Disagreements For The Sake Of Heaven

The story of Korach remains the classic example of how arguments can be disgraced. The schools of Hillel and Shammai remind us that there is another way. “Argument for Heaven” is one of the noblest ideals of Judaism – the resolution of conflicts by honoring both sides and using humility in the search for truth. Hagaon Rabbeinu Yehonatan Eibeschitz explains this idea in his Sefer Ya`arot Devash (volume 2) and writes that evil Inclination, when it comes to disagreements, convinces the parties concerned to believe that this disagreement is certainly for heaven, as was the case in the generation of Hagaon Harav Yehonatan Eibeschitz. Our sages, however, gave us the sign to determine whether it really is for heaven, whether it resembles the disagreements of Hillel and Shammai, for these two schools of thought were constantly divided over halachic`s affairs, but they remained friendly and loved to each other, as our sages (Kiddushin 30b) taught that even if a father and son, or rabbi, dived no and his disciple was divided on Halacha`s interpretation, they became as enemies to each other, as the verse says: “This is what the Book of The Wars of Hashem says”; but they only move from there when they love each other again. The opposite happens when the argument of truth is true. If I win, I win. But if I lose, I also win — because being defeated by the truth is the only form of defeat that is also a victory. What the whole episode shows is that the destructive nature of the argument is not for heaven`s sake, that is, the argument for victory. In such a conflict, it is not about truth, but about power, and the result is that both sides suffer. If you win, I lose.

But if I win, I lose too, because if I reduce you, I reduce myself. Even a Moses is brought to the ground and faces the accusation that “you killed the people of L-rd.” The argument for power is a loser scenario. In Avot 5:20, we are familiar with the concept of Machaloket (Machalokot – plural). Translated into “dispute,” “controversy” or “conflict,” we are told that there are both positive machalokots (Shem Shamayim – “for heaven”) and negative ones (Sh`eino L`Shem Shamayim – “not for heaven”). The author of this tannaic text tells us again that the “good” Machalokot will have lasting value, while the “bad” Machalokot will ultimately have no value. “What is the example of a machaloket that is for heaven? The Machaloket between Hillel and Shammai. And what is not for the sky? The Machaloket between Korach and all his entourage. It is easy to understand that if some kind of Machaloket were considered “The Shamayim Shem,” it would be the one between Hillel (and the students of his yeshiva) and Shammai (and his students). After all, these two wise scholars agreed (estimated at 99.9% of Halakha).

The purpose of their Machalokots was totally disinterested, as they wanted to clarify/refine the law so that more Jews would have a better opportunity to observe the mitzvot in the most correct way.