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We hear a lot about the value of diversity these days, especially in academic settings. What about in hashkafa? Does "shivim panim l'Torah" teach that diversity is to be valued, and to what degree? How do you balance it with "yotzei min ha'tzibbur"?

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  • What do you mean by "hashgacha"? Do you actually mean "hashkafa"?
    – Isaac Moses
    May 3 '10 at 15:24
  • yes, really I meant hashkafa, but it almost works both ways.
    – Jeremy
    May 3 '10 at 15:52
  • You might want to consider responding to the uncertainties about your question expressed in the answers by adding more detail about what you're asking into the question.
    – Isaac Moses
    May 3 '10 at 16:11
  • youtube.com/watch?v=1jocoXNPJ3g
    – Double AA
    Mar 9 at 17:27
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I'd say, for starters, that it depends on what kind of diversity, and in what context.

For example, does "diversity" mean giving equal weight and equal time to movements and philosophies that declare themselves in opposition to Jewish values? If so, then no - we're not interested in that kind of "diversity"; in fact, our Sages established as minor holidays (listed in Megillas Taanis) several dates when they disproved Sadduccee explanations of the Torah, or removed them from sitting in the Sanhedrin.

On the other hand, when it comes to discussion between genuine Torah scholars, diversity of opinion is prized.

(That said, it is considered the ideal situation when a clear conclusion can be reached. When a dispute persists, sometimes for generations, then that is something unfortunate - see Temurah 15b and Sanhedrin 88b. There is also the consideration of לא תתגודדו, not forming diverse halachic cliques - Yevamos 13b-14a - although as the Gemara there concludes, this applies mainly when a single Beis Din themselves are split on what the halachah should be; it is perfectly legitimate however for different communities, even within the same city, to each follow halachah and custom as they have learned from their respective halachic authorities.)


To address Bas613's point:

Rambam (in his introduction to the Commentary on the Mishnah) observes that it is natural for different people, analyzing the same data, to come to different conclusions, and that indeed this is one way in which Torah disputes came about. Nevertheless, all of these different conclusions are valid approaches, and we say about them that "these and these are the words of the Living G-d."

Also, we are told that the reason for the deaths of R' Akiva's 24000 students (during this time of year, the Counting of the Omer period) was "because they failed to show respect to one another." One explanation of this (from the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l) is that indeed all of them learned the same principles from R' Akiva (including the idea, as he said, that "Love your fellow Jew as yourself" is a basic principle of the Torah), but each of them had a slightly different way of understanding and applying them (as would be expected, per the Rambam's comments above). The problem, then, was that instead of accepting and appreciating this diversity of opinion, these 24000 students each felt that it was vital (and indeed, mandated as part of the mitzvah of "love your fellow Jew") to bring each other around to their own way of thinking, to not allow the other person to persist in (what they thought was) a misguided approach - and that was the "lack of respect for each other" that doomed them as the bearers of Torah study for the next generation.

In short, then, there is most definitely room for diversity of approaches and of thought, and that should be promoted rather than tamped down.

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  • But there are situations where diversity is not regarding halachah but within halachah in terms of how things are done, how torah is taught, how people think. Could you address that too?
    – Bas613
    May 3 '10 at 16:29
  • The Netziv writes that the error of the dor haflaga was their attempt to eliminate diversity within human society: shesileizeisim.blogspot.com/2012/10/…
    – LazerA
    Dec 12 '12 at 13:03
  • Why is the proof from Megillas Taanis valid if you accept that reaching a single conclusion is merely ideal?
    – Double AA
    Mar 9 at 18:08
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"The Torah's paths are those of pleasantness, and all its ways are peace" (Prov. 3:17). The only way to keep things pleasant and peaceful is to respect ALL the Torah's paths and ways.

-- Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (paraphrased)

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  • I would file that under "tolerance," another popular buzzword these days. I am really asking about the added value of diversity. If I look/think/act exactly like everyone else in my Torah community, would it actually be better to diverge a bit, as long as I stay on the path?
    – Jeremy
    May 3 '10 at 15:54
  • What does peace mean, does peace mean to lie and pretend gentiles are equal, even though we know from the Toyruh that they are not? Is lying kindness? Mar 10 at 0:02
  • So your view is that gentiles are not equal? what is your source? The Kuzari? Torah? Talmud?
    – Turk Hill
    Mar 17 at 18:20
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Rav Moshe Wolfson Shlit"a quotes a letter from the Apter Rav which states that one who believes that only his or his Rav's path to serving God is correct, and disregards all other perspectives is ״קרוב לדעת מינות״ - is close to being heresy.

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  • I think it goes without saying that the מעלה of diversity spoken about here is only with regard to Orthodox Judaism, the diversity spoken about in the works of the Apter Rav's great-great-grandson is actual heresy, hameivin yavin. Mar 9 at 17:23
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Since I haven't seen anyone answer that we favor diversity in points of view that differ from the Torah, maybe I'll add a suggestion that sometimes we do. Certainly not in the ideal situation where we have a Sanhedrin, and a nation living with the Torah, may it be soon in our days. In that situation we would expect everyone to be observant, either of the Torah or of the Noahide Laws. I believe and hope that if that situation were to arise, Hashem would also arrange that the world would be "as full of the knowledge of Hashem, as the water covers the sea". I don't know if everyone would be enthusiastic, but everyone would understand.
But that is not today. Today many of us live in foreign lands, under foreign governments. We all understand that using our power - political or otherwise - to try to enforce our principles is a really bad idea. We don't want whichever country we live in to turn into a power struggle between different belief systems, where we would likely end up on the bottom.
Even in Eretz Yisrael, the same issue has been playing out for generation and is active today. It is not obvious that the Orthodox community should use its power to enforce Torah law, and on the contrary that can lead to a backlash from our non-observant brethren. That's a judgment call from our gedolim and not an easy one.
Sure we support diversity in these situations. We want others to be tolerant of us, and the only way for that to happen is to be tolerant of them.
[None of this has to do with what is called Diversity today in the United States, which increasingly involves being completely intolerant of anyone who disagrees with you about diversity!]
I didn't bring Torah sources for any of this but I'd like to hear if others have them. My only source is that everyone seems to act this way and I'm glad they do.

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  • You could say stronger. Just because someone thinks they're right, they can grow by seeing and debating other diverse perspectives. Even if the end goal is to defeat them that doesn't mean something won't have been lost in doing so. That's not to say that something is so valuable so as to be worth not defeating them to preserve it, but it could still be something. Most of the posts on this page are simply fallacious in that regard (it doesn't logically follow that if you want to defeat someone's position that you don't value the interaction with them).
    – Double AA
    Mar 9 at 19:17
  • @DoubleAA en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill#Freedom_of_speech Yup. Maybe his most important point.
    – MichoelR
    Mar 9 at 19:24
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    That's a pragmatic value, which is also important, but you could even argue for an idealist value. ולהגיד גדלתו שלהקדוש ברוך הוא, שאדם טובע כמה מטבעות בחותם אחד וכלן דומין זה לזה, ומלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא טבע כל אדם בחותמו שלאדם הראשון, ואין אחד מהן דומה לחברו. לפיכך כל אחד ואחד חיב לומר, בשבילי נברא העולם or חכם הרזים. כשם שאין פרצופותיהן דומין זה לזה, כך אין דעתן שוין זה לזה, אלא כל אחד ואחד יש לו דעה בפני עצמו
    – Double AA
    Mar 9 at 19:29
  • I guess I would respond that while I agree with this idea, I'm not sure everyone does. It might depend on your school of Torah. But I hope absolutely everyone wants to be safe in golus.
    – MichoelR
    Mar 9 at 20:26
  • I didn't assert that it's true, only that an argument could clearly be made for it and the other arguments on this page are indeed fallacious (I'm also not asserting their conclusions are false, only that their arguments as presented are fallacious).
    – Double AA
    Mar 9 at 20:28
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There is no question that there are a diverse number of communities within Orthodoxy today. While this may be due to a lack of centralized authority, it seems unlikely to me that such an authority, were it to exist, would seek to eliminate the distinctive character of the Chassidim, Litvish, Sefardim, Yemenites, and one would hope not the Modern/Zionist Orthodox either (as for Reform, etc, its unlikely there would be a centralized halachic authority that included both Reform and Orthodox in the first place). Additionally, there were always meant to be 12 tribes in Israel and each one had its own distinct approach to Divine service.

With respect to individuals, poresh min hatzibbur could be a problem if its motivated by a desire for attention, which could contradict the values of tznius and humility, or if it disturbs the peace in the community (causes machlokes). There are also many other - diverse - interpretations of Avos 2:4 which are unrelated to communal conformity.

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B"H

Is diversity a jewish value?

It depends on the context of the wire, just the word alone, diversity, implies a multitude of different things, which I'm the Torah it's said aludes to the greatness of creation, since there are so many different creations, "how numerous are you creations, Hashem, you've made them all with wisdom" {tehillim towards end}, which that in and of itself is a very Jewish/Torah concept, as it's a manifestation of the infinite power Hashem has to limit himself, which allows room for the many creations we have

Although nowadays for whatever strange reason, the term seems to imply accepting all viewpoints, cultures, ideologies, regardless of anything, just because everyone and everything should be accepted as valid.

Not only is this not a Toyruh value, but it's even with contradictory, if diversity in this context means all viewpoints etc should be given importance, that means even a viewpoint that disagrees with diversity should be given importance, thereby contradicting itself out of existence . Many ideologies are not recognized as legit in the Toyruh, such as idolatry etf., And many classes of people, such as non-Jews, have different, non-equal roles in the world as Jews

Blessings and success

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We need to respect all people and anyone could be Jewish. There are Semitic Jews, Asian Jews, black Jews, brown Jews, white Jews, and Jew Jews. So, yes, the Torah allows for diversity. But what we need to remember is that the kind of diversity that we hear quite a lot "these days" is not real diversity but politically motivated liberal nonsense to win more votes. The kind of diversity pushed by the mainstream media is stupid but the stupidity is the point.

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