Ordination of Insubordination

“We’re going to blink and there’ll be 100 Orthodox women rabbis in America that have been given ordination”. –R. Adam Mintz, professor of Talmud, Yeshivat Maharat

Within the week, three Orthodox-identified rabbinical ordination programs for women granted semicha (ordination) to their graduating classes. (Please see here and here.) While the mainstream organs of Orthodoxy do not recognize or approve of the ordination of women (here are RCA statements about the matter), the reasons for not accepting the legitimacy of semicha for women remain a mystery to some.

Various articles have been published about the topic (please see here for R. Hershel Schachter’s article); I would like to take one approach and provide some elaboration.

Halachic analysis of contemporary rabbinical ordination of women was first put forth by R. Saul Lieberman (please see here for R. Gil Student’s important presentation thereof), who in 1979 expressed his opposition to such on the part of Jewish Theological Seminary.

Although R. Lieberman’s tenure at JTS was the subject of controversy and was certainly not viewed favorably by Orthodox leadership, R. Lieberman was Orthodox and was very well-versed in our topic; his ruling on it is thus quite pivotal and precedential. R. Lieberman’s position was discussed in my initial article on rabbinical ordination for women, but that article focused more on the definition of Mesorah (Torah tradition). Let us turn here to the actual issue of semicha for women.

R. Lieberman demonstrates that even though modern-day semicha is not the original semicha that was conferred by Moshe upon Yehoshua and that continued to be conferred upon subsequent scholars until one-and-a-half a millennia ago, modern-day semicha is most certainly a carryover and model of the original semicha. The original semicha empowered one to serve as dayan, rabbinic judge, and that is exactly what contemporary semicha represents, as evidenced in the earliest of rabbinic literature that discusses the purpose and function of contemporary semicha. Since women cannot serve as rabbinic judges (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 7:4, with the exception of cases of binding arbitration, in which the status of dayan is forgone [Sanhedrin 24, Rambam Hil. Sanhederin 7:2] – and modern-day semicha is decidedly not modeled on this), the rabbinical ordination of women is not valid and is distortive of the very essence of semicha. To grant semicha to women makes no sense, and to do so would “make ourselves objects of derision and jest”, proclaimed R. Lieberman.

The end of the matter is that it is clear from the sources that being called by the title “rav” (“Rabbi he shall be called”) reflects on the fitness to issue legal decisions and to judge, and we should not empty the title “rav” of its meaning from the way it has been understood by the Jewish people throughout the generations. Since a woman is not fit to judge, and she cannot become qualified for this…

Those who promote the ordination of women as rabbis either erroneously assert that modern-day semicha is a novel contrivance that has no controlling precedent, or they turn to the example of Devorah the Prophetess, who judged the Jewish People. (Shoftim 4:4)  However, Devorah did not have semicha and did not sit on the Sanhedrin. Rishonim (medieval halachic authorities) explain that she either was a leader and teacher, that she practiced binding arbitration, that she provided instruction for dayanim, or the like. To use Devorah – someone who did not have semicha and did not qualify for it – as the precedent for women rabbis is quite a stretch.

Unfortunately, many of those involved with the ordination of women lack fealty to the fundamentals of Torah. For example, one of the women just ordained with “Maharat” semicha rejects halachic marriage, and she has created her own alternatives to Kiddushin and Nisu’in, halachic marriage, as presented in her book Tradition and Equality in Jewish Marriage: Beyond the Sanctification of Subordination.

One of the rabbis who ordained two women last week at an Orthodox-identified coed semicha program has written that one need not believe that the Torah reflects accurate facts and that it was dictated to Moshe via oral prophecy. This rabbi, who prominently touts his Orthodox credentials, has written that God did not necessarily speak to Moshe in a literal sense, but that the entirety of Torah was a non-historical development in which God communicated by placing His existence and truth in man’s heart:

The significance of the biblical narrative according to this tradition rests not in its historical accuracy but in the underlying spiritual content.

The purpose of the Torah, according to the “sod” tradition is not to convey historical truths but rather to gesture toward a deeper and more profound spiritual reality. It is possible, then, to accept that the Torah in its current form is the product of historical circumstance and a prolonged editorial process while simultaneously stubbornly asserting the religious belief that it none the less enshrouds Divine revelation.

God stirs our hearts and He stirs in our hearts; that is the revelation. The rest is interpretation.

This rabbi’s theology is extremely close, if not identical, to the Conservative movement’s notion of a divinely-inspired Torah – which is hence not literal, not fully binding, and is subject to evolving revelation/modification, for it was not actually commanded to Moshe at Sinai.

Inclusion and acceptance of rabbis who proffer heretical views has sadly become de rigueur in the “Open Orthodox” rabbinate, whether dealing with the ordination of women or anything else. One musmach of Open Orthodoxy, whose apostasy is well-known (please see here for older material, and here, here, here, etc. for more recent assertions of this rabbi that the Torah was written by men), was recently honored by International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), the Open Orthodox rabbinic organization (whose vice president is a female rabbi), to serve as editor of a new book about the halachic significance of brain death. Apparently, IRF is not bothered by the fact that the editor of its new halachic publication denies the Torah’s singular divine authorship.

The chair of the department of Talmud at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) recently reposted his approach to Torah She-b’al Peh, the Oral Law:

Chazal were the R. Riskin’s of their time. They too were committed to creating a yiddishkeit which is in constant dialogue with their ethical sensibilities. They read Torah with a critical lens and whenever they encountered a perceived injustice they did whatever they could (within legitimate boundaries) to undo the challenging misread.

This week’s parsha is a perfect example.

Simply read, the biblical sotah procedure seems capricious and patriarchal. The rabbis, incorporating Divinely ordained hermeneutics, drastically revised the procedure. The result: a process that is sensitive and somewhat egalitarian.

They were the progressives of their time, and, relative to their milieu, quite radical. They too were vilified, but in the end they prevailed. Ultimately their enterprise received the divine imprimatur.

It is because of their courage that Rabbinic Judaism is still around today. Their interpretations allowed Judaism to survive, thrive and ultimately triumph.

This rabbi describes Chazal, the Sages of the Talmud, as revising Torah law to meet their own sense of ethics, and that the hermeneutic tools for this are divinely-sourced, granting Chazal poetic license, as it were, to reform Biblical Law that they find objectionable. This radical approach to halachic authorship is clearly contradicted by the Rambam in his Introduction to Mishneh Torah and his Introduction to Perek Chelek, Yes, Chazal have at their disposal certain legislative tools, but reforming the interpretation of Biblical Law to conform to human ethics is not in the arsenal and violates the divine character of Torah Law. Please read the referenced words of the Rambam and see for yourself.

Although it does not pose the stark theological objections discussed heretofore, a YCT rabbinical student and his bride recently created a novel wedding ceremony, whose link was proudly posted in various fora by YCT rabbinic leadership:

We made a list of particular needs that we had, and researched potential solutions. We wanted the women to feel involved during the tisch, we wanted the bedeken to be a moment where we each covered the other, and we wanted female participation under the chuppah.

As I was marched in, on my brothers’ shoulders, for the bedeken I covered Marti’s face, and she too covered me. She replaced my regular kippah, with a new kippah that she made for me. As I kneeled in front of her, it was one of the holiest moments of my life.

Our good friend, Rabbi Rachel Silverman, recited it (an eighth beracha, for the Sheva Berachos) for us under the chuppah.

It is regrettable that Open Orthodoxy is becoming the new Conservative movement, but that is precisely what is happening. Denial of a Singular Divine Author of the Torah, denial of the objective truth of Torah She-b’al Peh, ordaining women rabbis, creating gender-modified rituals, and so much more; the “Orthodoxy” has been swallowed up by the “Open”.

The Torah requires the Jew to subordinate his ideologies and actions to God, to the objectively true and authentic mandate of Sinai. Reshaping Judaism as we see fit has no place in this mandate. Let us recommit to Hashem and the eternal, unchanging charge of Sinai, and pray that all of our brothers and sisters will join us.

You may also like...

105 Responses

  1. Shades of Gray says:

    Below is an excerpt from an interview last week with Dr. Marc Shapiro on Dr. Alan Brill’s blog. I agree that “predictions are always dangerous”. However, there were articles that spoke about a leftward trend years ago(eg, in the June, 1970, Jewish Observer, “Modern Orthodoxy: An Analysis and a Response,” by R. Chaim Dov Keller, and 1998 Jewish Observer, “Feminism – A Force That Will Split Orthodoxy?” by Levi Reisman).

    “How do you envision the Orthodox community will change in the next decade?”

    “Predictions are always dangerous, which is one reason why I prefer to stick to studying the past. When it comes to Orthodoxy, changes are happening very quickly. I think it is obvious that we have now reached a point where women rabbis are a fait accompli. In the coming years synagogues and Hillels are going to have Orthodox women on the payroll serving as rabbis, even if not all of them go by that title. There already are OU synagogues with such women. It seems to me that it would be too difficult for the OU to take a stand on this and push out these synagogues. This means that, whether people like it or not, women rabbis are now an accepted feature of Orthodoxy. Just like some Orthodox synagogues will have women presidents while most others won’t, so too some Orthodox synagogues will have women rabbis even if the great majority will not. This is a development that no one could have predicted even fifteen years ago.”

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    Once again, R Gordimer has underscored the fact that apikorsus and kefirah are all too alive and well in the OO world. Playing with Minhagim and denying Torah Min HaShmayim unfortunately part of that POV-which can only leave any reasonable person with no answer to the ultimate question-“why be Jewish? why be a Shomer Torah Umitzvos?”

  3. Reb Yid says:

    Rahel Berkovits’s esteemed grandfather must be smiling up in heaven. His classic NOT IN HEAVEN was an inspiration to me when it was first published.

  4. Lacosta says:

    Will history record r avi Weiss as the latest yeravam Ben navat, who opened the floodgate to the first Churban? One imagines that back then also the establishment leaders were reluctant to criticize…

  5. dr. bill says:

    I am fascinated by your continued attention to the expanding role of women in torah studies, particularly halakha, and practical psak. Three points occurred to me as I read your latest posting.

    First, the late Prof. Saul Lieberman had a very limited number of close students who studied with him over a significant number of years. Of those, two are still with us. Either could give you his perspective on the events at JTS 35 years ago, and how Prof. Lieberman might deal with the current circumstance. Among the few students he had towards the end of his life, I know of only two first tier talmidei chachamim, who might also be willing to share their perspective. Quoting him vis-à-vis a current issue before asking any of them, is ill-advised.

    Second, issues of this sort rarely proceed in an orderly fashion. As the late Prof. Katz demonstrated, things occur and rabbis eventually guide them in a halakhically acceptable way. That process is only beginning; it might normally be expected to take decades. I was surprised to hear that Rav Ariel has already suggested how the process may be changed/implemented. Who knows, this process may proceed even more rapidly.

    Third, your long quote from Rabbi Katz requires more than blog and facebook posts. I for one do not read it as a regurgitation of classical JTS historical evolution of halakha (ala Ginsburg and Finklestein.) The approach has gone well beyond that in what even you would see as a more traditional (albeit to you probably still a very objectionable) direction. However, as long as you view all approaches that do not comport with a form of literalism to which you subscribe as kefirah, I suggest you leave these areas to others. I do not understand how revelation occurs, but God speaking in precise words dictated and transcribed strikes me as blatant kefirah, at least as Rambam formulated his notions. And I do not believe we understand how various rabbis of the Talmud (and later periods) approached various issues. One view that is currently debated actively (among academics) concerns situations when conflicting ethical principles within our tradition, point in opposing direction. All too often, one man’s Torah/ethical principle is another’s example of (bending to) the zeitgeist.

  6. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    “As I was marched in, on my brothers’ shoulders, for the bedeken I covered Marti’s face, and she too covered me. She replaced my regular kippah, with a new kippah that she made for me.”

    Thanks for a good laugh! Made my day….

  7. Yehoshua D says:

    R’ Gordimer: You fail to note that many many men who receive semicha today are also in no way learned enough to serve as judges on a Choshen Mishpat beis din. Many are given “semicha” beofre going out to do kiruv, or to act as a Rav in small-town communities, after learning some Yoreh De’a and hilchos Shabbos. If one is going to be silent in the face of that ‘corruption” (or: redefinition) of semicha, one needs to consider why women should not be able to obtain that type of credential.

  8. Dan M says:

    Although I may not agree with my friend and colleague’s choice of words in describing what was done at his wedding, the practice to recite the piyut כהיום הזה has become somewhat common at huppot in Israel. It is not an 8th beracha at all, and is a quote from the Seder Rav Amram.
    כהיום הזה בירושלים ירבו
    שמחות בישראל, וינוסו אנחות מישראל, ירבו בשורות טובות בישראל, ירבו
    ישועות בישראל, ירבו נחמות בישראל, תרבה אהבה בישראל, תרבה ברכה
    בישראל, תרבה גילה בישראל, תרבה דיצה בישראל, תרבה הוד בישראל, ירבה
    ועד בישראל, ירבה זכות בישראל, ירבה חתן בישראל, ירבה ימים טובים בישראל,
    אליהו הנביא במהרה יבא אלינו המלך המשיח יצמח בימינו, יצליחו חתן וכלה
    ישמחו שניהם זה עם זה, ויעלצו שניהם זה עם זה, ויעמידו בנים, ויאריכו שנים
    בשבט יהודה בנים מצליחים ובלבם ברוכים, ישמח חתן בכלה, וכלה תשמח בחתן
    בבנים ובנות — בעושר ובנכסים — בבנים עוסקים בתורה, ומקיימי מצות

  9. joel rich says:

    R’ Lacosta,
    Or will he be viewed as the Besht starting chassidut which eventually became accepted as part of orthodoxy? I don’t know, the wheel is still in spin. I would point out that there are a bunch of people in what is sociologically “modern orthodox” who find these arrangements comporting with what they would like their lifestyles to be (much as early chassidut and conservative jewry found a willing audience). It’s a complex dance, we will see.

  10. Rafael Araujo says:

    Yehoshua D – his point is that a Rav, when giving a psak, acts as a dayan in doing so. You know, like discussed in the first perek of the Gemara Sanhedrin? Women cannot become semiched because they cannot be dayanim. That doesn’t mean that a person who receives smicha to act as a Rav in some out of town community that is limited has to have become a mumcheh or go receive dayanus training/smicha to pasken.

    R’ Gordimer – Yiyasher Kochachem for exposing OO once again! Also, I agree with you about OO – I believe that this was the Conversative movement was meant to be and they are fulfilling it. Conservadox really is the appropriate term for this movement.

  11. Rafael Araujo says:

    Joel – I don’t see the comparison. Even if you accept some historian’s claims that the early Chassidim were wild “reformers”, they quickly fell back “in line”. Looking at OO’s trajectory today, I just don’t see that happening. Maybe as Conservative dies, it formally joins Reform and OO takes Conservative Judaism’s place.

  12. lacosta says:

    r’ joel

    the critical component is probably not how the people are behaving , since that is their choice which commandments they keep or discard. in the end, it is how the halachic center assesses their leadership. ie until now all streams of what we have called O have rejected the authority of non-O streams and their clergy. in the next step beyond, much of haredi O’s leadership rejects the authority of non-haredi-O and its leadership [eg giyur nullification]. now the question which the OU /RCA /and non-haredi elements of YI will have to answer , but are refusing to [ maybe hoping that facts on the ground will create a ‘puk chazi’ fait accompli , and allow them to never have to decide] , is how to deal with these OO-YCT-Maharat-etc innovations.

    In Ami Magazine , Editor Frankfurter has already begun calling them Neo-Conservative. maybe that type of pre-emptive strike is wise. either to limit their left-freefall, or to pre-label what they will surely become—an apt replacement for the old Conservopraxic jews…..

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    Dan M-Ask yourself whether the SA, as opposed to only Seder R Amram, which is an important source for what constitutes the Siddur, allows any Ashkenazic raised or oriented Jew to include any Piyut , even as beautiful as the the one you cited , to be recited under the Chupah in addition to the Sheva Barchos which represent the approval of Klal Yisrael as a community to the act of Kiddushin, have a far greater antiquity than a beautiful Piyut authored by one of the Gaonim.

  14. Noam Stadlan says:

    sigh. This again. Converts cannot be days in and they get smicha at YU. Despite R. Schachter’s admirable gymnastics to overcome the issue, that is the fatal flaw in your argument. And using R. Lieberman out of context is an insult to his memory. First of all it was an entirely different era and secondly it was a polemic against the committee that had ruled that women could be witnesses. In fact, if you compare R. Joel Roth’s teshuva written for the Conservative movement with the Orthodox justifications for women’s semicha you will see the obvious differences. For one, Orthodox work within the prohibition of women being witnesses in the formal sense. R Roth just does away with it. Reposting R. Schschter’s arguments make them neither more compelling nor more historically accurate.

  15. Daniel Geretz says:

    “It is regrettable that Open Orthodoxy is becoming the new Conservative movement, but that is precisely what is happening.”

    Or, perhaps, R’ Avrohom Gordimer’s particular brand of Orthodoxy is becoming a new movement, somewhat akin to the Sadducee or Karaite movements. Or perhaps neither Open Orthodoxy nor Gordimer’s Orthodoxy represent “true” Orthodoxy, and Chabad with their messianist overtones are really the ones who are on the right track.

    I don’t know, and the point is, neither does Gordimer. While it is true that hindsight is often 20-20, I have yet to see that Gordimer’s predicitions, or anyone else’s for that matter, are. If it were the case, then clearly last generation’s leaders would have known that the Conservative movement would for all intents and purposes implode, and would not have spent tremendous energy vilifying that movement’s leaders, to the tremendous detriment of all involved and especially those that the polemics drove further away from Judaism.

    An individual on another blog has aptly noted that “when spiritual leadership expends so much energy insisting on its own centrality, it betrays that what matters most is that it remain as leadership, rather than a concern for the greater good and purpose.” [http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/author/markkirschbaum/page/5/]

  16. ruvie says:

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” Yasher Koach in trying to rebrand orthodox Rabbis as neo/new conservatives. If Rabbis granting certification/female ordination/whatever to women as the “new/neo conservative” (obviously not orthodox) then you need to include R. Riskin, Stav, Gigi (Har Etzion), Heftr and others (R. Ariel Lau…?). It will be interesting to see who gets rebranded and whom the Hamon Am follow. The schism in orthodoxy has been a decade in the making and its only accelerating at this point.

  17. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    To Ruvie, Daniel Geretz, Noam Stadlan, et. al.: The “schism in Orthodoxy” is hardly the first of its kind. 90 years ago, what became Conservative Judaism was calling itself “Orthodox.” Now is a good time to revisit the attempts to merge RIETS and JTS in the 1920s. Rabbi Aharon Rakefet’s biography of Rav Dov Revel has a very good chapter on the matter. Rav Revel’s essay “Seminary and Yeshiva” has never been published; maybe now is the time. You can find a long letter from Louis Marshall to Julius Rosenwald in the printed collection of Louis Marshall’s letters (out of print but available in the NY Public Library where I first read it) touching on the subject. Another valuable chapter in the history of the schism between Orthodox and Conservative Judaism is the chapter on the proposed joint beth din in Louis Bernstein’s “Challenge and Mission.” At the end of the day, what decimated Conservative Judaism as a movement was not the bankruptcy of its ideology, but the failure to produce an observant community. Almost the entire observant core of Conservative Judaism defected to organizational Orthodoxy. And now the schism is developing there.

  18. Reb Yid says:

    Schisms have abounded throughout the 20th century on this issue. Beginning in the late 1970s through the mid-1990s you had the UTCJ/UTJ/FTOR folks (the latter group somewhat more liberal), some of whom used similar language and complaints about changing roles of women along the lines of Rabbi Gordimer.

    Among the many reasons that these folks remained quite small is that the discussions were overly legalistic and were primarily conducted among rabbis. They did not sufficiently address the needs of amcha–the people. No lay-led organization really emerged among those resisting the changes.

    The “OO” community has several advantages today. First, there is a very active, well educated (general and Jewish) observant laity. It also has a rabbinic and institutional infrastructure which is not simply a cloistered entity but relates quite well to, and with, this community.

    There is also an even greater gap between “normative” (whatever that means) Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism today compared to several decades ago–the move to the right of Orthodoxy is especially pronounced. It makes the need for such a corrective even more necessary, which OO does quite effectively.

  19. Raymond says:

    This discussion reminds me of the what is going on in the secular world regarding marriage. For basically all of human history, marriage has consisted of one man marrying one woman. Even when polygamy or even polyandry has been allowed, still, the actual marriages still involved one man marrying one woman. Now suddenly in this country, one is branded as some kind of bigot for advocating this as the only legitimate form of marriage. Our moral values are being turned upside down.

    I see a parallel with the above discussion about the Rabbinical ordination of women in this way: for many thousands of years, Judaism has existed really in one particular way, as passed down from G-d to Moshe to succeeding generations, right up to the present day. One can even trace that tradition all the way back to Adam and Chava themselves. Then comes along some Orthodox Jews who are perhaps bored with their religious lives, feeling the need to make modern-day feminism an integral part of normative, Orthodox Judaism. I see no point in it, I see it as playing with fire. There is simply no good reason to fix what is not broken. Men are not superior to women and women are not superior to men. They simply play different roles in Judaism because men and women are fundamentally different in their natures.

    Or perhaps I should express this in a somewhat different way. I myself am not the most religious Jew that one can find, but when I do go to shul, it is usually to a Chareidi shul. And why is that? Because I know that how they conduct things in that shul, is according to strict Halacha. No experimentation is done there by any stretch of the imagination. I like that, because I know that I am getting the real thing. I would not feel that way at all if I went to any Open Orthodox shul. Part of me is even starting to wonder about the legitimacy of Modern Orthodoxy.

  20. L. Oberstein says:

    Once again, Rabbi Gordimer has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is fixated on “Open orthodoxy” and is determined to prove that they are really Conservative. i won’t quibble with you because it all depends on your choice of definitions. I agree with the comment above that a lot of effort was spent in the past on condemning the Conservative Movement to prove that they were not orthodox. I confess that I have set foot in non orthodox temples and in Chizuk Amuna, a very large synagogue in Baltimore they have a full page ad from the Vaad Harabbanim condemning the decision of Chizuk Amuna to officially join the Conservaive Movement. They are proud of it.Just as Baltimore Hebrew has a picture of their first rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Rice, who was strictly orthodox and had a lot of heartache from the baalebatim. They consider part of their history.
    My point is that you are wasting your time and effort exposing something that is already exposed .Those who agree with you including most orthodox Jews aren’t hiring Maharats. The Open Orthodox will succeed or fail on their own in due time. Every one of their rabbis that I have personally met is a real mench. They have good middos and truly care about social justice. You will never hear an Open Orthodox rabbi describe non whites with a pejorative and show overt racism.They care about all Jews, the poor, the elderly,etc. They forge relationships with non Jews on common issues. In other words, nobody in their movement is going to call out the rabbi as you do because he or she is a role model of menchlichkeit and middos tovos. I agree that some are excellent at publicity stunts, so what.That ishow they pull in people who never ever would consider your kind of Judaism.Perhaps
    all you are accomplishing in this ongoing stream of condemnation is satisfying your own need to show how right you are and how wrong they are. You win. Now what.

  21. Shades of Gray says:

    “The “OO” community has several advantages today.”

    Fragmentation and problems in the rest of Orthodoxy also gives Open Orthodoxy an advantage. I remember someone in the Maharat camp responding to criticism a few years ago with “there are many problems in the Orthodox world”. I don’t think this makes criticism completely ineffective, though.

  22. Josh says:

    I must have missed R. Gordimer’s rant about YU giving semikha to geirim. Because each of his technical halakhic arguments applies to that kind of ordination too.
    And . . . really? Does R. Gordimer think he can get away with cherry picking rulings from R. Prof. Saul Lieberman? I don’t hear him championing the “Lieberman Clause,” which was one of the first societal attempts to address the aguna crisis.

  23. yehudi says:

    The open orthodoxy movement is an oxymoron. Open orthodoxy cannot be ‘orthodox’. This is part of the new agenda to water down, at any cost. Judaism. As Lacosta above wrote ‘this seems to be no different than what yerevan ben n’vat did’ and all it did was break up the Kingdom. These are ‘chotim u’machtim’ – nothing less! They will wind up in the trashbin of history together with the Reform, Conservative, etc.

  24. Ben P. says:

    Everything Rabbi Gordimer writes I agree with. OO has clearly crossed lines and the warning needs to be sounded. Here is my problem. Over the last several years, Rabbi Gordimer has sounded the alarm about OO and the danger they pose. Rabbi Gordimer is on the executive committee of the largest Modern Orthodox Rabbinical group in the USA, the RCA. While the RCA has put out a couple of statements disagreeing with positions taken by YCT/OO and disagreeing with certain actions, the RCA has not done the single most important thing it could do to combat the OO scrouge. It has not come out and said straight out that OO is not orthodox but something else. The RCA needs to send a stronger message about OO such as kick out members from its ranks of those who practice OO, and essentially tell shuls that are looking or have hired YCT/OO people that they have not hired orthodox jewish Rabbis.

    In sum, Rabbi Gordimer, please to solve this problem, we need to your house to help fix it.

  25. Jeff says:

    Moshe Rabbenu did not come down from Har Sinai holding the Shulchan Aruch. The verse referred to in Choshen Mishpat is most certainly not Halacha L’Moshe MeSinai. It is , instead, a period piece dependent on social circumstances existing at the time of the Shulchan Aruch and maybe a random line in the gemara upon which it relies. However, the Shulchan Aruch’s psak cannot be reconciled with Devorah who acted as a Judge. I recognize that the position I am stating with respect to the Shulchan Aruch may upset some but it is the precise position taken hundreds of years ago by the Maharal and other prominent Rabbinic luminaries.

  26. Menachem Lipkin says:

    The only important words here were not R. Gordimer’s… “We’re going to blink and there’ll be 100 Orthodox women rabbis in America that have been given ordination”.

    This is happening. I’m thrilled that I’m around to experience it. All these overzealous protestations of so-called Modern Orthodox leaders are succeeding to do is to prove further to everyone that, indeed as each day passes rather than Open Orthodoxy becoming Conservative, the RCA is becoming the Rabbinical Council of the Agudah. That’s the real change that’s going on here and that’s what we should be lamenting.

  27. Shmuel W says:

    @ L. Oberstein – Being that we know each other well, I hope you dont take offense at what I am about to say but rather take it as talmid (remember public speaking classes) disagreeing with you. It seems you agree mostly on substance but argue that OO/NC isnt worth the effort fighting. I respectfully but strongly disagree. Judaism has a belief system that comes with it theological demands with what we can and cannot believe and also what must do and must not do. There is both deed and creed demanded of us. Throughout our history there have been movements that have attempted to alter that, water it down and “enlighten” us and each time there have ppl from R’ Shmuel Hanagid to the Vilna Gaon to R’ Shamshon Raphael Hirsch (to Mori ‘V’Rebbi Rabbi Rakeffet 🙂 who defended our ikrei ha’emunah against those who represent a form of intellectual assimilation of the Jewish people which has and will lead to broader assimilation. To paraphrase Edmund Burke “all that heresy needs to prevail is for authentically frum (and intellectually honest) people to do nothing”. The Rosh Hayeshiva of our yeshiva, R’ Ahron Feldman has decried OO/NC on many occasions b/c they do threaten the intellectual/traditional underpinnings of our belief system as they themselves admit. Just read what they write.

    You say that the are “menschen” and believe in “social Justice”. First of all I dont know what the term social justice even means. If anything it is a very effete term that demonstrates from where their value system is derived which they then attempt to justify with selective and distorted usage of Talmudic and halachic discussions. Second I live in Riverdale and they do present themselves as uber friendly I get invited to HIR all the time. But when I reciprocate with an invitation to come to the Young Israel (not exactly yeshivish) they never take me up on it. Its a one way friendliness that also doesnt negate the fact that Judaism isnt just about being nice (though that is a key part). At the risk of sounding unoriginal, would you argue that a female reform “rabbi” who does excellent social work/ pastoral care and teaches kids how to read hebrew and have a love for Israel, is now a halachic/hashkafic authority that demands our respect as an authoritative spiritual leader? I certainly hope not. She is doing great things and hashem will give her s’char for her work but that doesnt negate the fact the institutional hashkafos of her sanctuary and movement are beyond the pale.

    So to you “now what” comment. I am optimistic that the demarcates what is acceptable diversity within Torah and what is beyond the line will be maintained and that many more people will be able to experience the beauty of Torah true Judaism that exists, ranging from mainstream modern Orthodoxy all the way to Bnei Brak and act in the way the Torah expects of you in all areas of one’s life including limmud hatorah, tefilla and bein adam l’chaveiro.

    Hope to see you soon so we can pick up this discussion further.

  28. Shmuel W says:

    @ Menachem Lipkin – You are funny. While you may be right that such is happening in “Open Orthodoxy” it thankfully isnt happening in actual Orthodoxy. Based on your comment I can see why you try not to actually respond to R’ Gordimer but rather attempt to just dismiss him. Regarding RCA becoming the Agudah (as I said you are quite funny) it is “olam hafuch ra’isi” the RCA maintains the position it has held consistently and somehow you accuse them of changing. Although if you were actually correct that would be a wonderful thing, the RCA/OU and the Agudah should work together on issues and unite when possible the parts of klal yisroel who who actually believe in Torah M’Sinai and mesorah. When the intellectually assimilated OO/NC movement tries to change Judaism for the worse, the OU and Agudah should unite in response and fight for the wonderful and meaningful Judaism that we live with.

  29. dov says:

    Menachem this article shows many parallels between statements being made and major lack in Jewish fundamentals (Oral torah, Jewish marriage, etc.) . Why not argue on facts. Instead what we get is reactionary and trite . Using Agudah as this dirty word. Using it the same way people call someone sexist, racist, or a religious nut when they do not agree with one’s argument. That type of rhetoric works on the Huffington post, but here just makes you seem silly.

  30. Rafael Araujo says:

    No Menachem, it is you whom has continued to move to the left. That does not make the RCA the Agudah, when opposition to women’s ordination is normative and women’s ordination is radical. It is you and those whom you support who have moved the goalposts.

    Jeff – absolute nonsense. Have you reviewed what the Rishonim and Meforshim have written about Devorah? To use her as the precedent is, to be frank, ludicrous. By the way, the fact that Devorah is a “Shofet” has nothing to do with dayanus and paskening of halochoh. You seem to conflate the two terms.

  31. Shades of Gray says:

    Interestingly, there was a post on Cross Currents titled “The Day the RCA Became Agudah” in April, 2010, that spoke about women rabbis and the RCA convention.

    A former RCA member who left the rabbinate years ago recently suggested to me that the Agudah and the RCA should put aside their differences for this matter.

  32. ruvie says:

    Rafael – I don’t think it is a matter of moving left or right but to change. Look at this as from another direction. some might argue that this is no different (with original rabbinic opposition) to: Rabbis refusing to do marriages without a ketubah protecting women, allowing women to leave the house more than 2x a month, women in the workplace with men, women members of shuls, women on boards/trustees of shuls, women presidents of shuls, women voting, women learning torah shel p’al peh, advance gemera for women, yoatzot, to’anot…. should we add zionism or the rabbinic majority in favor of Shabbtai Zvi?

    Of course it depends on the details and the halakhic issues therein. On women ordination there seems to be a sea change in Israel in the DL/MO communities. Its no longer R. Weiss (who is a wonderful ohav yisroel) who doesn’t have the heft or the following in the MO community for Halakha (not meant as any disrespect but the reality from where I stand and observe). It is actually the students of RAL plus others of great halakhic depth and learning in Israel. Btw, RAL privately was not oppose and for that reason offer the mesorah answer to the RCA (didn’t want this to create a schism in orthodoxy).

  33. DF says:

    The entire discussion, of course, is merely a matter of semantics and nomenclature. Already 20 years ago we had an open homosexual calling himself an orthodox rabbi. So those giving women semicha can call themselves orthodox, or they can call themselves duck soup – it makes no difference, whatsoever. הגע עצמך. If the Catholics, whose tradition is not as long as ours, and whose traditions are not as rigid as ours, draw the line at ordaining women, will orthodoxy do any less? Of course not. This movement – if you can even call it that – will just slowly drift apart from Judaism, as did the Conservatives of 50 years ago, and the Neolouge of 100 years ago. The עם קשה עורף has not lasted 4,000 years only to see its traditions diluted by the current and passing fads of liberalism. Please, the very notion is risible, to anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jewish history.

  34. Dave says:

    Shmuel W – since you mentioned Rav Rakefet, you should check out a video addition on Kosher Tube from his recent visit to Toronto. Among many topics raised were the controversies involving Rabbi Riskin and particularly, the creation of some sort of smicha for women under his hechsher. Although Rav Rakefet seemed uncomfortable in general with this idea, he did say that he could see this happening in many Orthodox shuls for various reasons, including that of women being sometimes uncomfortable sharing their shailos / troubles with male Rabbis. He could see women as being part of a clergy team. He likened it to the largely successful paradigm of the Chabad shluchim, who work as Rabbi and Rebbetzin as a team in their work in outreach in their communities ,etc.
    To this he was asked by an Orthodox Rabbi in attendance about the possible proliferation of scandal from the close working relationship between male and female clergy, who are in fact still human beings with all the frailty that goes along with that. And the difference to Chabad is stark, since there is no scandal possibility when the Rabbi and Rebbetzin are married. The Rabbi mentioned en passant some situations that have already raised concerns of scandal (I was thankfully unfamiliar with those).
    Rabbi Rakefet did not have a good answer for this concern and intimated it may need more thought.

    Rav Gordimer’s title indicates the lure of insubordination, a draw to the rebel in all of us to somehow go one better than the status quo. Our western society is rife with this line of thinking and the effects of the slow drain of morality down into the cesspool is more apparent daily on our streets, in our universities, in our court houses and in our governments. Each victory for the “progressive” “mature” “social justice” brings with it new problems and further watering down of everyone’s (even those opposed but bombarded by the rhetoric) morality. Those accusing Rav Gordimer of being some kind of Jeremiah re OO should remember that Yirmiyahu Hanavi was right.

    OO is not pulling all of Orthodoxy down. Ultimately they will only pull themselves away as conservative did (but with how many korbonos?). And ultimately they will begrudgingly admire the Orthodox for sticking to their guns and keeping Mesorah-based Torah Yiddishkeit strong and alive.

  35. L. Oberstein says:

    From a sociological vantage point, the question for YU and the RCA is whether Chovevei rabbis will beat them out for pulpits. The ideology of Open Orthodoxy is much more consistent with contemporary society,although it is a departure from traditional Jewish society. If there are shuls with women religious leaders,whatever one calls them, and the sky doesn’t fall and she is effective and popular and consistently observant, then the baalebatim will simply ignore what Rabbi Gordimer and the majority of RCA rabbis say about it. It will become the norm. If Open Orthodoxy becomes a separate movement depends on lots of factors . The schism I decry is the real change that is going on in norms of orthodoxy in our frum society. A few years ago, normal,middle of the road, frum Jews would never ever have put up with erasing females from all journals and publications. Today, our segment of the world has adopted norms that make women invisible and they are getting away with it and there is severe pressure on mosdos to comply. Why is Rabbi Gordimer and many of you so complacent about that? Why is segregation far beyond anything our teachers and mentors ever practiced now the norm. Why are we wimps who let the extreme become the norm. My concern is not that OO lets a woman teach Torah form the bima as much as normative orthodoxy in 2015 is building higher mechitzos that will blot out half of the Jewish People. Am I the only one who sees this as an avlah chamurah. I jut read that The rebbe of Slonim is against the ruling of the Moetzes Gedolei hatorah of Agudas Yisroel allowing higher education for females. he believes it will harm the fabric of his society and make women worse wives and mothers. That is not a radical view, for the 19th century. Next thing,the women will want to vote and then they will want to drive automobiles and before long, they will start schools for females like bais Yaakov.

  36. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    The “Rabbis” of the OO movement define themselves by whatever nonsensical left wing social drivel they Have determined they need to be activists about. Often pulling out the classic “Tikun Olam” line that the reform, reconstructionists and other made up Jewish movements do. The one thing no of them do, is precisely the foremost thing a rabbi should do and that is to guide their positions and direct their fealty to the Torah and its halachos. Not try to twist and warp the Torah through all sorts of terrible contortions to suit their inane cause of the week.

    That is why OO should drop the false advertising of the O from their titles. Optimally, their so called Rabbis would do teshuva (as difficult as it is for the massive chillul Hashem they are perpetrating) and guide their followers to do the same. Ultimately leaving an empty shell of a former movement to thankfully wither and die away.

  37. Shmuel W says:

    @ Dave – I think we are on the same page. Also that shul in Toronto was the BAYT where I grew up and yes I listened to those classes online. I admit to being more right wing then R’ Rakeffet but yes that is a yoetzet halachah who focuses on Taharas Hamishpacha issues, which is just a formalization of what historically has been what a rebbentzin has often done.

    @ R’ Oberstein – I dont think you responded to most of what I said but thats fine. Couple points on what you did write. 1) Regarding pictures of women I agree with you and you can ask anyone who knows me I have made the point on numerous occasions that the Jewish Observor had pictures of women until the mid 90’s. 2) But to compare pictures of women in a magazine to questioning whether is torah m’sinai and whether the torah is accurate as quoted above is a far graver issue and where i think any frum person should focus his energies. So my concern is actually the opposite of yours, “it is that OO/NC distorts gender roles in Judaism rather then higher mechitzos in shul in 2015”. I am thankfully not slonim but no need to make that some sort of bogeyman. There is a spectrum of acceptable diversity in Orthodoxy (yours and mine is thankfully different then Slonim & Belz) and OO/NC oversteps that line time and time again. 3) Thankfully on the pulpit side YU/RCA and many Ner Yisroel and Chofetz Chaim alums are winning. The last OO/NC “Chag Hasemicha” had two musmachim and one honorary musmach, Rabbi Willig commented that there regular semicha is honorary. The only pulpits they are getting are in places like Nashville TN and Portland Maine, that although sad, shows how they have been marginalized and in part b/c of R’ Gordimer’s excellent work in being the fidei defensor.

    One q R’ Oberstein do you think OO/NC theological stances are beyond the pale of acceptable Orthodox thought?

  38. Shades of Gray says:

    “A few years ago, normal,middle of the road, frum Jews would never ever have put up with erasing females from all journals and publications.”

    The way to change this is to provide competition to frum publications, such as the Jewish Press or Jewish Action, which do print pictures of women, in the same way Koren and OU Press does regarding Artscroll. This was similarly discussed in Cross Currents, “Artscroll Is Not To Blame” in March, 06, “Artscroll is not an academic institution. It is a for-profit business. It can hardly be blamed for doing what businesses do – keeping an eye on the bottom line.”

    The Agudah world of 2015 is different than the Agudah of 1950’s – 1970’s. Marvin Schick recently wrote about it regarding college(“Going to College: A Personal Reminiscence”, Jewish Press, March 11, 2015):

    “There are good reasons why the combination of significant Torah study and a college education has now vanished almost entirely, the primary one being the emphasis on total immersion in Torah study. But as welcome as this development is, it needs to be underscored that there is no reason to apologize for a pattern that existed in a previous generation and it is necessary to emphasize that the pattern yielded enormous benefits to our community.”

  39. tzippi says:

    Rabbi Oberstein said, “My point is that you are wasting your time and effort exposing something that is already exposed .Those who agree with you including most orthodox Jews aren’t hiring Maharats.”

    Could be, but they’re speaking and teaching in MO schools.
    And as for the OO rabbis you’ve met being menschen, that’s nice to hear but doesn’t negate the danger.

  40. Steve Brizel says:

    I would strongly suggest that anyone interested look at the “innovative marriage ceremony.” I think that the notion of either a chasan or kallah getting down on their knees under a chupah is particularlly repulsive-a Jew can only engage in such conduct before HaShem Yosborach.

  41. Reb Yid says:

    Rabbi Oberstein:

    As usual, you are a voice of sanity amidst the blog posts. A main reason is that you have feet firmly in both worlds. You’ve actually spent time in shuls and communities that have a progressive outlook. You’ve spent time with these rabbis and Maharats. You know very personally the impact they make and continue to make, and why the Orthodox world desperately needs more of this in the 21st century.

    So they are no longer an abstraction to be ostracized as some dangerous “other”, but rather you see all too clearly the (many) positives that they bring to the general community, the Jewish community and the Orthodox community.

    Yasher Koach.

  42. too tired says:

    R’ Gordimer,

    How did you miss this one?

    Ysoscher Katz

    May 8 · iOS · Edited ·

    Leviticus 21:7

    “They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God”

    While not as challenging as Leviticus 18:22, it is still bothersome.

    It hurts seeing the divorcée compared to a prostitute. Why should we ostracize someone whose sole crime is that their marriage dissolved? The fact that those divorcees are sometimes our sisters, moms, daughters, or ourselves makes the insult all the more painful.

    .אלי אלי למה עזבתני.

    Ysoscher Katz’s photo.

  43. Shades of Gray says:

    I can put myself in the shoes and mindset of the leadership of Open Orthodoxy.

    I understand where they are coming from, and can identify underlying issues not always articulated in polemics(as the RCA indicated in “RCA Statement on Torah Min HaShamayim”, “While we recognize and respect the theological struggles that are a feature of many a modern person’s inner religious life…”). I was impressed by the passion and sincerity of the Maharats speaking at their recent ordination, as R. Gordimer wrote in October, 2013, “Many rabbis who serve as leaders in Open Orthodoxy share an incredible sense of creativity, dynamism and enthusiasm; these men have the talents to inspire Jews from all backgrounds and bring them closer to Torah. Rabbis Lopatin and Weiss are indeed proven masters at Kiruv Rechokim”

    Even putting myself in their shoes, I have two “l’shetascha” arguments:

    (1) When saying something that looks to many people as Conservative theology, at the very least, it needs to be defended. As R. Nati Helfgot wrote on the “In Defense of YCT” blog in 2007 regarding an early Yated criticism of R. Farber:

    “moreover, sometimes radical ideas are actually rooted in kabbalistic or hassidic sources, (such as the writings of the Ishbitzer, Rav Zadok or Rav Kook) but are not familiar to mainstream traditional Orthodox audiences. It is important for writers in those contexts to properly source and explain where they are coming from”.

    The same should apply to a statement “Chazal were the R. Riskin’s of their time”. If you mean in a statement to differ from normative Orthodoxy, source, develop, and justify why it should be called “Orthodox”.

    (2) People rightfully refer to the ahavas Yisrael and menschlichkeit of Open Orthodox rabbis. But they are also causing divisiveness with certain actions. Feminist innovations could be done in a quieter and less divisive way. Instead of “ordaining” woman rabbis, they could have left it at “community scholars”, which already existed in Modern Orthodoxy. There was less criticism before “Maharat” was switched to “Rabbah” and calling it “smicha”. From a broader perspective of the Klal, they should look at the effect on the entire community.

  44. Y. Ben=David says:

    As an Israeli, this OO controversy is not so relevant because Religious Zionism is not like Modern Orthodox, because it contains a whole range of people from people with a Haredi lifestyle all the way to what is called “Lites” and they do manage to get along, for all their differences.
    Having said this my observations are as follows
    (1) With the disintegration of the Conservative Movement, there is a place for people who do not accept Orthodox halacha in its fullness, but want something more intense than what C offers. Thus, it is inevitable that some O people are going to drift over into a neo-halachic neo_Conservatism .
    (2) There are serious Orthodox people committed to halacha and traditional values but who do not view the Haredi paradigm as right for them and do not accept Haredi strictures and the Haredi leadership for what the direction they want to go. Thus, Haredim should not view all criticism of Haredi values and ideology as “an attack on halachic Judaism”.
    (3) There are women today studying Torah on a very high level, take their Halacha seriously and do not view themselves as “feminists” in the American sense of the word. They are not interested in revolutions, they accept the traditional Jewish view of the family as normative, but they will have their views suppressed. I spoke to a Rav who has a halachic journal, and one of his women students wrote an article for it, and the DL editor insisted that her name not be listed as author (Why?). These women do not understand nonsense like this.
    (4) The fact that OO people are talking about “social justice” is very worrying. This is a politically loaded word that goes far beyond “worrying about the poor” but includes attacks on traditional family values, side issues like “Global Warming” and a whole checklist of “politically correct” hot button issues like prasing homosexual lifestyles, fighting non-existent “Islamophobia), affirmative action for chosen groups that may not really need or deserve it, polyamourous relationships and other trends the Torah clearly opposes. Worst of all “social justice” people really seem to despise Israel and Zionism and there are clear trends that American Jewry, which overwhelmingly likes to view itself as “progressive” are increasingly disconnecting themselves from Israel and the half of world Jewry that it contains.
    Also, more and more Haredim are allying themselves with Radical “progressives” because they view it is in their interest to do so but this may come at the expense of support for Israel.
    Thus, American Jewry, particularly Orthodox Jewry is facing many centrifugal forces which is inevitable living in a non-Jewish society and country.

  45. Rafael Araujo says:

    too tired – that has unfortunately become par for the course. Lamenting mitzvos, halachos, and pasukim as if to say “I wish we could get rid of it but we can’t” kind of attitude. When combined with rejection of our yesodos of Torah M’Sinai, the historicity of the Avos, etc. it can become dangerous vis a vis reading out or doing with that which doesn’t conform to relativist notices of morality and liberal fads and trends.

  46. Shmuel W says:

    @ Reb Yid – I know Rabbi Oberstein quite well and have tremendous respect for him. Every time I go back to Baltimore we catch up and he always has interesting ideas and its a great conversation. That being said you clearly miss the point of the discussion (which is fine). I think you and I both take issue with many ideas that Satmar believes in, including actually the proper role of women in Judaism. (I think Jewish publications should have appropriate pictures of women, women should be given a strong Judaic and general educaton etc… and need a voice in leadership in some contexts as well). However if you and I were criticising Satmar’s views on the State of Israel would you then argue but they do so much chesed in NYC hospitals? They excel at bikur cholim and chesed rooms and helping mothers who just had kids. Does that now mean the “positives” even relate to the discussion at hand? Or take Chabad, their pseudo messianism is beyond the pale of acceptable Torah thought and the undeniable good they do does not negate that. Its apologist deflections that you are engaging in and not engaging on the substantive issues that divide OO/NC from Orthodox Judaism.

    Orthodox Judaism is majestic, meaningful and most importantly true. Read Herman Wouk This is my God. Also “feet firmly plated in two worlds” in not necessarily a good thing but I grew up in a modern Orthodox neighborhood and now live in Riiverdale so please do not indirectly lecture ppl to see the positives of what is going on OO/NC. I see it and it isnt the issue at hand. In allowing OO/NC to have some degree of success (though its been marginalized) i cry out אלי אלי למה עזבתני 🙂

  47. Bob Miller says:

    People who want to have their cake and eat it, too (to be called Orthodox but twist its definition as they please), will not be put off by thunderous blog posts with multi-references. If we want to influence, we’ll have to persuade effectively. It’s too soon to write them off, but some of their concerns may be so far from ours that they’ll split off down the road.

  48. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with Rafael Araujo-someone who views the unique role and membership requirements of Kedushas Shevet Kehunah as “bothersome” and “painful” IMO should spend time learning Parshas Emor and a Mishnah in Masectes Kelim that spells out why Kohanim have rules and roles in Klal Yisrael that are distinct from Leviim and Yisraelim.

  49. Davidf says:

    Rabbi Oberstein sees no point in repeating the obvious but it’s only obvious because Rabbi Gordimer has done such a masterful job of not letting us forget how off-base tge OO movement unfortunately is. Thank you Rabbi Gordimer for saying what so desperately needs to be said and repeated as often as possible.

    As for the mentchlichkeit of the OO clergy, it may be true but so what? Kindness is proof of nothing other than perhaps a good heart and thats even debatable.

  50. Reb Yid says:

    Shmuel W:

    I am getting at the bigger point, which is what Rabbi Oberstein has done as well. Most Jews don’t walk around doing tzitzis checks on others’ ideological or theological so-called “kashrut”.

    I say so-called because what often masquerades as halachic bona fides is often nothing more than spineless misogyny or reactionary politics. This was certainly the case for those resisting many of the changes from the 1970s through the late 1990s, and is undoubtedly the case today.

  51. Rafael Araujo says:

    “Spineless Misogyny”. I got it. Those who don’t liberalize halachic norms are misogynists. Wow! What an accusation you are levelling. Don’t tell…upholding Leviticus 18:22 makes me a homophone and preventing intermarriage makes me a racist and bigot. You are really good with throwing the labels around. Unfortunately, you are tarring not only those who oppose OO, but your ancestors who upheld such defined gender roles.

    By the way, the term “tzitzis checking” refers to being nosing how a Yid conducts himself/herself b’chadrei chadorim. It does not apply to those who publicly announce their intentions and engage in pronouncements contrary to halochoh and certainly to an entire movement that bases itself itself on pushing if not breaking the halchic envelope.

  52. L. Oberstein says:

    Yes, it is correct that the divergence between the OO and the Yeshiva world is vast. I am not qualified to decide who is an apikorus. I seem to recall that they burned the Rambam’s seforim. Lately, they virtually burned Slifkin’s sefarim.I am not claiming that there aren’t people within OO who write things that would make your hair stand on end.
    I was there when the Baal Koreh was about to read the segment about homosexual relations and the Rabbi (not Rav Avi who is retiring) came up and gave a talk about how conflicted one must be .On the one hand, the Torah is our guide and on the other, these gays are people who didn’t choose to be that way, G-d made them that way and we have to empathize with their struggle.
    I doubt that other rabbis took that point of view . Does that make the rabbi wrong? I think it depends on who you ask and also their age and what the world was like when they were forming their identity.
    As far as pooh poohing social justice and tikun olam, either you get it or you don’t. Those who care about the poor, the weak, the oppressed and want a more fair society where the super rich don’t pollute the world for their profit . I applaud Pope Francis for his encyclical about climate change which just came out. Those who prefer to scoff at science are free to do so,but realize that you are just refusing to look at the evidence. You won’t change my heart and soul and I won’t change your opinions on these issues that are life and death for many but maybe not for you.Tzedek Tzedek tirdof was not invented by the Reform.

  53. Shmuel W says:

    @ Reb Yid

    At the risk of being harsh that is just factually inaccurate. Dont get hung up on the example but I am pretty sure most CC readers would exercise caution if they walked into a home where a woman wears pants or the man rarely wears a yarmulkeh and were offered dinner. That is a degree of “ideological tzitzis checking” if you will.

    But thats an aside. What you call the “bigger point” is in essence that hashkafa doesnt matter. But in Judaism it does and also we are specifically discussing theology and ideology in Rabbi Gordimer’s post. I suggest you read Rabbi Bleich’s “A Philosophical Quest” to become better informed. I wonder what you would have said in Frankfurt in the 1850’s when you could have davened at IRG with R’ Hirsch or with the Holdheims and Geigers of the era. Would the fact that they deleted any reference to Moshiach from their prayerbooks (or similar issues) bothered you or would you have said we should check their tzitzis or lack theroef?

    And your second comment is filled with ad hominem attacks on ppl who disagree with you as suffering from “spineless misogyny” and engaging in “reactionary politics”. Since you seem to ascribe such motives to ppl you disagree with I shall respond in kind. I will also note that you dont have the courage of your convictions to actually post your name behind what you have to say. Ascribing belief in gender differences in Judaism to “spineless misogyny” demonstrates either your sad ignorance of what Judaism based on Shas and Poskim actually says or willful misrepresentation of what Judaism says and that b/c your source of ethics/morality is something other then Judaism’s. If its the second you would be sadly part of the intellectually assimilated world of OO/NC.

  54. Reb Yid says:

    @Shmuel W [“Dont get hung up on the example but I am pretty sure most CC readers would exercise caution if they walked into a home where a woman wears pants…and were offered dinner. That is a degree of “ideological tzitzis checking” if you will.”

    But thats an aside.]

    No, that’s hardly an aside. Forgot about OO completely–you are writing off dinners in large parts of MO Teaneck, New Jersey or MO Riverdale (the RJC crowd–not even getting into the HIR crowd) with that statement.

    And you’d be dead wrong if you didn’t think that households didn’t place a high value on maintaining a home where their Orthodox friends of various stripes would all feel comfortable eating.

    The same is precisely true of the progressive Orthodox segments–no less than that of the MO segments.

  55. Reb Yid says:

    @Shmuel W

    Regarding the politics of those resisting changes–suffice it to say that I’ve spent many years researching these developments in academia. I see the same words, phrases and arguments being used today as certain folks used 20, 30 and 40 years ago.

  56. tzippi says:

    Rabbi Oberstein, re being conflicted about the Torah’s strong language for homosexuality: am I missing something if I can be profoundly compassionate for people who struggle with this, without feeling conflicted that the Torah is against it?

  57. dr. bill says:

    Reading the comments brought up some other points:

    First, forget the fact that Rabbi Gordimer’s account of events often leaves out relevant information. Readers, who I suspect often do not bother to try to find original accounts, compound the problem and assume the worse. In the story about the marriage, all original reports 1) mention the care the participants took to observe halakhic boundaries and 2) provide the source of the “eighth” bracha (noted as being without shem umalchut) as one mentioned by R. Amram Gaon. (A “bracha” without shem u’malchut is more similar (halakhically) to a sermon giving the couple a bracha than to one of the Sheva Brochot.) Anyone remotely familiar with minhagei Yisrael, might recognize that changes in wedding custom have a long and varied history. Rather than quoting the SA in this context, reading relevant parts of R. Sperber’s Minhagei Yisrael would be more appropriate. (Ah, perhaps his masterful works are not kosher anymore.) I also assume giving one the benefit of the doubt is only optional. Otherwise, kneeling (not at the chupah as one comment suggested, but that is irrelevant) could mean on one knee, having entirely different symbolic meaning than kneeling before a deity.

    Second, I wonder if a realistic history of rabbinic function and its changes over the generations might be useful to lower the level of rhetoric. Some comments had the audacity to tell us THE role of the Rabbi. Perhaps they should tell that to R. Chaim Brisker, ztl, whose view is well known. I guess he got it wrong!

    Third, I assume that our learned bloggers are unaware of how gedolai hamesorah reacted to various halakhot, which raised ethical concerns. I will leave it to others to explain/argue how/whether such intellectual reactions may have had halakhic consequences.

    Finally, all this YCT focused bashing is a hopeless waste of time. Even when you restrict the list to only the ortho-dox/prax, if one were to list the leading scholars of what many label as non-orthodox beliefs, you find a relatively long list mostly housed in universities with a remarkable number living in Israel. (I continue to be amazed by the number of gentiles.) While conservative seminaries housed many of these scholars in previous generations, today neither they nor YCT play that role today. As orthodoxy becomes less tolerant of hashkafic diversity, a brave new world immune from pressure by YU, the OU or the RCA let alone those to their right, is well past infancy. Besides Rabbi Adam Mintz’s projection, there is much more happening, led in no small measure by ortho- dox/prax thinkers. I know it is not of consequence to many, but some have given compelling rationales for their halakhic practice despite their denial of many ikkarim.

  58. bernard weinstein says:

    Midrash halacha as a midrash yotzer (as per Menahem Alon in Mishpat Haivri) creates potential ways of thinking about halacha and change that is not the standard operating procedure for those most seriously involved in learning Torah Shebealpeh. Midrash halacha is not currently a normative basis to create new halacha. It is though a sound theoretical ground for thinking about what halacha could be when be’ezrat hashem we will again have a functioning sanhendrin. Midrash halacha allows for the appearance and disappearance of de’oraita’s as per the darshening judicial right and wisdom of a functioning sanhendrin (the Rambam would call any such change “midivrei sofrim: -see hilcho mamrim and the shoresh sheni introduction to the sefer hamitzvot ) – but most other rishonim classify a midrash halacha as de’oraita. One example of a biblical prohibition that disappeared via the mechanism of midrash halacha is the prohibition of marrying both a male and female moavite. The bet din at the time of boaz (as per the “frum” source of the English Artscroll Zeenah Urena) darshened that the true meaning of the pasuk is limited only to marrying a male maovite. The result was that the prior prohibition of marrying a female moavite disappeared – and the family of mashiach was created.

  59. Shmuel W says:

    @ Reb Yid. I think we are at the point of talking at each other and not to each other. That being said I will try one last time. In a debate your tactic of changing the conversation and then trying to make that the issue would work but I would rather hope we have not a debate but a serious discussion. R’Gordimer’s article was broadly a discussion about theological boundaries and then when OO/NC is called you say that is “tzitis checking” and “spineless misogyny” . I pointed out that “tzizitis checking” is overrated. Now on this specific issue of eating at ppl’s different people’s homes let me breifely address that and then get back to the real issue. I chose my words carefully, I said “exercise caution” I live in Riverdale and have eaten and will continue to eat at the homes of many RJC members, it is a lovely shul where I have davened many times. However I would hope that anyone would exercise caution about whose homes they eat in and if someone at least in appearance doesnt come across as having somewhat similar standards in dress most people should and would “exercise caution” in deciding if they can eat there rather then the exaggerations you use of “writing off dinners”.

    Now back to your point of the criticism of R’ Gordimer’s article as being the same voices of 20,30 and 40 years ago who are ding this because of “spineless misogyny” and “reactionary politics” as you diplomatically put it. I was not alive 40 years ago or even 30 years ago so I take it you have more life experience then I do. But I am a student of history and the offensive terms you use to describe people who do not support what the OO/NC world is doing is also not a new voice. Mendelsshon also claimed hashkafa doesnt matter as he claimed the “dogmalessness of Judaism” . Geiger wanted to “save” Judaism and make it acceptable to European intellectuals. Solomon Schechter believed in “Catholic Israel” that puk chazi mah amah devar and then things will evolve based on that. So when you look back I wonder where you think OO/NC is heading.

    Regardless, great talking to you and I hope our shared passion for the future of Yiddishkeit will be used positively L’shem ulisiferes (minus the ad hominem attacks you leveled at ppl who disagree with you.

  60. Shmuel W says:

    @ Rabbi Oberstein – I hope my response will not make you question the respect I have for you and I hope this is part of the milchamatah shel torah takes place at 400 Mount Wilson Lane and beyond. That being said I think we are getting closer to agreement in some ways. We agree that OO/NC says things that makes “your hair stand on edge”. Yet you artfully dodge the question I posed by saying ” I am not qualified to decide who is an apikorus”. To reference your later (somewhat non-sequitur) comment about climate change, politicians on the right like to dodge that very question by saying “I am not a scientist”. I worded my question to you carefully without the loaded term “apikorus” and asked not about OO/NC as people but rather the ideas they promulgate and if they are beyond the pale. You have the zchus of continuing to be in Ner Yisroel (though I am also in spirit) ask Reb Zvi Berkowitz or Reb Sheftel or R’ Ahron Feldman all ppl I think you agree are “qualified” to decide that question as you framed it.

    Regarding your visit to Riverdale (next time please call me to say hello) I assume it was “Rav Steve” who I have met is a wonderful and kind person. But even if it is someone else so what. I ask you would Rabbi Hauer of Shaarei Zion or countless other Ner Yisroel alums not have sensitive conversations with ppl about these issues in private settings and help people deal whatever issues they have based on the totality and majesty of Toras hashem? The values of the NYT or even the WSJ and “Western tradition” is simply not compatible with Orthodox Judaism on at least some issues including many areas of human sexuality. So you can decide the prism you look at the world through. Also I am 28 and you have a couple years on me so based on the milieus we grew up in I should in theory be more liberal then you.

    At Cardozo I had the tremendous pleasure of being in Rabbi J.D Bleich’s class (a true renaissance man) and one of his memorable lines was as follows. ‘When I was young I wanted to be a Conservative Rabbi so I can start with a conclusion and work my way backwards, for familial reasons I could not and therefore I became a law professor”.

    Also I take issues with your term “pooh poohing” social justice. I pointed out the term is code for a whole slew of Elizabeth Warren esque political stances. Now obviously this is a side issue and American politics is a different province then R’ Gordimer’s original piece. But as a quick rejoinder I am pretty sure we are on different sides of the political aisle as well. Your sentence about “those who care about the poor, the weak, the oppressed and want a more fair society where the super rich don’t pollute the world for their profit” sounds like occupy wall street and I would argue that free markets = free people and that empowering people with personal responsibility and opportunity is a far better way to actually care for the weak and poor then subsidizing poverty and ameliorating its symptons rather then the core issues involved. (I think you agree with me when it comes to Lakewood on this issue btw so perhaps apply it to society at large)

    Also tzedek tzedek tirdof is the motto of Cardozo Law School my own almamater. I dk where the “social” of social justice gets in there but ok. Also I do not scoff at science in the slightest however take someone like Sam Harris, he argues that you, in believing that krias yam suf actually happened is a form of scoffing at science. Science is powerful and climate change is happening from what the scientific community says (although I am not a scientist 🙂 but science has limits and doesnt (usually) answer questions of morality or ethics.

    Finally back to the core issue of OO/NC. To paraphrase you Rabbi Oberstein ” those who prefer to ignore OO/NC’s unOrthodox worldview are free to do so,but realize that you are just refusing to look at the evidence.” Gut Shabbos and hope to catch up in person.

    raging, clamorous torrent of man’s consciousness with all its crises, pangs, and torments

  61. ruvie says:

    Shmuel W – As a student of history you realize that its important to find the correct analogy of similar circumstances to compare. I offer you the Bat Mitzvah – which in the first tesuvah written in 1927 stated its assur miDoraita for three reasons to ROY declaring in the late 1970s that its a seudat mitzvah. The same is happening here to some degree but its early. Your examples are really not relevant to our discussion.

    Missed in the this whole discussions is the attempt to re-label OO/YCT as treif a la neo conservative. The ordination issue is now moot – unless you want to claim R. Riskin, Stav (Tzohar),Gigi (YHE), Hefter and a host others as not orthodox (now that its being done in Israel in two places). No one is asking/forcing you to hire them or follow them but to understand this is now part of orthodoxy or part of the MO world. On this issue its game set and match.

  62. tzippi says:

    I think that something should be spelled out and then not said again: Many of the people in question have done much good. As one example, I’ve often heard that to know R’ Avi Weiss is to love him and the sechar he has coming to him is likely enviable. And there is a local reform rabbi whom I will forever regard well for an elegant, gentle graveside eulogy I heard him give for someone who didn’t leave much material.
    This is not a matter of lehavdil “But He Was Good to His Mother.”

  63. Shades of Gray says:

    Criticism of YCT can come from an academic sense, not only a “frum”, faith-based perspective. I’m not interesting in suppressing debate about, for example, the statement of “Chazal were the R. Riskin’s of their time”. To the contrary, the author should support his statement, as R. Helfgot, himself of YCT wrote(quoted above), “it is important for writers in those contexts to properly source and explain where they are coming from”.

    The “Mission & Values” of YCT website is “ Encouraging intellectual openness, questioning, and critical thinking as essential components of one’s full service to God (avodat Hashem).” Critical thinking includes being honest about the Orthodoxy of an approach.

    In “Books and Bans”(Edah Journal), Dr. Marc Shapiro disagrees with aspects of R. Jonathan Sacks’ mulicutilarism and aspects of “Making of a Gadol “ from a non-Haredi perspective. So too, one can challenge YCT statements from an academic perspective. R. Shimon Schwab had intellectual integrity regarding his “Comparative Jewish Chronology”, “I muster the courage to belong to those who rather wish to be honest to themselves than to be “right.” I would rather leave a good question open than risk giving a wrong answer”

    Judah Skoff in the Times of Israel( Nov, 2013) argued from a Conservative —not an Orthodox— perspective “Even as the Conservative Movement appears to be failing there is a remarkable growth of traditionally Conservative ideas. The widely noted Mechon Hadar has created a vibrant traditional-egalitarian community. And Orthodoxy has opened a liberal flank. Avi Weiss’s Yeshivat Maharat is now ordaining women as “clergy” (and even if institutional Orthodoxy prevents them from being called “Rabbi,” no one is fooled as to what the ordination actually means)…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.”

    R. Adlerstein in December 07 offered an analogy regarding a different issue:

    “Let’s say a person lives in Williamsburg, sports a shtreimel and long, curled peyos, and his father was the gabbai for many years in Rav Yoelish’s beis medrash. All his forebears in recent memory hail from Satu Mare, Hungary. On the other hand, he drapes an Israeli flag outside his apartment (and lives to tell about it), and swears allegiance to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Is he a Satmar chusid?… His neighbors will never succeed in persuading a court to order him to cease and desist from calling himself Satmar. On the other had, he could know shas and memorize Al HaGeulah V’Al-HaTemurah, but he won’t land a job teaching at Torah V’Yirah. He has the right to call himself whatever he wants; others have the right to ignore his declaration. Debating who should, and who should not, use the name Satmar will be of little consequence. His neighbors will simply see him as outside the pale. “

  64. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid wrote in relevant part:

    “I say so-called because what often masquerades as halachic bona fides is often nothing more than spineless misogyny or reactionary politics:

    I see-either we view Parshas Kedoshim as R”L beyond the pale of today’s Zeitgeist and view the Torah’s vision of the nuclear family as what feminists called it-a comfortable concentration camp. This is what happens when the contemporary Zeitgeist dictates one’s view of halacha, as opposed to halacha informing you of how to interact with and times withdraw from and reject the dictates of modernity.

  65. Jewish Observer says:

    “Chazal were the R. Riskin’s of their time”

    – proves how possessive Chovevei is

  66. Baruch B. says:

    To all the defenders of OO/YCT etc. and to the undecided:
    What would be considered beyond the pale? Do you have a red line that if crossed puts one out of the realm of normative Orthodoxy? What would you consider as evidence that the line has been crossed? Is there a real possibility that the good intentions of Open Orthodoxy puts at risk future generations? If yes how should that be dealt with (even if no actual lines have been crossed)? What would be the characteristics of a dangerous movement of change be? (Have you considered these questions or is the thought of actually having to make a stand too painful to contemplate?)
    Too all those who are convinced of the danger and are trying to convince others:
    Ask them the question: “What sort of evidence would you need to see to be convinced?” You will right away see what kind of person you are dealing with from his response and if evidence is a factor to them at all.
    (Hat tip: Seth G)

  67. mb says:

    Baruch B asked
    To all the defenders of OO/YCT etc. and to the undecided:
    What would be considered beyond the pale? Do you have a red line that if crossed puts one out of the realm of normative Orthodoxy.

    Er, um. I’ll give it a whirl.
    If some of them considered R.Soloveitchik was moshiach and is coming back soon, or didn’t really die.
    If some of them kissed and placated the enemies of the Jews and Israel.
    if they forbid their followers visiting the Kotel.
    If some of them persistently were involved in defrauding the government, banks,other Jews, non-Jews.
    if they were pedophiles that were then protected by theleaders.
    So much more. You get the picture.

  68. Bob Miller says:

    MB, if your examples crossed the line, that doesn’t mean the examples in this discussion did not.

  69. Rafael Araujo says:

    “If some of them kissed and placated the enemies of the Jews and Israel.”

    Support for Obama and liberal foreign policy, which abounds among OO, might qualify for that as well. Or overwhelming support for the 2 state solution, which really could be suicide for the State of Israel. But carry on with your jibes at Satmar and the Chareidi world, as is your stock and trade….

  70. Rafael Araujo says:

    “MB, if your examples crossed the line, that doesn’t mean the examples in this discussion did not”

    Bob, I believe that MB’s point is that examples Baruch B cited do not cross any redlines, so that OO will end up looking like Conservative Judaism except for a mechitzah and that is not a problem since there are no pedophilia or financial scandals found in OO ranks. However, whatever MB believes to the be the issue du jour in the Chareidi world mostly crosses or always crosses redlines. I think his point is pretty clear.

  71. Baruch B. says:

    Obviously it’s clear from my post what my opinions are. However the point of my post was twofold. It’s quite possible that we have different opinions on red lines. If that’s the case well, that should be the starting place for our or any discussion. On the other hand if you don’t have red lines or given thought to the above questions, then we shouldn’t be having any discussion. Bringing in other things that people (or even communities) do wrong would than be beside the point. (Although very relevant to a different discussion that we could be having, assuming of course, that I’ve given thought to the above questions myself 🙂

  72. Steve Brizel says:

    MB wrote in relevant part:

    “If some of them kissed and placated the enemies of the Jews and Israel.
    if they forbid their followers visiting the Kotel.
    If some of them persistently were involved in defrauding the government, banks,other Jews, non-Jews”

    A simple response-I know of nonone who attaches false messsianist status to RYBS.one can find placating of the enemies of the Jews and Israel within the heterodox community. An article in Commentary a few years ago documented the antipathy of the younger C and R clergy to Israel, which read an awful like BDS in nature in terms of not going over the Green Line, not buying products that were manufactured in Yehudah and Shomron. “Rabbis for Human Rights is a prominent apologist for the conduct of terrorist groups in Israel. One can find many prominent givers to all denominations in the Federal and State penitentiaries for violations of white collar crimes.

  73. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie wrote in part:

    “Missed in the this whole discussions is the attempt to re-label OO/YCT as treif a la neo conservative. The ordination issue is now moot – unless you want to claim R. Riskin, Stav (Tzohar),Gigi (YHE), Hefter and a host others as not orthodox (now that its being done in Israel in two places). No one is asking/forcing you to hire them or follow them but to understand this is now part of orthodoxy or part of the MO world. On this issue its game set and match.”

    The real issue is that OO/YCT is beyond the pale of MO, and should be viewed as such, as described by R Gordimer. The issue is not whether women receive some sort of degree which deserves to be called a quasi ordination, but whether any woman with such a degree, as opposed to a Yoetzet, should be viewed as an address for any POV on any subject relating to Halacha. The notion that any such recipient can be equated to the average musmach, let alone the most prominent RY and Talmidei Chachamim, should be seen as yet another example of the extraordinarily flawed logic of “equality in result” at work

  74. dov says:

    I ask this with respect to the wonderful Right wing MO commentators here; What would you answer to Ruvie. Being that i am from a Non – MO orthodox yeshiva this stuff does not phase me . I can simply say those names mentioned are not within Mainstream orthodoxy and are not my Hashkafa. I am able to draw a line in the sand after such RW MO greats as Rav Shachter, Willig, and Twerski. At the same time how would you answer the question of so many of the Rav’s Talmidim having such dangerous Hashkafa’s.
    I say this with respect because I do feel there must be an honest answer from your side. On my side I am a Rabbi on campus and i see the danger of the hashkafas coming out of LW MO yeshiva’s as well as the Halachically and Hashkafically off ideas of YCT.

    Is it simply that to truly understand RYBS views one must go to Rabbis Willig,etc… Because if we give the right of passing off the mesorah of a Rebbe to all of his High level talmidim than you ask yourself the question of what makes the views of Rabbi’s Riskin, Weiss , and S. Berman so beyond the pale(again i have a simpler answer to all this but im curious to hear the commentators POV)

  75. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, I suspect Anat Noveselsky does not care, but nonetheless you might owe some of these women an apology, before YK. I have a sense of both the average musmach and Anat Noveselsky. Your statement: “The notion that any such recipient can be equated to the average musmach..” reflects a level of supposition. I assure you that most musmachim would envy her breadth and bekius in halakha, incuding many areas of halakha the average musmach RARELY learn. The world does not conform with your views; facts matter. I do not know about the other women, but i would not be surprised if there were others with more than the average musmach’s halakhic competence.

  76. Steve Brizel says:

    Dov-It is indeed a tragedy that the Charedi street sees no difference between RHS, R Willig and R Twerski.

    Dr Bill-I stand by my POV-take a look at a review of a book authored by a Lindenbaum grad on R Gil Student’s blog by R Bechoffer if you need more evidence of why such programs are producing feminists who can twist sources to justify their POVs as opposed to genuinely learned Bnos Torah. FSWIW, the RIETS curriculum for all musmachim includes a strong halacha lmaaseh component. I would also suggest that you enroll in the Dirshu program, which has been highly praised by many Charedi RY and see how many avrechim are working their way through the MB, including written bchinos.

  77. Steve Brizel says:

    Whoops-I meant as follows It is indeed a tragedy that the Charedi street sees no difference between RHS, R Willig and R Twerski and the LW of MO.

  78. dov says:

    Steve I do , I do see a world of a difference between them LW. My question is how would one answer the question i posed . If I am a major talmud of a Rebbe why am i not allowed to say this is my mesorah from my rebbe. Example would be many of Rav Riskin’s aproach to OO vs a RW talmud of RYBS.

  79. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, Please look up the definition of the word “any” that you used. You do not prove a statement about “any” by case examples; there are multiple institutions training many different women. If that is not clear, I can recommend some remedial logic texts.

    If you knew anything about Anat Noveselsky, mentioning the RIETS halakha le’maaseh program is laughable. Why do you not talk about reviews of her teshuvot/opinions? As an old boss of mine advised: “when you are in a hole, stop digging.”

    your advice on what/where I study is getting the attention it deserves.

  80. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Interesting to note that Anat Noveselsky is one of the co-authors of the book reviewed by Rav Bechoffer. His review might be closer to home than you’d care to admit.

  81. dr. bill says:

    Mr. Reisman, I read his review. I cannot remember, but i believe Rabbi Bechoffer did not comment on her 2 teshuvot. Rabbi Bechoffer ( in the comments section) refers you to a more extensive review; it was complimentary of each of her two teshuvot. i think that might be more interesting to note.

  82. Dave says:

    Dov – It is interesting that almost no one includes among the talmidim of RYBS his own relatives, namely Rabbi Moshe Meiselman (his nephew) and Rabbi Moshe Twersky HY”D, his grandson. Both of them learned with RYBS and both of them have a vastly different view of what the Rav was all about.

    I am personally unconnected to RYBS, not being a YU guy and all, but it is always fascinating to me to encounter YU musmachim from that era who expound on his genius and his derech halimud, but rarely talk about his tzidkus and his personal frumkeit. As an outsider, it seems to me that too many of his talmidim (though certainly not all) are enamored of the academics of his learning, but less so the neshama of his learning.

    To my thinking (take it for what it’s worth:)), that is why some of the MO limud that I hear is very text based, to the point where the opinion of one obscure rishon will be raised as a major complicating factor in a halachic discussion, even though all the other rishonim rule the opposite way and halacha l’maaseh has been in favor of the vast majority as is generally how the mesorah works. Cherry picking a daas yachid, even though you found it in the back of some sefer, is really anti-mesorah.

    Rabbi Meiselman believes that his mesorah is from RYBS and he considers him to have been his rebbe muvhak. Yet he is considered by the MO to be a Hareidi right winger.

    So who really knew RYBS better?…….

  83. Mycroft says:

    I do not wish to get into a discussion comparing who is or is not a Talmud mu hack of the Rav. Sadly I was at R Moshe TWERSKY,s le ayah and was Menachem Avel. I have fillings in my mouth from RMM,s father-a dentist who I used about 60 years ago. However, you should be aware that the viewpoints of those two relatives of the Rav as to the Ravs viewpoints. Suffice it to say that there certainly are equally close relatives of the Rav and RMM who maintain that who gave RMM the right to speak for the Rav.
    Read Prof Kaplan,s article about Revisionism and the Rav where he discusses some of the distort ions of the Rav.

  84. Steve Brizel says:

    I would suggest that readers read R Bechoffer’s critique of the sources quoted, methodology, POV and conclusions in Anat Novoselsky’s book. It is revisionism to describe the same as favorable. FWIW, Dr Bill’s comment on which RY give shiurim in which area of Halacha LMaaseh and his view of the same, and his dismissive view of the Dirshu Program deserves to be round filed.

  85. Steve Brizel says:

    For those interested the son of R Moshe Twersky HaShem Yimkam Damo ZL is engaged to none less than the granddaughter of R N Wolpin, the long time editor of the former JO, which never missed an opportunity to treat RYBS with less than the proper Kavod due . Such a shidduch and the recent lowering of the Confederate flag throughout many states of the Deep south should lead to the same conclusion-the war is over and the past makes for nice history, but is really irrelevant. Fixating on the same detracts from the fact that R Moshe Twersky HaShem Yimkam Damo, ZL was a great Talmid Chacham, devoted talmid of RYBS, a Ben Aliyah, and Baal Avodah whose many midos tovos should inspire us to learn more, daven with more kavanah, love EY and do more chesed in our lives-regardless of which spectrum of the hashkafic spectrum that we occupy.

  86. Steve Brizel says:

    AFAIK, R Riskin was viewed as being more halachically and hashkafically responsible and mainstream than either R Berman or R Weiss when he was a rebbe in JSS and a rav at LSS . Take a look at a recent review of R Riskin’s book on R Gil Student’s blog. It is very sad that the rebbe and rav that I remember as a great rebbe who demanded that we sweat the details of halacha even on such halachos as Borer of socks and underwear on Shabbos and engage in Kavod HaTorah for Rishonim and rav who built a MO Torah bastion with a model for Torah study , chesed and support for Israel on the UWS cannot be reconciled with his well documented recent halachic and hashkafic stances-many of which are out of the Hartman/Greenberg theological playbook of religious pluralism.

    Unfortunately, R Gil’s analysis of R Riskin’s segue to the far left in matters of halacha and hashkafa demonstrates that R Riskin has moved to the far left of MO and now proposes and defends much of the OO agenda in terms of halacha and hashkafa.

  87. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, instead of commenting, I suggest you read. As I told mr. reisman, rabbi Bechoffer did not review ANY of anat noveselsky’s teshuvot. If you can find the time read the review of her teshuvot, that Rabbi Bechoffer provides a link to in the comment section. you should find that more useful than your attempt to blog about someone you do not know. After reading, i hope you will tell us your reaction.

  88. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, Given your habit of changing the subject, I will give you a hint that will help you stay on point. 1. Describe in detail the areas of the SA beyond OH and YD covered by most talmidim in YU’s halakha lemayseh program. 2. Descibe in detail anat novoselsky’s learning/knowledge of the other two parts of the SA – EH and CM.

    WRT to Dirshu’s MB program, I was taught differently and study halakhic subjects methodologically beginning with source sugyot, rishonim, the Tur and SA, key nosai keilim, key achronim. major poskim, the orach hashulchan, etc. before reading the MB, works of the last century, etc. Starting with the MB and reading sources quoted is useful, but not my preferred derech.

  89. dr. bill says:

    Dov, though I am hardly from the RW of MO, I thought your question about why the Rav ztl produced (so many) far left talmidim, deserves a serious response. A later comment by Dave also requires a response. More generally, how could the Rav produce so diverse a group of students from the late Rabbi Hartman to Rabbi Meiselman?

    First, the Rav was well aware (as he told Rav Amital ztl) that students, who would wake up in the middle of the night to attend if he scheduled a shiur, nonetheless had doubts about his hashkafic positions; he jokingly said they wonder if he is an apikores. As far as I know, except for a privileged few, the Rav did not have substantive discussions in areas of challenge to the ikrai he-emunah. These factors, together with his (assumed) knowledge of the entire corpus of what might be called challenges to traditional beliefs, allow people to assume a great deal. On the other hand, the vast majority of other gedolai olam, especially those to right of centrist / modern orthodoxy, can be safely assumed to be ignorant of even the rudiments of modern day wissenschaft des judentums.

    Second, the Rav did not make a display of his religiosity. Like his grandfather, he eschewed rabbinic garb. I am sure that few associated his elegant/stylish Shabbat attire to his desire to fulfill a halakhic requirement. Few had the opportunity, as described by Rabbi Wurzberger ztl, to see the piety of his recital of hallel at a pesach seder. I admit that when hearing the Rav daven, I paid more attention to his changes in standard nuschaot than his piety. However, reading his hashkafic works and some of his famous hespedim, provides a view of his tzidkus.

    Third, for decades, the Rav was the only address for many students outside the chareidi community, attracting a rather diverse set of students, where the ability to learn versus piety was the criteria that the yeshiva employed for shiur entrance.

    Fourth, I am bothered less by the late rabbis Hartman and Rackman who openly acknowledged their divergence from what they know to be the Rav’s viewpoint, than I am by those who confidently misrepresent darko bekodesh. Even those quoting what the Rav told them, can often overlook/omit what the Rav, but not them, considered a relevant detail.

    Fifth, the Rav probably had over a thousand students; the number whose names are often bandied about in discussions around OO, are hardly even a miut sheaino matzui. Comparing that to a realistic historic look at the graduates of 20th century Slabodka would amaze you.

    Sixth, I would disregard what many on the right and left claim about the Rav. His son and daughters and late sons-in-law paint a rather consistent picture. Read what they wrote carefully. Even grandchildren and descendants of his siblings have a (much) less reliable view. In a generation or two, a biography with even more extensive attention to his weltanschauung than Marc Shapiro’s book on RYYW ztl, will help in giving us a more authoritative view.

  90. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Steve Brizel: The shidduch of Rav Moshe Twersky’s son and Rav Nisson Wolpin’s granddaughter is hardly unique. Rav Wolpin’s daughter married the son of Rav Abba Bronspiegel, a talmid muvhak of RYBS. And as Rav Wolpin used to joke, compared to another of Rav Bronspiegel’s mechutanim, Dayan Brody of Manchester, Rav Wolpin was a liberal.

  91. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-Ask any talmid in RIETS what areas in SA OC & YD they must pass bchinos in before being granted smicha. These areas strike me as being of critical importance for any would be musmach-ask any recent musmach and they will tell you what areas of SA OC and YD they had to know-I don’t have an exact list but IIRC , the areas include Shabbos ( Bishul), Eruvin, Gerus and Basar BChalav, for a short and incomplete list.

    Once again, I think that R Bechoffer’s review was a strong critique of the work in question-its premises, methodology, sources utilized and conclusions reached therein. WADR to your style of learning, study of the MB and the Poskim who follow the CI’s view ( even though the CI thought that the MB was changing accepted psak in many instances) that the MB is the Posek Acharon and the Poskim whose views are part and parcel of every page of the Musafim and Biruim of the Dirshu MB, and such sefarim as SSK, may lead to a much deeper sense of how halacha applies to contemporary realia and technology than approaching a subject from the “source sugyot, rishonim, the Tur and SA, key nosai keilim, key achronim. major poskim, the orach hashulchan”

    In response to your comment to Dov:

    1)Many of RYBS’s drashos and shiurim either explicitlty or implicitly impacted on Ikarei Emunah
    2) How many talmidim in any yeshiva stood for all of Chazaras HaShatz with their feet together on any day of the week before RYBS explained why, at least on RH, it was at least a Kiyim of Tefilah BTzibur? RAL ZL recalled that RYBS would sing or hum the Niggunim of Tefilas Neilah for hours after YK had ended because he was in such a spiritually lofty mood. It is also well known that when RYBS once accidentally turned on a light RL on Shabbos, he cried. I know of one Boston native who stood under the Talis Gadol of RYBS as a youth during Birkas Kohanim. In all of the pictures of RYBS at simchas that I have seen, RYBS was wearing a hat and a stylish suit. It is a huge mistake IMO to focus on RYBS’s lomdus without understanding the Tzidkus that RYBS also exemplified in his own way.
    3-5)Being able to learn was only one aspect of being a talmid-it is well known that RYBS valued talmidim neemanim.
    4-6)It is fairly well documented in many of the hespedim for R Moshe Twersky HaShem Yimkam Damo ZL, that RYBS viewed R Moshe Twersky HaShem Damo ZL not just as a bright grandson but as a true talmid-who tore kriyah when he learned of RYBS’s Petirah, and who RYBS poured much of his Gadlus BaTorah into as a chavrusa of RYBS .It is also well known that RYBS spoke out vigorously against RER ZL and his advocacy of Hafkaas Kiddushin-which obvuiously led to RER leaving YU and moving on to the leadership of Bar Ilan.

    I don’t think that “a biography with even more extensive attention to his weltanschauung than Marc Shapiro’s book on RYYW ztl, will help in giving us a more authoritative view” simply no author can produce such a work without being able to be as authoritative and wide ranging in their knowledge of Torah and the secular world as RYBS.All we can do is buy and learn as much of RYBS’s total corpus from whoever disseminates the same in a responsible manner.

  92. Steve Brizel says:

    http://www.torahmusings.com/2014/11/sheilati-ubakashati-review-mah-sheilatech-esther/The review in question hardly can be viewed as a favorable review of the author’s premises, methodology, sources utilized and conclusions reached therein. i think that calling it favorable requires anyone to engage in mental gymnastics of a sophisticated nature.

  93. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, I cannot be more explicit wrt your incredulous statement about “any such recipient can be equated to the average musmach” to which i brought you a clear, unambiguous counter-example. You ramble on my comments to Dov, would require time to debunk; given my assessment of your ability to read or reason or stay on point, it would not be worthwhile.

  94. dr. bill says:

    A key word added; disregard above post

    Steve Brizel, Now, you point to the SAME review I have commented on before in response to Mr. Reisman. (BTW, Your link is corrupted, I believe.) The review says NOTHING about R. Anat Novoselky. She is the counter-example to your incredulous statement. As i previously suggested, the comments section of the blog post you (tried to) point to contains a link to a review by R. Solomon, that R. Bechoffer himself provides. There is also another link to a review by Chana Luntz. I don’t know either reviewer. Please read either or both; they discuss R. Noveselsky’s 2 teshuvot. With apologies, you remind me of a maaseh shehaya, in the Rav ztl’s shiur in the late 60’s. As someone (who i will not identify) was (attempting to) read, the Rav interrupted him saying – You must be a genius, you came here straight from the eighth grade, and do NOT know how to read. Either that or or you comment without the need to read.

  95. Dov says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful replies , what i admire most about this site is that even when there are disagreements , it is done with respect. My question is more how would you reply to a far left talmid of YU who claims he is acting in the name of his Rebbe and time will prove him to be correct. We have seen many innovations being made with this same battle cry. Whether the issue is Woman’s minyanim, Maharats, arguments that Halachically a married one does not need to have hair covering, etc. the arguments are always made from the LWMO camp that they are challenging the status quo . The reply back from most of Rabbi Gordimer’s articles have mostly been that this is beyond the pale of orthodoxy. IMHO that argument doesn’t address the LWMO argument. They would reply; “of course this is innovative , but this is what is right and what RYBS would have done if he was in my shoes.”

    I for one am from a yeshiva background our starting point is tradition is the chazakah and to break this muchzak you need prove to me that the “old style way” is wrong.

    So to pose the question again how would the wonderful commentators on this site answer question like this:
    (taken from Ysoschar Katz’ facebook wall)

    Paying it Forward?

    Superimposing an ancient debate onto a contemporary disagreement, Rav Herschel Shachter compares his Rabbinic colleagues who try to address agunah and conversion issues to the corrupting Mityavnim (the Jewish Hellenizers), and the conservative Rabbis who oppose the modernizers to the heroic Chashmonaim.
    He is not the first one to make this analogy. Years ago some Chareidi gedolim (R. Aaron Kotler, R. Moshe Feinstein and the Satmar Rav) claimed that they were the contemporary Chashmonaim, while R. Soloveitchik and the rest of the Roshei Yeshivah at Yeshiva University were the Mityavnim. From the Charedi perspective these MO leaders deserved this derogatory moniker because they trimmed (or shaved) their beards, dressed modernly, and condoned Torah U’Madda, practices that are anathema to “orthodoxy.”
    Sad then to see that several years later the recipients of this derogatory label denigrate others with the same trope formerly used to delegitimize them.
    Ironically, this anachronistic retrojection is also complicated historically. The Chashmonaim were indeed victorious, but their victory did not last for ever. Kohanic hegemony was eventually replaced by Rabbinic authority, a political change which also heralded a philosophical shift. Kohanic conservatism was replaced by Rabbinic moderation.
    Practically that would then mean that those who espouse a modern and progressive orthodoxy are the intellectual heirs of chazal, while those who champion the status-quo are actually advocating a view which was ultimately rejected.

  96. Dov says:

    sorry i posted without editing , but hopefully that made sense

  97. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-try reading the linked review by R Bechofer before claiming that it was favorable of the book in question and resorting to the techniques of either Maaseh Rav or Maaseh Listor.

  98. Steve Brizel says:

    Once again the linked review in question.http://www.torahmusings.com/2014/11/sheilati-ubakashati-review-mah-sheilatech-esther/ Read it or look for it at the website.

  99. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, Let me make it simpler. You do not even have to read, just search the article you link to for the name “Noveselsky.” I never made ANY comment on R. bechoffer’s review “of the book in question” but only on the lack of comments on R. Novoselsky specifically. However, the reviews pointed to, one by R. Bechoffer and one by another comment, address her teshuvot (very positively.) Despite having read the original teshuvot and the reviews, I do not view a blog as the proper place for a detailed halakhic discussion. Have a good Shabbat.

  100. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bil-Why not comment on the review, instead of enaging in what IMO is an exercise in avoiding the contents therein? I see no difference between R Bechoffer’s review and a “review” that you read elsewhere, other than I suspect that you are not interested in R Bechoffer’s POV for a complete and objective discussion of the book, as opposed to defending the author.

  101. dr. bill says:

    Steven Brizel, I cannot comment on a non-existent review. R. Bechoffer talks about r. Bartov NOT r. Novoselky. the review he pointed to, does discuss her teshuvot. Go back to the 23rd of June and you can read my comment specfically about r. novoselsky. you opened yourself up to being easily proven INCORRECT in the comment you made earlier that day by saying ANY compared to the average musmach. No one trained in the rudiments of logic EVER says ‘any” if they do not have knowledge of EVERY individual. It is obvious you do not. Besides, normal rabbinic subjects in YD and OH, R. Novoselsky is a known expert in CM and EH, areas that are not even studied by most musmachim beyond some familiarity with a few topics in EH. On your next trip to Israel, spend some time asking around about her. The other factoid that you are probably not aware of, is that R. Novoselsky is about the age of the average musmach’s mother. IMHO, she compares rather well to the average 50-60 year old rabbi, chareidi or otherwise.

  102. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-In the meantime, why don’t you address R Bechoffer’s review of R Bartov’s work, which you have studiously avoided in this discussion. I stand correct in your reference to R Novoselsky, and will not comment on the same in the absence of seen a review , in print or online of the same.

  103. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that by claiming that book that R Bechoffer reviewed either was authored solely by Ms. Bartov or that R Bechoffer did not review a book that was authored in any manner by Ms. Novoselsly is incorrect. Just take a look at the review if you need more proof in that regard.

  104. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, I will not discuss halakhic controversies on a blog, particularly where readers likely did not read the original teshuvot. I also do not want to criticize teshuvot (by r. bartov), without the benefit of a discussion, particularly in areas where i do not have requisite competence. I appreciate many of R. Bechoffer’s points on R. Bartov’s two tshuvot, but will not comment further. WRT r. Novoselsky, I enjoyed her tshuvot, both their thoroughness and in one case her sensitivity to the shoel. The reviews (one pointed to by r. bechoffer and one by a reader,) were similarly complementary.

  105. David Z says:

    “They too were vilified, but in the end they prevailed.”

    Who vilified them? The ts’dukim?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This