by Rabbi Eli Mansour
A famous Mishna in Pirkeh Abot (5:17) distinguishes between two kinds of “Mahloket” (controversy) – one which is “Le’shem Shamayim” (for the sake of Heaven), and one which is not “Le’shem Shamayim.” As an example of the latter kind of argument, one which is not waged for sincere, altruistic purposes, the Mishna points to “Korah Va’adato,” the fight launched by Korah and his cohorts against Moshe and Aharon. This fight was driven by ego and lust for honor, rather than any sort of noble ambition. The Mishna’s example of an argument fought “Le’shem Shamayim” is the arguments between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, who debated many Halachic issues out of a sincere desire to arrive at the true Halacha and fulfill G-d’s will.
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