Hearing the Same Thing from Different Perspectives – Reish Lakish, R’ Yochanan, and Women’s Role in Judaism

I recently heard a small dvar Torah on Reish Lakish and R’ Yochanan. An unlikely duo – one a highway robber and one a FFB – learning and thriving together in Torah. When Reish Lakish passed away, R’ Yochanan was unconsolable. When the other Rabbis tried to find him a new Chavrusa he said that with Reish Lakish he was able to learn a lot from because every point he made, Reish Lakish would argue and bring the Torah topic to a whole new light.

R’ Chaim Shmulewitz allegedly comments that the lesson we can learn here is that when you have two different perspectives talking about the same thing, it brings about a new light (or something to that effect).

I personally got my degree of Jew-bilation at work one day. At my workplace they bring in interns, literally from all over the world. One of our interns  – a non-Jew – was from Brazil, and like with many of them, when we would eat lunch we would get into some interesting conversations. I don’t know how the topic came up, but we were discussing who was a Jew. I mentioned to him that in Orthodox Jewish circles, ones Jewishness is completely dictated by the mother, that the father could be a big Rabbi but if the mother wasn’t even Jewish, the child isn’t. (I mentioned Orthodox Jewish because I didn’t want to offend anyone.) The fellow’s response was classic. He said, “Oh wow! That completely destroys any stereotypes I had on religious Jews and that it’s completely male dominated, because the example you just gave me shows how important women are in Judaism!”

Honestly, I’m not making this up. I can only imagine how the response would have been if I told this to a Jew that wasn’t religious, what he would say?!

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