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Why Do Jews Argue So Much?

Inquiring Tablet commenters want to know!

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Liel Leibovitz’s dispatch from Antigua—where he arrived visa-less, and was soon suspected of being Mossad—has provoked a number of comments on the site. Not all of them friendly! And some of the vitriol over a relatively light-hearted article prompted “Victoria” to wonder the following:

I am a very recent (like a week ago) convert to Judaism, and as such I am still learning about the culture, customs, people, society, etc. So, it is in the spirit of learning that I ask this question:

Why are the people who responded to this story so angry with it and the author? I read the comments and I understand the commentors think the author is obnoxious and arrogant, but it seems there is another underlying reason for the hostility. Why?

Oh, “Victoria”: consider this your welcome to the club!

Related: Paradise Lost [Tablet Magazine]

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Vitriol in comments online is, unfortunately, standard for many. I don’t see it having anything to do with Jewishness.

Sid Wugalter says:

I believe that people argue in many cases because language differences mean different things. Semantics and upbringing has much to do with language and intellectual discussions. Jews argue because arguing is an exchange of ideas, despite the anger associated with the word argue. Often discussion brings better thinking and clearer understanding about the issues of the “oration.”
There are other causes for arguments but they are not related to being Jewish. People also argue because of their respective different aspects of lifestyle.

Dana Rosenberg says:

C’mon Tablet editors, if ANYONE knows, you know that the one or two irrationally vitriolic responses to Liel’s “Paradise Lost” piece weren’t “arguing,” just the bitter kvetching of one or two humorless schtoonks with no perspective, and confused responses to that hidebound grouchiness. Real arguing, involving the search for meaning and a genuine attempt both to make the other person understand you, and to understand them, is inherent in Jewish belief and culture. That kind of exchange is what it takes to know when you may be wrong, as well as right. It is good and necessary and makes us who we are. In Judaism it is the question that is holy, not the answer, and we do not subscribe to religious doctrine — or any established “answer” for that matter — by letting it go unquestioned. We always try to understand the WHY, which is why we study Torah and why we have Midrash and why we value education so dearly and why, I dare say, Jews have such disproportionately large representation among those responsible for the greatest intellectual and artistic acheivments of history. It’s the core difference between our kind of faith, based not just on the question, but on arguing for our point of view, and religions that require blind faith and prohibit any questions about scripture and other fundamental doctrine. Arguing is what Jews do because it’s been in their blood and culture since long before Abraham argued with God about the destruction of Sodom. This is not to say there is always a time for argument; you also have to know when to stop. I’ll stop here.

yamama says:

Jews drive people crazy with their aguing. They’ll argue over anything. You can say “the sky is blue” and they come back “what do you mean the sky is blue” and then it goes on and on..


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Why Do Jews Argue So Much?

Inquiring Tablet commenters want to know!

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