The Rightward Modern Orthodox Trend Fiction

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119 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Movements don’t remain static, so why this one? Like individual Jews, Jewish movements need to reflect Torah values more and more faithfully.

  2. Shades of Gray says:

    The reality seems complex in that there are both rightward and leftward changes throughout the Orthodox spectrum. 

    In  rejection of Prof. Heilman’s 2006 title, “Sliding to the Right” ,  Yehuda Turetsky and Chaim Waxman authored  “Sliding to the Left? Contemporary American Modern Orthodoxy”(Modern Judaism, 2011), revising as well  Prof. Waxman’s  own 1998  “The Haredization of American Orthodox Jewry”. They begin with, “our hypothesis is that American Orthodox Jewry is much more heterogeneous than the above-cited observers perceived, that the modern Orthodox sector, in particular, is neither of one stripe nor has it overwhelmingly ‘‘haredized’’,  and conclude  ” as of now, our observation and data suggest that American Orthodoxy is much more diverse and complex than the ‘‘move to the right’’ characterization implies.” The 2017 Nishma Research authors  see some of  their data in  terms of  polarization, writing  “while the  right has shifted strongly further to the right, the left  has  shifted to the left”.

    Prof. Jack Werthemier’s   2014  “Can Modern Orthodoxy Survive?”  described  Modern Orthodoxy’s pressures from both the right and left.  In one of the  responses on the Mosaic website, Prof.  Adam Ferziger wrote that  “in a forthcoming book, I show that a “realignment” is occurring in the Orthodox world, producing a more fluid spectrum than is captured in the familiar notion of a Modern Orthodox/haredi dichotomy.” In his  2015 “Beyond Sectarianism: The Realignment of American Orthodox Judaism”, Prof. Ferziger describes in light of past disputes as “historic” a quote from  R. Avi Shafran’s 2013 Haaretz article that  “an adherent of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, a Satmar chassid, a “Litvish” yeshiva graduate and a student of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary are all unified by the essence of what the world has called Orthodoxy for generations.  But “Open Orthodoxy,” despite its name, has adulterated that essence…”.

    In the Haredi world there is complexity as well,  in examples of  both right and left trends in response to modernity(for example, the Slifkin issue, described by R. Adlerstein in a 2014  Tablet Magazine article  as  “watershed moment in contemporary yiddishkeit” was a rightward shift  as compared with R. Gordimer’s examples).  Other articles of interest on this blog are  R. Michael Broyde’s 2011  “Modern Orthodoxy is Always at the Crossroads” in response to R. Adlerstein’s article in Ami Magazine about Open Orthodoxy  and   “The Agudah and YU: the Quiet Revolution and the New World Order” in 2016 by R. Farkas, writing about aspects of Orthodox unity.

    • Joel rich says:

      One might view this as part of general trend Towards barbell distributions – i.e. the center will not hold . scary in the world in general and within our daled amot.
      Kt

      • Shades of Gray says:

        I differ to your statistical background. In a discussion of Centrist Orthodoxy, R. Aharon Lichtenstein quoted a poem from the Irish poet Yeats that has a line , “Things fall apart: the center cannot hold”.

        • Aryeh W says:

          While those lines from Yeats’ The Second Coming are part of the quotation in R Lichtenstein’s lecture, he was not making that point at all. He focused solely on the last two lines: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”

      • Bob Miller says:

        Some situations, not necessarily this one, really are binary. When one thing works and another doesn’t, is the best solution midway?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        If you lift weights, any trainer will only let you lift what you are capable of lifting . OTOH, staying at the same weight without to increase the weight that you lift is indicative of “no pain, no gain.”

  3. dr. bill says:

    Your examples about European trained RY, the lack of an eruv, frum administrators and the like are all true but largely irrelevant. A noted European RY who opposed the Rav ztl on SCA has a SIL whose assessment differs considerably from yours. He is an eminently qualified sociologist trained to evaluate such issues; you or I am not.
    I do not look to MSNBC or CNN to evaluate Donald Trump or YCT leaders or graduates to evaluate what is happening at Yeshiva College. I suspect that Ben Shapiro and Rebbetzin Lichtenstein have a more thoughtful view of Trump and YC, respectively.
    I see a clear increase at YC in both Torah learning and Halakhic observance. If that is what constitutes a swing to the right, those are good things in my mind. However, unlike the Rav, I doubt any of today’s leading RY would respect a professor to whom the Anchor Bible on Esther was preferred over what came to be called Artscroll.
    Hopefully with Revel inviting the likes of Prof. Hayes, we might see a return to the ability to countenance a diversity of views.

    • Joel rich says:

      As I mentioned above I think part of the problem is the barbell distribution the school can do with it what pleases but what are the demographics of the students.? My outsiders perception is that there’s the same kind aof barbell distribution. Oh for the days when we marched against RIETS being split off on Monday and Tuesday against the bombing of Cambodia.
      Kt

      • Bob Miller says:

        The bombing of Cambodia was a good idea.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Precisely. And this an excellent example of the rightward move, notwithstanding some other trends in the opposite direction.

        There are no demonstrations at YU by anyone against Trump, against what he is trying to do with DACA, etc. This not only puts YU at odds with virtually every other university but indeed against YU itself in an earlier era.

        Stern has seen some bold public discussions regarding sex and sexuality led by some courageous young women. And at Revel I understand that there is some critical thinking as well. But as for YU and RIETS-to the right.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          YU and RIETS should be applauded for being an oasis from the pervasive PC and socialist summer camp atmosphere , as well as almost systematic rejection of conservative ideas and thinking that pervades most of today’s college campuses. Please provide a link to the discussions at SCW.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Define what you mean by ” some bold public discussions re sex and sexuality.”

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Revel should neither be confused with compared with nor viewed as competing with RIETS.

      • dr. bill says:

        steve, please read more carefully. i did not compare or view as competing or confuse revel and riets. if you could detect that in what i wrote, i would appreciate your telling me what specifically may have misled you.

        that said, i see this in a positive light. in the recent past, i was not aware of this type of guest lecture at revel. it will probably surprise you to know that prof. hayes on occasion takes on some academic approaches to particular sugyot, some even proposed by orthodox scholars, in favor of more traditional approaches. i will probably not be in the new york area when she speaks, but i hope it is posted on YU torah.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Please define more clearly what you mean by a “diversity of views” and where who and when such views should be presented.

          • dr. bill says:

            let me give some views commonly discussed in YC and Revel in my day that reflect “a diversity of views”: 1) is seder olam fundamentally flawed? 2) Was persian history understood by the talmudic sages? 3) How many of Rambam’s ikarim did he personally believe? 4) How much of the Biblical story is allegorical? 5) How often might events described in tanach seem to follow a non-rabbinic calendar? 6) What might HLMMS or an “oral law given at sinai” be defined precisely? etc. etc.

            i really wonder about the list above and more; I don’t know. i heard that 4) was discussed by rabbi Wieder a few years ago and it raised some hackles.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          I saw your post of 2:02 PM. All of the topics that you listed strike me as peculiarly suitable for BRGS but I question whether the average YC student should be exposed to the same. I do not think that any of your topics are appropriate for the RIETS Beis Medrash-especially #6. R Weider’s topic, was t not previously addressed by R S Spero in Tradition and several readers objected to its basic premise thereafter?

          • Mycroft says:

            I believe I heard on YU Torah the speech of Rabbi Weider. IIRC he mentioned the approach of allegorizing parts of Chumash have antecedents in Saadiah Gaon and Rambam. Thus, most of Genesis could easily be made into allegory.
            He did state that he can’t see doing that for most of Shemot, eg if no physical yitziat Mizraim or Matan Torah, we’re left with nothing.
            Certainly that approach was similar to articles by Rabbi Spero.There are those who clearly oppose his approach and there are those like Rabbi Weider who apparently see that approach within the framework of classical Yahadus.

          • dr. bill says:

            how can (6)) deciphering a talmudic phrase with (significant) halakhic consequences not be appropriate in a beit midrash!!

    • Truth says:

      “Your examples about European trained RY, the lack of an eruv, frum administrators and the like are all true but largely irrelevant. ”

      In other words, you have an interest in promoting the shift to the right/OO agenda, and therefore any evidence to the contrary is deemed irrelevant. Got it.

      By the way, if you are not qualified to evaluate such issues, how have you determined that the above examples are irrelevant? Just asking. A bit of intellectual honesty, please.

      • dr. bill says:

        Truth, instead of giving my view as an amateur observer, i referenced the view of two others, whose credentials as being both orthodox jews and trained sociologists are not disputed. is that honest enough intellectually?

        • Yossi says:

          Jeremy Wieder spoke about how we clearly accept that some parts of the Torah are allegory- obviously, Chavah is not the mother of all living things in the literal sense of the word, for example. Or, he quotes the Rambam as saying that he would have explained creation as “something from something” if Aristotle made sense to him; it doesn’t, so he won’t.

          He then went on to explain how far he thinks a person can go in saying parts are allegory before hitting heresy territory. I think the slavery in Egypt was where he drew the line if I remember correctly; I believe he said that allegorizing anything before that, while not what he believes, would technically be ok.

          And of course it raised some hackles because besides what you can “technically” say, I think people challenged the idea that you can say something is allegory- say the existence of some of the Avos Chas veshalom- when chazal and the rishon never entertained that. עד כאן חזרת השיעור

          • Steve Brizel says:

            The obvious question of such an approach is that drawing the line in the sand at slavery in Egypt is arbitrary. IF R”L one allegorizes Breisheis then why not R L allegorize the entire Torah? Neither R Spero, and for the same reason, R Weider IMO provide a satisfy answer to that question

          • Steve Brizel says:

            See the methodological essay of R Moshe Lichtenstein in his book of lectures on Chumash and Moshe Rabbeinu in which R Moshe Lichtenstein clearly argues for attaching great importance to Medrashei Chazal

          • Mycroft says:

            Non literal parshanut of Torah has had followers through the ages see eg Rambam and Saadiah on whether Bilaam had a donkey who could speak. Those two are IMO within standard mesorah

        • Lawrence M. Reisman says:

          Dr. Bill: I didn’t notice which two trained sociologists you referenced. Could you please give their names again?

  4. Leah B says:

    Why does it matter? Some religious Jews move right, some left. Some quit. Newcomers join. I agree only someone with some hidden agenda thinks this matters.

  5. Raymond says:

    With all this talk about Modern Orthodoxy vs Chareidi Orthodoxy and so on, I have sometimes asked myself a very basic question: What does it even mean to be Modern Orthodox as opposed to Chareidi? Aren’t we all more or less expected to follow the same Code of Jewish Law?

    Well, for me at least, I think of Modern Orthodoxy as being a kind of corrective to certain practices that tend to exist in more Chareidi circles. More specifically, I think of Modern Orthodox Jewish men living in Israel as being more compliant when it comes to serving in the Israeli army. I think of Modern Orthodox men more willing to get both the training as well as the education necessary to financially support their families. I think of Modern Orthodox Jews expressing themselves in a more articulate manner, which in turn points to them being more open to learning about the world at large, even while making Torah study the central core of their intellectual endeavors. And finally and perhaps most controversially, I think of the Modern Orthodox has having just a little less stringency when it comes to the interaction between men and women. Before anybody reading this panics regarding this last point, I thinking here of two shuls that I alternate attend on Shabbat. In the more Chareidi shul during kiddush, the mechitza stays standing tall and strong, while in the more Modern Orthodox shul during kiddush which is only one block away, that mechitza does not exist.

    These are some of the differences I see between the two approaches. I admit to being no expert in such matters, though, so if somebody can show me how it is possible to be Chareidi and yet have the positions I have here associated with the Modern Orthodox, then that is fine. Perhaps it can be argued that the followers of Rav Hirsch would fit such a category. I have always been partial to his approach anyway, as it has long struck me as being the perfect reconciliation of the different approaches to things, so much so that it makes me wonder why there continues to be such divisions. Everybody should just follow what he said, and all would be well.

    • tzippi says:

      Rav Hirsch and MO in the same sentence??
      “Slowly, I turn, step by step, inch by inch….”
      Seriously, that is a trigger for some. To get on their soapboxes. Having spent 2 years in a post-high school institution for women in the KAJ (heir to Rav Hirsch) kehilla, I have been informed that what we were taught about the differences between TIDE and Torah Umada is pure apologetics. So I won’t go there.

      • Mycroft says:

        I am not a descendant of RSRH, but am closely related to descendants of him. I am aware of the various approaches used by various Rabbonim associated over the years with KAJ and to put it mildly there are various contradictory views.
        FWIW IMO as one who has written how RIETS RY are different from the Rav, their differences are not even in the ballpark of the chasm between much of KAJ and RSRH.

        • tzippi says:

          What about RSRH and MO/RIETS? In their purer forms?

          • Mycroft says:

            IMO probably much closer in hashkafat than either side likes to admit.
            The novelist Chaim Potok when he wrote about YU in the Chosen gave it the pseudonym Hirsch College.
            I use RSRH and people who follow his hashkafa that it is possible to be MO wo being Zionistic. RSRH was certainly a non Zionist and German patriot . In fact Zionism in my formulation is neither necessary to be MO or sufficient thus can be Zionist and Chareidi, Chardal.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            RYBS and REE Dessler ZL both thought that TIDE produced college educated and observant laymen but not Bnei Torah and Talmidei Chachamim. RYBS emphaiszed that the goal of RIETS was to produce college educated Bnei Torah and Talmidei Chachamim

      • Raymond says:

        If only Mycroft did not use so many abbreviations, I might have had a chance of understanding what it is that he wrote here. Also, to be honest, I am not entirely clear what Tzippi meant above either. Does she mean to say that there is all the difference in the world between the viewpoints of Rav Hirsch and Rabbi Norman Lamm? Because if so, I see Rav Hirsch as not being Modern Orthodox like Rabbi Lamm is, but rather one who sought to reconcile the Modern Orthodox with Chareidi points of view.

      • Bob Miller says:

        The T/DE ratio is very important (along with other considerations).
        Some people may believe that a 40/60 mixture and a 60/40 (for example) are really the same. I once worked for a company whose Newark, NJ plant was found to have sold and shipped cheaper, inferior 40 tin/ 60 lead solder to a major customer as if it was the 60 tin/ 40 lead solder called out in the purchase order. This stuff does not get past incoming inspection at a smart customer’s plant. The smart customer is liable to cut off and sue the supplier.

      • dr. bill says:

        perhaps two much shnai dinim training, but there are important differences between the “modernity” and what it implies among Rav Hirsch, Rav Bamberger, Rav Hildesheimer, all ztl, who were contemporaries and the Rav and RYYW both ztl, half a century or so later. forget the labels and read what they wrote and how their communities behaved. the differences were real. which, if not all, are appropriate for our times, is an important hashkafic issue. The most liberal positions of each would not find favor in the minds of some of the other.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    All true in theory but far less so in practice. Stereotypes often to leadto such conclusions .

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    R.Gordimer merely pointed out that rumors of RIETS even remotely evolving towards BMG Ner Yisrael or the Mir in terms of the RY or talmidim are grossly exaggerated.

    • dr. bill says:

      evolving towards ner israel of old is not the same as completing the evolutionary process

      • Steve Brizel says:

        You are looking for proof of evolving towards a Charedi oriented institution or even signs or indicia or Charedi influence where none exists.

        • dr. bill says:

          how about sons attending NI or sons not attending college. many of the european RY of my day had well-educated children.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            There is no chyuv for any son of any Musmach or RY to blindly attend his father’s yeshiva. RY , Musmachim and learner earners all look for the best chinuch for their children that will maximize their spiiritual growth, not fit into a hashkafic straightjacket that is inappropriate. Many Musmachim of RIETS have such sons and SILs. Hardly an example of Charedi influence within the Daled Amos of RIETS. As per DR Jack Werthehimer, 20% of the talmidim of BMG come from MO families.

  8. Steve Brizel says:

    What should be noted is that this generation of RY are capableof writing excellent lomdishe sefarim and well written and edited English language halacha sefarim which have long been in need in many areas of halacha and contemporary issues.

  9. lacosta says:

    it would seem that for RW haredi yeshiva grads, there is no need for YU anymore. they will get into the right professional school from Lander undergrad and be able to stay in a non foreign environment

  10. Former YU says:

    Raymond,

    Your comment rings true in many ways. If you look at just the categories you describe there has been no shift to the right in modern orthodoxy. The YU RY would not advocate for the more chareidi position in any of the areas you delineate and I have heard them denigrate the chareidi position.
    I think that any “shift to the right” is really a “shift to the left” in secular culture and mores. The YU RY feel much less comfortable with today’s secular culture than they did with that culture pre-1970 (i.e. pre-sexual revolution). R’ Ahron Lichtenstein and others have all struggled and even rejected the integration of post-modern sensibilities (particularly relativism) into a Torah-based modern orthodox hashkafah.
    I think its fair to say that those who argue that MO has moved to the right (and OO in general), generally feel that being MO means integrating current trends in secular thought with Torah whereas R’ Lichtenstein and R’ Schachter believe that people like Prof. Tamar Ross and R’ Shagar are not advocating an “Orhtodox” approach, modern or otherwise. If MO means reading Shakespeare, watching the history channel and getting a job then YU has not shifted to the right. However, if MO means watching the Kardashians or supporting the right to homosexual marriage then it has.

    • Bob Miller says:

      The problem is that “modern” has always been a moving target, only now it moves faster. A general society with degenerating moral standards and behavior offers less and less of real value, in theory and in practice, to committed Jews.

      • Former YU says:

        Agreed.

        • Bob Miller says:

          This has implications for those who think that accepting some modern concepts gives us a useful connection to people outside our circles. But their Modernity 15.0 might be totally unacceptable to a believing Jew who has adopted some of Modernity 2.0. It might be a totally different language.

  11. Nachum says:

    It’s a bit dishonest to say that “move to the right” means only “stricter halakhic observance.” It can also refer to matters unrelated to halakha, like headcoverings and the like- and ways of thinking. And there, even Rav Soloveitchik complained, on a number of occasions, of his students moving in that direction in the late 70’s.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    For those interested, please see the annexed websitehttps://en.tvunah.org/about-us/
    and buy any and all of R Asher Weiss’s sefarim, including a new volume dealing with Emunah and Bitachon, and especially the ShuT and any of his sefarim on the Moadim, shiurim and sichos

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    The bottom line for any YU grad where he and his spouse live , raise a family and support communal institutions. That has no small impact on whether his level of Avodas HaShem and being Kovea Itim LaTorah stagnates or increases.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-see Hilcos Teshuvah Chapter 4 where Rambam discusses and contradicts the position stated in the MN.

    • Mycroft says:

      I was not aware of Dr Tovah Lichtenstein being a trained sociologist. For many years she was on the faculty of the Bar Illan School of Social Work.

      • dr. bill says:

        i assumed she interacted and absorbed from an adjacent discipline; she would not characterize herself as (fully) trained.

        • Mycroft says:

          Dr Tovah Lichtenstein clearly knows a lot. She is very modest in her approach to Her knowledge.. I was simply referring to her academic background. She may know more Shas than many musmachim but she will make the point tha she is not a Rav.

    • Mycroft says:

      You accomplished something. I reread Chapter 4 Hilchos Tshuva twice. I did not see anything directly on point. There are certainly comments about chachamim, but did not see the issue of non literal parshanut discussed. Please either give me exact cite of what I missed or explain your position from something the Rambam wrote.
      I just didn’t see it. May well be my lack of understanding.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        See what Rambam says about denying Torah MiSinai and Torah MinHaShamayim. Then tryreconciling that with what you quoted ( presumably from the MBN)

        • dr. bill says:

          you are a real black and white person; denying is not the same as interpreting differently. the essence of talmudic reasoning is the ability to make precise and critical distinctions.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Read Hilcos Teshuvah 3:8 and tell me what the Rambam means by denying the Divine Authorship of even one verse in the Torah renders one a kofer without academic spin or apologetics. Parshanut is interpretation based on and or rooted in Chazal. Pashtanut works on simple translation.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Alegorizing even one verse is the issue, Explain how you or anyone can allegorize and not at least be confronted with the simple meaning of Hilcos Teshuvah 3:8.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            True-but Rashbam and Ibn Ezra accept the basic premise of Rambam in Hilcos Teshuvah 3:8. Allegorization fails IMO to ssatisfy the simple reading of Hilcos Teshuvah 3:8.

          • dr. bill says:

            Steve, you would have to define “divine authorship” without tripping over Rambam’s insistence that God’s is not anthropomorphic. in any case, Rambam wrote to be understood at various levels.

            In any case, Rambam interprets many verses allegorically and in consonance with Greek philosophy. His understanding of prophecy, which buttresses what he writes, is not the final word on the subject. It has been, on occasion, challenged and refined across the generations.

        • Mycroft says:

          To interpret a Pasuk differently from Chazalis not denying Torah minhashamayim. It is simply parshanut which many have done over millennia. Saadiah, Rambam, Rashbam, IBN Ezra, Ari, many Chassidic Rebbes, SRH, etc etc

          • Steve Brizel says:

            It is a huge mistake to conflate Mefarshim and Parshanim who start with and emphasize the primacy of the views of Chazal such as, Rashi, Ramban Seforno Meshech Chachmah Malbim Netziv Baalei Kabalah , Baalei Musar and as well as RSRH with Pashtanim such as Ibn Ezra RSG, MN in places and Rashbam into one vast sea of Mefarshim.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Ibn Ezra has strong words for what should be done with purported commentaries of Karaim.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Even Pshat oriented Mefarshim such as Rashbam and Ibn Ezra quote Midrashei Chazal occasionally..

          • dr. bill says:

            so does James Kugel in almost every edition of his Weekly Torah Reading. quoting chazal is like dog bites man; denying chazal’s pshat is more like man bites dog.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mea culpa. See Hilcos Teshuvah 3:8. Then we can continue the discussion

        • Mycroft says:

          I read Hilchos Tshuva 3:8 and just to be sure Hilchot Tshuva 8:3 and don’t see relevance to our discussion. Worthwhile reading.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            How Rambam defines as a kofer in Teshuvah 3:8 with respectvto the Divine Authorship of even one word of the Torah is very relevant if not at the heart of this discussion.

          • Mycroft says:

            Not a contradiction Torah can be divine with different interpretations of how to interpret Torah. You at times judge and rate different approaches I do not claim that ability.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Interpretionn cannionot be predicated on a premise that denies that even one verse is Divinely Authored. My question based on Teshuvah 3: 8 still stands unanswered

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote:

    “Non literal parshanut of Torah has had followers through the ages see eg Rambam and Saadiah on whether Bilaam had a donkey who could speak. Those two are IMO within standard mesorah”

    The use of the term non literal could and should be associated with any commentator who refused to limit his understanding to the unadorned Pshat. Some passages in Chumash demand that they be understood in such a manner,. See Meshech Chachmah on Parshas Balak who emphasizes that we learn that HaShem who redeemed KlalYisrael via Makos Krias Yam Suf and Matan Torah could make an animal talk to prove this point to Bilaam

    What you call Parshanut but what is apologetics rooted solely in Pshat only has a long valued role -but not as a safe harbor for Ktnanei Emunah and not as the sole means of

    • Mycroft says:

      Your answer is irrelevant. Obviously, one who is mishamar Chaya Olam can do anything.the issue is how to interpret Tanach.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        There are limits, Interpreting the lives of the Avos and Imahos Lhavdil like a soap opera is fan fiction.

        • Mycroft says:

          There are those who refuse to accept RSRH on Avos as legitimate.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Who ? R Baruch Ber ZL merely wrote that the approach of RSRH was necessary for Germany.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            What RSRH wrote about Yitzchak erring in his rearing of Yaakov and Esau is no more controversial than the comments of other Mefarshim, most notably Rashi and Ramban in their criticism of the conduct of the Avos and Imahos based on Chazal or Netziv’s critical comparison and contrast of the marital relationship of Avraham and Sarah vis a vis Yitzchak and Rivkah. . There is no reason why the study of Chumash must fit the equally extremes of only Pshat or viewing the Avos as not capable of the conduct criticized by Chazal and Gdolei Mefarshim.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        You confuse and conflate Parshanut with Pashtanut. I stand by my post.

        • Mycroft says:

          To assume that RSRH did not intend his ideas as true for Yahadus in general is ludicrous. What is dishonest is trying to reinterpret anyone with no proof that what they stated they just meant for their location. Obviously, everyone is a product of their environment,but no indication SRH is geographically limited than Rav Chaim Brisker was.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Who do you think gave Billam’s donkey the power to speak? The simple answrer does not fit with your ultra rationalist POV.

        • Mycroft says:

          I cite people like Rashbam, Saasdiah, Rambam. I BTW don’t really have a position on Bilams donkey. God clearly had the power to cause a D key to speak, but that does not mean he did.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            I think that your constant advocacy of the Spero-Weider thesis proves othewise. Obviously, If HaShem changed the rules of nature to liberate Klal Yisrael and give Klal Yisrael the Torah, HaShem can cause an animal to speak to prove that HaShem runs the world.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        My concern as expressed by Rambam in Teshuvah 3:8 concerns allegorization of any verse in the Torah , which is predicated implicitly or explicitly by denying that the same was Divinely Authored. Rambam obviously is not talking about Nach which is Divinely Inspired but was obviously not dictated word for word from HaShem Yisborach to Moshe Rabbeinu.

        • Mycroft says:

          To assume that RSRH did not intend his ideas as true for Yahadus in general is ludicrous. What is dishonest is trying to reinterpret anyone with no proof that what they stated they just meant for their location. Obviously, everyone is a product of their environment,but no indication SRH is geographically limited than Rav Chaim Brisker was.

          • Bob Miller says:

            I’d like to see his ideas applied in our environment! When all else fails do the right thing.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    What you call Parshanut but what is apologetics rooted solely in Pshat only has a long valued role -but not as a safe harbor for Ktnanei Emunah and not as the sole means of understanding Chumash

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-did you not confuse and conflate Pashtanim with many of the Gdolei Mefarshim who note the many levels of understanding Chumash, and especially Breishis and Shemos? Please see also Ramban at end of Parshas Bo re belief in open miracles of HaShem as a predicate for belief in Nisim Nistarim and the consequences RL for the absence of such a belief. We all know that the MN was written to address who were enticed by Aristotle and his philosophy, which Ramban views as having the capacity to cause any Jew to reject that which he cannot understand. Yet, the same Rambam also wrote the Yad which seemingly is devoid of such arguments because Rambam writes that the Yad which is his codification of TSBP, whether Lmaaseh or not and in Hilcos Teshuvah strongly rejects any concept of allegorization. WADR,your theory rooted in , R Spero and R Weider fails to address that fact.

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    With respect to the subject of R Gordimer’s post, RYG and Steven Bayme have been claiming for years that MO has moved to the right. The facts on the ground with respect to both the OU and YU are quite different . The notion that either the OU or YU has adopted Charedi positions cannot be sustained from a look at either organization in terms of rabbinical and lay leadership.or the so-called “shift to the right” based on a year or two of study at a yeshiva or seminary in Israel .Neither organization answers to a RIETS Moetzes Gdolei HaTorah-if that were the case, there would be no discussion necessary about how to deal with OO on the hashkafic and practuical levels . What RYG and Dr Bayme advocate is the acceptance of OO without any debate despite all of the evidence to the contrary that OO both in theory and practice cannot be viewed as legitimally within OO. What is clear that the the OU and YU have clearly rejected the post denominational POV advocated by RYG on many fronts

    • lacosta says:

      with the current caving of the OU to current zeitgeist, where they defy their own leadership’s daas tora [ r schecter can determine kashrus of food , but his opinion on women rabbis is irrelevant? ] shows that on one of the sine qua non’s of RW judasim – the concept of daas tora as defined in the 20th century , and total subservience to it— the OU hasn’t moved at all….

      • Mycroft says:

        A technical reason may be and Rabbi Girdimer would know better than I but I just googled and Rabbi Schechter was listed as one of OU Kashruts senior poskim. If that is his formal position at OU that might be the answer.
        I am not aware of any of previous generation gdolim having bad a formal position with the OU. I could stand corrected.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Times change and needs change.

          • Mycroft says:

            If times change and needs change then you are taking position that Yahadus changes. If so, it is simply a matter of which way it should change. See page 70 of Prof Waxmans book where on one page in Social Change and Halachik Evolution he mentions that Rabbanit Esti Rosenberg spoke at a conference of Bat Kol Israeli religious lesbians and later on in the page refers to the strongest negative reaction to a symposium at Wurzweiller school of Scial Work on the challenges and sufferings of being gay in the Orthodox community. Prof Waxman refers o the negative references by the dean of RIETS, five senior RY and the strongest negative reaction by RabbinMayer Twersky. Rabbi Twersky labeled the panel a chillul Hashem and travesty.

        • lacosta says:

          that was my point. their only surviving posek—ask him if there should be women rabbi shuls in the OU , even for a day….

  19. Bob Miller says:

    Is the direction of philosophical drift important to us in general? The only thing really important here is whether we’re collectively moving closer to HaShem and His Torah, moving farther away, or stagnating. If MO has something in common with some other Orthodox movement, that should not automatically set off alarms.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-you have posited here and elsewhere what you think is the definition of a Halacha LMoshe MiSinai. We have discussed and challenged your reading of a definition given by RYBS in one of his Yahrtzeit shiurim . I also referred you to the ET entry on the subject. Apparently you desire academic clarity where even Moshe Rabbeinu had to be assured that a certain Halacha was a binding Din Min HaTorah even in the absence of an express Biblical commandment or the understanding of Chazal to that effect . That is why your #6 is particularly unsuited for a Beis Medrash.

    • dr. bill says:

      Steve Brizel, What! My reading of one of the Rav ztl’s Yartzeit shiur!! DO NOT come back until you find a single RY in YU today, and there are are a fair number who probably understand that shiur at least as well as I, who interprets that shiur differently.

      And I assume you still trust the OU. on their website, they write – “Halachos l’Moshe miSinai are typically introduced by the words “b’emes omru” (“in truth, they said”), though the phrase does not necessarily always indicate a halacha l’Moshe miSinai. Furthermore, the phrase “halacha l’Moshe miSinai” is sometimes used to identify laws that are ancient and universally accepted like actual halachos l’Moshe miSinai. Even in the Rambam’s list, at least two of the “halachos l’Moshe miSinai” (#28 and #30) appear to refer to rabbinic enactments.”

      I know it would not be of any interest, but there is revealing paper on the evolution of such concepts written recently by an academic author. The paper is restricted to places where the Talmud is trying to establish a Biblical level injunction.

      I am being dan le’kav zechut that you did not read the yartzeit shiur.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        If you think that you understand that shiur better than a RY that is your problem. Your reading simply is your spin not what a Halacha LMoshe Mi Sinai is. Again go see how the ET addresses the topic.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Please identify which RIETS RY concur with your reading. Anonymity is the refuge of the timid.

        • dr. bill says:

          PLEASE read more carefully. i asked you to find ONE RY who disagrees with me!!! The yahrzeit shiur is printed for all to read. I assume anyone who can read, will agree. I also heard the shiur live and I was as shocked as you seem to be. but, i learned that certain terms are used in non-literal contexts as well.

          GO ASK. give me the name of ANY RY at YU who agrees with you!!

          did you read the ou quote? are you unable to admit you are WRONG?

          • Bob Miller says:

            Watch out! The next step is bold type or italics.

          • dr. bill says:

            at least he is not back yet. when i heard that from the rav ztl over 50 years ago, i was as shocked as he, coming from a chareidi HS. you do not forget such events easily; any number of the rav’s yartzeit shiurim, still evoke strong memories.

            i even did not capitalize the r in rav :). is that better.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            See my post from last night at about 8:00 with respect to this thread.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I trust the OU t many times the Gemara also uses other terms to denote a Halacha LMoshe MiSinai. The ET entry on the subject is must reading.

  21. Ralph Suiskind says:

    I’m in quandary ! What is modern orthodoxy ? Is it any different than being a fully observant Jew living within the bounds of Halacha ? Define for me A JEW!!!!!

    • Shades of Gray says:

      Regarding the term “Modern Orthodoxy”, R. Jonathan Sacks spoke at “YU and the World of Tomorrow: Modern Orthodoxy” and offered a  challenge to come up with a new phrase; he spoke of  the danger of “narcissism of the small differences” and  “katnus d’mochin”.  Regarding the limits in usefulness of the term “Charedi”, a mechanech once wrote in the Yated, “yesterday I spoke lashon hara, so how can I call myself “chared l’dvar Hashem”? 

      The danger in sociology is taking terms used for convenience  too seriously.  I like some things I read from Adam Ferziger who seems to look at religious sociology more fluidly. In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT), they talk about “cognitive defusion”, creating distance from  words and  language and thereby untangling from thoughts(though there are halachic categories such as “Jew”, which  I am not suggesting to “defuse” from).

    • dr. bill says:

      There are any number of different criteria, not all necessarily held by all MO Jews. As you state: 0) halakhic observance, albeit without some/many/all of what are arguably called chumrot, is fundamental.
      Many items on the list might work there way into acceptance over time even by more chareidi leaning Jews.

      1) Recognition of the state of Israel at least at the level of Kol Dodi Dofek.
      2) An appreciation for the need, both practical and intellectual, for secular studies. Associated is an abhorrence to those who believe hafoch bah… ki kulah bah stands diametrically in opposition to this need.
      3) An absolute rejection of those to whom the universe being billions and billions of years old or evolution is a fundamental belief.
      4) A significantly more limited view of Daat Torah and knowledge of how it grew. The tendency to whitewash altogether human (though perhaps not noble) actions by gedolai Yisroel is also rejected.
      5) An openness to chochmat Yisroel and its important insights.
      6) An appreciation that women, much more so than in the days of R. Mordechai Yaffe, have a significant role to play. The burden of proof lies entirely on the shoulders of those who want to impose limits; a discrete number exist.
      7) A tendency to interpret beliefs so that they remain in consonance with what we (assume that we) know, with some obvious and important limits.
      8) A belief that the dignity of difference and the broad applicability of eilu ve’eilu is not necessarily in conflict with 0) above.
      9) The reaction to modernity spawned various liberal Jewish movements; it also impacted/modified the stances of those claiming the mantle of tradition.

      • dr. bill says:

        3) should read – An absolute rejection of those to whom the universe being billions and billions of years old or evolution is in opposition to some fundamental belief.

      • Bob Miller says:

        2)”Abhorrence”? 3)”Absolute rejection”? I suspect that many in the rank and file don’t go that far (and good for them!—they show some level of tolerance for Jews with other views). Also that many belong because it’s their path of least resistance, not chosen after deep thought about all the numbered items.

        • dr. bill says:

          abhorrence and absolute rejection of the ideas and principles and practices. however, the people may be pleasant; i even enjoy their company, on occasion.
          i
          you are correct that there are many orthoprax without the intellectual conviction or emotional attachment, but sadly that is true even in many chareidi communities.

          • Bob Miller says:

            Who knows what the stats say, but I think that going through the motions, or just going with the flow, is too common in a lot of sectors. The message young people take away from exposure to such ways at home can’t be helpful. Schools as well as parents have a duty to motivate and inform. There are many Jewish kids in Jewish schools; are there enough really good Jewish teachers working to really good syllabi?

          • dr. bill says:

            we agree, strongly on all points and particularly about a syllabus. my male grandchildren went to a chareidi elementary school (before going to a MO high school.) the syllabus in the younger grades was better than i have seen at any MO school. in the years where there was a well-defined syllabus, enforced by the principal, results were amazing. the syllabus became more amorphous around the sixth grade and enforcement in the younger grades became lackadaisical after my oldest grandchildren got to third grade.

            as i teach all my grandchildren laining, their abilities, factoring in their own acumen, went from very good to hardly adequate.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Let me pose the following response to the above :
        1) The Charedi world today except for the extremists therein rarely if ever invokes negative anti Zionist rhetoric.
        2) Secular studies are viewed in the American charedi world as necessary for anyone who leaves the Daled Amos of a Kollel. One can seriously question the need for a grounding in English literature which is shot through with anti Semitsim Pritzus and AZ
        3) Only someone who inists on a Pshat only appproach to Tanach will be troubled by evolutionaryy theory.
        4) Daas Torah should not be confused with following Baalei Mesorah and accepted Psak.
        5)
        Chochmat Yisrael when it aids our understandiing poses no threat, but should be rejected when it displaces or tend to reject Halachic or Hashkafic fundamentals
        6)Those who wish to destroy the traditiional Jewish family should be rejected
        7 We have no license to render beliefs limited
        8) Elu v Elu means that a rejected opinion within the Mesorah is part of Torah but not statements that cannot be seen as part of the Mesorah
        9) Different times demand different responses by Chachmei HaMesorah.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    As long as the sefarim sale has no separate hours, and women can buy sefarim on classical Talmudic topics and RY from BMG, or the Mir or even R Asher Weiss do not give shiurim in the Beis Medrash, all talk of a purported Charedi influence or growth within RIETS is Shabbos table talk.

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