Conversation & Debate

An overview of the Jewish national sport: arguing.

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In the 13th century, speculations and interpretations about the meaning of the number of words and numerical values associated with words in the prayer book led rabbis of the Hasidei Ashkenaz (German pietist) movement to condemn people who used even slightly different versions of prayers. And in modern times, differing methodologies of reading the biblical text, such as source criticism or identifying hidden codes in the Bible, are considered reasonable approaches by fairly distinct and separate populations of Jews.

Nevertheless, the general trend throughout Jewish history is to value debate and not to stifle it, and the history of Jewish texts supports that trend.

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