Minute #648: You’re Both Right

One of the many functions of a community Rav is bringing peace to social relationships.

Rabbi Feldman had an uncanny knack for cooling the flames of dispute and also restoring peace between disputants, whether  they were business partners, neighbors, friends, family members or, of course, spouses.

One of his rabbinical colleagues, who was less proficient in the art of arbitration, approached him. “How is it that you’re able to get the proponents of opposite points of view to reconcile? I know, for example, that when Mr. and Mrs. Goldenberg were arguing, their views were at opposite ends of the spectrum.”

“It’s a matter of shifting positions,” Rabbi Feldman answered calmly. “Each sees things from only one narrow perspective and views the other as totally wrong. In fact, s/he might reach the point where s/he views the other’s opinion as incomprehensible.”

“So that only makes reconciliation seem more unattainable,” the other Rabbi said.

“My technique is to get the adversaries to realize that there’s more than one way to view the situation. Then I can work on getting each to accept that the other feels s/he is equally right. Each must realize that the one you feel is wrong truly believes s/he’s right, and that mistaken belief is not cause for anger. It creates a need for clarification,” Rabbi Feldman explained.

When someone’s opinion is contrary to yours, ask yourself, “How does this person view this situation?” While you might still strongly disagree with the other side, understanding that there is another way to see things can calm your anger. The greater your ability to accept that others may be mistaken but have the right to think differently than you, the more you’ll be able to enter a dialogue and communicate effectively with them. Like no two faces are the same, so no two minds think the same (Bemidbar Rabbah 21:2). Acceptance of this principle makes for peaceful differences.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

The righteous will always feel joy and never feel sad about what the Alm-ghty has decreed upon them because they realize that whatever He does is for their ultimate best. (Ibn Ezra, Tehillim 33:4)