I was recently a guest, and someone at the table was espousing some worldviews that were against Torah-true ideology (hashkafah). What is the proper way to react in such a scenario? Should I stand up for authentic Torah values and show him how he is mistaken, or should I just concede to the fact that there are others whose beliefs are different from ours?
Rabbi Chaim Mintz responds:
Not every difference can be reconciled. If someone has worldviews that are against the Torah, there is no need to bend to them. One must be strong in his beliefs, and know what is true and correct. Our great forefather Avraham stood up against the world, and did not sway from his ironclad belief in Hashem, no matter what the rest of the world believed. This is no different from someone who walks around in broad daylight claiming that it is dark, where there is no reason to “bend” to his ridiculous misconception.
The only question is whether one should open a debate and try to educate the others and win them over. That depends on the reason for their beliefs. Most often, the reason for their incorrect beliefs is plain ignorance, coming from a lack of a proper Jewish education. If that is the case, they may be ready to hear your point of view. If you see fertile ground for a discussion in Jewish learning, then go right ahead!
It is our sacred duty to show these unfortunate souls the truth about authentic Judaism, and help them become educated in what Torah-true Judaism is all about. There are many organizations that provide Jewish study partners for those who want to know more about their heritage. Oorah’s TorahMates program — as well as many other outreach (kiruv) organizations — has thousands of such partnerships, giving religious people the platform to share with our brothers and sisters the beauty of Torah-true Judaism.
And even if the person sounds like “the know-it-all” type, who is not interested in hearing anyone else’s opinion, you still have to express the Torah view. You cannot remain silent, because you don’t want him, and certainly any other people present, to walk away thinking that you agree with his incorrect point of view. Obviously, it would be imperative that you treat him with respect and that your words are not said in a condescending manner. And in truth, you really never know! There are people who seemed set in their views, yet have come around after hearing the true Torah viewpoint.
This question and answer session is taken from Oorah’s Ask the Rabbi book by Rabbi Chaim Mintz, published by ArtScroll.