Rav Schachter’s Bright-Line Rule On Halachic Innovation

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60 Responses

  1. Mike S. says:

    I am not sure that the mechitza analogy is a good one, but let’s say it is. One result of it was indeed a more vigorous Orthodoxy. I am sure sharpening the divide between Orthodoxy and the Conservative movement kept many in the fold, or helped pull them back. But another was pushing the Conservative movement, or helping it to push itself, further to the left, which has resulted in increased assimilation. Do we really want to keep repeating that every other generation ad biat goel tzedek? Torah leaders have to take responsibility not only for the mesorah but also for their fellow Jews. We should not be so eager to push Jews who want to remain within Orthodoxy out. Boundary setting works much better when it is coupled with better responses to the social changes driving people to push the boundary.

    In the case at hand, wishing the larger society had kept gender roles as they were in the 1950’s isn’t any kind of response. One might have thought that increased women’s learning and teaching roles might have offered a better response, but that is under pressure from the right as well, at least in the US (less so in Israel.) Yet you see the pressure for change much further on the right than the partnership minyan crowds; it finds expression in innovations like “amen clubs” too. If our only response is to circle the wagons and mark the boundaries we will continue to lose many Jews.

    [YA These are valid points, at least for consideration. But the answer has to be found within R Schachter’s words. Policy decisions like these need to be made in consultation with the greatest Torah personalities available. I wish people could have seen the soul-searching, the hand-wringing, the conversations and arguments pro- and con. No one wishes to drive away Jews. But the fact is that sometimes people do need part company for a while, like Sora sending away Yishmael. It was painful to Avraham, but HKBH backed Sora’s decision. The two could not share one household. It would be different if the OO people quietly did what they think is necessary within their own 4 amos. But they have insisted to hyping it to the public, creating pressure on tradition loyalists, and in some cases costing good rabbonim their jobs. Not to mention the fact that you may be putting the cart before the horse. The shift to the right is in great part a reaction to the attitudes and deviations from mesorah of the left – not the other way around.]

  2. Ysoscher Katz says:

    I’m having a hard time understanding how this issue has anything to do with YCT. YCT or the IRF has as of yet not taken a stand on the issue of partnership minyanim. I think a correction and communal apology would be appropriate.

    Ysoscher Katz
    Chair, Talmud Dept. at YCT

    [YA – I’m having a hard time understanding what you don’t understand. Please reread the essay. It is not about Partnership Minyanim per se, but the spate of innovations that have been introduced in recent times, many initiated or championed by YCT, its faculty or graduates. The links in Rabbi Gordimer’s article a short while ago might help. The title of my essay does not reference Partnership Minyanim, but halachic innovation. It was not the Satmar Beis Medrash, Lakewood, or YU that introduced Rabbahs, Maharats – or the just-announced joint open beit midrash with the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary.

    In fact, Partnership Minyanim were not created by YCT or OO. Equally in fact, they would be no threat to mainstream Orthodoxy were it not for the continuous, public campaign to jump-start change in Orthodox practice that YCT, OO and Morethodoxy continue to engage in. (Readers who think that CC spends too much time on the topic ought to compare it with the much greater output – in the general Jewish press, to boot – of these groups. What ever happened to the equal time idea?) YCT continues to be an engine of change – with no brakes applied; certainly not the brakes of consultation with gedolei Torah that Rav Schachter speaks about. It is simply unjust to try to stifle the dissent and the pushback.

    For the record we might add that two of the most prominent figures in YCT – both highers up in the administration and faculty – have attended Partnership Minyanim, one of them on several occasions.

    If, in fact, YCT would like to add its voice to those publicly calling Partnership Minyanim forbidden by halacha, Cross-Currents will be happy to post its statement.]

  3. DF says:

    אמר לו הקב”ה: … אמרתי לך שלא לערב בהם ערב רב. אתה שהיית עניו וכשר, אמרת לי: לעולם מקבלים השבים, ואני הייתי יודע מה הם עתידין לעשות, אמרתי לך: לאו! ועשיתי רצונך, והם הם שעשו את העגל

    Beraishis Rabbah 42:6, this week’s parsha (Ki Tisa): “Said God to Moses, didn’t I warn you not to include the mixed multitude in your midst? Yet you were naïve [anav ki-kasher] and said, “but we always accept those who do teshuvah.” I knew better, and knew what they were planning on doing, and said not to allow them in. But you did it anyway, and they ended up creating the golden calf…”

    It’s a remarkable Midrash. People want orthodoxy to be a “big tent” and even very religious people, even Moses himself, defends certain people on those grounds. But its naïve not to see where things are heading, and one does not always need the Lord to point it out for us.

  4. DF says:

    sorry, should be Shmos Rabbah above, of course. Please correct.

  5. Noam Stadlan says:

    I look forward to the articles. However,I think that everything that Rav Schachter writes relating to women’s issues needs to be seen in the context of his approach to ‘feminism’ as documented by Rav Adam Ferziger. Rav Ferziger illustrates how Rav Schachter has, without precedent, invented a connection between feminism and heresy. It is available online and titled: ‘Feminism and Heresy: The Construction of a Jewish Metanarrative’. In addition, there are many if not most MO rabbonim(including Rav Henkin for example) who do not agree with how Rav Schachter expands the concept of tzniut to outlaw women participating in the public sphere. It is hard to imagine how his pre-existing views would not have affected his halachic conclusions.

    I assume from your article that either you or Rav Schachter(or both) are of the opinion that R. Daniel Sperber is not someone of ‘Torah stature.’ I think that comes as a surprise to many of us who have read his work, and we would have to respectfully disagree and perhaps express surprise that you have no problem holding that view or stating it publicly.

    [YA – Dr. Stadlan I’m just not going to go there, for a variety of reasons. The least of which is the fact that my interest is not Partnership Minyanim, but halachic innovation in general. Rav Schachter’s piece struck me as a good beginning to a discussion of the metahalacha – not the halacha – of such change.

    Rav Schachter did not speak of people of Torah stature but of gedolim mukarim. I have enjoyed Prof. Sperber’s works, and continue to use his multi-volume work on minhag as a standard reference work. Yet he is not someone I would go to for hachra’a in a machlokes between the Nodah B’Yehudah and R. Akiva Eiger. I fully believe that the ability to do the latter is one of many qualifications needed to be considered among the gedolim mukarim. I surmise that Rabbi Sperber might very well disagree with R. Schachter’s formulation, but would still not see himself in the group that R Schachter describes.]

  6. Yehudah Mirsky says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein – where has YCT as a body, or for that matter its graduates, or the writers of Morethodoxy etc endorsed partnership minyanim? That may sound like a nit-picking question, but your sweeping and categorical assertions about a large group of people lead a reasonable reader to ask just that. You may answer that you don’t need to back up this assertion with facts given the atmospherics and milieus of some, not all, partnership minyanim. But, again, given the depth of your condemnation, and your generalization about a large number of people, I think your assertion ought to requires some more foundation than you provide.

    [YA – Prof. Mirsky: Please read my response to YCT’s Rabbi Katz. I hope that you will find there both the rationale for the condemnation, and the foundation.]

  7. L Stein says:

    Some perspective is essential here. Like many of the previous attacks on YCT/OO that have become a nearly daily occurrence on this blog, you are blaming them for something that is not their doing. These minyanim used to be called “shira chadasha minyanim” after the name of the shul in Israel where they began. It is not a YCT/OO innovation or something they have officially endorsed.
    As to your first issue, if drawing such attention to them will cause them proliferate, that is obviously true, as most people have never heard of them and now you are drawing attention to them. People will be curious and some will want to try them or presure their rabbis to thanks to this attention, regardless of which sources are marshaled against them. However, from reading your blog it seems that your goal is indeed to sweep as many people as possible into this camp, even if they dont really fit neatly into it, so you can possul all of them together, as if the world was so simple and black and white. Unfortunately, it is not. You are doing more damage than good.

  8. Menachem Lipkin says:

    I think that this is a massive tactical error on the part of “mainstream” Modern orthodoxy. The world, yes even the orthodox world, is no longer “top down”. It simply doesn’t function that way anymore. You can kick and scream all you want but that is not going to change anything. There are a handful of partnership Minyanim, there are even less than a handful of orthodox women wearing Teffillin. Imagine if, instead of bringing full artillery to bear on this minor issue, the orthodox military would have simply stood down. (We won’t even discuss the hypocrisy of what they are NOT saying crosses the line.) Instead this all out assault is going to rile up a relatively silent, but significant, constituency of people who would have had little or no interest in these issues, but who are motivated by, yes, Western concepts of independence and fairness. Modern orthodoxy has nurtured its connection to Western values for decades, pulling the plug now is going to be catastrophic.

    If anything, this is going exacerbate the very thing it’s intended to prevent.

  9. Tal Benschar says:

    R. Schachter is a giant of a talmid chacham, so it is not my place to agree or disagree.

    I do have one thought about Partnership Minyanim. In my view, they are highly insulting to women. The point was driven home to me a few years ago when my wife’s brother had his aufruf. In their shul, they allow children to “lead the services” for certain parts on Shabbos, starting with Ein Kelokenu, etc., and usually there is another child who leads Adon Olam (or Yigdal at night). We don’t have that minhag where I live, but since the bubbies asked for it, my then 8-year old son and his then 6- year old cousin practiced and they lead those parts.

    That is exactly what Partnership Minyanim do – they treat women like children and let them lead the halakhically “unimportant” parts of davening. Why anyone thinks that advances the dignity of the women who participate in it is a mystery to me.

  10. lacosta says:

    the only problem would seem to be that , rather than a ‘bright line ‘ obvious to all, RHS is emphasizing the vista of the Godol to declare something out of bounds. this will then lead to more accusations of rabbinic obscurantism, miscogeny, obstructionism etc and maybe also who-is-a-godol repercussions….

  11. yoni says:

    You bring the fact that the supporter of partnership mynianim always ask for an halachic sources in order to counterattack with a minority opinion. But in the case of women wearing tefillin, we see that the majority is on their side, nevertheless, the opposite side stand on a minority opinion. Would you be kind to explain your idea,please?

    [YA Not sure what you mean. As R Schachter pointed out, for the past 500 years, there has been not only a majority but unanimity that women should not lay tefillin]

  12. Reb Yid says:

    Tal:

    Whatever Partnership Minyanim are, they’re certainly not insulting to women. The ones that I have attended have had women lead Kabbalat Shabbat (not Maariv), read Torah and Haftarah, be a makreh, say Tefila Lishlom HaMedina, carry the Torah, and give Divrei Torah.

  13. Glatt some questions says:

    Unlike women learning Talmud, yoetzet halacha, or even women’s tefila groups, partnership minyanim have been accepted as halachically appropriate by only a handful of Orthodox rabbis: Rabbi Sperber and maybe a couple of others. Even Rabbi Saul Berman and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who generally lean left on women’s roles in Orthodoxy, have publicly said they do not support instituting these minyanim. I know of no Orthodox shul that exists that has a regular minyan — and that also offers a partnership minyan (in other words, the only shuls that have partnership minyanim are those that were specifically created for that purpose … if I am mistaken about this and someone knows otherwise, please correct me). Most of the YCT faculty are personally against partnership minyanim, so this is not an Open Orthodox innovation. My point is that partnership minyanim is still a very fringe concept within the Orthodox world, and unlike other innovations for women (such as yoatzot) within the Orthodox world, they have not been widely accepted even by the more liberal Modern Orthodox rabbis.

  14. A. Schreiber says:

    Glatt some Questions – I’m not sure how extensive the other “innovations” are either. The difference between them and partnership minyanim, in terms of percentage of overall orthodoxy, is probably something like .05% and .0005%. In either case, not significant.

    L.Stein – the RCA considered whether addressing it would only serve to draw attention to a fringe group. Rabbi Adlerstein noted that. But the RCA concluded it was necessary to take that risk. Besides, it’s simply not true that speaking about a fringe group causes more people to join it. The ADL is still out there fear-mongering about the KKK and John Birch Society, and that’s not led to an increase in their numbers.

    Red Yid – you missed Tal Benschar’s point, and actually underscore it. You emphasize that they lead “kabbalat Shabbat (not maariv).” In other words, they’re drawing attention to their halachic differences, not minimizing them. This is akin to women who keep their maiden names – they’re trying to make a point, but invariably they all keep their father’s names, so how exactly does that support feminism?

    I personally think the ADL did a smart thing. It is possible the self-awareness of what they are doing might distinguish it from what happened in the case of the mechitzah. Also media and proclamations have less import and less staying power today than in previous times. Still and all, a wise move.

  15. dr. bill says:

    I write as an old-timer opposed to innovation for its own sake. That said, I find the following worth considering:

    Conflating a halakhic issue (say mechitza) with a non/meta-halakhic one (a partnership minyan) ought to be noted and imho is questionable at best. Historically, this type of behavior generated an extensive literature. A speech in the vernacular or a bat – mitzvah were once opposed by accepted poskim.

    It is important to differentiate methods of Talmudic conceptualization from the methods of poskim. Both are not unchanging, but the former changes more often. I believe changes to the former, sets the stage for changes to the latter. Ironically, neither the difference nor changes are recognized in various circles.

    Analogies, especially historic ones, are dangerous; when they are invoked I am automatically suspicious.

    We confront multiple issues as a community – abuse, how our youth ought to be educated, ethical/intellectual values that are based on modernity, etc. Which we choose to address is as/more important than the positions we take. Current focus of any number of blogs and others they choose to highlight is rather revealing.

  16. Glatt some questions says:

    I’m not sure how extensive the other “innovations” are either. The difference between them and partnership minyanim, in terms of percentage of overall orthodoxy, is probably something like .05% and .0005%. In either case, not significant.

    ——————–

    I’m not sure where you are getting your stats, but my strong guess is that the very large majority of RCA rabbis (90% or more, if I had to put a number to it) support women learning Talmud and a lesser majority (maybe 60%, if I had to guess) support women as yoetzet halacha. That’s a whole lot more than the teeny tiny percentage who support partnership minyanim.

  17. Bob Miller says:

    How far can they go? As far as the others will passively let them go.

  18. c-l,c says:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.””

  19. Harry Maryles says:

    While I agree with your overall attitude about this, I’m not sure your comparison of YCT and OO innovations is comparable to the Conservative movement’s removal of the Mechitza. That line was not as bright as you might think. I elaborated on this on my blog today.

    I believe that protesting too much might make their resolve stronger. I believe that these innovations will go the way of Traditional Judaism and ought to be ignored. Mainstream Orthodoxy will never adopt any of these innovations – unless we push them into it with trident opposition. That will only gain them sympathy from fence sitters. This is why I believe that the RCA is correct in leaving this issue alone.

  20. Reb Yid says:

    To A. Schrieber (and to Tal):

    It’s hardly fair to compare leading Kabbalat Shabbat or laining Torah and Haftarah to say leading Anim Zmirot, Adon Olam or Yigdal. In fact, there’s no comparison at all.

    And while you yourselves might consider it “insulting” to women, what you (or I, for that matter) think about this is besides the point. The irony that those opposed to the minyanim would use such an argument is, of course, duly noted.

    Anyways, it’s the women who get to decide if they are insulted or not, and clearly a growing number say quite otherwise. For some women who want to remain in the Orthodox fold, this kind of tefilah is uplifting and emboldening. Last I checked on the JOFA site there were about 2 dozen such minyanim–of particular note is the growing number that are on college campuses. It is thus safe to assume that the numbers and locations may grow in years to come.

  21. Harry Maryles says:

    Correction: That should read: “…will go the way of the Traditional Movement” – not “Traditional Judaism”.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Noam Stadlan wrote in part:

    “I look forward to the articles. However,I think that everything that Rav Schachter writes relating to women’s issues needs to be seen in the context of his approach to ‘feminism’ as documented by Rav Adam Ferziger. Rav Ferziger illustrates how Rav Schachter has, without precedent, invented a connection between feminism and heresy. It is available online and titled: ‘Feminism and Heresy: The Construction of a Jewish Metanarrative’. In addition, there are many if not most MO rabbonim(including Rav Henkin for example) who do not agree with how Rav Schachter expands the concept of tzniut to outlaw women participating in the public sphere. It is hard to imagine how his pre-existing views would not have affected his halachic conclusions. ”

    First of all, RYBS rejected the feminist critique of Halacha as pure slander in his 1972 drasha on Parshas Korach, and expressed similarly vehement views in a shiur in 1975 on Gerus-both of which can be downloaded and listended to from various locations on the web. When one looks at the roots of feminism, one of its most prominent founders described the nuclear family as a “concentration camp.” I think that a fair critique of feminism is that views men and women as having no differences except that of giving birth to children, unbridled reproductive freedom, the denial that you can’t have it all as a woman .As feminist theory evolves, the key is how the fullfillment of “me, myself and/or I” , a view that cannot be justified with that of being an Eved HaShem-regardless of the gender.The refusal of MO supporters of radical feminism to recognize that feminism constitutes a clear and present danger to how men and women are commanded by the Torah , Chazal, Rov Rishonim and Poskim and the Mesorah of TSBP to be an Eved HaShehm within the confines of the Ratzon HaTorah, to use a phrase of R Asher Weiss, is a mmajor problem within the LW of MO for which it has no answers but to walk away from Halachic authority and to accept theories and practices rooted and originating in CJ as pseudo-halachic nature. I ahve read R Ferziger’s article and view the same as unduly influenced by considerations of gender, as opposed to his much more important article on the important work being done by community kollelim.

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    Glatt some questions-simple observation-take a look at the proponents of Yotzaot Halacha and then look at who supports PMs. The comparison should answer your question.

  24. Reb Yid says:

    Harry Maryles:

    Again, this is neither a YCT nor an OO development.

    And the comparisons to Traditional Judaism don’t make sense–those happened exclusively within the confines of a synagogue, more as a product of inertia or nostalgia than anything else. There was no way to transmit it to the next generation, which became more learned and, as you surely know, that is why the “downstairs” mechitza minyans eventually overtook the entire edifice of the Traditional synagogue.

    In contrast, the current developments are mostly happening outside the synagogue and initiated by men and women who are well educated both secularly and Jewishly. This gives them confidence in what they are doing and, more importantly, a means by which to transmit this to the next generation of observant men and women.

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    Menachem Lipkin wrote in part:

    “Instead this all out assault is going to rile up a relatively silent, but significant, constituency of people who would have had little or no interest in these issues, but who are motivated by, yes,

    Why then observe any positive or negative Mitzvah, no matter how compelling, simply”Western concepts of independence and fairness R”L ? Sine when did “Western concepts of independence and fairness”become a litmus test for Shemiras HaMitzvos and defining Avodas HaShem?

  26. We should focus on the wisdom of the Torah traditions in this debate. A seperation of men and women during prayer, does two important things that our rabbis knew. First it provides one with that existential incompleteness which is not present when together with the opposite sex. This incompleteness provides the proper perspective to call out to hashem in prayer. The second is that it allows those not married to feel equal to those around them during prayer, also not as distracted by the opposite sex. These reasons for seperation in prayer resonated with me, and bolster my affinity to traditional minyanim.

  27. Yitzy Blaustein says:

    Daniel Rude wrote:

    We should focus on the wisdom of the Torah traditions in this debate. A seperation of men and women during prayer, does two important things that our rabbis knew. First it provides one with that existential incompleteness which is not present when together with the opposite sex. This incompleteness provides the proper perspective to call out to hashem in prayer. The second is that it allows those not married to feel equal to those around them during prayer, also not as distracted by the opposite sex. These reasons for seperation in prayer resonated with me, and bolster my affinity to traditional minyanim.

    This is irrelevant since Partnership Minyanim by and large have mechitzas

  28. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Steve, nice straw man, but that’s not what I wrote or implied. For better or worse MO has defined itself by integrating with modernity. I’m just pointing out the inconsistency here. However, it would behoove you to read some of the writings of R. Amital, ZT”L to get a great perspective on the prioritization of halacha vs. natural morality. Just pulled this great quote from an essay I’m reading now, “Virtues lead to mitsvot, but the reverse is not true.”

  29. Othniel Javitz says:

    When will Rav Schachter address the “Yoetzet Halacha” phenomenon? I would love to read his views on that subject!

  30. Glattsomequestions says:

    simple observation-take a look at the proponents of Yotzaot Halacha and then look at who supports PMs. The comparison should answer your question.

    ——————-

    Steve, Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, RJC in Riverdale, the Young Israel of Plainview, Beth Jacob in Los Angeles, Great Neck Synagogue, all have yoetzet halacha. Several Five Towns Shuls, including the Young Israel of Woodmere, also now have a yoetzet halacha. So does LSS and the Jewish Center in NYC. None of these shuls would ever consider having a partnership minyan at their synagogues.

    My point is that yoetzet halacha are a much greater accepted innovation in mainstream Orthodox circles than partnership minyanim, and to lump the two together by saying that if you support yoetzet halacha you support partnership minyanim is patently unfair.

  31. Harry Maryles says:

    Nonetheless, Reb Yid, I don’t think there will ever be a critical mass of Jews that will adopt these innovations to make it anywhere near mainstream. This is a fringe group exercise that will go the way of the Dodo bird, IMHO. By contrast the Traditional Movement, was huge and seemed to many tobe the wave of the future. There were many more Traditional synagogues in the fifties and sixties than there were Orthodox synagogues… and the Traditional ones were beautiful edifices. The Orthodox Shuls were puny by comparison. So there was a lot to fear in those days… which is why there was such an uproar about it then by all the Gedolei Yisroel – including by RYBS and RAS.

    Because of that and the fact that these rabbis succeeded in directing many of their into religious day schools and high schools, most of the Shuls either closed or became Mechitza Shuls. I don’t think any of them became Conservative… at least not here in Chicago, the home of the Traditional Movement.

    Those kids started the ‘basement’ Mechitza Minaynim in those shuls and eventually moved them upstairs when the founding members started moving to Florida or died. Their children did not replace them in those Shuls. They either left observance or became Orthodox – refusing to Daven in nine Mechitza Shuls.

    All this would have happened anyway in my view – even without the war being waged against them by The Gedolei Yisroel. Although they did accelerate the demise.

    [YA – Reb Harry, you’ve been in Chicago too long. You are failing to see the forest for the trees. You can’t compare Traditional Judaism to the neo-Conservatives. Traditional Judaism was a practice, a way of building shuls. OO/YCT et al is a shitah, an ideology. No one thinks that some of the outrageous innovations of their’s are going to become mainstream. But their poisonous shitah of trivializing halacha, of misreading, cherry-picking and arrogating to amateurs what should only be done by serious talmidei chachamim WILL at least establish a beachhead in the minds of many Modern Orthodox shulgoers. They will begin to subconsciously question why they should ask questions of their rov, when they can Google for halachic answers. They will shop around more for alternative answers than what they have received, and rely on the halfbaked musings of those who spent less time in their lives over a blatt gemara than the average haredi high school student by the time he graduates. Did you read the despicable take-down of R Hershel Schachter (by a YU musmach, not a YCT grad!). Could you discern whether there was more arrogance than ignorance? (He decries the futile efforts of R Schachter and old-guard rabbis to maintain their power in an age of autonomy and individualism that leaves no room for it.) Remember, Harry, what the gemara says about a tinok shel kalu chadashav as a machriv: he is the person who is not worthy of paskening, who paskens nonetheless.

    It isn’t Partnership Minyanim we are fighting, Harry. It is the complete distortion and dilution of halachic process. ]

  32. DF says:

    The fallacy of YCT, OO, partnership minyan advocates, etc. – all of them motivated by the same conceptions, de facto and in some cases de jure – can be seen in the response one of their adherents has now written on his website. Josh Yuter writes his opposition to the statement of R. Hershel Schachter that RYA referenced in his post. That a young fellow – he got his YU semicah only in 2003 – has no compunctions in attacking one of the giants of our times speaks many volumes. It’s hard to believe someone calling himself a “rabbi” can actually write publicly the following: “The democratization of knowledge is thus a significant threat to those who wish to control it, and by extension, the people who depend on it. R. Schachter must create and rely on his myth that he and his cadre are the true arbiters and representatives of Judaism, and by extension, God’s will.”

    The brazen chutzpah of this writer is absolutely repugnant, and MUST be denounced in the strongest of terms. RHS “and his cadre” created a “myth” that only he is the true representative of God’s will??? And this “democratization of knowledge” he refers to — so the fact he can use the Bar Ilan database and use Hebrew search engines, that puts him on a par with RHS??? These words alone display for one and all the foundational flaws with YCT et al. They have no shikul hadaas whatsoever. No understanding of how even though X may possibly be in and of itself permitted, what X inexorably leads to is just as strong a reason to forbid. [And that’s only if X is actually permitted.] Indeed, apart from a few older liberals left over from baby boom, there is hardly any life experience in their group at all. No connection at all to Europe, no understanding of tradition, no intuitive sense of the difference between what the books say and what we do. It is a rudderless movement, utterly devoid of any foundation, and ultimately destined the way of its forebear, the Conservative movement.

    I hope the Charedi/Yeshivah world, so silent all of a sudden, is watching, because it is THEY who have to shoulder a heavy part of the blame for the disaster adherents of “open orthodoxy” will eventually encounter. For it is that Charedi world who is in large part responsible for the disconnect between tradition and contemporary practice. The only difference is that the former look to the Mishna Brurah to determine their practice, while open orthodoxy look to coastal media pundits. And as we all know, the Charedi world is not without its own problems. In both cases we have Rupture, with no Reconstruction.

  33. c-l,c says:

    DF,

    au contrarie.

    Your denouncement of OO is akin to what Charedi/Yeshivah world was and has been vigorously and firmly using versus Left of Centrism or Center Leftism in general (a la lacosta).

    Where have you been?

    It’s foolish to allude to a dated paper ,which even back in ’94,was full of contradictory and by and large ignorant conclusions(however seminal some still wish to credit it)e.g. the main thrust of R & R is that the Charedi world is too modern orthodox!

  34. Moshe says:

    The only difference is that the former look to the Mishna Brurah to determine their practice, while open orthodoxy look to coastal media pundits.

    LOL. Kinda like “The only difference between them is that the former looks to Michael Jordan for basketball guidance, while the other group looks to Michael Medved for the same.”

    DF, it is beyond absurd to suggest that Charedism, for all its flaws, spawned OO. It’s perfectly okay if MO sometimes takes blame for its own problems. In this case, some of that blame must unfortunately be apportioned to Maran HaRav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik zt”l, who failed to properly demarcate the left foul pole (pardon the mixed sports metaphor).

  35. Reb Yid says:

    To take the issue of being “insulted” even further, as one example of many:

    From what I have seen, more and more women nowadays would truly be insulted if they went to a shul where they would not be allowed to say kaddish (or for other daveners not to respond ‘Amen’). Yet there are still too many shuls, rabbis and worshippers where such mourners are intimidated or not made to feel welcome.

    Thankfully, there are more Orthodox shuls today that accommodate in this area than in my childhood.

  36. Steve Brizel says:

    Glatt some questions-thanks for the clarification.

    Menachem Lipkin-Yet the issue remains for MO-whether modernity trumps Halacha and Mesorah or Halacha and Mesorah dictates the realm of permissible interaction with modernity. The quote from R Amital ZL does not resolve that issue.

  37. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that DF has hit the nail on the head-merely having access to the same sources as a Gadol BaTorah merely means that you have access, BUT in no way means that you have the same ability or right to Pasken on any issue in Halacha.

  38. Shades of Gray says:

    “In both cases we have Rupture, with no Reconstruction.”

    Rabbis Aryeh and Dov Frimer mention this at the end of their article:

    “One final observation is in order. Professor Haym Soloveitchik, in his now classic work “Rupture and Reconstruction,” skillfully documented the gradual move in contemporary Orthodoxy from a mimetic halakhic tradition to a text-based tradition. He further noted the profound impact that this transition had on the move of contemporary Orthodoxy in the 20th Century towards greater humra (stringency). What we are now beginning to witness is a similar, but opposite, text-oriented movement towards greater kula (leniency). Thus, the establishment of partnership minyanim is an attempt to introduce novel practices not explicitly
    addressed in the codes. However, an in-depth analysis of the corpus of halakhic literature demonstrates that partnership minyanim are halakhically problematic despite their overt absence from the codes. We therefore would like to suggest that neither leap – le-humra or le-kula – is sound or healthy for the halakhic process or for the Torah community. Perhaps what is called for is a balanced return to a more mimetic-influenced tradition, with its inherent sensitivity and stability without rigidity. But that discussion is for another occasion.”

    Similarly, compare “Sliding to the Left? Contemporary American Modern Orthodoxy”(2011) by Prof. Turetsky and Waxman to Prof. Heilman’s “Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy” (2006) and Prof. Waxman’s own “The Haredization of American Orthodox Jewry”(1998). In “History and Nostalgia: The Rise and Fall of the Yavneh Organization During the late 20th century”(October, 2013 Torah Umaddah Journal, pg. 214), Dr. Yoel Finkelman interprets the evolution of both the right and the left in the 20th century, as “the right was not defeating the left, but the two sides of Orthodoxy were growing simultaneously, were constantly defining themselves through their disagreements with the other”.

  39. Steve Brizel says:

    Harry Maryles wrote in part:

    “I believe that protesting too much might make their resolve stronger. I believe that these innovations will go the way of Traditional Judaism and ought to be ignored”

    Rambam in Shemoneh perakim writes that Cholei HaNefesh require proper “medication: in the same manner as Cholei HaGuf to eradicate the cause, as opposed to merely providing palliative pain. RAS understood the concept and rejected the legitimacy view of Traditional Judaism, even at a great personal cost and in large part to his efforts, as well as the second generation of JTJ members who became Shomrei Torah UMitzvos through a solid Jewish education and NCSY, TJ withered and died on the vine.

  40. Steve Brizel says:

    R Adlerstein commented in part:

    “Did you read the despicable take-down of R Hershel Schachter (by a YU musmach, not a YCT grad!). Could you discern whether there was more arrogance than ignorance? (He decries the futile efforts of R Schachter and old-guard rabbis to maintain their power in an age of autonomy and individualism that leaves no room for it.)

    The fact that we are commmanded to be Shomrei Torah Umitzvos in an “an age of autonomy and individualism” is prima facie proof that Torah observance is a great countercultural force to the increasingly unbridled autonomy and individualism that chareatcerizes 21st Century life. That is why we need Gdolei HaPoskim, not just any Mahn Dahu who has access to search engines.

  41. Tal Benschar says:

    RY, you seem to have missed the point. In the traditional world, the operating assumption is kol kevudah bas melech penimah, There is no insult to a woman to be excluded from public displays because it is understood that women have a more private role. That is so whether one is talking about tefillos that technically require a tsibbur (from barchu to the end of shemoneh esrei) or not.
    But the Partnership Minyanim and those who sponsor it clearly think otherwise — to them, exclusion of women from public functions is considered a slight to their honor (they justify their activities by lack of human dignity), and seeking public displays of religiosity is something women are encouraged to do.

    In that context, telling women they can lead certain, less important parts of the tefillah but not the other parts is insulting. Precisely what some shuls do with underage boys — let them lead the parts that don’t require a minyan. (In some places in EY, I have seen boys lead pseukei d’zimrah, too.) So they are treating women like children.

    In response to your specific points:

    It’s hardly fair to compare leading Kabbalat Shabbat or laining Torah and Haftarah to say leading Anim Zmirot, Adon Olam or Yigdal. In fact, there’s no comparison at all.

    It is very fair. All of these (exc. kiras ha Torah and Haftarah) are additions to the nusach hatefillah that do not require a minyan, and hence could be lead by a minor, or in fact you could just say it yourself and start with Barchuh. This is the very distinction that advocates of PM are making.

    And while you yourselves might consider it “insulting” to women, what you (or I, for that matter) think about this is besides the point. The irony that those opposed to the minyanim would use such an argument is, of course, duly noted.

    Something can be insulting whether one realizes it or not. Today’s PM women are excited by the prospect of doing something new that until now has been limited to men. Those who come after will question why they only get to lead this part and not that part.
    Nor is there any irony, for the reasons I set out above.

    Anyways, it’s the women who get to decide if they are insulted or not, and clearly a growing number say quite otherwise. For some women who want to remain in the Orthodox fold, this kind of tefilah is uplifting and emboldening. Last I checked on the JOFA site there were about 2 dozen such minyanim–of particular note is the growing number that are on college campuses. It is thus safe to assume that the numbers and locations may grow in years to come.

    Well, actually it seems that, given the massive and vociferous opposition of virtually the entire rabbinic world, one can question whether they are indeed remaining in the Orthodox fold.

    Meanwhile, whether they realize it or not, those who advocate PM are living a contradiction — they want to remain faithful to both halacha and to Western egalitarianism. That leads to a situation where you tell women, you can lead psukei d’zimrah or kabbalas shabbos, but not maariv or shemoneh esreh. Sooner or later, the contradiction will become apparent. And I have little confidence as to which side will win out once that happens.

  42. Reb Yid says:

    Tal:

    No, you are missing my point.

    Reading Torah or Haftarah–not an activity for a 6 year old. But important, yes? And most men can’t simply walk up to the amud and do it–needs some preparation. Leading Kabbalat Shabbat–a very important role…sets the whole mood of the davening experience for the evening. Again, not all men are comfortable doing this, and certainly not something you’d give over to most 6 year olds.

    Imagine being at a shul where none of these things are done on Shabbat–they are central components of the service–and certainly of the communal experience.

    Now imagine you are an Orthodox woman and want to lead any of this. True, you could be part of a Women’s Tefilah where some of this is done in a slightly different manner. But this gives woman who want it another Orthodox outlet to do so….heaven knows they could easily go to a Conservative shul and do it if that’s all they wanted. But they want more.

    Just curious–how many times have you (or any other critics here) ever been to a PM? Talked with, or spent any time with the couples, singles and families who attend them? You really think they’re no better than kids?

    For that matter, ever had a discussion or a meal with Rabba Sara?

    Thought so.

  43. Shades of Gray says:

    I see a difference between individuals and the community. The issue of lower standards to keep people in had varying results in the Conservative Movement. In Orthodoxy in a different way, it’s an issue in kiruv, and in fact predates the American experience. It’s better that those who would join Conservative Judaism(which though is hemorrhaging) be more traditional, especially if the innovators are sincere, perhaps more than many traditionalists!(R. Avi Shafran quoted from R. Lookstein, “Just look at all the men who are consulting their… phones, or reading, during parts of the davening, while wearing tefillin”).

    Regarding the community as a whole, however, everyone is interrelated, and Partnership Minyanim, etc. could drag everyone leftward, especially since the intent of some is in fact to create “facts on the ground”, like in the Arab Israeli conflict. Prof. Tamar Ross is quoted in R. Frimer’s 2007 review that “within the limits of what Orthodoxy deems acceptable, feminists should, therefore, simply forge ahead with their innovations, hoping to create “facts on the ground”. As RYA wrote above, “It would be different if the OO people quietly did what they think is necessary within their own 4 amos. But they have insisted to hyping it to the public, creating pressure on tradition loyalists…”.

    Conservative ideas exist independently of the hemorrhaging Conservative movement, so liberal-Orthodox innovations are a concern to Orthodoxy as a whole. For example, in the December, 2013 Jewish Review of Books, Prof. Noah Bickart of JTS wrote in response to Daniel Gordis that, “It may be an unpopular opinion to my many friends and colleagues, but when the fundamentalist voices of the haredi press excoriate the “Open Orthodox” Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as in fact “Conservative,” I am offended by their mean-spiritedness, but the truth is that I fundamentally agree”. In the November, 2013 Times of Israel article titled, “Conservative Judaism may be failing but its ideas are not” , Judah Skoff wrote, “What should be obvious is that this new Liberal (or “Open”) Orthodoxy, and the traditional-egalitarianism nurtured by Yeshivat Hadar, have far more in common than right-wing Orthodoxy and left-wing Conservative Judaism, respectively… If the Conservative brand must fade, then let Conservative ideas re-assert themselves in new forms, with new movements and in new ways…”. In an article titled “Conservative Movement’s Impact On The Left And Right”,(1/14 Jewish Week), a Conservative rabbi wrote, “I am sanguine that Conservative Judaism lives because much of its take on tradition and change has leaked into Reform and Orthodoxy. According to Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna, “Solomon Schechter never wanted to create a separate movement.”(he also considers Bat Mitzvahs, pre-nuptials,and Koren Press’ Magid imprint a credit to the Conservative movement, so I suppose there is a limit to the value of perceptions).

    In a positive way, the Conservative movement has served as a feeder for kiruv, as R. Efraim Buchwald wrote in the December, 2012 Klal Perspectives,”… [because of] the rapid decline of the Conservative movement over the last two decades, it is my view that there has been a precipitous drop in the number of people becoming baalei teshuva in America”.

  44. A.Schreiber says:

    To Reb Yid – I’ve never been to Alaska, but I know its cold.

  45. Harry Maryles says:

    I hear what you are saying, R’ Yitzchok. I agree that TR was more of a sociological phenomenon whereas OO and YCT is an idoelogical one. And I agree that it ought to be opposed. I’m just not sure to what extent that ought to be done. In my view the end product of this will not be a new movement. A Movement requires a critical mass of people for it to take off. I could be wrong but I don’t see that happening. It has in fact been tried and I beleive it has failed. There was a movenment formed by the LW rabbis of the Traditional Movment and the RW of the conservative movement (I thin it was called UTJ). How many of those shiuls are around today and how many Jews do they attract?

    What I do think will happen is that OO and will break into 2 different factions, one moving back into the mainstream and the other moving into the Conservative movement. YCT will probably never become a force in Miantream Judaism in my view. I think the RCA is exatly in the right place on this issue by being critical of them; not accepting their Musmachim; and at the same time generally ignoring them.

    You never know. Asher Lopatin (who admittedly describes himself as a lefty)is not Avi Weiss. He may yet get YCT to backtrack a tiny bit into the mainstream – seeking legitimacy from the right. How much and where to pull back is a question. But I know that he desperately wants that acceptance.

    [YA Many of us really hope that you are correct. The splitting off of those shuls into a new denomination has consequences that none of us find attractive. E.g., if they leave the OU, their kids won’t have NCSY chapters, and they will hardly have a chance to advance beyond their parents’ Yiddishkeit. Keep in mind, however, just how vocal they are, how they constantly hype their illegitimate ideas to the public, including using the general media. Their barrage of rhetoric does have an impact on people in the middle. That makes it crucial to define the difference between YCT/OO and legitimate Torah Judaism.]

  46. Reb Yid says:

    Harry:

    There are a number of reasons why the UTCJ (later the UTJ) failed. Among them:

    –Lack of charismatic leadership to legitimate the new movement
    –Inability to create products that amcha will want
    –Trouble (some would say failure) in creating a distinct identity
    –Failure to attract committed financial and human resources (it was mostly a rabbinic-led group)
    –Location and ability to communicate were poor

    In some ways, OO and YCT actually have very similar messages to what UTCJ/UTJ (in some ways, they are actually more progressive and active on women’s issues than the earlier group, which hurt the UTJ’s cause). But they are far more successful date in the areas outlined above.

    It also helps that they have the Orthodox imprimatur–try as is might, the UTJ was always maligned by being associated with Conservative Judaism, even though it formally split from that movement.

  47. Reb Yid says:

    To A. Schriber:

    So are you OK with people who have never set foot in Bnei Barak, Williamsburg, Monsey, Lakewood, etc. writing whatever they want to write about haredim because that’s what they “know”?

  48. Steve Brizel says:

    Shades of Gray wrote in part:

    “According to Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna, “Solomon Schechter never wanted to create a separate movement.”(he also considers Bat Mitzvahs, pre-nuptials,and Koren Press’ Magid imprint a credit to the Conservative movement, so I suppose there is a limit to the value of perceptions).”

    Koren Press’s list of books includes works by R D N Lamm, R M Willig , and R T Sobolofksy.

  49. Steve Brizel says:

    Shades of Gray wrote and quoted in relevant part:

    “Conservative ideas exist independently of the hemorrhaging Conservative movement, so liberal-Orthodox innovations are a concern to Orthodoxy as a whole. For example, in the December, 2013 Jewish Review of Books, Prof. Noah Bickart of JTS wrote in response to Daniel Gordis that, “It may be an unpopular opinion to my many friends and colleagues, but when the fundamentalist voices of the haredi press excoriate the “Open Orthodox” Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as in fact “Conservative,” I am offended by their mean-spiritedness, but the truth is that I fundamentally agree”. In the November, 2013 Times of Israel article titled, “Conservative Judaism may be failing but its ideas are not” , Judah Skoff wrote, “What should be obvious is that this new Liberal (or “Open”) Orthodoxy, and the traditional-egalitarianism nurtured by Yeshivat Hadar, have far more in common than right-wing Orthodoxy and left-wing Conservative Judaism, respectively… If the Conservative brand must fade, then let Conservative ideas re-assert themselves in new forms, with new movements and in new ways”

    Noah Stadlan also wrote in part:

    “look forward to the articles. However,I think that everything that Rav Schachter writes relating to women’s issues needs to be seen in the context of his approach to ‘feminism’ as documented by Rav Adam Ferziger. Rav Ferziger illustrates how Rav Schachter has, without precedent, invented a connection between feminism and heresy. It is available online and titled: ‘Feminism and Heresy: The Construction of a Jewish Metanarrative’. In addition, there are many if not most MO rabbonim(including Rav Henkin for example) who do not agree with how Rav Schachter expands the concept of tzniut to outlaw women participating in the public sphere. It is hard to imagine how his pre-existing views would not have affected his halachic conclusions”

    Both of the above illlustrate how and why the motivating ideas and thought of CJ have been incorprorated by many in the LW MO world without any thought as to the merits or danger of the same and, to the point where the views of a great Posek are simply dismissed based upon “his pre-existing views” FWIW, Yotzaot halacha work and consult with R M Willig and R K Auman because the Yotzaot enable many women to properly observe Hilcos Nidah, without erring on the side of excessive kulah or chumra, out of a lack of knowledge or willingness to ask a Shealas Chacham because of a misplaced sense of Tznius.

  50. Tal Benschar says:

    The topic at issue is “Partnership Minyanim.” When I first heard the term, I was unclear what it meant, so I did a quick search. On the website of the original PM minyan, Shira Chadashah in Yerushalayim, which has been copied by the other PMs throughout the world, their website proclaimed their purpose: ” We are attempting to create a religious community that embraces our commitment to halakhah, tefillah and feminism.”

    The site went on to brag about their special minhag: they would not start davening those parts requiring a minyan until there are both ten men AND ten women in shul. That really says it all, and encapsulates what is wrong with the whole movement.

  51. Shades of Gray says:

    “Koren Press’s list of books includes works by R D N Lamm, R M Willig , and R T Sobolofksy.”

    Steve,

    He wrote regarding Koren as follows, “Regarding the scientific and historical approach to sacred texts, the Maggid imprint of the respected Koren Press offers “contemporary approaches to traditional texts.” Its salesperson at a recent United Synagogue convention pitched the books as “incorporating modern Biblical scholarship” to the traditional texts.”

    I wonder if he is correct– to what extent Orthodox publishing about the above was a result of the influence of Conservative Judaism. Incorporating archaeology or academic scholarship is not a Conservative idea per se. Another Conservative rabbi wrote in Haaretz in response to Daniel Gordis’ “Requiem for a Movement”, “When today’s yeshiva student happens upon an old copy of “Origin of the Species,” or learns more about ancient semitic societies, he will fall into the sturdy netting of Schechter and Heschel.” He seems to be overreaching.

  52. Rafael A. says:

    Tal: “The site went on to brag about their special minhag: they would not start davening those parts requiring a minyan until there are both ten men AND ten women in shul. That really says it all, and encapsulates what is wrong with the whole movement.”

    I always wondered about this 10 + 10 shtick. At HaMakom in Toronto (run by a YCT grad) they do the same thing. So, let’s say that a PM would have 10 men and 5 women. And let’s say that shkiah/sof zman tefillah is in 10 minutes, for example. Would they stick to this rule and miss these halachic cutoff times and only start davening when another 5 women show up? This makes a complete joke of the din of tefilloh b’tzibbur and could have serious halachic implications.

  53. Eric Leibman says:

    A few things become clear to me: One, the OO and the YCT abominations, and the appeal they have to the public, has much to do with people not getting a proper Jewish education from kindergarten through post high school yeshiva and seminary. If they did, I like to think that they would understand the importance of tradition, minhag, mesorah and the role of the qualified posek. To the extent we can provide that for those born into a religious community and those who were not, this problem will be limited and controlled. For those people for whom this is not an option or who because of their own background, history and just plain where they are coming from cannot or will not give their kids this kind of education and environment, they will always be vulnerable to the insidious predations of OO and YCT and their ilk. We must redouble and intensify our support of our proper Beis Yaakov and Yeshivah education systems as well as our Kollels. They are our first, last and best lines of defense. We must work harder and sacrifice more than the other side. They are circling the drain and we must make sure they do not take us with them.

    Another observation I will make is that, I think, some of the problem comes from shuls with Orthodox rabbis, shuls that are labeled Orthodox and whose members follow all the rules when they are in shul, but whose membership is largely made up of people whose knowledge and observance is, to put it charitably, spotty at best. Too often, I have seen the rabbis in these shuls, who draw their salaries from the baal habatim, settle back in to a comfortable status quo arrangement, where they never assert their rabbinic authority or power “too far,” they never really stand up to the machers, they are afraid for their jobs to stand up and show them who really is the boss around here, and who don’t really challenge the people to try harder and go farther as Jews. These are the kinds of shuls where you find the OO and YCT recruits. In Charedi, black hat or yeshivish shuls, for all their problems, the one thing you almost never see is somebody getting in the rav’s face or the rav being afraid to tell it like it is.

  54. Seth Winberg says:

    As justification for lumping partnership minyanim together with YCT Rabbi Adlerstein replied to Rabbi Katz: “It is not about Partnership Minyanim per se, but the spate of innovations that have been introduced in recent times.” As a justification for the constant harangues against YCT — which like the RCA is not monolithic — this doesn’t hold up. Rav Schachter shlit”a was extremely careful in his letter on women & tefillin to single out RIETS musmakhim. Why can’t Rabbi Adlerstein strive for the same honesty and accuracy as Rav Schachter?

    Openness to some innovation comes from rabbis trained at RIETS, Yeshivas Brisk, Kol Torah, Mercaz HaRav—and a small number from YCT. Alumni of Gush and Hamivtar helped to establish Shira Hadasha. Some of these rabbis are members of the IRF. Some are members of the RCA. In most cases these rabbis are attempting to justify grassroots innovations to keep people within the Orthodox community or at least within halakhic bounds.

    There is intense debate in the rabbinate about many issues, and it doesn’t divide neatly by institutions.

    [YA – Rabbi Schachter mentioned that some of those involved were RIETS muchmachim. That does not mean that his criticism was reserved for them. Those who have followed his thinking understand whom else he was criticizing.

    Indeed, individuals from many institutions have strayed from the paths of those institutions. Those people should not fix the public image of those schools. But then there are institutions whose very philosophy and teachng of their faculty ensures the mass-production of outliers. Those institutions should be treated differently.

    Rabbi Winberg is correct in one, crucial point. Even those institutions produce a variety of people and ideas. Graduates of YCT who accept the same halachic and hashkafic principles as others in mainstream Orthodoxy should be recognized for it, and welcomed, not shunned.]

  55. Tal Benschar says:

    “I always wondered about this 10 + 10 shtick. At HaMakom in Toronto (run by a YCT grad) they do the same thing. So, let’s say that a PM would have 10 men and 5 women. And let’s say that shkiah/sof zman tefillah is in 10 minutes, for example. Would they stick to this rule and miss these halachic cutoff times and only start davening when another 5 women show up? This makes a complete joke of the din of tefilloh b’tzibbur and could have serious halachic implications.”

    Rafael, you are of course correct that in that situation, this minhag is anti-halacha.

    But to me there is a more fundamental problem. A minyan of ten men is learned out from a double gezeirah shaveh by the gemara in Sanhedrin and Megillah. Acc. to the Vilna Gaon and others, this is a din deoraysa when it comes to the mitzvah of kiddush Hahsem — be pharhesya is defined as in front of ten Jewish men. The rabbanan borrowed that for tefillah be tsibbur and davar she be kedushah, since kol de tikkun rabbanan ke’ein deorsaysa tikkun. R. Soloveichik explained that ten men make an “eidah” and that such an eidah represents the Jewish people as a whole.

    So the Torah and Chazal defined a “tsibbur” as ten Jewish men, period. Not nine men, not minors and not women. To me, it seems clear from this law that the Torah intends a different public role for men than for women.

    The organizers of PMs clearly think this is wrong, if not anti-women, but rather than simply disregard the Torah and count women (as do Conservatives), they came up with what they think is a clever workaround, but in reality they are simply rejecting the authority of the Torah to define Jewish communal life. Apart from the halakhic problem you have identified, at bottom there is a fundamental split in loyalty to halacha and to Western egalitarianism, aka feminism. The phrase for that, as we read in this mornings haftorah, is posieach al shtei ha seipim.

  56. Steve Brizel says:

    R Seth Winberg wrote in part:

    “Alumni of Gush and Hamivtar helped to establish Shira Hadasha. Some of these rabbis are members of the IRF. Some are members of the RCA. In most cases these rabbis are attempting to justify grassroots innovations to keep people within the Orthodox community or at least within halakhic bounds

    There is intense debate in the rabbinate about many issues, and it doesn’t divide neatly by institutions

    Yet, the question remains-did the alumni of “Gush and Hamivtar” who “helped to establish Shira Hadasha” seek Halachich guidance from any recognized Posek ? Since when does “intense debate in the rabbinate about many issues” justify the halachically unjustifiable?

  57. DF says:

    RYA: “Graduates of YCT who accept the same halachic and hashkafic principles as others in mainstream Orthodoxy should be recognized for it, and welcomed, not shunned.”

    Why is that? If the institution is flawed (Not to say “treif”) then any graduate from it is flawed, no matter what he says, unless and until he affirmatively repudiates the institution. Absent such a repudiation, one must presume that the individual who chose to attend a flawed institution still believes in their ideology, and any words to the contrary are simply for one’s own purposes. So while it’s nice of you to look for points of common ground, this, I think, is too much of an accommodation. To use an imprecise analogy, but the point is the same – A sefer Torah written by a heretic is not to be used, even the names of God in it.

    [YA To use your same analogy, not every sefer Torah that was once housed at YCT was written entirely by a faulty sofer. There are YCT grads (particularly in the early years) who learned in mainstream yeshivos. There are others who became uneasy with how far into the abyss YCT had plunged, and began rethinking their chinuch. Did you ever meet graduates of JTS who later did an about-face and became yerei’im u-sheleimim? I have. We should be thrilled if some from the YCT camp step forward and are willing to accept the difference between the legitimate and the ersatz.]

  58. DF says:

    The YCT grads who rethink their education, and the JTS grads who’ve gone in a different direction, are also happy to repudiate their former institution’s philosophy. So we agree.

  59. Steve Brizel says:

    As per the annexed link, the Commentator needed a Maharat faculty member and contributor to Zev Farber’s blog who happens to also teach “Judaic Studies” ( Bible) at YU to “respond” to RHS in terms that showed a distinct lack of respect for RHS as a Gadol BaTorah, as well as a complete lack of appreciation of the importance of Mesorah in Halacha and Mesorah. This article is why Elliot Resnick wrote an article in the JP suggesting that the Bible requirement at YU should be reevaluated in its present posture.

  60. Steve Brizel says:

    A student body where anti Israel speakers are sought http://www.jta.org/2014/02/25/news-opinion/united-states/hosting-israel-critics-jewish-institutions-damned-if-they-do-damned-if-they-dont, and where women are permitted to put on Tefilin needs open and honest discussion on the purpose of a Torah education as well as a shiur/sicha on why men are obligated and women are exempt on a Torah basis from putting on Tefilin

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