Let My People Know

"Honest seekers of truth"


A basic assumption in modern science, as in the Talmud, that those engaging in research should be regarded as honest seekers of truth. 

Thus if there is a contradiction between the conclusions of two different experiments, attempts should be made to find a generally applicable theory that takes note of all the experiments. 

It is always possible that a scholar may have erred in his logical or practical methods, but it is desirable to avoid clashing with any of the methods, even though this attempt at consensus or compromise sometimes entails the construction of an extremely involved intellectual edifice. 

The same approach is adopted toward the methods of various scholars. 

It is assumed that each attempted to explore all the possible intellectual processes in his quest for the true answer, and that every one of his statements should be accepted as true and integrated, insofar as possible, with the statements and rulings of other scholars. 

Therefore, even when it is obvious that there are differences of opinion, the sages try to reconcile the methods and minimize the differences. 

It was customary to choose two seemingly incompatible methods and ask the authors to defend them against one another, to demonstrate that the two were in accord on most details. 

If the experiment proved successful, it was possible to show that the discrepancy between the conclusions was not the result of widely divergent approaches but was based on a subtle difference between the basic theories or a mere matter of taste. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "The Talmudic Way of Thinking," in The Essential Talmud by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz