Sacred Arguing

A Conversation between Jews and Christians

Rabbi Ilyse Kramer

Sacred Arguing

Winter 2009 — Sacred Arguing explores the tradition of disagreement, debate and conflict (mahloket) that is intentionally recorded throughout biblical and talmudic literature. The variety of examples of multiple and diverse opinions, purposefully codified and preserved in rabbinic tradition, teaches us an approach towards the opinions of others—especially those which might be in direct conflict and opposition to our own. The concept of sacred arguing demonstrates how it might be possible to respond to diversity of opinion and real difference without turning those who disagree into ‘the other.’

While the concept of mahloket functions as teaching deeply embedded within Jewish tradition, our sessions will explore the implications of sacred arguing as they apply to interfaith dialogue, discussion and study. In learning about sacred arguing, we will come to appreciate an approach to difference of opinion that is fluid and open to diversity as well as to uncertainty of truth. Sacred arguing works best when differing parties agree not only to disagree but also to agree to remain in relationship with one another.

Sacred Arguing – Terms and Definitions, Questions and Reflections
Sacred Arguing – Class Handouts
Sacred Arguing – Instructor’s Curriculum, Tales of the Talmud, Lesson 5

Janis Koch, an ICJS Associate Scholar, wrote up her thoughts after each class, which she entitled How I Spent My Winter Vaction: Swimming in a “Sea of Talmud”.

Swimming in a “Sea of Talmud” Reflection 1
Swimming in a “Sea of Talmud” Reflection 2
Swimming in a “Sea of Talmud” Reflection 3
Swimming in a “Sea of Talmud” Reflection 4