The Torah of Martial ArtsMost people have a friend or two who has studies Martial Arts. Some form or another. Taikwando, Karate, Muy-Thai, or something else. With no disrespect meant towards those who study these arts, there are two things that any person studying them will confide in you, his friend: One, his teacher is the (pick one: best, most, highest) ranked ______ in his style. This will often be born out by a story or two of the teachers actions on a street corner or in some competition. Two, the particular style your friend is currently studying is the best. Why is it the best? Because it is a blend of (pick three: Japanese, Thai, Korean, Northern, Southern, or Brazilian) styles and is inclusive of all of the other styles that are out there. Interesting, no? Every one of your martial-arts studying friends will tell you the same thing. Hmmm.....
As I learn Torah I encounter many different ideas. What's amazing is that each of the idea have fervent adherents, each one claiming that his "set of Torah ideas" are the best ones out there. There may be an acknowledgment of other "styles" but "they're not the best way". "My Rebbi" is better than all the others. "My Style" of Torah can whup the ass of your Torah. This is how the world of Torah can look.
A different approach towards Torah can be as follows: Each idea you learn is a puzzle piece.
You hear a new approach to learning Medrash. It becomes like learning a new word - all of the sudden you start hearing it everywhere. The new concept you just gained begins to appear in every corner of your life. You attend a lecture and acquire a new understanding of free will and divine fore-knowledge. You ask yourself "How could I have been a religious Jew before I knew this?!" Again and again you watch as it all ties into your "Torah-world".
As the Martial Arts student progresses and learns more from more styles, he will usually stop denigrating the other styles. He understands that he can learn from Ju-Jitsu even though he only studies Nin-Jitsu. What the student is seeing, is that these are all parts of a huge puzzle. Each style fills in gaps in another one. To learn Muy-Thai and then to learn Tai-Kwan-Do can only help the good student become a more rounded fighter. Also with Torah cosmology - each idea you pick up can be fitted into a puzzle and added to the range of theological motion you have available.
I feel that this perspective is especially important in our current day and age of divisiveness. Assuming certain red lines, is the Torah of one rabbi less valid that that of another? No, they are all different pieces of one huge puzzle. The more we learn, the more we see it all fits together. The more it fits together, the more we see the greater picture. The more we realize that there IS a greater picture that we are trying to build from all the tiny little pieces, the less we will denigrate the other persons Torah. We see that each one of the different and even the contradictory pieces are all important. Each one in it's place and time helps us fulfill the will of God that is Torah.