Extended week-long unit on מחלוקת לשם שמים (disagreement for the sake of heaven)

Posted by Daniel Roth on January 10, 2015
Topics: 9Adar Curriculum, 9Adar Intro and History, Pardes Center for Jewish Educators

This lesson is geared to students grades 6-8 and contains five 45 minute lesson plans.

Welcome to the Rodef Shalom School Program: designed to teach middle school students conflict resolution skills through engagement with rabbinic literature. This unit is the first of two units that explore the idea of machloket l’shem Shamayim (conflict for the sake of Heaven), what is now referred to as “constructive conflict.” In this unit, students encounter the famous Mishnah (oral Torah) that introduces the term machloket l’shem Shamayim, and they meet Hillel and Shammai, the Mishnah’s paradigm for people who engaged in machloket l’shem Shamayim. Students also meet Korach, the Mishnah’s prime example of a perpetrator of destructive conflict. Students explore the difference between these two types of conflict and learn principles for engaging in constructive conflict.

In this first unit, students will learn that both motivation and how one engages in conflict are important in assessing whether a machloket (conflict) is l’shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven). In the second unit, students learn a methodology for how to engage in machloket l’shem Shamayim. Students will have a chance to practice engaging in constructive conflict resolution using collaborative problem solving. While these two units integrate fully into the broader Rodef Shalom rabbinics curriculum project, they also can stand on their own as a core element in a school’s advisory or conflict resolution program.


About Daniel Roth

Daniel is the director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution. He holds a Ph.D. from Bar Ilan University‘s Program for Conflict Resolution, Management and Negotiation writing on Jewish models of conflict resolution, peacemaking, and reconciliation. Daniel has been teaching advanced rabbinics, Bible, conflict resolution and other subjects at Pardes for over fifteen years. Click here to read more.

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