No, That Is Not Modern Orthodoxy

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63 Responses

  1. Rabbi Gordimer, perhaps you could write a post on what, in your view, Modern Orthodoxy actually is, and how it differs from charedi Orthodoxy?

    (I did, Rabbi Slifkin: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2015/08/20/will-the-true-modern-orthodoxy-please-stand-up/ Have a good Shabbos, Avrohom Gordimer)

    • sb says:

      Your personal bias against the charedi system is well documented. That said IMO very little separates the charedi and MO hashkafically. I have my foot in both worlds , and know many top guys from both YU and Lakewood . When discussing any number of topics from mussar to gemorah the ideals are the same. Sure there are numerous nuanced points of contention but you find that in every bais medrash and you find that on every page of the gemorah .

      OO and porat is a whole different species. They are writing their own gemorah.Your willingness to side with them even just to be a slight thorn in Rav Gordimers side is a result of personal bias against the system. You surely didn’t think this way before your run in with the charedi establishment. So why should we take your opinion seriously?

       

       

      • joel rich says:

        One need not side with OO to ask R’ Slifkin’s question as a clarifying point.  Of course we have no structure where  one “speaks” or defines MO, but anecdotally I can say that some “YU Machmir” comments seem to not be particularly open to outside wisdom/ interaction with the outside world that was MO when I wore a younger man’s clothes.

         

        KT

      • mycroft says:

        “One need not side with OO to ask R’ Slifkin’s question as a clarifying point.”

        Agreed.

        “Of course we have no structure where  one “speaks” or defines MO, but anecdotally I can say that some “YU Machmir” comments seem to not be particularly open to outside wisdom/ interaction with the outside world that was MO when I wore a younger man’s clothes.”

        Perhaps it would pay to listen to some of Prof Brill’s lectures on Modern Orthodoxy where he compares MO to “Centrism” onYU Torah. If I recall correctly he distinguishes them in  many ways. In his characterization those currently hashkafic leaders  and have been since the mid 80s are Centrists -as opposed to the YU when if I ever young mans clothes I was wearing them. It is a different hashkafa-just the same institution.

         

      • Steve Brizel says:

        JR-I think that it is a enhanced and increased recognition that both the outside wisdom and interaction with the outside world of 2016 is far different than that of the 1960s and 1970s because the content and expectations of what passes for  “outside wisdom and interaction with the outside world” has changed, and hardly in a manner that would warrant such interaction, but rather a more careful inquiry into the source and nature of such interaction. 

      • joel rich says:

        yes, but I think what I would consider throwing out the baby with the bathwater is considered by others as good riddance  🙂

        KT

      • mycroft says:

         

        That you believe very little separates chareidi and MO hashkafa by comparing top guys in YU and Lakewood shows how RIETS has changed. For a comment about how RIETS has changed from Dr Tovah Lichtenstein see the following:

        “In the United States, I believe that the influence of my father, the Rov, is on the decline…And yet, there are former students, notable among them a number of faculty members or former faculty members at RIETS, who have not only turned their backs on the complex worldview the Rov espoused but are anxious to claim that the Rov him-
        self turned his back on this view. It has even been claimed that “Whatever
        he (the Rov) did aside from learning Torah came to him coincidentally.”
        It is, indeed, preposterous to think that his major philosophical essays,
        which interweave general philosophy and science, are “coincidental.”

      • Richard says:

        This also bolsters the view of PORAT, who are claiming to reclaim Modern Orthodox. If you don’t see a difference between charedi and MO hashkafically, that means that the institutions that used to be Modern are no longer Modern, so we’ll have to found new ones.

      • dr. bill says:

        the problem for truly MO is building a cadre of poskim and talmudic scholars; for that Israel is far ahead.  I believe that MO will distinguish itself when its gedolim fully integrate academic methods in limmudai kodesh, hardly an achievable path for most individuals.

        The lack of clarity about modern orthodoxy results from new intellectual and societal challenges that PORAT wants to address and many on the right want to declare off-limits while maintaining their modernity.  in my mind this presents an oxymoronic definition of modernity.  while normally 50 years would not bring about a significantly changed environment, given the accelerating rate of change, it apparently has.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Perhaps it would be more beneficial to this issue by not resorting to the straw man of what would have RYBS thought, and the contrary evidence of the derech of some of his grandchildren, but alas,  if the same is at all relevant, one should see the views of RAL’s largely positive take on such changes in the YU Judaica book.

      • mycroft says:

        “Perhaps it would be more beneficial to this issue by not resorting to the straw man of what would have RYBS thought”

        Our goal is to follow what Chazal believed-for those of us who wish to follow the the Rav it is certainly the most relevant question to what he would have thought-that is always the question when ones leader is no longer here to try and determine what he would have done.

        ” and the contrary evidence of the derech of some of his grandchildren,”

        The Rav himself had different hashkafot than Rav Chaim so what does grandson got to with grandfather.

         

      • Ari Heitner says:

        Maybe it’s just because society’s interest in philosophy has declined? Maybe society’s interest in ideas has declined?

        I think I’m chareidi. Hat, jacket, long coat on Shabbos. I Live in E”Y. I like to daven by Rebbes. And I’m currently reading Hegel (and S.C. Kleene) in the loo. I’ve worked with (secular) millenials for the past 10 years and I haven’t found very many with whom I can discuss Kant.

        Given the state of today’s bathwater, throwing it out is no big loss.

         

      • Charlie Hall says:

        This old fuddy-duddy professor has often decried the lack of interest in traditional liberal arts education among young people today. Ironically, as the liberal arts die, the likelihood that an orthodox young person would experience challenges to his/her hashkafa by attending university has also declined.

      • Charlie Hall says:

        I take Rabbi Slifkin’s opinion seriously because he is absolutely correct on the things he was criticized for by many in the charedi community.

  2. Joe Hill says:

    It’s the same denomination is the Open Orthodox, who we already knew is not part of the Orthodox.

  3. dr. bill says:

    if nothing else, YCT is producing some rather thoughtful graduates.  Ben Greenfield’s essay is hardly more controversial than the “shtei dinim” approach to the Bible of the late Rav Breuer ztl, who received criticism from many orthodox circles.  Regardless of his stark personal observations, which are certainly present in some of our more kabbalistic prayers, his ability to read midrash without retrojecting modern day beliefs is to be applauded.  When we read these passages, it is all too easy to metaphorically dismiss  what we find unacceptable.

    If you want to criticize him for finding (ancient) Jewish roots for modern day philosophic notions, he would be in enviable company.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    The real issue is the merit or lack thereof , of the statements contained in Dr Bayme’s always cogent prose. ( Personal disclosure-I took Dr Bayme’s course on the Holocaust at YU and it was one of the best courses that I took in terms of the lectures, reading list and discussion of the development of secular anti Semitism, the events from 1933-1945, and the reactions of such individuals as Hannah Arendt to the Eichman trial, etc. It was a great introduction to a non lachrymose style of Jewish history, to paraphrase Dr Bayme’s frequent quote from  Dr Salo Baron).

    At first glance, the average reader would think that there is some sort of organized witch hunt or intellectual auto da fe going on with respect to OO. Unfortunately, as RAL ZL pointed out in a response to RYG, one should never confuse rejection with a self defined sense of persecution of some sort of suffering servant . One can find the ideas of Dr Bayme in any website that either links to his always fascinating, if not always compelling articles, and even in such forums as Tradition, the Orthodox Forum and YU Torah. The real question is the appeal or lack thereof of his sustained critique of MO today, which has been ongoing for a while.  I would suggest the following observations as a starting point:

    1) Dr Bayme’s views never have found reception beyond those who subscribe to the same. One cannot cry persecution if one’s ideas have never been accepted in the first place. When one travels around the greater NY area and especially out of town, there are strong MO communities, but which simply have never shared the views of Dr. Bayme on any of the issues that he mentioned simply because they do not view the Zeigeists of the times and/or a vaguely defined “liberal democracy” as having any right or  moral authority to offer a critique on issues such as gender, particularism vs universalism, and Jewish tradition in particular, let alone “dictate” or “demand” anything to or of the Torah observant community in  terms of Halacha or Hashkafa. The average MO family is far more interested in such issues as raising their families through their cradle to grave  life cycle events, paying tuitions for yeshivos and camps , by imparting Torah Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim by supporting their local communities and their institutions as well as resolutely supporting Israel. The overwhelming majority of MO do not engage in intellectual and emotional self flagellation over  the issues delineated by DR Bayme. IOW, MO, simply has a LW composed of Dr Bayme and Co., a RW who are a distinct minority because they are college educated, but who also spend as much engaged in Talmud Torah in their spare time as possible and view themselves as a legitimate alternative to the Charedi world  but who are not threatened by the Charedi world , and a silent majority that simply tries to the best that it can while rejecting any extremist POV, either in the Charedi or MO worlds, and which takes the best of both worlds.

    2)The millennials and today’s MO  do not suffer from intellectual challenges to Yiddishkeit such as Haskala, secular Zionism or socialism.(I was surprised that Dr Bayme did not dredge up the “challenge of science”, but I think that many of my contemporaries have long ago realized that either no answer is preferable to a bad answer, and/or that Halacha deserves and demands as much respect as any science.).  Rather, they suffer from a superficial approach to Talmud Torah, Shemiras HaMItzvos and Ikarei Emunah in which the very important days of Yom HaAtzMaut and Yom Yerushalayim seeming and mistakenly evoke more enthusiasm and passion than the ability to be Lifnei HaShem via Shabbos Kodesh, the Shalosh Regalim and the Yamim Noraim, and where their exposure to Baalei Chesed such as who live within walking distance of the YU classrooms and RIETS Beis Medrash  may be their first real exposure to Hachnas Orchim for  someone who would not be their first choice of a Shabbos guest or their exposure to the RY of RIETS may be the only link that they will have to their year(s) in Israel where they first experienced Talmud Torah in any real and/or profound sense of the term, as opposed to a high school course competing with a tough secular study class load. Many MO parents,  and their educational institutions rightfully realize that a year or two in Israel, even in a decidedly not MO setting, is a critical element in determining whether that child upon his or her return to the US and the decadent and highly secular culture , and attends YU or a secular college, will remain observant. IMO, these issues have far more importance than  endless forums, articles and books which are a nice example of preaching to the converted on why MO rejected the issues that DR Bayme views as being of paramount importance to MO.

     

     

    • mycroft says:

      “It was a great introduction to a non lachrymose style of Jewish history, to paraphrase Dr Bayme’s frequent quote from  Dr Salo Baron).”

      About 30 years ago over about a year or so I read the 18 volume or so  A social and Religious History of the Jews including the footnotes. It was an eyeopener for me. It has since changed my way of looking at our past.

  5. R.B. says:

    If PORAT defines itself as MO and not as OO, can its leadership articulate the distinctions that make it MO and not OO? Or, do they care to do so?
    The fact that the website uses the non-Orthodox overused liberal values catchphrase “tikkun olam”, is troubling.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    DR Bill-Who says that a Posek and/or Talmid Chacham must ” integrate academic methods in limmudai kodesh”? Neither the superb sefarim of R Y Tzvi Rimon nor R Harari on any subject exhibit any influence of academic methods. Let’s skip terms like”new intellectual and societal challenges” and “oxymoronic definition of modernity”. The issue is that  no MO should  act of shame , ignorance and/or embarassment and do intellectual or spiritual backflips when the Zeitgeist of the age rears its head.

    • joel rich says:

      I might say  integrate academic methods in limmudai kodesh in a manner not perceived to be outside the beit medrash (r’ d t Hoffman et al)

      I’d love to see a separate post on the source of our current bifurcated approach (i.e. for psak purposes we only care how the baalei mesorah understood their predecessors even while realizing that a later baal mesorah might have evidence of a misunderstanding -e.g. texts not available-and even in that case its a bit messy as the discovery of the  meiri demonstrates)

       

      KT

      • dr. bill says:

        i read your paper never thinking as Rabbi Gordimer appears to that you are attempting to describe God, an absurdity, as opposed to describing how we relate in often conflicting ways, something that value pluralism validates. Those who cannot find that in RH Mussaf need to spend more time concentrating on the words.

        The gemara you quote about God, the angels and Moshe has been turned into a dramatic reading of sorts by Prof. Hayes.  On a Tikvah utube with a self-described charedi, Hayes talks about it.  You might find it interesting.

      • dr. bill says:

        Sorry my comment below was directed to Benjamin Greenfield’s comment and his brief note on mussaf RH.  Now a comment meant for here.
         Steve, I never said a MO posek or Talmudist must do anything, but just observed how I think they will differentiate themselves in the yet distant future.
         Joel, with the exception of RDTH ztl and RYYW ztl and probably a few others, orthodox academic scholars did not include psak in their course of activities.  As you imply, psak is legitimately driven by how texts were understood by poskim, versus what they might actually mean.  I tend to agree with that, but it does raise serious and somewhat troubling questions.  I believe that poskim are always refining the past as they create the present.  Hence, psak, when it evolves, does so slowly.  Academics can play a role in directing their refinement process and helping a posek decide whether to lean in a particular direction and when distinctions should matter.

      • YbhM says:

        with the exception of RDTH ztl and RYYW ztl and probably a few others, orthodox academic scholars did not include psak in their course of activities. 

        These are not “orthodox academic scholars” – rather they are rabbanim/poskim who engaged in some academic studies.  RDTH in particular wrote that his work on Wellhausen was “l’divreihem” ie. he did not accept academic “empiricism” as a methodological basis.

        There have been other such rabbanim more recently.  As you indicate,  they are adamant about not employing academic methods in psak.  These rabbanim are generally of much greater scholarly stature than eg. Rabbi Katz.

      • dr. bill says:

        I am well aware that great Gedolim declared lost manuscripts the result of Hashgacha, troubling texts forgeries, etc.  One can do that up to a point, but eventually the effort becomes just too cumbersome.  It will take a while but eventually poskim will find a way forward.  I suggested one approach that appears plausible.
        It is not uncommon by the way for a posek to claim that A did not see X and had he, he would have changed his position.  The issue is much more complicated were one to attempt to assert that about the whole body of psak over many centuries in some area.

      • YbhM says:

        with the exception of RDTH ztl and RYYW ztl and probably a few others, orthodox academic scholars did not include psak in their course of activities. 

        These are not “orthodox academic scholars” – rather they are rabbanim/poskim who engaged in some academic studies.  RDTH in particular wrote that his work on Wellhausen was “l’divreihem” ie. he did not accept academic “empiricism” as a methodological basis.

        There have been other such rabbanim more recently.  As you indicate,  they are adamant about not employing academic methods in psak.  These rabbanim are generally of much greater scholarly stature than eg. Rabbi Katz.

      • joel rich says:

        I agree that’s what happens-but I haven’t heard a philosophical justification from the beit medrash for the hybrid approach

        KT

      • dr. bill says:

        Joel Rich, I think you will have to wait a whileJ.  From my perspective chareidi hashkafa is facing a very difficult challenge.  Take the now known definition of afikomen in mishnaic times.  One has to take a “liberal” view of the human element and its legitimacy in the halakhic process to justify dozens of generations of halakhic decisors about eating after the last kezais of matzo.
        Going forward, poskim who want to grant legitimacy to academic findings might be more willing to accept Rav A. Bornztein’s remarkable leniency or allow a more liberal list of what may be consumed.   The latter is possible, but a different view of the halakhic process, not too likely.

      • YbhM says:

        <i>From my perspective chareidi hashkafa is facing a very difficult challenge.  Take the now known definition of afikomen in mishnaic times. …</i>

        This “challenge” to “charedi hashakfa” would cause most peoples’ eye to glaze over long before you managed to finish explaining it…

        The actual challenges being launched today against “charedi hashkafa” are based on dogma ie. how can you not have equality for women etc?

         

  7. RYW says:

    As much as I dont like Open Orthodoxy, two points are necessary here:

    1. It is impossible to claim that MO hasnt shifted to the right, I think its a good thing, but it is a reality. Look at R Norman Lamm’s drasha on this weeks parsha (see page 2), http://brussels.mc.yu.edu/gsdl/collect/lammserm/index/assoc/HASH5498.dir/doc.pdf  If R Lamm would’ve written those things today about women’s involvement, R Gordimer would be shouting about how he is not Orthodox (they even edited some of this out when it was published as a book)! Look how things have changed form 1972 until today! Not only a rightward shift, but the very things that were once discussed openly in mainstream MO are now being ridiculed as unorthodox on this website.

    2. R Gordimer, dont you realize that you are exacerbating this situation? This is op-ed is clearly largely a response to you. Open Orthodoxy is a tiny movement, not winning over the masses (Mainstream orthodoxy is strong today, unlike during the times of the battles with conservative Judaism) and with nothing really new, but you constantly, almost daily, give them renewed energy, relevance and reason to exist. If you would have ignored them they would be nothing, but now, thanks to you and this website they feel attacked, needed (by everyone who thinks you are an extremist), and part of the conversation. Please find another hobby.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I think that R Lamm, may he Zoche LArichas Yamiom vTovim , was being cautiously optimistic about women’s issues in 1972, which was the dawn of feminism as a social and political movement in the US.

      • Charlie Hall says:

        It was a bit after the dawn. The Equal Rights Amendment was first written in 1923; the Republican National Convention first endorsed it in 1940, and Dwight Eisenhower endorsed it in 1958.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        When was passage of the so-called “ERA” viewed as a priority-not until the rise of feminism. The drafting of the ERA and when it was endorsed in the political context are historical footnotes at best. Time will tell whether there was any thought as to the consequences of the ERA such as Title IX and the denial of constitutional safeguards to so called perpetrators of “sexual assault”, on college campuses, as well as the mushrooming of entire sub groups such as those support and R”L identify with the entire panoply of GLBTG “rights”.

  8. Benjamin Greenfield says:

    Hi R. Gordimer,

    It seems your critique isn’t directed just at my essay, but at the theology of Berachos 7a, Chagiga 14a, Breishis Rabba 8:4, 8:5, 8:6, and 12:5.  That is, you accuse of “discarding cardinal Torah principles” not just this rabbinical student, but also R. Akiva, R. Yose HaGlili, R. Yohanan (in the name of R. Yose), R. Seemon, R. Zutra bar Tuvia, R. Yishmael ben Elisha, R. Hanina, R. Huna, as well as the authors of the Rosh Chodesh Mussaf and Anim Zemiros.

    I’m sorry you have found Chazal to be insufficiently Orthodox.

    If you have a different way of reading the pieces of Torah upon which my essay rests, please do let me know.  I’m very open to understanding what it is that Chazal were trying to teach us, and happy to hear any substantive-textual critique of my essay. You are well known as a learned person and you clearly must have a different reading of all of the above sources.   Please let me know what that reading might be.

    Until then, a continued blessing for us and for all people in need:
    יהי רצון מלפניך שיכבשו רחמיך את כעסך

    –Ben Greenfield

    (Hi, R. Ben. We as humans are presented with seemingly contradictory manifestations of God’s interaction with the world and the various middos through which He is revealed. But, with our limited grasp, we are unable to resolve these seeming contradictions. They are part of the Mysterium Magnum that transcends our perception, as Rav Soloveitchik would phrase it. Or, as Chazal say, Emes and Shalom, which are mutually exclusive in our world, will make peace, so to say, in the Eschatological Era. Although rabbinic literature and our liturgy refer to conflicts between various middos even as they relate to God, we cannot ascribe to Him any manner of imperfection or lacking. That is the difference. Have a good Shabbos. – Avrohom Gordimer)

    • Benjamin Greenfield says:

      Edit: Rosh Hashana Mussaf.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        ben Greenfield-Please state your point clearer vis a vis the RH Musaf, ( i.e. Malchiyos, Zicronos and Shofaros) whose authorship is clear from even a superficial learning of some of the last dafim in Masecta RH and  the contents of which are as RYBS stated  a statement of faith followed by a proof text composed of Psukim from Chumash and Tanach and a summation, and which are the finest statements of Emunah extant. Why not look at the Machzor Menoras HaRav , the shiurim and drashos of RYBS as transcribed verbatim in the Noroaos HaRav as to what is the meaning and significance of Mussaf RH and its relevance to 21st Century man who is addicted to technology and celebrity , as opposed to engaging in analysis rooted in an anthropomorphic POV? Your reader just might gain something into what HaShem Yisborach, the Ribono Shel Olam and the Melech HaOlam Asher Kidshanu Bmitvosav than in reading apologetics about Aggados Chazal and Ikarei Emunah.

        (For years, I have urged parents of childen and SILs who are in a yeshiva or kollel to daven with their children if they have the opportunity so as to experience a wonderful Tefilah where you feel the walls of the room shake with Kavanah and you will never look at your watch. We have davened at the Beis Medrash of RIETS on three separate occasions and I would like to bottle each as a special experience in the Kedushas HaYom of the Yamim Noraim ( our shul in KGH is a wonderful Makom Tefilah, but the main “Beis” of RIETS is just an awesome Makom Tefilah that is enhanced by the presence of many RY, great Baalei Tefilah and a wonderful Baal Tekiah, where you really experience the Lifnei HaShem and Simcha of being an Oved Lifnei HaShem).

        Last RH, my wife and I again had the zcus of davening in the main Beis Medrash of RIETS. The Tefilos and Tefkios Al Seder HaBrachos that followed the Mesoras HaRav Machzor Bchol Dikdukeha were amazing. I never looked at my watch. Hearing my SIL’s rebbe R Y Cohen recite Birkas HaTorah and the other RY recite their aliyos was a lesson in proper Peirush HaMilos. Being zoche to open the aron and to stand before the Tzibur literally next to the RY who taught and teach Klal Yisrael is an incomparable Kiyum in being Lifnei HaShem.

        I only experienced one slight downside-a young person walked into the Beis Medrash before Tekios DMushav before Mussaf on the second day and loudly and proudly proclaimed that Unesaneh Tokef had no special meaning for him because he had read enough to realize that there were serious questions as to the accepted story underlying its origin. Yet, as R D JJ Schachter (and  in other contexts Dr C Y Yerushalmi ) pointed out, Uneseaneh Tokef has a special aura associated with the Norah and Pachad of the Kedushas HaYom of RH because Klal Yisrael views it as such. Based on that fact,  for anyone to have walked into a Beis Medrash or Beis HaKnesses anywhere and to have voiced such sentiments on the day of the coronation of the Melech Malchei HaMelachim struck me as simply inappropriate for the time and place and even disturbing to the kavanah that one yearns to experience and feel from the Kedushas HaYom of RH.)

        You wrote:

        “The moral universe is so ordered—the Rabbis believe—that God must hide from Its own values in order to forge ahead…
         
        In transmitting this narrative, the Rabbis are effectively asking, in what ways does God remain just as impotent as Its creations? Their answer is clear: It too cannot fully cope with the contradictory super-values of justice and mercy… 
         

        I struggle to receive a God who offers all the answers and acts with perfect consistency. My own encounters with God are varied and uncertain—marked at times by a feeling of love, and and at others by awe; at times by a zen closeness, at others by a Maimonidean distance; by a faith in the justice that must be embedded somewhere in this universe, and a hopelessness that evil still prevails.

         

        May I suggest that you look at the commentaries of Ramban and Netziv for an approach that you may find interesting and worthwhile? Ramban ( in Parshas Bo maintains that in an ideal world HaShem would not change Derech HaTeva but that in exceptional circumstances did so to prevent the complete descent of Am Yisrael below the irredeemable level of Tumaah. Ramban states that what we think happens as Mikreh is really a hidden miracle-that IMO, offers a tremendous avenue for those who know that there is a Matzui Rishon behind such techological advances that we take for granted as the operation of a jetliner-which seems like a huge mass of metal on the ground, but which in the normal course of events takes man to and from distant destinations in hours in relative comfort.

        Netziv at the beginning of Parshas Bchukosai posits that mitzvos were given  by HaShem Yisborach as medicine by a doctor for an infirm patient. As long as the patient takes his or her medicine, the cure works. But, when one ceases taking the medicine, there is no cure for his or her ailment.

        I would also suggest an indepth study of the Parsha of the Egel HaZahav and classical mfarshim thereto. There is no doubt that after the smashing of the Luchos Rishonos, Moshe Rabbeinu had to reeesablish what Ramban calls a “bris chadasha” via TSBP  by learning the ins and outs of TSBP with HaShem Yisborach during the most intensive chavrusa in all of Jewish history. Yet, Moshe Rabbeinu did not receive all of the answers to his questions. Why not learn that as a lesson for our technologically addicted generation that assumes that any answer to any question is retrievable , sooner rather than later?

      • mycroft says:

        “-a young person walked into the Beis Medrash before Tekios DMushav before Mussaf on the second day and loudly and proudly proclaimed that Unesaneh Tokef had no special meaning for him because he had read enough to realize that there were serious questions as to the accepted story underlying its origin. ”

        My problem is that the young man clearly was talking between the bracha of tekias shofar and the finishing of tkias shofer after Shofarot.

         

        “Yet, as R D JJ Schachter (and  in other contexts Dr C Y Yerushalmi ) pointed out, Uneseaneh Tokef has a special aura associated with the Norah and Pachad of the Kedushas HaYom of RH because Klal Yisrael views it as such”

        It is precisely because I listened to a lecture by R JJS on utaneh tokef that emotionally part of the highlight has diminished for me. Hearing him state that the story as generally reported is fiction emotionally has lessened the impact of the piyyut on me-that is despite him showing that the ideas in the piyyut go back to the Yerushalmi and certainly were found in Italy a few hundred years before the purported story.

        One must be careful about exaggerating the facts in chinuch but on the other hand I question why a Rav would have to publicize the falsity of what I suspect 99% of us were taught.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        WADR, RJJS has emphasized that one should not have a an emotionally lessened view of Unesaneh Tokef because of the issue of historicity.

      • dr. bill says:

        I have a different perspective.  Knowing about its presence in the Cairo genizah and implications for the story told in the Ohr Zarua, are not all that important.  Especially when sung by chazzanim or baalei tefillah whose nusach properly reflects the different postures towards God intertwined in the nesaneh tokef, it always bring me to a special place that introduces both the kedusha the rest of musaf, that both reflect that trilogy of different themes.  In shul, I never think about who wrote it, when or where.

      • mycroft says:

        Steve Brizel
        April 2, 2016 at 11:08 pm
        WADR, RJJS has emphasized that one should not have a an emotionally lessened view of Unesaneh Tokef because of the issue of historicity.”

        It is interesting that was not the message I recall from hearing RJJS on the issue. For me BTW piyyutim are not the essential part of yomim noraim davening-it is the Shmonei Esrei that Chazal were mtaken. There is no way that being shown what you were told is false about Usaneh Tokef cannot influence one-RJJS has to know that and that- by emphasizing to publicly tear down standard beliefs that people have used for their faith that is what will happen to some degree-even in cases where here he shows it is essentially a much earlier work. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks

        dr. bill
        April 2, 2016 at 11:40 pm
        I have a different perspective.  Knowing about its presence in the Cairo genizah and implications for the story told in the Ohr Zarua, are not all that important.  Especially when sung by chazzanim or baalei tefillah whose nusach properly reflects the different postures towards God intertwined in the nesaneh tokef, it always bring me to a special place that introduces both the kedusha the rest of musaf, that both reflect that trilogy of different themes.  In shul, I never think about who wrote it, when or where”

        I wish I could be on your level-I really don’t think about the authorship of other piyyutim thus who El’azar HaKalir was and lived has not impacted me-but the nature of RJJS on Usaneh Tokef did.

      • joe36ct says:

        What on earth does “where you feel the walls of the room shake with Kavanah” mean? Does it mean that everyone there has their face scrunched up really tight so that they look like they’re in pain?  

      • Steve Brizel says:

        No-it means that you hear every Bracha, a loud roar when Amen is recited and wonderful Tekios recited without a contrary or inappropriate sound that would interrupt your mentally incorporating the messages of Malchiyos Zicronos and Shofaros.

        As far as Mycroft’s comment re Piyutim is concerned, the best preparation for Piyutim is the Seder Slichos for Yamim Noraim each of which are a Tefilah as set forth in a wonderful shiur by RYBS, and the Pizmonim, each of which have a unique message. There is no better preparation for preparing for the dual message of Gadlus HaAdam and the Katnus HaAdam that is a major theme of the Yamim Noraim than beginning with Slichos . It is unfortunate that we live in an age where Darshanim and Magidim , who also have important messages, have supplanted the need to understand what are the themes of the Tefilos of RH and YK, that form the essence of the Kedushas HaYom of the Yamim Noraim.

        Dr Bill-Kudos to your message re the Cairo Geniza and Piyutim, especially Unesaneh Tokef.

      • joe36ct says:

        I sent this comment too fast.  I meant to finish by just saying that Mr. Brizel has a strange understanding of what kavanah means.  I’d highly recommend the book “Kavvana” by Rabbi Seth Kadish.

      • mycroft says:

        “a loud roar when Amen is recited”

        Is that positive? See haftarah for Shacharis for Yom Kippur where Isaiah discusses fast days-which when he prophesied-the only regular one was Yom Kippur. See what he cries out against  –  see esp beginning with kra bgoen el tachshock bashofer harem kolecha…

      • joe36ct says:

        I see.  I guess you and I have vastly different ideas of what kavvana means, since hearing other brachot and Amens has nothing to do with whether each individual personally has any kavvana at all in their personal tefillah.

        I’m not saying there wasn’t a lot of kavvana in that room but if that’s the extent of it then thanks, but no thanks, I’ll keep looking.

      • Charlie Hall says:

        If Unatanah Tokef had no meaning for him he could have had a meaningful prayer experience by attending a Sefardic service. Unatanah Tokef is an Ashkenazic piyut missing from the standard Sefardic nusachim.

    • mycroft says:

      “There is evidence that suggests that some spiritual practices result in favorable biological outcomes.”

      Of course, I suspect the spiritual practices that have been studied are not ours-so if truly “effective” beyond a placebo affect it raises a lot of problems.

      “. It should also be noted that we should not discount effective health measures even though we don’t understand how they work.”

      Assuming we have done studies that they have worked-how does one evaluate success of anonymous programs where the participants are self selecting.

       

      “Finally, it should be noted that we actually DO recommend that cancer patients participate in various kinds of support groups including spiritual interventions. Evidence shows that they can improve quality of life.”

      Support groups which certainly improve the quality of life for the professional running them. Of course, you make no claim that attending a support group cures cancer-it may well make attendees feel better-I feel better attending a shiur-that would not cure any disease.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I fail to see why you are so cynical as to the effect of support groups, which are one of the basic tools of any mental health professional in helping anyone suffering from a malady R”L such as cancer or someone addicted to drugs, alcohol, etc from gaining comfort that he or she is not alone in dealing with such a malady. Rambam in Shemoneh Prekaim emphasizes that Cholei HaNefesh need a refuah that works at the heart of such maladies, in the same manner as Cholei HaGuf. There is no way that anyone suffering from such a malady can gain insight into their condition or gain confidence in their ability to confront and deal with the same without mental health help either as part of a group or via individually, simply because a diagnosis of Yenneh Machala R”L is a sentence that none of ask for in our Tefilos and poses the unanswerable questions like “why me”, and the purpose of suffering in this world, for which there are numerous theological approaches, but no definitive answers.

        Like it or not, R D A Twersky, may he be granted untill120 years, deserves a special Yasher Koach for making mental health issues part of the communal discussion in the Torah observant community, paving the way for an entire generation of Torah observant  psychiatrists , psychologists and social workers who are equipped and trained to deal with such conditions within the framework of Halacha ( i.e. Nefesh), and encouraging and inspiring those who have such problems to realize that they are not alone and that there are resources for dealing with and confronting such issues. I firmly reject the notion that only the providers benefit and that the efficacy of such efforts are defined by whether there is a cure for any such condition. Such a test would doom many sufferers and IMO lead R “L to many people giving up any and all determination to live a life despite being confronted with such a condition.  Going to a shiur is a wonderful Kiyum in the Mitzvas Talmud Torah brabim-but it may or may not address the existential confrontation of maximizing the amount of time that someone sentenced R”L  by the medical establishment to a certain amount of time on this planet who wants to believe that his or her life in that amount of time is worth living each and every minute of that time-That may IMO be accomplished via groups and a therapist .

      • mycroft says:

        I am awaiting double blind studies showing the success of 12 step programs. Anecdotal evidence of those who stay with the program ignores the vast majority who drop out.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        What is your objection to R D Twersky’s approach besides “anecdotal evidence”?

  9. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    Dr. Bayme writes: “The new organization is a vehicle to reclaim the mantle of modern Orthodoxy” and then names the leaders of this “new” organization and they turn out to be really old people who have been singing the same old song forever.

    They remind me of 90-year-old Bolsheviks after Reagan brought down the Iron Curtain, reminiscing about the good old days and plotting to bring Trotsky back from Mexico.

    • mycroft says:

      For those concerned about grandchildren and other descendants as being relevant. Trotsky’s great-granddaughter is the director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction part of the National Institute of Health. She was born in Mexico City and if I recall correctly she was brought up in the same house as Trotsky lived. For those who believe this is another one of Obama’s conspiracies to bring Trotsky back she was appointed in 2003 to that position during the presidency of George Bush    43.

      • Charlie Hall says:

        Trotsky’s great granddaughter Nora Volkow gave the commencement address at Albert Einstein College of Medicine ten years ago; she did mention her famous ancestor. She is famous for her work that has proven that addiction is biological and not a character flaw; something suggested by the American Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush two centuries ago. I think that her father, Esteban Volkov, the long-time director of the Trotsky Museum in Mexico City where he was sadly present at his grandfather’s death at the hands of Stalin’s thugs, is still alive.

      • mycroft says:

        “She is famous for her work that has proven that addiction is biological and not a character flaw;”

        Dr Volkow often has articles published-certainly one of most recent in March 31, 2016 issue of NEJM concerning Opioid Abuse. Her work IMO raises great challenges to the model used for treatment in addiction-to put it simplistically if addiction is biological  why have a whole religious 12 step movement- no one suggests treating cancer by attending meetings

      • Charlie Hall says:

        Actually it doesn’t really raise a challenge, but instead suggests avenues for future research. There is evidence that suggests that some spiritual practices result in favorable biological outcomes. And in spite of Dr. Volkow’s research there isn’t a lot of medical treatment that  is efficacious for long term treatment addiction yet.

        It should also be noted that we should not discount effective health measures even though we don’t understand how they work. Ignaz Semmelweis didn’t know why mothers of newborns were dying when he told doctors to wash their hands, an action that reduced maternal mortality by a factor of ten; John Snow did not know what pathogen caused cholera when he removed the pump handle from the well with the contaminated water. Neither Semmelweis nor Snow would live to see the germ theory of infectious disease become accepted.

        Finally, it should be noted that we actually DO recommend that cancer patients participate in various kinds of support groups including spiritual interventions. Evidence shows that they can improve quality of life.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “Our goal is to follow what Chazal believed-for those of us who wish to follow the the Rav it is certainly the most relevant question to what he would have thought-that is always the question when ones leader is no longer here to try and determine what he would have done.
    ” and the contrary evidence of the derech of some of his grandchildren,”
    The Rav himself had different hashkafot than Rav Chaim so what does grandson got to with grandfather”

    Some simple observations:
    1)What does the above have to do with the merits or lack thereof of Dr Bayme’s article?
    2) Let’s take as a given that RYBS had a phD whereas RCS didn’t. That has nothing to do with whether RYBS viewed himself as a member and talmid neeman of the Beis HaRav which RYBS most assuredly did. The fact that some of RYBS’s grandchildren eschew both RZ and MO is solely of historical interest , but has no bearing on whether RYBS’s grandchildren view themselves as transmitting the Mesorah and Torah of Brisk.

    • mycroft says:

      “” and the contrary evidence of the derech of some of his grandchildren,”

       

      The Rav himself had different hashkafot than Rav Chaim so what does grandson got to with grandfather.

      “1)What does the above have to do with the merits or lack thereof of Dr Bayme’s article?”

      You believe it is relevant that some of the Ravs grandchildren have a more chareidi  viewpoint than the Rav-I then reply thatthe Rav himself had different hashkafot than RChaim.

       

      “The fact that some of RYBS’s grandchildren eschew both RZ and MO is solely of historical interest , but has no bearing on whether RYBS’s grandchildren view themselves as transmitting the Mesorah and Torah of Brisk”

      When discussing the Rav I don’t care whether or not any individual grandchild is following his hashkafa and it is certainly irrelevant if they see themselves as transmitting the ” Mesorah and Torah of Brisk” Rav Velvel transmitted the mesorah of Brisk also-had a drastically different hashkafa than the Rav or RavMoshe. Soloveitchik

  11. frailtythynameisman says:

    How YCT deals with issues of belief.

    http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2016/03/yct-statement-on-belief.html

  12. DS says:

    I miss MO of the 90s and earlier. No push for bible criticism, women’s ordination, or any of the various radical innovations of recent times. I miss the era of orthodox rabbis being able to do their own conversions without problems, as well. Nowadays, we have a Charedi lite wing and an ultra liberal wing. I’m stuck in the middle, it seems.

    • dr. bill says:

      I think you are largely correct about the position of the old-style MO.  However, your point about Bible criticism may not be entirely accurate.  In my days in the Rav ztl’s shiur in the late 60’s the Rav was conscious to end shiur so 2 or 3 of us could attend a (weekly) class with Rav Michal Bernstein ztl in his home, where his disabilities confined him.  While hardly a heretic, he suggested we read the Anchor bible on a particular book of tanach, not that classical a peirush.  In those days, criticism could be easily dismissed given its origins in anti-Semitic circles and as a result it was not nearly as threatening.  Beginning in the 90’s if not earlier, many practicing Jews, orthodox or orthoprax or whatever, became and remained among the most prominent Bible scholars / critics occupying distinguished chairs at Oxford, Harvard, Yale, etc.  They have successfully countered the bias towards ancient Jewish (biblical) history that permeated early criticism, often with what I assume some might (IMHO unfortunately and incorrectly) call a Philo- Semitic bias.  But, especially in the NY area, I agree with you that the classical MO are becoming an endangered species; fear not, however, ki mitzion taytzei torah.  Our future is flourishing in the Holy land, where the chareidi – lite, of which there are a fair number, are often not publicly tolerated.

  13. Shmuel W says:

    Yasher Koach R’ Gordimer. Dr Bayme is a fine person and highly intelligent, I have had some great conversations with him. However this article sounds like the JTS mission statement to me. Much of what he writes is simply not part of Orthodoxy and it is the OO/NC movement that is attacking traditional Judaism. On that the frum world must “fight back” for Hashem for his torah and for his people.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in relevant part:

    “Is that positive? See haftarah for Shacharis for Yom Kippur where Isaiah discusses fast days-which when he prophesied-the only regular one was Yom Kippur. See what he cries out against  –  see esp beginning with kra bgoen el tachshock bashofer harem kolecha…”

    The Navi is bemoaningthe ritual aspect of religion without internalization of the Kedushas HaYom. Yet, one cannot deny that answering Amen properly is the means by which the Tzibur fulfills their obligation and Kiyum of Tekios al Seder HaBrachos.

    Joe Ct36 wrote:

    R Kadish’s book is an interesting exploration of different understandings of Kavanah. WADR, it is not a guide to proper Kavanah. I don’t think that there is anything unusual about experiencing a Kiyum of Lifnei HaShem by answering Amen in a proper manner to Tekios al Seder HaBrachos in a Tzibur that is aware of the Halacha and in which you don’t look at your watch because you are seemingly transferred to a dimension of being Lifnei HaShem. You don’t have to display agony on your face-you just have to act as if you aware of the Kedushas HaYom in its many themes. That IMO starts with having a working familiarity with the Machzor-especially Musaf and the key Piyutim.

    • mycroft says:

      “a loud roar when Amen is recited” is not a requirement for”answering Amen properly” ”

       

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