Sunday, July 03, 2005

tolerance

Treading Fences, brought a new book over this weekend by Rabbi Nathan Cordoza, a rabbi who I had never heard of, that discussed the basis of what I have been struggling with last week. I was very impressed by the method he used to deal with it and found one possible weakness.

The question he asked was how is it possible to be tolerant when you have such strong beliefs about the way things should be. Is tolerance a strength or a weakness?

He answers by saying the only people who can be tolerant are people with strong beliefs. If you don't believe, for example, that it is a terrible sin to eat food that is forbidden by the Torah and that it affects the entire world when someone sins, then you cannot be tolerant of a person who does it. You are simply apathetic. You have no spine when it comes to that matter, so it is very easy for you to live and get along with that person.

He emphasized that tolerance is important because a) you're not 100% right and there are a lot of different truths, and b) even if the other person is 100% wrong, you should respect his as a person, listen to his views and try to understand where they are coming from. Only after you understand their side can you see the erroneous point that they are basing their ideas on.

He also gave a couple of solid examples of where the Torah shows us that God has been tolerant, even of the most wicked civilizations. This is an example to us to be tolerant.

I think his mistaken assumption is that everyone who reads his book is prepared to debate the issues on a high enough level. For example, I don't see a need to study the Torah on an anti-missionary level. Instead of engaging them in a debate over verses, I prefer to tell them to go to the local Jewish bookstore and pick up a copy of the answers to missionary book. All the answers are in there, and there is no reason for him to waste time trying to convince me that the Torah supports his point of view. I freely admit that I don't know the answers, but at the same time I know the answers are out there. There is plenty still to learn and I feel that my time is better used studying other topics.

I would recommend the book.

5 comments:

2R said...

"I freely admit that I don't know the answers"
-Sim Zacks
I just wanted to point that out...wow.

-y- said...

trade

rockofgalilee said...

trade?

rockofgalilee said...

got it

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

This does sound like an interesting book, and I am making note of it.

I am most impressed by your kind and beautiful words to Mrs. Rennett that you have published above.

All good thoughts and blesssings to her family.