Growing up in Israel, the prevailing mentality surrounding me everywhere I went was that compromise shows weakness. The message was clear: compromise is a “Diaspora thing,” but for us Israelis – we stand strong, we take “what is ours,” and we don’t back down.
But my father Elhanan Leibowitz OBM (of blessed memory), whose yahrtzeit, or Jewish anniversary of death, occurs this week, taught us a very different version of Judaism. It was moral, nuanced, and always in search of authentic sources that emphasize a multi-faceted approach to Judaism.
In this video lesson, I analyze a Talmudic text that I shared with my father, in which a passage in Tractate Sanhedrin discusses whether compromise is to be avoided, accepted, or desired. As is typical in the Talmud, there are several opinions. But what did the great Jewish codifier Maimonides (12th cent.) – commonly known by the nickname Rambam – decide? And what happened when as a yeshiva student I wrote a letter to the editor applying the Talmudic conclusion to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
This is a video of the shiur I gave in memory of my father Elhanan Leibowitz z”l, with whom I discussed – many years ago – this Talmudic passage: