There Is No Continuity Without Authenticity

Analogizing to competition sports, rabbinic debate usually resembles nothing more exciting than tiddly-winks or croquet. Last week, however, rabbinic sport turned to mud-wrestling. The slimy stuff flew between supporters and detractors of the RCA resolution the week before that found the ordination of women beyond the pale of Orthodoxy.

Surprisingly absent from the overheated rhetoric was serious consideration of the much stronger statement by Agudah’s Moetzes Gedolei Torah issued a few days after the RCA vote results were announced. Perhaps the OO camp was unperturbed over the pronouncement of the Moetzes, the brain trust of American haredim, which read OO out of the Big Tent of Orthodoxy. Does Putin lose sleep if he is condemned for being un-American? Even without the statement, the world of OO appeared to all as occupying a position at the other end of the universe from that of Agudah. Why would they care?

They had better care. Too many parts of Orthodox life are interconnected. We have all grown accustomed to choice and variety in kosher food. That availability is bound up with numbers. Producers, eateries and supervisorial agencies are all sensitive to the size of the market; very few want to dismiss major groups of consumers. That is why so many restaurants are cholov Yisrael, and so many Pesach programs are non-gebrokt, even though many if not most of the attendees would love to have matzoh brei for breakfast. You just can’t keep the program afloat without factoring in the participants with Chassidic roots. All in all, on the market level you must consider most of the time that haredim are already more populous than non-haredim, having more children per family.

Precisely at the time that some OO rabbis are trying to band together to form their own local kashrus agencies, the Moetzes is telling everyone else that these rabbis cannot be trusted. That is going to impact on the marketability of an OO hechsher to the general community. It also means that when OO rabbis seek a role in existing agencies, they are going to be turned down. People who might not have been able to do so will point to the Moetzes statement and say that they cannot afford to lose those rabbis and lay people who respect it.

More importantly, matters of personal status will be similarly impacted. I sit on a conversion beis din – arguably, the one with the toughest standards in Southern California. We ask applicants who seem distant from our expectations why they have come to us, when there are other options that will make the process much simpler, quicker and easier. They usually respond by wistfully acknowledging that they have considered it, but they don’t want to take a chance with their future children’s acceptance by the community. They will go with the gold standard to ensure that their conversion will not be questioned in other locales, or at some future time.

OO and the IRF (the rabbinic arm of OO, which was explicitly included in the Moetzes statement) are considering or already doing their own marriages, gittin, and conversions. Anything they do will now be rejected by so many people, that even staunch advocates of OO should have to think twice: is this really fair to my kids? What will the impact of going to the IRF be on their acceptance twenty years from now? Can I afford to take the chance?

By far, however, the most important consequence of the Moetzes statement is that it places any possibility of sustained growth of OO in grave doubt.

Clearly, parts of the OO platform are attractive to many, many people. We could predict that OO will expand for a while. Then, like some models of the universe, it will begin to contract until it all disappears in a black hole. That is because, in the final analysis, continuity boils down to authenticity. Revolutions ride a crest of popularity, and then almost always fail in the next generation, if they take that long.

OO will likely grow. But what are the chances that it will be able to sell itself in the future? Modern Orthodoxy (the non-OO type) has a powerful message, despite its detractors. It holds out the possibility of living as committed Jews without significant isolation. Like every other subgroup in contemporary Orthodoxy, it is dealing with its challenges. But it holds on because it can tell itself that it is authentic, that no massive discontinuity interrupts between the past and the present. It teaches and respects the same Torah that haredim study. Conservative Judaism was attractive enough a few decades ago to become the largest of all the denominations. By now, it awaits a decent burial. It tried, but failed miserably, at convincing the next generation that it really was the heir to the Jewish past, and therefore the master of the Jewish future.

This point is crucial. The larger ModernOrthodox community that is neither OO nor haredi can demonstrate to itself that it sits on the same continuum with haredi Orthodoxy. This can be questioned by others, rightly or wrongly, but it will not dislodge the claim. Modern Orthodoxy can, should, and does make the argument to itself, however, that it shares what is crucial to belief with haredim. It does not have to accept every haredi practice and leaning to do that. If it would let go of that belief, it could not survive.

When young people study in Israel, some of them “flip;” others do not. They find an intensity of learning and practice that they cannot dismiss. They find out that the Rambam was a real Jew; that so was R Akiva Eiger, the Ketzos, the Nodah B’Yehudah. Even chodosh-assur-min-haTorah Chasam Sofer was authentic. They find a way to prove to themselves that they are part of that mesorah, or they become part of Social Orthodoxy, and their kids will likely drop out at a faster clip than their own contemporaries. You cannot treat the upper echelon of Torah scholarship as irrelevant – or be utterly repudiated by the same – and lay claim to authenticity.

OO is in a lose-lose position. If it claims to reflect the same practices, the same depth of learning as other parts of the community, it will lose, because that is demonstrably not true. If it claims that those to its right are irrelevant, it will lose, because it will cut itself off from the chain of history. It will be popular for the moment and inauthentic in the long run.

All of the above is a tragedy of epic proportions. It is certainly nothing to gloat about. Unless OO can pull itself back from the brink, we are going to lose, chas v’shalom, many people. In the short run, OO is, I believe, hugely preferable to classic Conservatism, because it is still committed to some/most forms of halachic practice, which Conservatism never was. We should pray that this continues. It is unlikely that HKBH cares about labels, even if we mortals have to. He cares about mitzvos, and we want OO to keep practicing them, even if we have to draw a bright-line to demonstrate, paraphrasing Prof. Marc Shapiro’s title, the limits of acceptable Orthodox belief.

The Moetzes certainly understood the consequences of reading OO out of Orthodoxy. They also knew that Torah survives at times through a core of those dedicated to its real values. (The Netziv observes that of all the males who left Egypt, only two made it into Israel.) Leadership requires making tough choices. Agree with its decision or not, the Moetzes exercised decisive leadership. We pray that OO leadership will arise that will begin to lead Jewish brothers and sisters back in the direction of authenticity.

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35 Responses

  1. Yechiel Goldreich says:

    Does the statement of the Moetzes against Open Orthodoxy and IRF imply acceptance of the RCA and the rest of Modern Orthodoxy?

  2. Joel rich says:

    One thing any good actuary can tell you is that projection of current trends is almost always wrong, it’s just a question of which direction. If one looks at the original conservative movement and chassidic movement in their infancy, one would’ve been hard-pressed to know which one would remain part of orthodoxy and which one wouldn’t. I have little doubt that if open orthodoxy did not exist much of the fire It is taking would be directed at The elements of modern Orthodox that view engagement in the world as a lchatchila while still maintaining A strong allegiance to the primacy of Torah study. Personally I think the jury is still out on where open Orthodox will end upbut as it stands now the indications are not good in my opinion for being part of orthodoxy, But that’s just my opinion. I get the impression there are many who would like to write out Large parts of yeshiva university, Touro and even ner of old in varying degrees. While there seems to be a grudging acceptance of Torah uparnasa (we can discuss the demographic reason that this needs to be true ),The idea of contributing to and benefiting from advances in other areas both the hard And soft sciences etc. seems to be viewed as not orthodox. Open and social orthodoxy (the chareidi version as well)should be rejected as lchatc hula , however I fear many of us non right wing (i.e. Not Torah uparnassa)will go to our ultimate din and cheshbon looking upwards and saying “and yet it moves”)
    Please google that phrase if the connection is unclear
    Kol tuv

    • Mycroft says:

      Prophecy was taken away from the prophets and given to the children and fools. Certainly neither Rabbis Adlerstein, Menken and Grodimer fit that description. My hunches in this case tend to be similar to Joel Rich”s in the above matters.
      I tend to especially agree with Joel Rich that MO would be a target of many of the attackers of OO if OO did not exist. I have been in Israel a few times in past year and listened to a lot of YU Torah recently. Those are probably the only advantages of retirement. I have listened to shiur in of leading YU RY and IMO the leading names cited especially by CC writers is far from MO. Thirty years of their leadership has produced Rabbonim who are not MO. In my community thirty years ago One could find Rabbonim who sent their children to MO schools. Today no one does those who are YU musmachim send their children to chareidi schools.
      The Rav encouraged some of his students to study for PhDs. Current head of RIETS certainly wouldn’t encourage such behavior
      One cant predict the future. who could have predicted the change in YU. It is very likely that the changes at YU would not have happened had RAL not made Aliyah. Unanticipated changes such as Aliyah of one individual changed Orthodoxy in US.

      • Robert Lebovits says:

        The secular domain and general culture that we encounter today has absolutely no parallel to what we experienced 30 years ago. The social and technological upheaval has been so rapid in the last twenty years that it is foolhardy to reference positions taken by the Rav at that time. Social media, universal connectivity, redefinition of marriage, the loss of any semblance of propriety in personal conduct, and the abnegation of theologically-based morality in the non-Jewish world have not been seen before and are in fact discontinuous with previous generations.
        Much like the Holocaust was not simply an extension of the pogroms of the 19th century, the acceleration of change today is unlike anything that has gone before. The fact that people in the Orthodox community who might have felt comfortable with MO schools for their children no longer see them as satisfactory may really be a reflection of the degree to which those schools have moved toward the non-traditional forces of change and away from their previous identity.
        One could speculate that the temptations and challenges faced by all people of faith now are so consequential that were the Rav considering those questions today he might find RHS to be a maikal.

  3. Menachem Lipkin says:

    This sort of reminds me of the Watergate break in. Nixon was far ahead in the poles and he nothing to gain, and everything to lose. And lose he did. The Agudah has nothing to gain here. For their own adherents its more material for their echo chamber and for so many others, who pay attention, it only serves to distance them from the rest of Judaism and diminish their leaders in the eyes of so many of them. Worst of all, in creates divisiveness and Sinah at a time where there is already an overabundance of those feelings. And, being that we are a stiff-necked people, it actually serves to bolster the fortunes and popularity of the very fringe it seeks to diminish. From where I sit it is a strategic error. Fortunately, as you highlight, it is largely irrelevant to mainstream Judaism. At best, it will serve as an “I told you so” footnote should your prognostication, C”V, be accurate. But the cost already has been too high.

    Further, it totally ignores the reality of what goes on in Israel, where the center of Judaism is now firmly entrenched. Outside the relatively small world of the Chareidim, observance is very fluid. (Even among Chareidim you’d be shocked how varied observance can be.) The two women who were ordained by Rabbis Sperber and Hefter this summer barely made a blip on the radar. Partnership Minyanim are proliferating, again without any edicts declaring them outside of “orthodoxy”. Yes, there are plenty of problems but divisive edicts by organizations that claim representation are not among them.

    • Sam Karchi says:

      This is not an issue of gain and loss. We are talking about a Chilul Hashem when people who have been educated in orthodox Yeshivoth and call themselves Orthodox have corrupted not only the term Orthodoxy but also redefined Halacha and Hashkafa in a way not compatible to our traditions. Chillul Hashem needs to be pointed out and in this case it is not only Chillul Hashem but also intellectual dishonesty towards themselves and the wider orthodox public. Historically there were many who decried the Chasam Sofer, R Shamshon Raphel Hirsch and countless other Rabbinic leaders. These leaders were not afraid to be labeled Sonei Israel and did not care about their popularity and status.

      I would like to know who your mainstream Judaism is. There are a lot of secular jews for whom any issue within Judaism is not relevant. We have the various liberal factions (reform, conservative) who are sadly in a state of accelerated decline due to assimilation and other factors. The only group withinJudaism who have future and are growing are the Orthodox ranging from Ultra-Modern to the charedim and for these groups this is most definitely an issue. OO, who by the way looks and tastes like the conservative movement of yesteryear, is a danger to the continuation of modern Orthodoxy.

      By the way I don’t know how well you are traveled but Israel, Europe and the USA the Charedim are not a relative small minority any more.

  4. Chaim Saiman says:

    Kinda stinks to stage a protest when no one reacts. But here is why:

    Main reason: To use Wall Street speak, it is already priced into the market.The Aguda’s statement does not add anything to what everyone already expected. Earnings reports don’t generate a bump in share price unless they exceed expectations.

    Second level reason: At they lay level, OO and MO are very mixed and hard to define. The family that is uncomfortable with a partnership minyan is not about to stop eating at the house of the family who attends one, just because of the Agudah pronouncement.

    Third level reason: Track record. Someone can chase down Agudah pronouncements on Zionism, religious zionism, serving in Tzahal and secular studies. They have not been clairvoyant on modern Jewish history. They may or may not be right here, but they don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

    Fourth level reason: The Agudah’s main insight into modern Judaism is that the beit midrash and Torah study are the central institutions of the Jewish community. This has had a positive trickle down effect into MO and OO communities. Because OO agrees with Agudah on this point (though it surely takes a different form),it is more difficult for the Agudah to write them off.

    • Doc P says:

      “The Aguda’s statement does not add anything to what everyone already expected.”
      I don’t understand how you can not see the earth shattering effect of their pronouncement. This isn’t the same as a ban on serving in Tzahal, This is a halachic ruling of far reaching consequence. To quote Rav Ahron Feldman from an interview in this weeks Hamodia; “Their gittin are not gittin, their conversions are not conversions”.
      It certainly sounds like the Agudah has clearly stated that If OO grants a get to a woman and she remarries, all future children will now have the status of mamzerim.
      Perhaps you are correct that many MO affiliated jews will take the position that “well my rabbi says it’s ok” and discount the Agudah. But to not acknowledge the historical significance?
      To dismiss this out of hand is ridiculous. I may have grown up MO but I certainly wouldn’t let my children marry someone, who in the eyes of all black hat American jewry, is a mamzir, I wouldn’t let my child marry someone converted by their rabbis.
      As far as I’m concerned OO has now been isolated because no one I know would marry their kids without serious investigation.

  5. Miriam Weed says:

    I just figured out what really bothered me about Aguda’s proclamation. There is no such halachic category a Orthodox. There is Sabbath observant, there is presumed to be an observer or mitzvot (for example kashrut) such that one may rely upon that person’s assurances about certain factual matters that impact upon halacha. And I’m sure there are very many other real categories But the one they picked to focus on, simply doesn’t really exist in their own frame of reference.

    • Sam Karchi says:

      The definition of orthodoxy is generally accepted as not only following the practice but also the agreeing and retransmitting the beliefs received through our chain of tradition from Kabolas Hatorah onwards. The tenets of this belief is codified in the RAMBA”M not only in the 13 principles but also in in Hilchoth Deioth as well as in other Rishonim and Poskim. Following this it is easy to see that OO has defined itself clearly outside Orthodoxy.

    • Doctor P says:

      I think you missed the point. The Agudah only used the term “Orthodox” because OO stamped it on their letterhead.
      In the minds of the masses “orthodox” is a brand. And just like any major manufacturer will sue to protect its reputation and trademark, the Agudah is protecting the value of the term.
      All frum people recoil when a kippah wearing Jew is arrested and pictured in newspapers. We call it chillul Hashem, but what it is , is brand dilution. A devaluation of the idea of orthodox in the minds of the masses.
      The Agudah is making it clear that OO is guilty of trademark infringement .

    • Ari Heitner says:

      Your problem is that you read the second paragraph (“…is not a form of Torah Judaism (Orthodoxy)…”) and not the first (“…reject the basic tenets…”)

      See Rambam Hilchos Teshuva ch. 3 halacha 8:
      שלושה הן הכופרים בתורה: האומר שאין התורה מעם ה’, אפילו פסוק אחד, אפילו תיבה אחת–אם אמר משה אמרו מפי עצמו, הרי זה כופר בתורה; וכן הכופר בפירושה, והיא תורה שבעל פה, והכחיש מגידיה, כגון צדוק ובייתוס; והאומר שהבורא החליף מצוה זו במצוה אחרת, וכבר בטלה תורה זו, אף על פי שהיא הייתה מעם ה’, כגון הנוצריים וההגריים. כל אחד משלושה אלו כופר בתורה.

      Someone who rejects the Divine authorship of the Torah – even a tiny part of it – is an apikorus (loosely, heretic). The source is the gemara in Perek Chelek (Sanhedrin ch. 10), 90b and 99b. No, the Rambam didn’t make it up in his 13 principles. Yes, all authorities agree with the Rambam.

      (n.b. Ordaining women rabbis, giving them aliyos, or even counting them for a minyan does not make one an apikorus)

      • Mycroft says:

        It is not universally accepted that every part of the Torah was given to Moshe Rabbeinu by God. Certainly a view in Gemarrah that last 9 verses not from God to Moshe. In Ezra extends that to last chapter and I believe four other verses in Chumash. I do agree with the gist of your comments that belief in the essential revelation of the Torah by God is fundamental to our belief. My pet peeve is don’t oversell our product. We have a great product and eyes should be enough to sell it.

    • Rob says:

      Exactly. Torah has no labels of Orthodox, Reform, etc. There are only individual mitzvot that one keeps or does not keep. But the fewer one keeps, the fewer one’s children are likely to keep.

  6. Raymond says:

    I do not think that I know enough about the Open Orthodoxy movement to make any kind of definitive statement about it. My general feeling, though, is that perhaps this is all a matter of degrees. There are things within the Chareidi world that has needed some corrections, although I also think that movements within Orthodox Judaism, such as the approaches of Rav Hirsch, Chabad Chassidism, and Modern Orthodoxy, have each found a way to make these corrections without compromising Torah-true values. In sharp contrast, my sense is that the Open Orthodox movement simply goes too far with this concept of correction, to the point where it cannot be said to be an authentic movement within Orthodox Judaism.

  7. David Ohsie says:

    Dear Rabbi Adlerstein, you’ve already indicated (rightly) that blind allegiance to the words of Gedolim is not required in at least two of your posts ( [1] and ( [2]

    You also claim that “Analogizing to competition sports, rabbinic debate usually resembles nothing more exciting than tiddly-winks or croquet.” I find this surprising given that you’ve blogged about the conflicts between R. Steinman and R. Kanievsky vs. R. Auerbach in Israel in which R. Kanievsky appeared to call his opponent a “Zaken Mamre” ( while R. Steinman was physically attacked by his opponents. Going back a bit farther, R. Shach condemned as heretical Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Steinsaltz. It is unfortunate fact that, despite your claim here, the debates between different factions within Orthodox Judaism have often devolved into accusations of heresy. And if we are honest, it is more common as you go farther to the right.

    “Perhaps the OO camp was unperturbed over the pronouncement of the Moetzes, the brain trust of American haredim, which read OO out of the Big Tent of Orthodoxy.”

    Does the Moetzes really have a “Big Tent” view of orthodoxy? If it was practical, wouldn’t they also be writing MO out as well? Does the MO care what about the view of the Moetzes on the value of secular studies or the validity of the modern scientific enterprise? Of course not.

    When young people study in Israel, some of them “flip;” others do not. They find an intensity of learning and practice that they cannot dismiss. They find out that the Rambam was a real Jew; that so was R Akiva Eiger, the Ketzos, the Nodah B’Yehudah. Even chodosh-assur-min-haTorah Chasam Sofer was authentic.

    Does OO claim they are not authentic? Did the Kesav Sofer claim his father was inauthentic when he refused to go along with his decrees after his death?

    Agree with its decision or not, the Moetzes exercised decisive leadership.

    WADR, I don’t understand this argument. Is decisive leadership in the wrong direction desirable?

    I’m not a member or endorser of OO, but debate is preferable to invective, IMO.


  8. Shaya says:

    One problem with the statement is that it says categorically that YCT semicha means nothing. But the thing is, many of the graduates of YCT have gone on to become rabbis at out-of-town Modern Orthodox shuls, and many of them are completely un-controversial and indistinguishable from mainstream MO.

    In our community, a YCT-trained rabbi speaks at events alongside charedi rabbis at Orthodox community events, and has taught in a charedi school. Several frum familities attend both his shul and other charedi or MO shuls in the neighborhood.

    Regardless of the statement, many MO and charedim will continue to treat YCT-trained rabbis as legitimate Orthodox rabbis, as long as they don’t say or do anything heretical (as, of course, some graduates have certainly done).

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    R Adleterstein summarizes superbly why the committed MO world and its rabbinical and lay leadership and institutions must dissociate itself completely from OU institutions and events on a communal basis.The RCA resolution is IMO only the beginning of this effort

  10. Cvmay says:

    Full page ads & article exposing Open Orthodoxy for what it truly represents is for WHICH READERS????
    Are the Yated, Hamodia & even Cross Currents readers the ones that the articles are published for? If not (which we know it is not), why waste the efforts, energies, ink & cash for these exposes! What is being accomplished??
    Please explain, Cvm

  11. Noam Stadlan says:

    I have great respect for the author. But some questions need to be asked. If there is a get who converts and is shomer Torah u’mitzvot, but converted with rabbis banned by the Moetzes. Are you saying that people are going to oppress this convert just to get at the people who converted him? That they are going to basically oppress a convert(ona’at ha’ger) to make a point? Does that make sense? Perhaps more importantly, doesn’t that violate s major issue? Similarly, if the kashrut standards are ok, are you going to say the food isn’t kosher?for political reasons? Is that Halachically acceptable?
    I understand being concerned about dogma and disagreeing about the Halachic appropriateness of certain actions. Where is the psak Halacha addressing the concerns? Where is the analysis?
    The analogy I would use is Zionism. Zionists don’t care much what anti-zionists write because no matter how learned they are, with regards to Zionism, the starting points are worlds apart. Similarly with regard to the role of women in The Orthodox public square, the starting point of the aguda and the liberal wing ( and probably most of) Modern Orthodoxy are so far apart so that each is irrelevant to the other.

    [YA – The respect is strong and mutual.

    There will not be intentional ona’at hager. It doesn’t take that to make life miserable for them. The facts are – like them or not – that people are skeptical about both giyur and kashrus, for different reasons. Long gone are the days in which the psak of any beis din would be accepted every place else, unless there were unusual problems. With the destruction of the kehila system in the wake of WWI, groups began to question every other group. This is particularly true about geirus. I think I have written before that my colleagues on the GPS beis din in SoCal could make small fortunes moonlighting as dayanim for geirus “do-overs” for people who now find their (or their parents) geirus raising eyebrows with others in the community. Or, their perception that eyebrows will be raised. (As it is, we turn down all requests for “giyur lechumrah” unless they originate from a shul rov.) Anyone using the IRF (and kal v’chomer) the new beis din for agunos is playing with the future of their offspring.

    Kashrus is similar. When people ask me, “Is Hechsher X kosher?” I gently instruct them. The only one who will ever know if a piece of meat was schechted properly is the cow – and she ain’t talkin’. Standing from the outside, we never know. All questions about reliabilty boil down to assumptions and impressions by others in the Torah community about standards, and about the ehrlichkeit of the rav hamachshir. (Lots of hashgachos and batei din presided over by people with long beards and kapotes that none of us would – or should – come near.) Here as well, any beis din operated by OO personnel will be assumed to be faulty. People (and by people I once again mean the vast majority of the Orthodox community, because traditional Modern Orthodoxy is today a minority that loses proportional representation each year because of difference in family size) will argue that OO people have poorer backgrounds in learning, and less commitment to halachic detail. Again, it does not matter whether this is true in all cases. It is the state of affairs today. (That does not preclude yechidim who work in concert with others from the traditional community.) It is what it is.

    What is the halachic basis? According to my analysis, we are looking at sociology, not halacha. But there is a halachic basis. I remember Rav Moshe zt”l for years arguing about a particular hechsher that people were skeptical about. He said, “Eid echad neeman b’issurim!” He couldn’t be budged. But time caught up with him after hearing enough stories. He began to write that this assumption of the gemara applied to situations that were essentially binary – the meat in question was either purchased from a shochet or it wasn’t. As kashrus became exceedingly complex because we relied on industrialized production, we needed assurance that the production was under the supervision of people with lots of yir’as shomayim. IOW, the halachic issue always was ne’emanus. In kashrus today, as well as gittin, etc., neemanus is the key factor. Some people just don’t strike others as sufficiently careful or knowledgeable. (Sample Pesach programs for a few years, and you’ll find out quickly.)

    In the case of OO, besides concerns for standards that people who five years earlier couldn’t tell the difference between Raquetball and Rashba, there are now halachic concerns about neemanus stemming from unacceptable beliefs. Remember, categories like “apikorus,” “min,” “kofer” are halachic. They have halachic consequence; one of the most obvious being a statutory negation of their neemanus!

    The comparison to Zionism/anti-Zionism is not apposite. Each group can survive ideologically without the other. Not so concerning orientation towards halacha and Torah learning. That was the point of my piece. OO may grow for a while, but like Big Bang, Big Bust will inevitably follow, as children will not be held by a system that they sense makes them discontinuous with gedolim of past centuries. They will NOT be able to tell themselves that they are part of a system that shares the world of the Nodah B’Yehudah, R Akiva Eiger, R Chaim Brisker. Without continuity in the language of Torah, there is no authenticity to be found. Without that authenticity, there is no future.]

  12. Micha Berger says:

    This essay wrongly presumes that the typical Open “Orthodox” Jew sees the Agudah as representing authenticity. Given the number of articles written about chareidi revisionism, the rewriting of the past and the banning of counter-evidence, they have certainly worked hard to prove that they do not.

    Much the way C pins the comparative intransience of Orthodoxy on the Chasam Sofer’s “Chadas Assur Min haTorah — The New is Forbidden by the Torah”, and claims that their malleability was the norm until some Counter Reformation of the 18th and 19th centuries. Open Orthodoxy is well positioned to claim that their variant is the truth the chareidi is trying to hide.

    Yet another problem with hiding the truth is that it makes it easy for others to lie about it.

    But in any case, you are not dealing with people who consider the Agudah and the Moetzes very often, and when they do, it’s more likely with rejection — what have they done for agunos lately! for the sexually abused! for their kids going off to drugs! for the shidduch crisis! — than as a yardstick for their own authenticity.

    [YA – You’ve missed the point. It is not the authenticity of Aguda or the Moetzes that is important, but what they arguable can lay claim to. You (or I!) might or might not have legitimate complaints about errors of omission or commission by the same. If those complaints were all valid (unlikely) they would not detract from the ability of those within the Orthodox world who look up to them to see themselves as the logical continuation of the world of the Rishonim, of the Nodah B’Yehudah, R Akiva Eiger, the Chasam Sofer, the Chofetz Chaim. Alas, too many in the OO camp could not make that claim, and their children will have a difficult time convincing themselves of their authenticity.]

  13. DF says:

    I don’t agree with this analysis. The problem with OO, and all the other micro-groups with different names, is that they foolishly focused on a hot button social issue like feminism. They failed to study history. It was this issue, and no other, that split and ultimately destroyed the Conservative movement, and this issue, and no other, that destroyed OO. The difference between the sexes, and attempts to blur them, are easily recognized, and will never be tolerated by the public. The Catholics too, have made this a line of demarcation. However, there are plenty of other, more arcane areas where orthodoxy has gone WAY too far to the right, for which the time for a correction of the pendulum is due. Had Open Orthodoxy focused their efforts here, they would be thriving today.

    Since you mentioned it, Kashrus is an excellent example. Few people study it. It is not something where people have kneejerk reactions and opinions. People basically just do what everyone else is doing. There is plenty of room – in fact, it would be welcomed – for a new hechsher. The existing Big Kosher industry has, for anyone who has studied it, an enormous amounts of chumrah built into it. There are hundreds of thousands of Jews who have no interest in chumrahs, and would love to expand the palate of opportunities, but for the lack of any kashrus agency that follows halacha, just not chumrah.* Had the OO concentrated its efforts and marketing in this arena, rather than on the special interests of feminist, it would have had far greater success. Indeed, showing a responsible sense of judgment in this area would have given them greater clout for social issues down the road. If some new organization is going to rise from the inevitable ashes of the OO, they should be smart about it, and not immediately turn to intractable matters.

    *There actually is one agency that meets this description – the Triangle K. Their rabbonim are huge talmedei chachamim (some in Lakewood, if that is important) and many or most of their schochtim are the same exact men who shecht for other companies under different labels. Unfortunately, they have not taken the initiative to advertise these facts to the broader orthodox public. They should.

  14. Mycroft says:

    Currently the reason why people are forced to follow Chareidi dictates is the current Israeli PM who is willing to give them religious monopoly because he does,t care one way or the other about religion. Remember he was once married to a non Jew.
    Future projections are impossible. The same time that it appears that the right has increased in US Orthodox influence Israeli Orthodoxy has a much stronger modernistic movement. The percentage of religious girls enlisting in the IDF has increased in leaps and bound the past decade. One even has mid rasht that many go in their gap year before starting their IDF service.
    For better or worse Rabbis who clearly accept Halacha who are charismatic in Israel are taking a much more open attitude to women’s issues than mainstream US Orthodoxy. Not intending to evaluate the merits of OO but IMO their leaders are not generally accepted to be those who one would submit complicated Sheila’s to. Caveat I do not know Rabi Linzer and I in the past week heard a shiur from a RIETS teacher who disagreed with him stated that he was contemporary with Linzer in the killer andLinzer was the top student then.
    Current politics has given Chareidim their power to delegitimization MO and politics could change the result.

  15. dr.bill says:

    I am puzzled by your arguments. Do you really think anyone will act differently before versus after the moetzet declaration about geirus or hashgacha that the OO perform? Will the agudah now treat their kiddushin as invalid and not needing a get? Will they declare a get written by Rabbi Katz invalid and thereby create mamzeirim? All they said was they will not recognize their semicha. WOW – I do not recognize many semichot given on the right.

    As to your examples of hashgacha and geirut, I agree that hashgacha has a strong bias towards universal acceptance for obvious issues of attracting the widest consumer base. But is that now a halakhic principle as well? I understand yoetzeh le’chol hadaiyot as a midas chassidus for yechidim, but a halakha?? In any case, the likelihood of the satmar rebbe’s grandson marrying Rabbi Katz’s daughter let alone a geyoret that he is megayer is slim to none. And if a geirut lechumra is needed, in all but isolated cases this is certainly feasible. In general this new-fangled seif in hilkhot geirut, a broad principle that is the opposite of the halakha follows the maikilin by aveilut, is missing in my version of the SA. Thankfully, Tzohar has already stared down the chareidi argument that only our “higher” standard guarantees acceptance.

    OTOH, even absent the RCA and Agudah proclamations, I have no doubt that a rupture is in the offing; however I remain uncertain of where it may lead. To extrapolate forward, one must consider developments in Israel. If you consider hashkafa overriding, you need not read further, but if you are willing to categorize only based on observance, my conjecture may have some validity. At the “liberal” end of the religious spectrum, the right wing of the mesorati movement, parts of Tzohar, numerous flourishing academic and educational institutions, etc. house a confluence of like-minded individuals. And unlike the OO in the US, collectively, these groups can count in their midst a substantial number of rabbis and scholars of significance, women included. They are as yet an eclectic and a largely headless group with differing agendas and hashkafot. In the intermediate term, I do not see coalescence or even an alignment among these groups. However, I do believe that these groups will provide more than adequate support for both the OO and the so-called LWMO, who undoubtedly will become the next targets of de-legitimization.

    • Mycroft says:

      I tend to agree with Dr. Bill except that he doesn’t differentiate enough between right wing Conservative Judaism and LWMO. All Orthodox Judaism believes in Torah minhashamayim and believes that Halacha changes with the Halachik process. All Conservative Judaism irrespective of how traditional practice they observe believes in a more. Historical approach. There may well be those who are institutionally Orthodox but Have Conservative ideology and those who were ordained by JTS who have come to believe like us but those are people who are just mislabeled for pragmatic purposes.

    • Sam Karchi says:

      Dont know about your knowledge in Halacha but kol hameikil beaveilut is an established term in aveilut only. To be insisting on full kabolath hamitzvos is a gemara in Bechoroth and has always been accepted (not some new-fangled seif ) for a thorough reading please check IG”M Y”D 3 106.

      • dr. bill says:

        Sam Karchi, you misread what i wrote. i am well aware that the halakha applies to aveilut only. i was just noting that the opposite halakhic principle does not exist in geirus (halakha ke’machmirim be’geirus is not a principle I recall) as would be implied if only the strictest beis din’s interpretation of kabbalat ha’mitzvot is required. if you would like, read RMFztl’s three tshuvot- one written in europe, and the two after he came to america and was told about the achiezer’s and the melamaid le’hoil’s positions and how he reacted (differently.) It is one of the few cases of RMF adjusting his viewpoint. (and i would argue that anyone who denies that does not know how to read Shut.) How to reconcile the gemara you quote and other sugyot is a machloket rishonim and a more complex inyan.

      • dr. bill says:

        You misread my post. I am well aware that the phrase applies exclusively to aveilut. What I said was that a phrase like”halakha ke’divrei ha’machmirim be’geirus” is absent in my SA. And btw, read RMF ztl’s 3 early teshuvot on geirus noting when written: the one in Europe and the two where he becomes aware of the Achiezer and Melamaid le’hoil respectively. This is one of the few areas where his positions seem to have modified. and btw, how the sugyah you quote is to reconciled with other sugyot, is a complex machloket rishonim and achronim.

    • SP says:

      See this weeks hamodia. Rav Ahron Feldman went on record as saying their gittin are invalid. It follows that they hold the resulting children are mamzerim.
      This will certainly put pressure on the RCA to clarify. If the RCA aligns with the Agudah on this point I would think the isolation of OO will be complete. Who from mainstream Judaism will end up marrying their grandkids?

      • dr. bill says:

        Hamodia is not part of my reading. I was being facetious about mamzeirut, given the way poskim have behaved wrt mamzeirut. It’s easy to disqualify kiddushin or a get, but to be matir an eshess ish without a get or create mamzeirim is a wholly other matter. RMF ztl was addressing a different class of rabbis and his psak related to kiddushin not creating mamzeirut. In fact his net affect was to matir potential mamzeirim, incredible “breite plaitzes” – a heroic psak, that was disputed by other gedolai olam. I assume Rabbi Feldman would behave similarly.

  16. c-l,c says:

    OO’s aim is “divide and conquer” Now they’re working on the RCA,….

    “Surprisingly absent from the overheated rhetoric was serious consideration of the much stronger statement by Agudah’s Moetzes Gedolei Torah issued a few days after the RCA vote results were announced. Perhaps the OO camp was unperturbed over the pronouncement of the Moetzes,”

    Of course,they DO care very much and are perturbed,but it would be counterproductive and impolitic for their goals to admit it!

    • Mycroft says:

      Not surprised that OO are not bothered by the attack from the Agudah. The Agudah for decades specialized in attacking MO see eg their obituary for the Rav in the JO. OO would not even dream of satisfying them. It is the attack of an organization that at one time represented MO is the problem for OO.

  17. c-l,c says:

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

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