Paskening Like the Blogs

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34 Responses

  1. Zach Korner says:

    American Modern Orthodox has for a very, very long time been a post-halachic community. A 1973 book, on assimilating American Jewry, describes the average MO householder as a ‘highly accomplished, religious observant secularist’.  These trends need not be seen through the emotionally-charged prism of ‘heresy’ but rather through the cold, inevitable lens of assimilation. One king can’t wear two crowns. Modernity and Orthodox are conflicting, not complimentary – the vast majority of MO Jews outside of the YU stronghold and the five towns are fully modern (assimiliated) cosmopolitan Americans who observe Shabbat and keep kosher. Its time to eulogize the movement and move on.

    Women’s rights, gay rights are inventions of modernity. Before the advent of the healthy city in the second half of the 19th century, these ideas were entirely unheardof. What I mean to say, is that these developments are the result of technology, not morality. Through technology they rise and through that self-same technology they will fall. What we are witnessing today in the Western world is a nascent post-human society whose mature end is the practical extinction of humanity as we know it , probably before the start of the 22nd century. Far from science fiction speculation, these predictions make up the water-cooler talk at start-ups and are widely available for reading on the internet. In order to regain legitimacy not only within our own community but the world at large Orthodoxy has to position itself as the countervoice to the Faustian West and its doctrine of progress over humanity.

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    Rabbi Gordimer hits another home run. MO has always had a noisy left, uninformed as to the need or contemptuous of halachic authority and hierarchy ,a silent majority suspicious of radical change and a committed minority who follow the teachings of their Baalei Mesorah and who see no reason to crow publicly as to why MO has nothing in common with the Charedi world and it emphasize the rapidly disappearing issues of Klapei Chutz that prevailed in prior decades. The links cited by R Gardiner illustrate why OO and its advocates deserve nothing but contempt for the positions quoted therein

  3. Shmuel Landesman says:

    Rabbi Gordimer:

    Thank you for giving this excellent perspective.

    I live in an Orthodox Jewish community in North Jersey and everyone I know either thought the OU Rabbinic Panel psak was a good idea or vaguely were familiar with it.

    The online emoting against the psak was strong.  But, it’s important to remember how unrepresentative it is.

    My solution to dealing with this is to stop reading Facebook. The pieces on Facebook are superficial and trite. I feel so much happier being off Facebook.

  4. DF says:

    To comment on the first half of the post – exactly right. There is no such thing anymore as “taking a beating” or “everyone” is against/in favor of something.  Actually, there never really was anything such as “public opinion”, but prior to the age of the Internet most people didn’t know that. The average individual thought columnists and anchormen reflected public opinion, and if the individual didn’t agree with what they were saying, well, he just assumed he was in the minority. It didn’t dawn on him to think that actually it was them that were in the minority.

    This phenomenon – the absence of “public opinion” – had been becoming better and better known since the mid 90s, when the bias of the media was slowly being exposed to the general public. But the recent election has burst the dam wide open. We now know that every article and every comment – including this one – reflects nothing more than that what that one individual thinks. Other may agree, and others may not. The point is, one need no longer fear what some writer or columnist, anywhere, says or thinks. For every commenter saying X, there’s another saying Y. For every marcher rallying for A, there’s someone else who would rally for B.  For good or for better or for worse, that’s the way it is.

  5. Dave says:

    R Gordimer,

    Well said as always, thanks for your leadership and clear thinking on this issue.

    BTW- fascinating that all the whining and crowing is found in anti tora publications like Haatez. Would anyone ever read Pravda to learn about democracy and freedom

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Some prefer heat to light.

  7. lacosta says:

    without disagreeing with a word said here, one need point out the title of one of the articles r gordimer points out is—   ‘we are here to stay’   .  YCT, Maharats, OO  are clearly on the scene; and like it or not , they probably will expand with time–maybe not to the center of the YU alum scene, but they clearly speak to [and are already servicing ]  a segment of what has till now been defined as the O community.  not yet clear whether or when this leftish segment [can’t say fringe, if they prove to be  bigger than we imagine] will break into a separate branch—but in a way that depends on how they are treated–  are their shuls in the OU, their kids in the same schools etc…

  8. Rafael Qunoaface says:

    I just looked at the blogs on Times of Israel. There are about 5 blogs on the OU declaration. One, by a Rebbitzen Rocklin, argued for the OU decision. Almost all of the comments attack her (see here: Meanwhile, Herzl Hefter compares the OU decision to slavery. What an outrageous comparison, especially since it could be argued that based on Hefter’s own view, if our society accepts slavery, one should be able to argue for it since it fits the moral view of that society! (see here: This supports R’ Gordimer’s contention that the loudest voices out there are the fringe left, whether its writing a

    • mycroft says:

      “making assertion some directly contradicted by recordings of the Rav ztl, (the famous teshuvah drasha at the 92nd St. Y (1968, I believe) with the late Pinchas Peli in the audience regarding security experts deciding to return The Kotel Ma’aravi) makes we question the overall context of anything quoted on the site”

      I recall the Rav speaking in the Spring of 1968 in Rubin Schul at YU and stating explicitly that he would give back the Kotel Maaravi to save one life. He specifically stated that decision is a military/diplomatic one and he (the Rav)has no special expertise in non halachik matters

      • Steve Brizel says:

        RYBS quoted in the same Seder stated that any ideology that has its goal the supplanting of Avodas HaShem is AZ.

      • mycroft says:

        I am not advocating “radical feminism” but show how that is an “ideology that has its goal the supplanting of Avodas HaShem”

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Not exactly relevant as opposed to RYBS well documented rejection of the feminist critique of halacha notwithstanding Talmud being taught for practical reasons of running a kosher home in Boston and RYBS giving the inaugural shout in Talmud for women at SCW.

      • mycroft says:

        “notwithstanding Talmud being taught for practical reasons of running a kosher home in Boston”

        a very debatable point-there is strong evidence that the Rav believed that women should be taught talmud not only as an adjunct to  halacha lemaaseh. I am aware that there are close students of the Rav taking your position and there are others taking a different approach. There is strong practice evidence different than your approach-maasei Rav

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Name one Talmud neeman uvasik of RYBS who thought or thinks that women should be learning Sidrei Nashim and Nezikin in the same way that men learn in any yes give worthy of the name

      • mycroft says:

        Steve Brizel
        “Name one Talmud neeman uvasik of RYBS who thought or thinks that women should be learning Sidrei Nashim and Nezikin in the same way that men learn in any yes give worthy of the name”I am not going to get into a debate of who is a talmid neeman-but to read  the debate start with Rabbi Gordimer’s citations  in an article

        I disagree with his analysis of the quotes of some of the people who he quotes-but read all the people quoted and you’ll see a different approach.

        Would it surprise you that at least one year when smicha students in summer went to Boston for the Ravs summer learning he invited a women  to sit in the same room and listen to his shiur.

        You are  taking a very debatable point where there is at least as much evidence to go against your position as for your position and not accepting the ideathat there are different traditions on this matter by loyal students of the Rav.


      • dr.bill says:

        i assume the Rav ztl spoke about this on a number of occasions.  someone who the Rav often turned on particular matters told me that on occasion he would insist on hearing expert opinions and then deciding personally and at other times telling people to get a professional opinion from X and follow it.  obviously, if he felt there was a halakhic element he would follow the former method.  apparently (or as he would say “interesting is”), returning the kotel did NOT fall in that category.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Yet we see that the idea of land for peace as viewed as desirable by the Israeli left and the State department which has always been and will always be Arabist has not saved Israeli lives thus rendering the reliance upon the assurances of the experts rather dubious in nature.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        No proof other than wishful thinking with disastrous results on the ground except by Arabists in Foggy Bottom or the Israeil political and academic left that any such decision making process ever has occurred or will happen in the near or distant future.

  9. dr.bill says:

    Given the totality of what the blog you linked at the very end of your article says, making assertion some directly contradicted by recordings of the Rav ztl, (the famous teshuvah drasha at the 92nd St. Y (1968, I believe) with the late Pinchas Peli in the audience regarding security experts deciding to return The Kotel Ma’aravi) makes we question the overall context of anything quoted on the site. Nonetheless, the implication of your argument that those rabbis of the OU committee, established RY and poskim that they are, cannot be challenged by others, requires a few extra logical steps.
     As I have often noted, life in Israel continues down a path where such declarations are seen as efforts to put the genie back in the box, from which it has long ago left. (Rabbi Binny Lau’s response is typical.)  And in Israel, some of their equals have not objected anywhere near as strenuously as Rabbis in the US have.  Others who some might argue are their equals have a more positive approach to women assuming rabbinic roles.
    My view, similar to what Rabbi Lamm wrote years ago, is that the real issue is timing.  Get ready for real change.   However, trying to accelerate it is counter-productive; it will happen gradually as I have outlined often.  The day comes where its halakhic nature weakens and societal pressures grow and voila – change is institutionalized in parts of the traditional community.  It happened throughout our history of the last 3000 years.  When YU musmachim get a Ph.D. in Talmud supervised by a woman professor, the times they are a’changing.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Don’t hold your breath waiting for such developments.

      • dr.bill says:

        as Rabbi Lamm said, change occurs slowly.  not having prophets,  only God knows when.  much simpler changes required generations to become normative across large segments of traditional judaism.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Name a potential “peace partner” wiling to recognize and not destroy the State of Israel. Until then your mentioning RYBS on this context is purely hypothetical.

      • dr.bill says:

        the kings of jordan, saudi arabia, various arab emirates, the leaders of egypt probably hold the key.  some who talk about no partner, are in fact trying to maintain that situation.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        All of whom have had under the radar contacts with Israel because of the disastrous Iran pact

  10. YbhM says:

    The tens of thousands of Modern Orthodox Jews in Bergen County, the Five Towns and elsewhere further north, south, east and west

    I agree with your perspective and arguments, but I would suggest using a less NYC-centric formulation the next time around.

  11. Steve Brizel says: All one has to do is read the endless promotion of the feminist freak show known as the JOFA conference and links like the posted link to conclude that the editor of the JW in his editorial and news covrage has long been a press agent for YCT and JOFA as opposed to a journalist in his coverage of the same. The promotion of the feminist/LGBT agenda in the JW is rivaled only by the attitude of the “mainstream media” towards President Trump during the campaign and since the inauguration. Like it or not, I suspect that the overwhelming majority of the Torah observant world would rather daven elsewhere that a shul that a maharat or the equivalent. The unwarranted senses of persecution, and false martyrdom in the linked article are illustrative of all those who simply don’t understand why their views have never been accepted within the mainstream of the committed MO and Charedi worlds.

    • dr.bill says:

      You demean your side by referring to JOFA as a “feminist freak show.”  Pejoratives, especially repeated, do not strengthen rational argument; rather they often expose weakly reasoned positions.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I stand by my description and the free press coverage given by its flack who edits the Jewish Week

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Like it or not the subjects and forums discussed at the most recent JOFA conference cannot be viewed as normal subjects when viewed from halacha and especially the goal of helping build a future Bayis Neeman BYisrael

      • dr.bill says:

        you continue to assume that only extremes exist – building a bais neeman or a feminist freak show.  have you ever considered the possibility of a spectrum of opinions??

      • Reb Yid says:

        Sadly, for some folks diversity and pluralism are viewed as threats of the worst kind while for others like us they are essential sources of vitality, wisdom, understanding and life.

        While we can appreciate the limitations of these sources, they pale in comparison to the benefits.  Sadly, it is often not possible to have a meaningful conversation with others who have such a different perspective.



      • Steve Brizel says:

        Why do you view extended single good of either gender within the possibility of a spectrum of options? Walking a child down to chupah and serving as a transmitter of the past to the next generation is our job description as parents not presenting Torah observance as a mere option


      • Steve Brizel says:

        A spectrum of opinions should never be the basis for rationalizing away such real halachic terms that are operative ( and certainly not hypothetical) as chupah vkiddushin, mamerus, shtuki, pilegesh, toevah, pritzus, kadesha and zonah or encouraging and endorsing women to think that they can be rabbonim and “poskos”.. The same cannot be rationalized with a life rooted in consannance with Kedoshim Tihiyu That was certainly the theme of JOFA, the sessions at its conference and its blog to which the JW and its editor act as an unabashed press agent and flack.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    Here is another example of what IMO cannot be viewed as within the spectrum alluded to in prior posts. The following are the words of someone who has posted here previously, and who initially wrote at Dr Alan Brill’s blog with no comments permitted about his son going OTD ( another term that many see as politically incorrect) and now about his son, a product of classical MO, intermarrying:

    “We raised our children with rules unlike those of our parents; we instilled a sense of freedom and respect for their personal decisions. They responded in kind and we are left baffled as to why they didn’t continue to think like us”

    The “JOFA blog” at the JW has a link to another parent’s view which she calls OAD ( on another derech). The easy road out is not to look in the mirror and ask oneself what I did do wrong. It is far more difficult to realize that instead of being so open minded either in the above quoted link that our primary role as parents is to serve as role models in the transmission of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim to the next generation, as opposed to merely paying for 12 years+ of expensive private education and then inculcating a sense of whatever makes a child happy is the supreme value.

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