Publicizing in Judaism as evident in “Controversies that are in the name of Heaven”
Keywords:Publicizing, controversy, heaven, Judaism
This article concerns Jewish publicizing of “every controversy that is in the name of heaven”, a phrase that opens the words of the mishna in Tractate Avot (5:17). As an example of a “controversy that is in the name of heaven”, the mishna brings the disputes of Hillel and Shammai. Their disputes were aimed at striving for the truth rather than for other purposes, and therefore “the end thereof is [destined] to result in something permanent”. Many interpretations have been suggested for this phrase as a whole, but very few focused on its latter part. The word lehitkayem (“to result in something permanent”) can be interpreted, among other things, as being publicized among future generations. The purpose of the article is to show the major significance attached in Judaism to publicizing a “controversy that is in the name of heaven”, a process first enacted in the time of Hillel and Shammai (beginning of the first century AD), among future generations. This refers to publicizing both sides of the divided opinions in a controversy, the majority opinion and the minority opinion. This, in contrast to previous periods when one halakha was determined that followed the majority opinion, and it was the only one passed on to future generations, while the minority opinion would be cancelled and forgotten.