Are We Right? Part 3
by Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky
We are trying to understand the concept of machlokes in Judaism. One approach is they are really saying the same thing. But this won’t work when looking at a machlokes where the two positions are irreconcilable. So how can we understand that?
People think there is a Written Law and because it is so concise, it needs to be developed and expanded. The Oral Law was developed to make the Written Law usable.
The traditional approach is the exact opposite. The Written law was given by Hashem, and just as He is infinite, so too the Torah is infinite. This is the concept of shivim panim liTorah, 70 facets to the Torah. the Torah can mean many different things – since hashem included infinite levels of meaning.
But we can not exist as a people if we travel 70 different paths. As a people we need to decide which of the many correct possibilities we are going to follow. The Torah tells us acharei rabim lihatos – follow the majority. The reason we follow Bais Hillel is because there were more of them. One time there were more people from Bais Shammai and those halachos were decided like Bais Shammai.
Both are right. The gemera says about their machlokes elu v’elu divrei Elokim chaim. But we as a people need to choose one approach to follow. That is why we call what we actually do as halacha – what road will we walk along.
We will look at another approach next month.