew, the Torah empowers us to toil on gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the other until ‘our hearts are likened as one’. Thus meriting the coming of Moshiach when we will all be united as one.
(Extracted from Likutei-Sichos-Vol21-Pg108)
Midrash, Mechilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 19:2
Talmud, Brochos 58a
Mishnah, Rosh Hashana 2:9
גט-פשוט כללים-א Get-Pashut, Klallim 1
גט-פשוט כללים-א Get-Pashגט-פשוט כללים-א Get-Pashut, Kla