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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Arguing round and round in circles

Daf Yomi Kesubos 95


We’re all familiar with the classic scene in Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye listens to two disputants and says to each of them, ‘You’re right.’
A third fellow then asks, ‘How could they both be right?’ and Tevye responds, ‘You’re right too!’

If a man was married to two women and sold his field, and the first wife wrote to the purchaser, ‘I have no claim or issue with you.’ Upon the husband’s death, the second wife may seize the field from the purchaser and then the first wife may seize it from the second.  But then the purchaser could seize it back from the first wife and they would go around in circles indefinitely, until they are ready to compromise. 

In a situation of conflict, you might feel that you’re 100% right.  But chances are so does the other person.  If indeed you are both right somehow, it’s not going to solve anything by going on and on trying to convince the other person that you are right.  The Mishnah here cites an example of a situation where halachically they are all in fact right.  But what’s the point of dwelling on how right they are, they’re never going to get anywhere!

When you are faced with conflict, you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s more important: that they know I’m right or that we achieve some sort of resolution?’  At that point you realize that the only way to move forward is compromise.  Compromise means that nobody completely gets their way.  Instead, the dispute is resolved.

Maybe it’s your spouse.  Maybe it’s your children.  Maybe it’s a parent.  Or a neighbour or colleague.  You can try to convince them of how right you are till the cows come home, but you’re not really going to accomplish anything.  If you truly want the relationship to blossom and succeed, you have to learn to compromise.

Now that doesn’t mean you’re allowing the other person to walk all over you.  Compromise doesn’t mean that the other person always gets their way.  It means that you find a way to find common ground and meet in the middle.  Ultimately, it comes down to asking yourself whether you want to succeed in the argument or succeed in the relationship. 


Just think about the relationship as a whole and you will be able to get over proving you’re right all the time.  Relationships take compromise.  May you merit always being the first to come up with a compromise position that will bring about resolution to every conflict!