Mahloket Matters: Adult

One fact people across political divides today may still agree upon is that civil discourse is turning less and less civil. Indeed, the sheer lack of desire to try to understand those with opposing political opinions and to disagree constructively over critical questions is posing an existential threat to democracies around the world. Within our own communities, lack of civil disagreement can cause conflict and damage.

In response, Pardes North America has designed Mahloket Matters for Adults, a curriculum that provides Jewish community professionals with tools to assist them in bridging divides and creating a stronger community.  

Can text study of Biblical stories and their diverse interpretations empower us to engage more constructively in disagreements today?

To answer this question, Pardes North America has created Mahloket Matters for adults. At the core of the traditional beit midrash, study hall, are havrutot, study pairs, critically studying together mahloket (also spelled machloket and makhloket), conflicting opinions, found on every page of classic Jewish texts. This methodology of studying text can be used to increase the desire and ability to understand and engage more constructively with conflicting political opinions today, improving civil discourse.

Each unit examines a central question which is first analyzed through a biblical conflict story. After carefully analyzing the biblical story and its ambiguities, various interpretations are then introduced through the study of classic commentaries on the story. Each unit then examines contradictory historical precedents that can be used to support or refute opposing responses to the central question of the unit. The units each conclude with an activity involving reading contradictory news from a recent event.

Each unit comes with a comprehensive educator’s guide, editable student workbook, and editable slides.

In addition, the Mahloket Matters for Adults curriculum includes a 90-minute workshop including sourcesheets, mock-Sanhedrin exercises, an educational video and a facilitator’s guide.

  • Introduction – Rabbinic Concepts of Mahloket Matters for Adult 
  • Unit 1 – Meet or Refuse to Meet?
    • From Korah and Moses to Political Adversaries Today
  • Unit 2 – Fear War or Trust Peace?
    • From Jacob and Esau through Chamberlain and Menachem Begin to Today
  • Unit 3 – Xenophobia or National Security?
    • From Pharaoh and the Israelites through Japanese Internment to Today
  • Unit 4 – Coexist or Separate?
    • From Isaac and Ishmael to Israelis and Palestinians Today
  • Unit 5 – “Fake News” or Uncovering the Truth?
    • From Joseph and his brothers through Jefferson and Hamilton to Today
  • The Sanhedrin Way Workshop
    • Study Jewish texts about the ancient Sanhedrin’s guidelines for engaging in constructive mahloket(disagreement).
    • Practice constructive controversy through engaging in a mock-Sanhedrin exercise using the conflict scenario, “Keep or cancel the controversial speaker? You Decide!”
    • After going through the constructive controversy exercise, cast your community’s vote. See how other communities across our various political and ideological divides voted and why.

Time: Each unit is designed to take between 1 and 2 hours.

Unit Components:

Included are all source sheets, unit videos, educators videos and guides. In addition, you will receive special access to the OpenMind Platform.

Download source sheet samples here. View a sample of a unit video here



Please click here to access the materials and purchase them.

Please click here to access the additional workshop free of charge.

E-mail Shani Gross for more information

Pardes North America’s mission is to dramatically expand access to deep, accessible Torah learning experiences within intimate communities across North America. We see Jewish learning as a powerful tool to aid participants in accessing the Jewish ideas, communities, and rituals that could improve their lives, strengthen their relationships, and help build a better society.