The Courage to Think Differently

It can be difficult when we find ourselves with a different point of view from that of the larger group.

Commentary on Parashat Sh'lach, Numbers 13:1 - 15:41

Most likely you have found yourself in a group situation where your opinion simply does not match the group consensus? Do you speak your mind, or do you keep silent? If you choose to share your opinion, how do you go about introducing it? And if you remain quiet, do you think of it as being for the “good of the group”?

In this week’s Torah portion, Shlah, a group of scouts is sent out to report back on what lies ahead for the Israelites. When ten of the twelve scouts return, ten paint a dire picture that Caleb and Joshua do not agree with. They speak out positively against the report of the ten.

It can be difficult when we find ourselves with a different point of view from that of the larger group. Our tradition teaches us that the majority opinion is not the only one that matters. In fact, in the Talmud when there are lengthy debates that finally resolve, the text goes to great length to document the dissenting parties and their minority opinions as well. It can take a lot of strength to stand up for what you believe in, but it is important not to simply follow the trend. In fact, you are likely to find that if you share a differing opinion, others might start to speak up as well. It is a diversity of thought that leads to interesting conversations, creative solutions, and new possibilities.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about holding and sharing different opinions.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· When was a time that you held a different opinion from the group?

· Did you share it? Why or why not?

· How do you feel when someone in a group introduces a new perspective?

· Do we have to follow people with whom we disagree?

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

 

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