By Rabbi Rick Sherwin
TWO PEOPLE, THREE OPINIONS – Everyone laughs at the popular line, “Two Jews have three opinions…” The reality is that most people forget the second part of the line, “…all of which have merit.”
The statement is based on an ancient Jewish text that conveys a serious lesson: consider another’s perspective not as right or wrong, but as offering merit, whether you agree with it or not. Ultimately, it is a statement of respect.
I was privileged to be the Scholar-in-Residence at Kesher Israel Congregation outside of Philadelphia. It was a learning experience not just for the congregation, but for me as well!
The underlying message of the weekend presentations at the Friday evening and Shabbat morning sessions, and with the High School students on Sunday, was the responsibility to consider the validity of other religious perspectives.
There is no monopoly on The Truth; there are only truths that lead to the world as it should be for all humanity. There is a Jewish strategy, a Christian strategy, a Muslim strategy, a Humanist strategy, and so on through the “faith” communities. Whether we agree with others or not, the Jewish strategy includes cultivating the art of respect.
I look forward to the day when religious respect for varied interpretations and perspectives becomes political respect as well. Imagine how much stronger our country might be if we could say, “Two Americans have three opinions, all of which have merit!
Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.