The Changing Mind of Modern Orthodoxy?

You may also like...

151 Responses

  1. Mycroft says:

    I recently asked a former principal of a MO day school, what percentage of his students from ten years ago are still Shomer Shabbos, his answer maybe a half. I believe day school statistics show the same amount of MO attendees as a generation ago. Similar to Rabbo Gordimer I believe it is not primarily because of a flipped out issue.

    There are various reasons for the loss but that is an issue that should be addressed. Sadly, it is often an excuse for people to see what’s wrong with others rather than a chessboard hanefesh.

  2. ari Rosman says:

    Many Modern Orthodox Jews water down their commitment to Torah v’mitzvos. This puts their kids at risk of either going OTD, or embracing the Yeshivish velt in the search of religious satisfaction.

  3. Mycroft says:

    I am talking about MO parents who go to minyan most days, even when working finding a mincha minyan. There is more to it than merely parents aren’t committed.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Who says that going to minyan most days or even looking for a minyan for Mincha per se demonstrates commitment? IMO, parents who illustrate by going to shiurim, having a chavrusa and generally using their spare time to learn and who  view secular colleges as anathema to the transmission of Torah knowledge and observance to  the next generation at least have a fighting chance. Exposing the average MO kid after a year or two in Israel to the Tumaah of today’s college campuses, both in and out of the classroom, are overlooking the huge spiritual risk to their children.

      • mb says:

        Really, Steve Brizel? Somebody actively looking for Mincha isn’t demonstrating commitment? Rethink that, please.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          I don’t view searching for Mincha as the sin qua non of demonstrating commitment. Many people , especially if they are avelim will search for a Mincha minyan, but are not known for being Kovea Itim LaTorah

          • Mycroft says:

            We are both aware that certainly in the past decade they are very few aveillim as a percentage of minyanim.

            OK I will make the same comment as to those who attend shul shiurim.



          • Mycroft says:

            BTW Kovea Ittimlatorah is NOT the sum of Torah or proper behavior. One can’t be a naval burs hut Hatorah despite learning 24/7

        • Steve Brizel says:

          I think that one has to stretch to find a valid excuse for anyone  not being Kovea Itim LaTorah in some fashion today, regardless of their background . Lack of interest and willpower which masks a frustration that ArtScroll has made available, even if one has reservations as to their method and becoming a crutch,  strike me as the major excuses offered to not having some textual literacy in a generation when there is so much Torah available in excellent editions in Lashon Kodesh and/or English of so many basic works in Torah-ranging from Chumash to Halacha and Hashkafa.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            I did not say learning 24/7. I did say that one maximize as much of ones spare time whenever and wherever possible in some form of Limud HaTorah. That is how the mitzvah of Talmud Torah is formlulated

  4. Mycroft says:

    There are at least three different issues. One is whether or not there was a revelation by God of a Torah? Clearly, one must believe that.

    is the Torah we have now identical to what Moshe Rabeinu received? Bviously not identical, Gemarah has differences in chase rot etc- ein anu bekkiim bechaserot..different girsot Ashkenazic, Sefardin,Yemenites. Obviously we believe over 99% the same.

    when is the Torah literal, Rambam , Saadiahs, were leaders in allegorizing some stories. Rabbi Shubert Spero in Genesis leader in that issue.

    All different issues

    • Yoni says:

      Sorry, but what does that have to o with anything.

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that acceptance of Biblical Criticism goes pretty much hand in hand with at the very least acceptance that *large portions* (e.g. the vast majority if not all of Devorim) are not contemporary to Moshe Rabenu.

      This is not about allegorising stories or a letter (..word …passuk) here or there being changed.

      Please do correct me if I am wrong and preferably with some sources showing an approach to biblical criticism that allows for Moshe delivering five books of the Torah in Sini.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Re “ein anu bekkiim bechaserot..” RYBS emphasized in a Yarchei Kallah devoted to the Sefer HaMitzvos and Hasagos HaRamban that “ein anu bekkiim bechaserot” has no halachic significance whatsoever.

      • Yehoshua says:

        I am not sure what you mean by “no halachic significance whatsoever,” but the Rama and Sha’agas Aryeh both employ that statement in rendering piskei halacha.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Where and in what specific contexts?

          • Yehoshua says:

            The Rama (Orach Chayyim 143:4) rules that if a sefer Torah has a mistake with regard to plene and defective spellings, they do not take out a new one, because there is no reason to think that the new one is any more correct than the “mistaken” one.

            The Sha’ags Aryeh (siman 34) rules that the mitzva by Torah law to write a sefer Torah does not apply anymore because we have no way of knowing what the correct text is.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          First of all many Rishonim hold that the mitzvah of writing a Seder Today is fullfilled by writing and buying Sefarim which entail their own requirement of being carefully edited. Old editions of sefarim that are not well edited don’t have a lot of value to anyone far as your reference to the Rema in OC 143:4 see the MB loc cit who clearly limits the application of that statement of  the Rema to where the mistake does not change the meaning of the Passuk.

          • Yehoshua says:

            I am not sure what your point is. You cited a statement in the name of Rabbi Soloveitchik that “ein anu bekkiim bechaserot has no halachic significance whatsoever.” I cited a Rama and Shagas Aryeh who do employ it in rendering halachic decisions. So, kindly explain, does Rabbi Soloveitchik’s purported statement accord with the Rama and Sha’agas Aryeh, or not?

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Merely citing the Rema in Hilcos Sefer Torah on the issue of what is a psul or the Shaagas Aryeh on Ksivas Sefer Torah is the beginning of the discussion. The point raised by the Shaagas Aryeh was actually raised by the Rosh..theMinchas Cginuch discusses the arguments raised by the Rosh which are somewhat but not totally similar to the ShaagasAryeh.

          • Yehoshua says:

            We seem to be speaking at cross purposes, so let me make myself perfectly clear. You claim that Rabbi Soloveitchik stated that the statement of Chazal that אין אנו בקיאין בחסירות ויתירות has no halachic relevance. The clear fact is that both the Rama and Sha’agas Aryeh not only include this idea in their analysis, but employ it as the reason for their Piskei halacha. Therefore, there are three possibilities:
            1: Rabi Soloveitchik was unaware of the Rama and Sha’agas Aryeh.
            2: He was aware of them, but completely discounted their opinions.
            3: He never made the statement in the first place, at least not in the far-reaching manner it is being presented here.
            I consider the first to be an impossibility, and the second to be extremely unlikely. That leaves me with the third option. Please try to respond to this point, not to introduce various sources that are not germane.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          First of all listen to the shout on Sefer Hamitzvos before speculating about what RYBS said or did not say.your sources deal with Hilcos Sefer Torah and Mitzvos Ksivas Sefer Torah where neither of the sources that you cited can reasonably be said to be the final Peak but rather two views that are subject to dispute in Rishonim.and Acharonim.that was precisely why I referred you to the Minchas Chinuch and the MB re the Rema that you cited.

          • Yehoshua says:

            I see you are either unwilling or unable to provide a substantive response to my question, so over and out.

    • Natan says:

      It’s absurd to use ein anu bekkiim bechaserot i.e. small losses the accuracy of transmission to deny that the Torah we have is the same as the one Moshe Rabbeinu gave us (#8 of the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith). The whole premise of that statement is that every letter counts, but we are not “baki” expert in which of the multiple spellings of the same word are accurate.

      Mycroft is using a straw-man all-or-nothing argument as a fig leaf for those who would deny the Mesorah we have sacrificed our lives to keep.

      • Mycroft says:

        No I have repeatedly said that a basic belief is that essentially we have the Torah given by God. It is when exaggerations of accuracy come to play based on Yigdal and the Rambam that causes problems. God is perfect but our transmission clearly has some but very few errors. Different girsot, Maaleh , chaser etc.

        when one exaggerates one gets into trouble.

        • Natan says:

          There is no exaggeration to say we have the same Torah then as now. There are different girsot in Mishnah and Gemarah, sometimes even from one generation to the next, but all the differences in the Torah do not change the meaning in any way. If Bible Critics negates that and attempt to deny the accuracy or authenticity of what they themselves acknowledge is our Mesorah, they are heretics.

          • Mycroft says:

            Apparently one first change by Yeminites in Bareshite mildly changes the meaning. Of course, there is no Halachik implication in the mild change of story

        • horatio says:

          Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 3:17 indicates that one becomes a heretic only if he says that a SENTENCE or a WORD that we have in our Torah isn’t divine. So if one denies the divinity of a khasser or yesser that we have in our Torah, this has no relevance WITH REGARD to considering him a heretic. This is probably what RYBS meant.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          On Shavuos it might Mr especially appropriate to learn the sugyos in Shabbos 86-88 to understand how Chazal discussed Mayan Torah as to how and when it occurred especially the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu added another day and HShem Yisborsch agreed to this as well as the breaking of the Luhos Rishonim. This such a plus how the Gdolei Hemarshim.understand Mayan Torah as well as the co sequences of the Maaseh Haegel hazahav and the new covenant ( see Ramban in Parshas Ki Sisaw ) are well worth exploring in depth as opposed to being fixated on Chaseris and Yeseros and similar issues.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Thankyou for that additional and crucial comment.

    • Natan says:

      The article does not mention how many MO parents send their kids to schools that are further to the right than they are. I went to a yeshivish/slightly chassidish schools in Los Angeles and possibly half the students in my grade were more MO than the school’s teachers and administrators (including the son of the mentioned Rabbi Stulberger), but these kids did pretty well. I don’t think school enrollment is a good proxy for the health of the MO community.

  5. dr.bill says:

    3 points:

    as i have noted often, ultra or post or open modern orthodoxy is flourishing in Israel.  there are even a few shuls throughout israel where higher criticism is assumed by a vast number of mispallilim. prof. shapiro’s examples are largely israeli, not OO, whose leaders have at least publicly opposed to higher criticism.  the explanation is clear, but in the spirit of the post, a topic for another day.

    the 46% statistic is severely flawed and entirely misleading.  it is not unrelated to the overall phenomena that almost all college attendees will encounter biblical criticism, jewish history, etc. taught from an academic perspective.

    there is hardly a modern orthodox jew who is not friends with people who are openly accepting of a LBTJQ child or sibling.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Dr Bill-It is no secret that one can teach Tanach at any Israeli university, look as observant as any other RZ/DL on the street and in one’s class, express opinions that cannot be reconciled with traditional views of Torah Min HaShamayim. With respect to your last paragraph, one wonders when we will see R”L learned articles telling us thatParshiyos Acharei Mos Kedoshim have no message for the world that we live in today especially if reading the same will cause or constitute microagressions of those who live “different lifestyles” other than demanded by the Torah as the definition of Kedusha. This is the natural conclusion of a demand for tolerance which obviously leads to a demand for acceptance.

      • dr. bill says:

        not just can teach tanach, but most who teach tanach hold views you would likely condemn.  like prof. shapiro, i am only reporting not advocating.

        as to the LGBTQ community, i do not have any data about the growth in tolerance and / or acceptance, but there is change afoot.  note, now we sit shiva for suicide victims.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Ain haci nami. I stand by my critique if the so called pshat only way of learning Tanach and see no reason why toleration of a deviant lifestyle should be accepted as legitimate. The CS wrote that most suicides were caused by mental illness. The LGBT movement clear my opposes being so categorized .

  6. Bob Miller says:

    People have ridiculed slippery slope arguments, but here we can see reasons for all the concern.  We have our own special forms of assimilation.

  7. ben dov says:

    Biblical criticism is a very sensitive issue that requires careful treatment.  Before  we rush to join the current zeitgeist, some points need to be considered.

    1. Opinions that some divinely revealed verses are post-Mosiac (besides the last verses) are minority views.  Their status is ambiguous at best.

    2. Even assuming these minority views can be accepted, it does not necessarily follow that one can accept large swaths as post-Mosaic.

    3. From a supposed existence of post-Mosaic verses it does not at all follow that there is  license to reject the historicity of Torah narratives.  One who denies the mabul, the Avos, yetzias mitzraim and maamad har sinai is surely an apikores who has left the Jewish religion.

    Rav Saadiah Gaon permits non-literal readings only when required by mesora or obvious logic, not on the basis of theory or speculation  e.g. G-d is not a consuming fire, Chava is not the mother of beasts, etc.

    • Mycroft says:

      Re 3 . See R Shubert Spero on Bareshit and mabul, R Jeremy Wieder has a discussion on non literal Bareshit, seems to state those who do that are following the same procedure as Rambam and Saadiahs, logic even when no mesorah. He then stated that of course if one denies that there was a yetzias Mithraism, and a Matan Torah ,we have nothing left. Thus a difference in literalness of Bria’s Hallam, mabul, avos stories – and the existence of yizat Mizrayim and Matan Torah

      • ben dov says:

        What is Shubert Spero’s source?  The burden of proof is on him when changing Jewish belief.   Look at what RSG and Rambam actually say and in which context.  Look at how Chazal actually use the concept of Dibra Torah k’lashon Bnei Adam vs. how Spero uses it.

        RSG is not talking about historical studies but about statements that are patently illogical: G-d is a fire, Chava is the mother of all living, etc.



        • Mycroft says:

          RSG states that the donkey never talked to Bilaam, no mesorah source.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Yet, one could argue that when viewed through the prism of Chazal and many other Mefarshim, RSG’s view is a decidedly minority perspective.

          • dr. bill says:

            we maintain minority opinions for future use.  this might be a very good example.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Dr bill one can and  should easily distinguish between minority views in Parshanut and the views of either Beis Shammai and or R Eliezet (shamuti hu) after he was out in cherem which are always viewed as important to know as a cheftza shel Torah but not as psak.

        • Mycroft says:

          R Spero does not need a source, the Rambam and Saadiahs Gaon niter pretend by svara against the mesorah also

          • ben dov says:

            1. According to Rambam such incidents did happen- in a prophetic vision.  That is not allegory.  Huge difference.

            2. Rambam has specific reasons why certain incidents are regarded as visions. They are totally inapplicable to the issues under dispute in this blog. Rambam does not give license to say “prophetic vision” about anything in the Torah that one finds hard to believe.

            3. Claiming “svara” is insufficient without specifying what kind of logic one is talking about.  RSG, for example,  is talking about simple syllogistic reasoning, not speculation or academic theory.

          • Mycroft says:

            Ram am prophetic vision still means the actual physical thing did not happen

            RSG believed Bilaams donkey did not talk in a literal sens

          • ben dov says:

            Prophetic vision does not occur on a physical plane.  So what?

            Yosef’s dreams did not occur on a physical plane, but it is a fact that Yosef had those dreams, and one who denies this denies Toras Moshe according to the mesora.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            I did not say learning 24/7. I did say that one maximize as much of ones spare time whenever and wherever possible in some form of Limud HaTorah. That is how the mitzvah of Talmud Torah is formlulated

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I think that the approach of  R Spero and R Wieder requires further inquiry, a Tzarich Iyun to use the language of the Rishonim. If one learns Chumash without the Mfarshim , you are reading the same in a literal sense, but without the view of Chazal and the TSBP. When one learns Chumash with the aid and assistance of the Gdolei Mfarshim, you explore different approaches to the text. Parshanut in its most traditional sense offers far more room for exploration into the meaning of any Biblical verse than eschewing the same in the goal of understanding the Pshat based on tools that were not known to Chazal or the Rishonim, or dismissing Brias HaOlam, the Mabul and the Parshiyos of the Avos as allegory.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          In general I would as thus that reducing the understanding of Chumash to what seems logical in our minds will lead to a “reading” of Chumash Dr kid its eternal values and the basic ingredients of Hashkafa and Ikarei Emuna merely because we as a generation are so arrogant in demanding that the events in Chumash be reduced to the lowest co..on denominator of whether it is logical in our .minds rather than in stretching our minds and realizing that there are deeper meaning and messages that defy and go well beyond a reading limited to pshat only. I think that the approaches of R Spero and R Wieder clearly pose more problems than create solutions in their inviting those who are adherents solely of their own rational POV to remain so limited in their understanding of the Torah HaKedosha.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        What you call a literal reading is really a reading based on your definitions of rationality and logic.that is why at least R Spero and the views of R Wieder are a decidedly minority view. Try looking at it this way.many portions of the Torah were written in a way that invite inquiry into their meaning way beyond what appears rational and logical to you in 2017 to demonstrate that HaShem runs the world and His Hashgacha Pratis. I would certainly include Maaseh Breishis the Mabul the Makos Krias Yam Suf Matan Torah the second covenant rooted in Luchos Shniyos and TSBP and HaShem speaking through the mouth of Bilaams donkey as such examples. We find many halacha where what you and I would consider pshat of a verse cited by Chazal to be far from what Chazal viewed as the operative meaning of that verse on an everyday halachic basis.

    • mb says:

      Ben Dov,

      I deny the historicity of the Mabul and virtually everything in that narrative (especially Noah’s age!). Have I left the Jewish religion?

      I deny that Abraham was 175 when he died. Have I left the Jewish religion?

      • ben dov says:

        Who in Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim agree with you about the mabul?  You are denying what our mesora has accepted as fact from time immemorial.  Without mesora there is nothing left.

        There are rabbinic statements and allegorical statements in rabbinic sources.  Here we have a unanimous mesora treated as fact.

        While we’re at it, why not deny Avraham Avinu even existed?  Why not deny yetzias mitzraim or maamad har Sinai?  Maybe the mann never fell?  Maybe bayis rishon never existed?  Maybe G-d never gave one word of Oral Torah and Chazal didn’t really mean it?

        • ben dov says:



          “rabbinic disputes” not “rabbinic statements”

        • mb says:

          ben dov,

          You didn’t answer my questions(on a statement you made), instead veering off into a rant.

          Now, please, answer my questions.



          • ben dov says:

            My response was entirely on topic.  That’s not “veering.”

            I was clear that 1) Judaism hinges on mesora, and 2) The historicity of the mabul is part of our mesora, no less than maamad har sinai.

            To deny mesora is apikorsus.  Whether you are personally to blame for your belief, I do not know.  I suggest consulting with a competent halachic authority to clarify what mesora stands for.

      • Sarah Elias says:

        Why would you not have?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Just curious-what Mfarshim have you studied in depth  with respect to the Mabul and the lives of the Avos?

        • mb says:

          Plenty, so what?

          The mabul is myth. Sacred history is different to actual history. If you want to believe nonsense and think that’s what God wants, go ahead.

          I choose not to.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Actually, CY Yerushalmi stated that Jewish history is that which Klal Yisrael has accepted throughout the centuries.  I would suggest that once Chazal and the Mafarshim dealt with the Mabul and the lives of the Avos and the development of the elements of Bris Avos, how they lived their lives was so important it was described in the Torah in Parshas Mishpatim as one huge component of Sefer HaBris.

          • Mycroft says:


            Are you saying that what Klal Israel has accepted as history must be accepted even if false? Do you accept Seder Olam that 2nd beis Hamikdash lasted 420 years? It was accepted for centuries.

            FWIW implicitly RHS explained the reason why people probably accepted 420. A machlokes in pcshat of Pasuk as to number of kings in Persia. Following p cessation would get far more than 420. But if all kings l sited were really different names for one could get 420.

          • Natan says:

            why would you choose to believe that G-d wrote sacred history to look like nonsense? Why would sacred history have a lower standard than real history?

          • ben dov says:

            The Mabul is not just one rabbinic statement in Seder Olam.  It’s in the Torah, for which literal understanding of narratives in the norm, not the exception.  The burden of proof is on those who say otherwise for any given account.  The exceptions are not only few but interpreted according to certain specifications that have nothing to do with the Mabul. To boot we are dealing with a Torah account that is universally accepted by our mesora as historical.

            If you do not accept universal mesora, then nothing is binding.  The Mitzvos?  Maybe that is just an allegory! After all, Shubert Spero and Mb say I do not need to read the Torah literally!  Shema Yisrael?  Maybe I do not have to believe that G-d is one, since there is freedom to interpret!  Christian missionaries also interpret.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        MB I don’t think that Chazal were bothered by or interested in historicity in the same way we k ow that 7.4.1776 was Independence Day. Chazal were far more interested in debating what we were and are obligated to or not to do.

        • mb says:

          Steve Brizel,

          Correct. We agree!

          • Steve Brizel says:

            That’s why stating that historicity makes or breaks your emunah or lack of it makes no sense. If Chazal spent their time in exploring the ins and outs of Torah She Baal Peh and permitted a far broader range of approaches in Parshanut historicity is an approach that does not aid or break ones faith. It is a futile means if exploring the Infinite Torah by purely mortal means





          • Steve Brizel says:

            There are many statements by Chazal that assume as a given the unity of Torahshebicsav and TSBP and that Moshe Rabbeinu was given not just Torahshebicsav but also the full authority over TSBP that was given to the Gdolei Talmidei Chachamim in every generation to develop chidushim.chumros and kulos based on the moods the keys to interpretation that were transmitted from.HAShem to Moshe Rabbeinu.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          MB I think that there so many approaches to Parshanut simply because all such approaches ranging from.Pshat to Machshava to drush to chasidus and miser and give the student avenues for getting different approaches to understanding the Torah without diluting or dispensing with what Chazal were driving at in their interpretations. Viewing any one such school of Parshanut as providing answers will never help you realize the depth and profundity of Toras HaShem Temima







    • Mycroft says:

      Apparently one first change by Yeminites in Bareshite mildly changes the meaning. Of course, there is no Halachik implication in the mild change of story

      • Steve Brizel says:

        What if any relevance does your comment have with respect to the classical definition if the mitzvah of Talmud Torah?

  8. mb says:

    “only Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger of Valley Torah High School (more traditional) fully maintained the traditional position, to his credit.”

    “This is not a polemical article. I am merely documenting events, without comment.”


  9. First, yes it’s polemical.  Gentle, polite but polemical.

    Secondly, the failure here is the usual all or nothing approach.  Acceptance of the Torah on a simple faith level is one side, Biblical Criticism with its smashing of all Jewish fundamentals is the other.  And in between? How about we create a new term: Biblical Understanding.  One can accept the antiquity, unity and Divinity of the Torah text and the holiness of the rest of the Bible without ignoring what archaeology, anthropology and ancient history have to add to it, especially when so much of that actually supports and helps flesh out the text.  Instead of Criticism, we should be teaching our children the answers to the difficult questions they are obviously asking instead of shouting “What!?  You don’t mindlessly accept everything Chazal said in the face of contradictory evidence?! Kofer!”

    A simplistic acceptance might work in more insulated community where people are taught to cover their ears when an outsider begins to speak. MO needs to understand how to society-proof their children intelligently.

    • la costa says:

      because this is exactly the approach of the american Conservative movement- which started with Wissenschaft des Judentums as a major raison detre; and has proceded thru abandoning major hunks of halacha , as well as denying Yetziat Mitzrayim;  and now proceeds to conducting intermarriage…

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I think that you are offering shortcuts of a dubious nature. As we approach Shavuous, it is important to recognize that there are means ( described by Chazal as midos) by which Torah is acquired in the same way that Chazal enumerate various halachos throughout the Talmud.Three elements that Chazal emphasize are fire  ( passion for learning) water ( representing the infinity of what there is to know) and the desert ( that one must make oneself hefker from the world  via arduous labor ) to truly become knowledgeable in Torah. Shortcuts that suggest supplanting the above elements deserve grave scrutiny before those who have never appreciated the above three elements are told that there are shortcuts to becoming a Ben Torah or Bas Torah knowledgeable in Tanach.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Look at it this way-there are many passages, and even entire sefarim in Tanach which Chazal tell us should not be interpreted in a literal fashion and understood devoid of their deeper meaning. The insistence upon Pshat or what appears logical to me in 2017 would require us to limit the search for meaning of such passages or sefarim solely to what appears to be logical to us-when we have no such license to do so.

    • Bob Miller says:

      One self-defeating form of society-proofing is giving young or old students small doses of general society’s deceptions, to immunize against larger, more varied deceptions out there.  This never works over time and, by the way, is dishonest.

      Watching the softer or more speculative sciences becoming tools for sociopolitical propaganda, I begin to wonder how biased the information-gathering and analysis were in the past.   Some of these -ologies may be as specious on key points as astrology.

      • Mycroft says:

        IMO your challenge of bias in transmission is the fundamental problem. Our mesorah depends on accurate transmission of what people said. thus, the problem if one sees distortions of what people said and meant in the past 150 years, why should one assume that prior Baalei mesorah were more accurate. That is why it is crucial to state accurately what the person believed and stated. Then even a talmid can disagree with ones Rebbe, but be accurate in what the Rebbe said and practiced.

        • Bob Miller says:

          Don’t you agree that we’ve done really well, far better than others?   Our transmission of knowledge has Divine protection.

          • Mycroft says:

            I assume so.what causes doubt is seeing inaccuracy of transmission of the complex ideas of SRH, the Rav and Rav Kook. All have complexities that often people choose not to transmit. It is one thing to say be disagrees with a person it is another to distort what a person says.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Not every talmid can or should disagree with his rebbe. Moreover earlier generations are far closer to Mayan Torah than we are but we can offer chidushim which are legitimate insights rooted from.our reading of Chazal and Rishonim as opposed to a radical departure in interpretation  because anything that any Talmid vasik says was said to Moshe at Sinai.

          • Mycroft says:

            Give me an objective test that you believe can determine who can disagree with their Rebbe. Do not give a name as an example.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    Without a commitment to both Bris Avos as developed and delineated in much of Sefer Breishis, which begins as a a result of HaShem;s search for anyone for a person willing to comply with His Will which marks the failure of the generations between Adam HaRishon and Noach and between Noach and Avraham Avinu, and Bris Sinai as set forth in Sefer Shemos via the description of Galus and the geulah as represented in the Mishkan, then much of Sefer Breishis and Shemos wiil R”L be reduced to our puny evaluation of the same by such means as historicity, what seems logical to us,  for those who Rashi in Parshas Noach deserve the sobriquet of Ketanei Emunah, and will result in another generation asking what relevance does the Nosen HaTorah have to my life in the 21st Century. . I would suggest that the average MO person should have a working knowledge and textual literacy in the classical Mfarshim before thinking about the approaches suggested by R Spero or R Wieder. Classical Mfarshim include Rashi, Ramban, Seforno, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra , Netziv and Meshech Chachmah,. For a special Shavuos treat, I would suggest that the interested reader go through the Maamar Matan Torah of the CI or the Hakdamas HaEmek of the Netziv to HaEmek Shealah.

  11. SQ says:

    It’s very telling that you filled the post with links, but conspicuously did not link to Rabbi Eric Grossman’s article, despite quoting it liberally. I’ll remedy that for your readers, who may want to consider why you didn’t link to it and what it implies about your post being “not a polemical article” and what you really fear:

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Read the article and then think about the following. When you supplant textual literacy in Mefarshim with the Gush literary pshat oriented derech,  is it not a short logical skip hop and jump to resorting to BC? It is like CJ -once you allow someone to drive to shul on Shabbos, you can rationalize all sorts of violations of halacha.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I liked R Grossman’s article for arguing that the best way to understand Chumash is via the views offered by the Gdolei HaMefarshim especially in how each understands “pshat” in any Pasuk.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I suspect that many would draw the line at the pedagogical and hashkafic wisdom of in depth study of the Mfarshim as a logical hop skip and jump to BC.

  12. DF says:

    This post is in poor judgment and in worse taste, and I am truly surprised the editors let it through. Clearly R. Gordimer jumped (without too much thought, it appears) to bring up this article, mistakenly thinking he has found here a club with which to gleefully bash modern orthodoxy. He should have just followed the wisdom of Pirkei Avos and not said anything. For it is obvious to anyone who’s read it that Dr. Shapiro’s article is far, far below his usual impeccable standards. Just for a few examples:

    1. Dr. Shapiro asserts that his article is only about MO rabbis and educators, and not MO laymen, which he says, incredibly, – almost in these exact words – are sheep who will mindlessly do and believe what they are told. I wonder if the people listening to Dr. Shapiro on the lecture circuit realize what the speaker thinks of them. And if they aren’t the masses of MO, who then? The tens of thousands of YU and other yeshiva graduates? These are the mindless sheep who will just believe anything they are told?

    2. Dr. Shapiro writes, explicitly, that Biblical Criticism is no different than Evolution or the Big Bang Theory, and as those ideas were reconciled with traditional Judaism, so eventually will BC be so reconciled. How he can believe this with a straight face is beyond me. There’s a reason the former were very quickly assimilated, while BC, which has already been around for almost 200 years in its modern form, has not. And it is because orthodox Judaism CANNOT be reconciled with it. Contrary to Dr. Shapiro, the mindless lemmings who make up the masses are well aware of this. Leave aside the Bible – orthodoxy depends upon the belief that the *Oral Law* comes from Sinai, all the more so the Torah upon which the latter is predicated. Will people really keep two sets of dishes if its all just one man’s theory of interpreting what yet another man wrote? Will Steve Cohen really not marry the woman he loves because some guy in the ancient Levant thought a priest shouldn’t marry a gerusha? Etc. Etc. So it will NEVER be reconciled, because it cannot.

    3. Most of my peers who read Dr. Shapiro’s article basically had the same experience, viz, it became clear after 3 or 4 pages that there was no substance to it. He basically cites a handful of nobodies, including two women and a professor, and declares this evidence that modern orthodoxy is now accepting MO. Some of this is the inherent difficulty of defining orthodoxy, which the writer acknowledges, but the lineup assembled by Dr. Shapiro isn’t indicative of anything at all, much less the colossus of modern orthodoxy. Come now, Dr. Shapiro. If gadflies were the standard by which we judged a group’s beliefs, I would tell you Americans believe the moon landing was a fake.

  13. Marc says:

    Hello everyone,

    Someone sent me DF’s comment so let me reply.

    1. This is incorrect. What I said is that when speaking of a change in outlook I am referring to intellectual leaders and educated laity, not the masses. That is because the masses do not have an independent opinion on this matter. If the masses are told that according to Orthodoxy they have to accept something, they will have faith in their rabbis, or their gedolim, and follow what they are told, just as they do in halakhic matters. It is only rabbis, intellectual leaders, and independent thinking laity who will depart from traditional views.

    How this can be seen as putting down the masses boggles my mind. On the contrary, from a traditional standpoint this is the greatest praise for the masses, that they follow Jewish tradition, accepting what their leaders tell them. Since when do the masses come up with new theological approaches? By the same token, if the masses are told by their rabbinic leaders that an approach is “kosher”, they will follow what their leaders tell them. DF might see this as contemptuous but it is actually what traditional Judaism is all about.

    2. There is no question that DF is mistaken here as the examples I cite show. In other words, these individuals do believe that evolution is no different than BC and that is why they have offered new approaches. They say this explicitly that they are convinced by the modern biblical scholarship and compare this to evolution and age of the world. So how can DF say that there is no similarity? It is not what Marc Shapiro or DF think. It is what is moving the change in theology on the Orthodox left. Whereas R. Soloveitchik would say that sometimes one has to surrender one’s own inclinations, not just when it comes to halakhah but also when faced with what the contemporary Zeitgeist says regarding morality or scholarship, the people I have discussed have a different view when it comes to BC. Again, I don’t know how this can be argued as they say so explicitly.

    In this paragraph I am referring to the ones who completely accept Higher Criticism. But the article also includes a range of thinkers offering different approaches in the two important areas of Mosaic authorship and historicity. All of them are influenced by modern scholarship and are trying to reconcile it with their Orthodoxy.

    DF says that Orthodox Judaism cannot be reconciled with BC. I would say that this is true about much of BC, but not about other aspects of BC (e.g., lower criticism, interpolations of verses, and literalism of all narratives [not exactly an aspect of BC but often included in popular discussion]). But again, it is not about what DF or Marc Shapiro think. The article was about the new trend that I see developing whereby a number of scholars and rabbis DO think that BC can be reconciled with Orthodox Judaism. My argument is that this is a new phenomenon and I try to explain why. Are you really saying that the examples are not noteworthy? I would have found them unimaginable 30 years ago. That is why when I was invited to speak at a conference that to a large degree focused on Orthodox views of Biblical Criticism (Kugel and Ross were in attendance) I chose to speak on recent changes in Orthodox views regarding BC.

    DF thinks that Orthodoxy can be reconciled with evolution and an old universe. Well, as I know he knows, plenty of Orthodox do not think that this is the case and believe that it is heresy to believe in these things. So I think the parallel is apt, and as mentioned, the defenders of Orthodox reconciliation with BC think so and that is what is important.

    I absolutely reject DF’s statement that the masses know that BC can’t be reconciled with Orthodoxy. As mentioned before, they believe what their rabbinic leaders tell them. But if their rabbinic leaders tell them that they can believe in BC, they will not object. They will assume that the rabbis know what they are talking about. That’s what following rabbinic leadership means. Before high school kids go off to college they are usually given some classes in high school about the BC that they will confront in college. If the rabbis giving these classes would tell the students that there is no religious objection to BC, do you really think the students would tell the rabbis that they don’t know what they are talking about? Of course not. They would go off to college and tell everyone that there is no problem with these ideas since that is what their rabbi told them. I know this is the case and I have seen it personally.

    I don’t know how anyone can argue with this, and it was precisely a right wing rabbi who wrote to me saying that this is why these ideas are so dangerous since kids in high school can be misled.

    The last point in point 2 is irrelevant to my article. You ask if people can be led to commitment to Torah if they don’t believe it is really divine. You would have to ask the people I discuss in the article. I think the history of the Conservative movement shows that people will not follow it if they think it is a human invention. There is a famous apocryphal story about Mordecai Kaplan who was seen carrying an umbrella on Shabbat. He was asked why he was doing so, as he was publicly a Shomer Shabbat. He replied that one doesn’t need to get wet for a civilization. I think that puts the matter well. So DF can write a critique of these authors and say this.

    3. DF says that I cite a handful of nobodies, “including two women”. Now that is really uncalled for. But let me leave the implication of that aside and focus on substance (which DF sees as lacking in the article). Is R. Mordechai Breuer, the premier Orthodox Bible scholar of the last generation, insignificant? He provided a hechsher of sorts for non-Mosaic authorship (be-diavad). I don’t need to go through the other names but I don’t think that they are nobodies.

    Contrary to DF, I never said that MO is now accepting biblical criticism, certainly not the “colossus” of MO. I said that there is a segment of MO that is accepting of it. That is my argument and I offered the proof in the article. If you don’t buy it, that’s OK. But many people do, and some have written to me saying that they have seen the exact same phenomenon that I describe. When you have Orthodox schools that have people on faculty who advocate BC, isn’t that significant? I can’t imagine this taking place 30 years ago.

    DF thinks that the people I cite are only gadflies, with no significance. I think differently, and I think we are seeing the beginning of a trend. Let’s agree to meet here in 20 years and see who is correct.


    • Steve Brizel says:

      Dr Shapiro- a few comments in response:

      1) There was a debate in Tradition a few issues back as to whether the Gush derech in learning Tanach supplemented or supplanted the learning of Tanach and especially Chumash with traditional Mfarshim. I see nothing in your article or in the linked article that disproves the notion in certain MO quarters that BC , in addition to the Gush derech, has now displaced being literate in the classical Mefarshim

      2-3Viewing BC as harmless is akin to viewing texting on Shabbos as harmless. Yes, one must be moser nefesh , get wet and surrender the notions that one has learned in the secular world to understand Tanach. You need not be guided by the Midrash says but one should be literate in the Mefarshim before resorting to literary and other so-called pshat only methods that drain the message of Chazal from the text.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Read DR Shapiro’s article and ask yourself what any of the cited authors think when they recite a Birkas haTorah or any other Birkas HaMitzvah or similar portion of the Tefilah.

  15. Marc says:

    P.S. when I wrote

    “They would go off to college and tell everyone that there is no problem with these ideas since that is what their rabbi told them. I know this is the case and I have seen it personally.”

    What I meant by I have seen it personally does not refer to BC (25 years ago when I worked for Hillel rabbis would not have said there is not a problem with BC) but other ideas that I thought diverged from tradition. It was enough for them that their rabbi said so.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Who says that the average MO student even after a year or two in Israel should subject himself or herself to such apikorsus? There us no mitzvah to walk into building that is in danger of collapsing

  16. DF says:

    To respond to Dr. Shapiro –  first let me say that Dr. Shapiro knows me and knows I have the highest respect, as everyone should, for his outstanding contributions to Jewish scholarship. So he knows that reflected in my criticism on this issue, however strong, is great respect and appreciation. With that important preliminary point said:

    1. The article concerned modern orthodox, not Lakewood. Such people don’t look to “Gedolim” for guidance. And the MO world does not subscribe to the concept of “psak” when it comes to theology. They might ask their rabbi a question about a chicken, having no experience in Yoreh Deah. But they wont ask a rabbi to tell them what to believe. Such Jews, like all Jews, are quite capable of understanding the implications of biblical criticism. They don’t have to understand what those implications are based upon, anymore than one has to understand how an engine works to drive a car, or how electricity is produced to turn on the light. And if the people are taught the Torah is not divine, they wont simply shrug and keep on keeping on, they will cease practicing it altogether. Which leads to the next point.

    2. It’s true that its not important what me or Dr. Shapiro think, but its also not important what merely a few rabbis or educators think. The article asks if modern orthodoxy is heading towards acceptance of biblical criticism, not if some of its teachers are. And as I said, the society as a whole will never go in that direction because by definition it cannot. The Kaplan story is not extrinsic to the point, it IS the point. Is Kaplan the only one smart enough to realize that its not worth getting wet for nothing? And that’s a mere bit of rain; would any Jew have given up his life for what amounts to nothing but “Jewish culture”? Of course not – because he wouldn’t have stayed Jewish in the first place. That’s what Biblical criticism leads directly towards, and that’s why its never been accepted.

    3. My intent was not to belittle the people cited in Dr. Shapiro’s article, just to say – in a concise fashion – that nobody in the article is someone the modern orthodox community is looking to for guidance. The only people they would look to are very well-known Rabbis and Roshei Yeshivah, not women or professors or ballei battim (however learned they may be, even if they are more learned than the rabbis.) And remember the adage, the people choose their leaders, not the other way around. So even as great a scholar like R. Breuer would have zero impact on the community.

    Let me conclude like this: The elephant in the room here is intellectual dishonesty. Dr. Shapiro mentions this a few times in his article. Many if not most of the people he cites are motivated by intellectual honesty, because they are convinced of the findings of biblical criticism. If so, shouldn’t the same intellectual honestly tell them that orthodoxy is simply not compatible with that belief? Shouldn’t they acknowledge that they are really just orthoprax, not orthodox? And even if they, as adults, have made their peace with such a lifestyle, shouldn’t intellectual honesty compel them to admit that teaching such beliefs publicly, if they were accepted, would result in the end of orthodoxy, and, ultimately, Judaism?

    Me personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with intellectual dishonesty. I think government at all levels and corporate America is filled to the brim with intellectual dishonesty, and has been so filled for decades and probably longer. I think there is intellectual dishonesty in every shul board room and around every family dinner table. I think its built into the world, and I think the sages of old knew this as well.


    • Tzuri says:

      The thing is that the type of BC described by Dr. Shapiro in his essay is a very different type of BC than most would think of hearing the term. Typical BC involves the view that the parts of the Torah that were from various sources and spliced together were done so with at most minor Divine inspiration. I grew up in the Conservative movement, and believe me that is being generous.

      However, the type of BC that Dr. Shapiro claims is growing within a segment of MO still believes that the entirety of the Torah is Divine in origin. It still believes that every word of the Torah has Divine meaning and is immutable. That difference (complete Divinity vs minimal Divinity) is enough to ensure that its adherents are more than just “Orthoprax” since their theology is much closer to traditional Orthodoxy than it is to any of the movements which have thus far accepted BC.

      • Rafael Quinoaface says:

        If you read the website “”, it will disabuse you of the notion that this growing segment of MO still believes in the entirety of the Torah is divine. On the contrary, the growing segment of MO and DL worlds are doing away with this view.

    • Mycroft says:

      We are both aware that certainly in the past decade they are very few aveillim as a percentage of minyanim.

      OK I will make the same comment as to those who attend shul shiurim.



      • Steve Brizel says:

        That does not explain the immense popularity either of web based shiurim.the huge interest in and support of Daf Yomi and the recognition that scholars in residence and alternative means of learning such as subscribing to a series of lecturers are quite popular in many communities.

    • Mycroft says:

      I hope you don’t believe that everyone is ntellectually dishonest. IMO it is axiomatic that Chazal believed in what they were saying. If not why follow them. First Emes, then it can be yahar,  etc but need Emes attah hu rishon



      • Steve Brizel says:

        It is axiomatic that as the guardians of TSBP and its transmission that Chazal determine what is Emes and Yashar as opposed to asking yourself what is Emes and Yashar. That is why we celebrate Tu beShvat even if there is a lit of snow on the ground.

      • DF says:

        No, I don’t believe every one is intellectually dishonest all the time. But I do believe it is a permanent design feature of the universe. There are many good reasons for not saying everything we believe. Nay more (as the kids say); there are good reasons to speak and even act contrary to what we believe in our hearts. This is an עלמא דשקרא and we cannot change that. We have to live with it.

        The sages say they once tried to eradicate the evil urge, only to realize that the law of unintended consequences had struck again. (Everyone stopped pro-creating, and there was nothing to eat.) The same is true with intellectual dishonesty. It’s not a bad thing. The proponents of biblical criticism who think they have to teach their beliefs publicly, for fear of being “intellectually dishonest” if they didn’t, would soon learn the same lesson the sages did.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I think your definition of emes is flawed because it fits your need for all such terms to be neatly logical in your mind. Take a look at R Meir Simcha in Meshech Chachmah Bamidbar 23.21 at the last paragraph before the comment on 23.23. R Meir Simcha posits quite clearly that Chasamo Shel Ames refers to how Ramban in Yesodei HaTorah 1.1 as opposed to what you and I view as as the and I are simply incapable by any means known to man. Our job is recognize this fact over the past present and.future which is why  it plays such a large role in the Musaf of RH.

    • David Ohsie says:

      “It’s true that its not important what me or Dr. Shapiro think, but its also not important what merely a few rabbis or educators think. The article asks if modern orthodoxy is heading towards acceptance of biblical criticism, not if some of its teachers are.”

      I think that you misunderstand what acceptance of BC means.  It doesn’t mean that it is a mandatory belief; it means that it has been accepted as non-heretical.  If some of its teachers have accepted BC, and continue continue to be accepted as teachers, then BC has been accepted as non-heretical in MO.

      “My intent was not to belittle the people cited in Dr. Shapiro’s article, just to say – in a concise fashion – that nobody in the article is someone the modern orthodox community is looking to for guidance.”

      Students look to their teachers for guidance.

      “Let me conclude like this: The elephant in the room here is intellectual dishonesty. Dr. Shapiro mentions this a few times in his article. Many if not most of the people he cites are motivated by intellectual honesty, because they are convinced of the findings of biblical criticism. If so, shouldn’t the same intellectual honestly tell them that orthodoxy is simply not compatible with that belief?”

      This is outside the scope of the paper, but what is the basis for this assertion?  The Torah itself does not assert that the Torah was dictated by God to Moshe.   We do not have “And God spoke to Moses saying ‘In the beginning…”.  The Ramban notices this problem and tries to answer for it in his introduction to his commentary on the Torah.  While this has certainly has become an accepted belief and I’m not disputing the belief, I’m not sure why someone with a different PoV and takes a more literal interpretation of the words of the Torah would need to forfeit their belief in the divinity of the Torah or give up the Mitzvos.  Moreover, if the community accepts them and continues to be Orthodox, then the beliefs are compatible.  Ultimately this is an empirical question that time will answer.

    • la costa says:

      >>>>Me personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with intellectual dishonesty.


      —-  should there not be a haredi response to BC other than just ‘you can’t study that because it’s wrong’ ?  does the field of BC related approaches merit haredi intellectuals who are knowledgable enough of the field to be able to dissect it rather than ignore it ?   or is it actually not answerable?

    • Bob Miller says:

      If, as DF alleged above, MO people don’t look to Gedolim for guidance, that in itself is troubling.   The ode to dishonesty was likewise troubling, unless this was a joke.  The Sages both knew about it and fought to defeat it.

      I don’t want the pompous hypocrites, intellectual or otherwise, to doff their masks.  I want them to straighten out.


  17. Baruch says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Dr. Joshua Berman’s powerful attacks on Biblical Criticism.  After you read his essays, it is obvious that biblical critics are like so many other academics and pundits of all sorts: pompous, arrogant, and smug, with disdain for anyone who doesn’t agree with their obviously superior views.

    Biblical criticism is full of holes.  The people who believe in it are the same people who said Donald Trump could never win, who claim global warming is destroying the planet, who claimed a few decades ago that global cooling would kill the planet, who claimed in the 1970s that the world was being overpoipulated and that we need to stop having so many children, who once claimed that women minyanim were the wave of the future, etc. etc. etc.

    A little humility wouldn’t hurt.  Perhaps when the Torah says “And G-d spoke to Moses as follows,” it actually is true.  Perhaps the author wasn’t a liar.  Perhaps the nevi’im weren’t liars.  Just perhaps.  It’s something to consider.

    • AryehS says:

      Are you saying that were it not full of holes, you would believe it? That’s significant, and the point of so many of the sources Prof. Shapiro quotes.

      • Mark says:

        It’s significant only if one is essentially agnostic about the Divine authorship of the Torah. That is what is significant here.

    • Mycroft says:

      There is an interesting myth that Time Magazine published a cover about the coming Ice Age in the 70s. Apparently DJT was going to make a comment based on that but for once the White House staff caught it in time

      • Sherlock says:

        Its not a myth at all, Mycroft, but it is off topic, so inappropriate to discuss here.

        • Mycroft says:

          Google time magazine cover story coming ice age.

          you will see a lot about the fakery including a link to snopes on topic.

    • dr. bill says:

      have you read Dr. Berman’s article on the exodus?  its viewpoint would not pass muster given traditional views.

      calling the author a liar, is a bit of anachronistic overreach.  to better understand the methods of ancient authors, read Seconding Sinai.

  18. Zach Kerner says:

    Orthodox Judaism is on the defensive and has been for decades.

    Religion in the West is on the defensive and has been for centuries.

    There is one single hope to regain the attack.

    Science, after four hundred years of swimming success, is threatening the very existence of humanity. Prof. Yuval Harrari of ‘Sapiens’ and ‘Homo Deux’ fame writes chillingingly that on the great sea of time human life will be but a ‘ripple’. Silicon Valley plans to replace us with machines. This is not the stuff of science fiction of tomorrow, this is the science reality of today.


    • Steve Brizel says:

      Machines cannot and will never have a neshama or a conscience

      • Mycroft says:

        Harari who lives in Jerusalem does not treat Yahadus as important at all in history. I have read his books taken his MOOC, but I am too old to take him up on his offer to jog with him in the most beautiful city of the world. BTW BHO read his books and his endorsement on the latest jacket.

        BTW I agree with Steve on this matter.

      • dr. bill says:

        indeed.  machine intelligence types will argue that if machines could behave as if they had a neshamah or a conscience, would it matter or in fact how would you even know??  furthermore, some would argue that humans also do not have such (non-deterministic ) facilities.

        • Mycroft says:

          Dr. Bill:

          You are raising issues of nature of human free will, existence of soul etc. These for believers are a matter of faith much more fundamental to religion than issues of mesorah. I don’t see how one could explain Torah, if humans were not unique in free will. I am aware as probably most CC readers of the scientific narrative, but I assume it is axiomatic for CCs creators of the acceptance of the Torahs assumptions.

          • dr. bill says:

            we do not disagree.  i was pointing out the view of many in the field.  I continue to believe what i heard from RAL ztl over 50 years ago in a very deeply philosophical shiur on determinism.  i do not think that shiur is either published or on tape.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          As long as man is viewed as an animal who has evolved, as opposed to being a person created BTzelem Elokim with a Neshama , then machine intelligence types can deceive themselves into thinking that a machine could be created by man that would refrain from or committ horific acts at the click of a button. Such a discussion reminds me of the well known discussion about RYK on an airplane with his grandchildren and a secular Jewish leader and RYK explaining why his eineklach were so devoted to his care. R”L that we ever delude ourselves that such technology could replace man’s conscience and free will.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Until Silicon Valley companies can sell their products to machines, they really do need us.

      • dr. bill says:

        it is already happening in some realms.  machines are programmed to make purchases without the need for any human intervention.  welcome to the very beginning of a brave new world.

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-see Dr D Bergers article in response to those who question the historicity of Channukah. I think that the arguments contained therein apply to the issues discussed in this thread.

  20. Y. Ben-David says:

    I realize that a headline that says that the majority of Dati Leumi (DL) people “leave the fold” makes some “triumphalist”-types in other ideological camps happy, but this does not correspond to the reality that I and other DL people I know.  One Orthodox blogger was worried that DL was supposedly going to disappear, and that we are in desperate need to “save it”.

    I do not have access to scientific surveys of the matter. I simply asked my children, all of whom went through the Dati Leumi Torani trends of education and they told me almost all the kids they know are still religious. I asked DL friends of mine what they see in their friends, family and neighbors and they say that they see a few dropouts, but not a mass. In my own suburban Tel-Aviv synagogue, whose members are largely DL professionals, not Rabbanim and not Hardalim, almost all the adult children are observant, although there are a few that gave it up.  Our yeshivot are full, our pre-Army academies are full, there is a very vigorous intellectual activity with many publications, studies, shiurim. The DL world is turning out major talmidei hachamim. So I don’t see reason to believe like the blogger that the DL world is in a crisis.


    It could be that this mass of people who gave up observance were from the older Edot HaMizrach community, many of whom were traditionalist in observance but not fully “Orthodox” in observance, they sent their kids to Mamlachti Dati schools, and when the kids left, their observance declined.  The more recent Ethiopian aliyah also had this type of phenomenon. All their kids were sent to Mamlachti Dati schools, but then facing the typical culture shock that many olim face, the kids stopped observing when they left school, and it is a question how observant they ever were, even if they were counted as DL or former DL’s in this apparently flawed study.  I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, and I would recommend that those who are triumphalistically celebrating it to calm down.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I am a huge chosid of any Sefer written by R YT Rimon. R Rimon’s seafaring are very well written have wondeful hashkafic lessons and R Simon has enormous respect for Gdolei Torah regardless of hashkafic orientation.

  21. mb says:

    Natan asked me….
    “why would you choose to believe that G-d wrote sacred history to look like nonsense? Why would sacred history have a lower standard than real history?”

    Natan, you are misquoting me and misunderstanding. And God forbid you thought I said God wrote nonsense.

    To be clear, the myths in Genesis, for example the creation story, the flood narrative etc. existed in all ancient cultures. That are not historically/scientifically correct at all. What the Torah does is takes those myths, disabuses us of the lessons those cultures took from those myths(too numerous to detail here) and gave them a distinct Torah message for all time. Creation/Shabbat. Flood/morality.


    • Mark says:

      Aha. And G-d didn’t say that it isn’t true, because…?

      • mb says:


        No need to state the obvious.


        • Mark says:

          So G-d says that He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, tells us to testify for all time on a weekly basis that this is true, but figured everyone knows that it obviously isn’t true.

          Isaiah (54:9) quotes G-d’s obviously fake oath after the obviously fake Mabul, and says so too will He never again be angry at us and scold us in future times. How reassuring…

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Based on the above thesis why should anyone today be a Shomer Torah Umitzvos your argument sounds nice as apologetics and comparative religion 101 but it really RL dispenses with the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu received Torah Sbicsav and TSBP the latter of which tell us how to live and what to do and not to etc.

  22. mb says:

    So Ben Dov and Sarah Elias (amongst others no doubt) have decided I have left the Jewish religion because I won’t accept that Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood narrative.

    If I had known that was a parameter for admittance I would never have joined it.


    • Natan says:

      mb wrote:

      “What the Torah does is takes those myths, disabuses us of the lessons those cultures took from those myths(too numerous to detail here) and gave them a distinct Torah message for all time. Creation/Shabbat. Flood/morality.”

      All you did was take the secularists’ theory that Moses or somebody reworked various myths into a new book with his twist on it -like some sort of ethical historical fiction- and then replace Moses with G-d.

      For some reason you think it reasonable that G-d in writing the most important and influential book of all time decided to use precious space to create a Brothers’ Grimm of ethical fairy tales and then integrate it seamlessly with the historical narrative. How are we more disabused than if G-d had told us, “Those tales are false and silly; here’s the truth”? That approach worked pretty well with polytheism.

      And finally, for every one of you we lose by upholding the accuracy of our tradition, we gain many more who are interested in studying truth, not ancient fairy tales. Please don’t act like you are doing us favors here.

      P.S. you mixed up Noah’s age of death with his age at the time of the Mabul (500). It makes me wonder how familiar you are with the entire Sefer Braishis.

      • mb says:

        “P.S. you mixed up Noah’s age of death with his age at the time of the Mabul (500). It makes me wonder how familiar you are with the entire Sefer Braishis.”

        Blast, I’ve been busted! My ignorance has been exposed!I’m a know nothing troll.

        (Natan, you might want to re-check the timeline.then well talk again.)


        • Natan says:

          I got that part wrong; I apologize.

          Maybe I shouldn’t, but I have to ask why you focused on Noach’s age. He’s only one of many to have extremely long life-spans. Also, I don’t know of any archaeological or historical arguments against it. It’s hard to aay it’s scientifically impossible since last I heard scientists are still trying to figure out the aging process.

  23. Mark says:

    God doesn’t figure anything. Humans figure things.

    Enjoy your cheesecake.

    • mb says:

      Cheesecake? Not for me thanks.

      God’s wisdom that has been revealed so far to scientists, has deemed it unhealthy. Deut 4:9.

      Now, ice-cream! That’s different.

      • Mark says:

        Whatever works to make meaningful the day on which God embossed His seal of Truth on His full-of-falsehood Torah (c”v) and delivered it.

        משה אמת ותורתו אמת

  24. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “BTW Kovea Ittimlatorah is NOT the sum of Torah or proper behavior. One can’t be a naval burs hut Hatorah despite learning 24/7.”

    Limud HaTorah, especially that of Gemara,  is a Mitzvah of paramount importance not just because it is supposed to lead you to proper behavior but because it is the means par excellance of showing Ahavas HaShem. Your logic is rooted in the following misconception-if people who learn 24/7 engage in improper behavior, then noone should learn. That is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Such a persons is indeed a Naval Birshus HaTorah, but that is not a reason to reject the importance of Limud Hatorah as a mitzvah of paramount importance especially when when your family knows that Limud HaTorah is a basic fact of one’s life.

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    It is a terrible Chillul HaShem when prominent educators or laymen walk a “perp walk”, are indicted or sentenced-yet their conduct which is the cause of the Chillul HaShem. as opposed to the subsequent publicity-should remind anyone and everyone of R Wein’s statement that there is a huge difference between Torah observant Judaism and how it is observed

    • Mycroft says:

      I assume so.what causes doubt is seeing inaccuracy of transmission of the complex ideas of SRH, the Rav and Rav Kook. All have complexities that often people choose not to transmit. It is one thing to say be disagrees with a person it is another to distort .

      • Steve Brizel says:

        What causes doubt has nothing to do with you characterize as inaccuracy of transmission but rather seeing role models in ones own home community and schools who do act in a seemingly hypocritical manner or who plainly elevate Gashmiyus over Ruachniyus in their lives regardless of hashkafic label

        • Mycroft says:

          If hypothetically Chazal were lying I would not accept mesorah. BTW that is essentially what the Conservative movement believes thatvChazal reinvented what the Torah meant to follow changing circumstances. Thus, logically they are either fools or liars, we believe Chazal applied timeless Torah to. New facts.

          Any wonder of the lack of transference from generation to generation by Conservative movement if they are preaching a dishonesty of mesorah.

          i agree with the rest of your post about those evils also being a cause of OTD. There are a lot of reasons, many. Based on our educTional system but your reasons are certainly part of the explanation.

    • Mycroft says:

      If one accepts Rabbi Wein’s statement of huge difference between Torah observant Judaism and how it is observed than logically don’t write about how you perceive Modern Orthodoxy is observed. Personally. Disagree with Rabbi Wein, want to see ethics of profession see how it is observed and enforced. Thus legal ethics requires not touching trust accounts, and I believe it is generally observed and draconian punishment i.e. Disbarment to those who are caught violating such rules.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Look at the disbarment proceedings that are all reported and available to anyone with a modicum of interest. Most deal with theft and or misappropriation of money held in escrow as opposed to any other ethical violation.

  26. Steve Brizel says:

    I think R Wein is correct. However my tag shehiyu shoggigun cal yihihu mezidin is not a halacha that as a rationale for either improper conduct or a lack of desire to learn in ones spare time  or a cynical attitude towards observance and talmidei chachamim or clearly inappropriate conduct.

  27. Mycroft says:

    People usually judge ideas by how people who represent ideas behave. If a talmid chacham were hypothetically to be a menu allocated inappropriately with women etc he should not be respected. I am not saying that there is anyone behaving like that but behavior is crucial more thanlomdus.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Of course proper behavior trumps lomdus. RYBS told stories about maskilishe baale bar in Europe in who knew Shad but were openly Mchallel Shabbos. The challenge of this generation is do you want to learn Tanach devoid of any connection with Chazal and maximizing ones spare time to be Kovea Itim laTorah.

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    I look at the issue raised by R Gordimer additionally in the following fashion which requires discussion in its own right. A MO that cannot subscribe to the bedrock ikarei emunah in the contents of Malchiyos zicronos and shofaros without engaging in apologetics will not prosper. It would be nice to see MO schools kvell as much about their participants in the Chidon HaTanach or about how much Gemara they learned in their spare time as much as they shep Mac has about college acceptances to schools where the odds are the potential student will graduate even after a year or two in Israel far less observant.

Pin It on Pinterest