Guest post by R. Eli D. Clark / Who is Modern Orthodox? This is an old question (one playfully addressed on Hirhurim here). But in comments to a recent thread on this site, posters disagreed whether certain prominent YU roshei yeshiva are “Modern Orthodox” (MO). This suggests that we lack a consensus definition of MO. The question is why? In popular discourse, one encounters various definitions of MO. For some, MO refers to the non-yeshivish wing of Orthodoxy. This is based on a simple division of the Orthodox community into two camps. On this view, if you are not haredi, you are MO.

Who Is Modern Orthodox?

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Guest post by R. Eli D. Clark

Rabbi Eli D. Clark lives in Bet Shemesh, Israel. He served as Halakha editor of the Koren Sacks Siddur and also practices international tax law.

Who is Modern Orthodox? This is an old question (one playfully addressed on Hirhurim here). But in comments to a recent thread on this site, posters disagreed whether certain prominent YU roshei yeshiva are “Modern Orthodox” (MO). This suggests that we lack a consensus definition of MO. The question is why?

In popular discourse, one encounters various definitions of MO. For some, MO refers to the non-yeshivish wing of Orthodoxy. This is based on a simple division of the Orthodox community into two camps. On this view, if you are not haredi, you are MO.

In 1991 Chaim Waxman, the sociologist, distinguished between “behavioral MO” and “philosophical MO.” The behavioral MO Jew basically keeps Halakha, but tends to be lax on the finer points, especially those at odds with modern society. Stereotypically, these are Jews who play ball on Shabbat and go mixed swimming; the men listen to women sing, and the women wear pants and do not cover their hair.

In contrast, the philosophical MO Jew marries firm commitment to Torah and mitzvot to Western values that the mainstream ideology of the yeshiva world rejects. Waxman names two: (1) a positive attitude toward secular culture, and (2) Zionism. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks adds: (3) cooperation with the non-Orthodox. Based on recent history, one might add: (4) advocacy of increasing the religious role of women.

To briefly expand these points: (1) ascribes religious value to secular culture beyond the practical utility of secular education for parnasa purposes; (2) ascribes religious value to the restoration of Jewish political sovereignty over the Land of Israel, separate from the Jewish State’s role as a physical refuge for Jews and home of talmud Torah; (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity; and (4) promotes women’s involvement in halakhically approved activities.

Although Waxman never says so explicitly, the philosophical-behavioral dichotomy can also be described as dividing between an elitist-intellectual MO and a vulgar MO.

Waxman also gives an alternative name to the philosophical MO: “Centrist Orthodox” (CO). This term was actually coined by Rabbi Norman Lamm, who was probably trying to distance himself from the syncretistic connotations of MO. For Lamm and Waxman, CO is just a new label for the old philosophical MO. But the term has since taken on a life of its own.

Some, such as Professor Alan Brill, now divide the American Orthodox community into three wings: haredi, CO and MO, where the CO straddle the ideological divide between right and left. In other words, in addition to being stricter in halakhic observance, the CO are more skeptical of the MO values described above. Some call this middle camp “gray” or “gray hat,” connoting a kind of diluted version of haredism.

According to Brill, CO has a more conservative religious ideology than that of philosophical MO. Moreover, beginning in the 1980’s, children from MO homes have become increasingly CO, partly as a result of their study in Israel post-high school. As a result, a generational shift is gradually condemning the philosophical MO to extinction.

But there are problems with Brill’s analysis. While the changes he documents are real, they seem minor relative to the overall continuity between philosophical MO and CO. Moreover, the generational shift suggests that this new ideology is nothing more than a new generation’s version of their parents’ MO, sort of a MO 2.0. Third, Brill sees CO as a uniquely American phenomenon; yet there are striking parallels in the Israeli equivalent of MO, which has also shifted toward more scrupulous observance of Halakha, more obedience to rabbinic authorities and more distance from secular culture.

Why the MO of the 60’s and 70’s changed is a question deserving a separate post. But the changes MO underwent point to larger cultural trends that include rising affluence, a more assertive rabbinic class and changes in the zeitgeist. In any case, no one will argue with Brill’s central point – that the MO community has moved right over the last 40 years.

So who is MO? R. Herschel Schachter? R. Mordechai Willig? Does it matter? On the level of bragging rights, it does. (As a YU undergraduate, R. Aryeh Klapper once joked that the entire series of MO Gedolim cards would comprise exactly two cards.) But on a substantive level, the classification means nothing. What is important about Rav Schachter is not whether, on a MO scorecard, his ardent Zionism compensates for his skepticism about secular culture. What matters is where he stands on those issues. I am not interested in calculating his MO batting average.

In fact, denominational labels obscure nuance and discourage precision, but we use them because they are a quick and convenient form of communication. However, their value dissipates if we define the same terms differently. So let us try to agree what we mean by MO (or CO). Then we can go back to arguing about important issues, like what Rav Soloveitchik said to my brother-in-law on May 12, 1979 about brain dead women rabbis.

About Eli Clark

154 comments

  1. “(1) ascribes religious value to secular culture beyond the practical utility of secular education for parnasa purposes; (2) ascribes religious value to the restoration of Jewish political sovereignty over the Land of Israel, separate from the Jewish State’s role as a physical refuge for Jews and home of talmud Torah; (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity; and (4) promotes women’s involvement in halakhically approved activities. ”

    That fits me!

    “his skepticism about secular culture”

    I’m sceptical about a lot of secular culture, too. Page Six of the New York Post is not something I want in my home!

  2. (4) seems like it should be a subset of some larger philosophical construct (ascribes religious value to a community within which each individual and subgroup can maximize its religious potential to the extent allowed by halacha as interpreted in light of this value) [OK so I’m not a philosopher]
    KT

  3. The author should’ve included a rational approach to studying Tanach and evaluating agadata in his criteria of Modern Orthodoxy.

  4. a few more dividing points between MO and others may be the approach to science(and by extension not just ‘hard’ science’ but ‘social science’) in the Talmud, the amount of weight given to achronim versus talmud/geonim/rishonim in the determination of psak, willingness to take into account changing circumstances in psak(which actually is the basis for changes in the view of women’s roles), willingness to follow a cogent and well-founded but numerically minority approach(the approach that puts more weight on the quality of the argument and proof, rather than on who exactly holds the opinion), and position on ‘chadash assur min haTorah’, and the weight of precedent, or more precisely absence of precedent, on psak.

  5. To echo Baruch above, being Modern Orthodox allows one to step outside of the box in terms of adapting or tradition to modern problems. For an example, look at R. Sacks in Jewish Press any week.

    Also on Rabbi Sacks — he’s probably much more cognizant of the need to lead the entire Jewish community due to the nature of his position, which has no equivalent in the US.

    I see a major distinction between the two communities on how they deal with issues such as the crudeness of secular culture, Torah/science dilemmas, lack of personal observance, etc., which affect both “MO” and “chareidi” communities in the US. The “MO” response is to be open about the issues and create constructive solutions; the “chareidi” response (though this may be a stereotype) is to deny the problem and (attempt to) put up walls.

    Question for the crowd — can one be a non-Zionist and Modern Orthodox today? Plenty of Yekkes were before the war, but that was a long time ago…..

  6. R. Clark’s précis of Prof. Brill’s analysis on the divergence of CO from MO does not seem congruent, to me, with Prof. Brill’s 2005 Edah article which is quite specific at the principles level:

    “… the shift from Modern Orthodoxy to Centrist Orthodoxy that has occurred over the last thirty years. This transformation involved the transfer of authority to roshei yeshivah from pulpit rabbis, the adoption of a pan-halakhic approach to Judaism, an effacing of a self-conscious need to deal with modernity, an increased emphasis on Torah study, especially in the fashionable conceptual manner, and a shifting of the focus of Judaism to the life of a yeshiva student. As an ideology, Centrist Orthodoxy is a clearly defined separate philosophy from Modern Orthodoxy, with clear lines of demarcation delineating who is in the mesorah. These changes from Modern Orthodoxy to Centrist Orthodoxy deserve their own separate study. However I must state categorically at the outset that it is not a question of a change from left to right or from acculturated to sectarian. Each period and group of thinkers develops its own centripetal and centrifugal forces.”

    Also, since the article was a review of RAL’s essays, is it really the case that “Brill sees CO as a uniquely American phenomenon”?

    Tantalizingly, both Prof. Brill and now R. Clark seem to think there is more to say: respectively “These changes from Modern Orthodoxy to Centrist Orthodoxy deserve their own separate study” and “Why the MO of the 60’s and 70’s changed is a question deserving a separate post”.

    ואם לא עכשיו אימתי

  7. I think you’re neglecting a major portion of people who while perhaps don’t call themselves “CO” are nevertheless in that camp, which is those who are “not so yeshivish”. Those people are not philosophically MO but typically end up in similar circles to those who are.

  8. “I’m sceptical about a lot of secular culture, too.”

    It depends how you define it. R’ Mayer Schiller makes this point often. Reality TV isn’t Mozart.

    On these issues, I may not see eye to eye with many YU roshei yeshiva. But as “skeptical” as they may be, their mindset, as betrayed in their talks, is much more modern than their contemporaries.

    I saw the argument to include “women” a long time ago. I was uncomfortable with it then, and uncomfortable with it now: It raises one specific issue to “ikkar” status, so to speak. I think the other three can basically be summed up as “There’s a world outside of Orthodoxy which can’t be dismissed and often has value.”

    “can one be a non-Zionist and Modern Orthodox today?”

    The very existence of the state of Israel makes the question moot and a bit troubling. Do you support it or not? If so, you (even if you’re a charedi) are a Zionist of at least some sort (certainly under a pre-war definition of the term), willy-nilly.

  9. Which version of Alan Brill’s blog or other writings have you been reading? This doesn’t reflect his approach.

  10. I would argue that many of us here are missing the fundamental point. MO, ultimately, has a different view of what ‘man’ is than Charedism. This point is wonderfully illustrated in an article by Alex Ozar which can be found here:
    http://www.yucommentator.com/2.2486/a-preliminary-taxonomy-of-rabbinic-anthropologies-1.1127266
    Many other practical differences flow from this. Openness towards secular studies is not merely a difference in curriculum, but a difference in view over a Jew’s responsibilty to himself and the world, as Dr David Shatz argues here:
    http://www.yutorah.org/_shiurim/TU3_Shatz.pdf
    Another important difference (which is intimately related to the previous ideas) is the degree to which MO is prepared to enthusiastically admit that it sees western morality as a positive development and is willing to critique other positions based on ‘moral’ considerations, as Marc Shapiro argues here:
    http://ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v15/mj_v15i47.html#CKZ
    http://ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v15/mj_v15i39.html#CJH
    However, for all the posturing by some RWMO’s on this blog, they also do this, but just on different issues. Many of them would not be happy with, say, the Rambam’s psak that a 3 year old nachris who is raped by a yisrael is to be killed or with the over racism found in some traditional circles or with the fact that say, Chassidish women are forbidden from driving. As much as they may couch their critique of these things in ‘Torah’ language it is clear that they are influenced by western mores. MO is (or should be) proud to admit that.

  11. Baruch: The study of Tanakh is itself a dividing line between the haredi and non-haredi. I don’t know what you mean by the “rational approach,” but the application of literary analysis is a fairly recent development and there are others worthy of mention. Midrash is a complicated topic, but the issues were already addressed by Rishonim.

    Dr. Stadlan: Most of your points relate to pesak. On this issue you may enjoy Aviad Hachoen’s article found here:
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/730114/Dr._Aviad_Hacohen/%E2%80%9CReligious_Zionist_Halakhah%E2%80%9D_%E2%80%93_Is_It_Reality_Or_Was_It_A_Dream

    I agree that the attitude toward science — and not just science in the Talmud — is another dividing line; I would subsume that under general culture.

    Hesh: I live in Israel, but I do not think that Zionism is the sine qua non of MO.

    IH: Prof. Brill’s review was masterful in many ways, but I do not think that it is the first or last word on this issue(and I think he would agree). Alan was teaching at YU when he wrote it, and I think that affected the passage you cite. Many of the factors seem a direct consequence of the study year(s) in Israel, which tend to lessen over time.

    Ezzie: I agree and I was thinking of those people when I used the term “gray.”

    Nachum: I think the issue of women is too big to sweep under another rubric. (1) It directly affects 50% of us; (2) Egalitarianism is now a tenet of Western thought and a defining feature of Western society; and (3)it is probably the most divisive issue in Orthodoxy today.

    Re Zionism: In my post I specified what I think defines MO Zionism. It is more than support of Israel’s existence.

    MJ: I welcome your take on Prof. Brill’s writings.

  12. Eli Clark – the paper you linked to contains some hilarious inaccuracies. See, for exmaple, note 50, which seeks to demonstrate that the Chazon Ish was ‘close to the religious zionist campe on certain issues’ by the fact that he hosted Ben Gurion in his home and was visited repeatedly by R. Shlomo Goren. Anyone who knows anything about the Chazon Ish’s opinion of these two people (see Orchos Rabbeinu for more details) would laugh at reading this. No mention is made of the fact that the Chazon Ish took off his glasses when visited by Ben Gurion because of the halacha of ‘assur lehistakel bifnei adam rasha’.

  13. “(1) It directly affects 50% of us;”

    Nu? Other “side” issues affect 100% of us. (Tanach study, let’s say.)

    “(2) Egalitarianism is now a tenet of Western thought and a defining feature of Western society;”

    Egalitarianism also means no kohanim, right? Kohanim and Leviim account for about 20% of all Jews. On the other hand, normalization of homosexuality is also swiftly becoming a feature of “correct” society.

    “3)it is probably the most divisive issue in Orthodoxy today”

    Maybe, but I don’t agree that this (or any other external to Orthodoxy fact) should define the major points.

    “No mention is made of the fact”

    It would be nice if some of these “facts” were, well, true, no?

  14. Above was me.

    “In my post I specified what I think defines MO Zionism. It is more than support of Israel’s existence.”

    The question concerned pre-1948 style Zionism, which is passe.

  15. “(4) seems like it should be a subset of some larger philosophical construct (ascribes religious value to a community within which each individual and subgroup can maximize its religious potential to the extent allowed by halacha as interpreted in light of this value)”

    On the contrary, the most right wing haredi things that women must “maximize their religious potential to the extent allowed by halacha” AKA “do ratzon hashem”, they just have a different understanding of what the potential consists of, and what halacha allows.

    Perhaps by “religious potential” you mean subjective sense of fulfillment. If so, then RYBS for one would say you are talking absolute nonsense (see footnote 4 of Halakhic Man)

  16. they just have a different understanding of what the potential consists of, and what halacha allows.
    ===========================================
    Agreed-so we’d have to refine how to define those differences-but I think it’s a broader issue than “women”
    KT

  17. The behavioral MO Jew basically keeps Halakha, but tends to be lax on the finer points, especially those at odds with modern society. Stereotypically, these are Jews who play ball on Shabbat and go mixed swimming; the men listen to women sing, and the women wear pants and do not cover their hair.

    What is per se being lax on the finer points of halacha by wearing pants?

  18. much to debate on this post. see brill’s comments on his view quoted here: brill on brill

    http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/modern-orthodox-words-in-my-mouth/

  19. “Hesh: I live in Israel, but I do not think that Zionism is the sine qua non of MO.”

    No Rabbi Clark, you don’t live in Israel, you live in Beit Shemesh… 🙂

    Thanks for the essay.

  20. HAGTBG: There a some posekim who forbid pants for women per se, but I was trying to describe a stereotype, not make a halakhic statement.

    Ruvie: Thanks for the link. I owe Prof. Brill an apology for grossly misrepresenting him. Most people speak of MO and CO as sociological categories, but Prof. Brill uses the terms differently. This is a dramatic illustration of my point about the confusion that results when different people define the same terms differently. Hoist by my own petard.

  21. This is an excellent article. I could add other items to Rabbi Clarks four defining items.
    1) A refusal to acknowledge Da’as Torah
    2) A general dismissal of Yeridas HaDoros
    3) A refusal to respect The Mesorah (Meta Halacha) in determining psak.

    These three items are really nothing more than tools to move forward the agenda which is stated in this article by Rabbi Clark’s four points. Those points can be summed up as follows:
    There is religious value (correctness) in foreign thought. Since there is relgious value in these things the Halacha must be molded to suit them.

  22. I am somewhat disturbed by Chaim Waxman’s definition of the “behaviorally modern orthodox” as being “lax on the finer points ….” It is my observation that there are large portions of the Chareidi community that are lax (sticking to laxity that is ideological rather than personal weakness) on those details of shmirat hanefesh that require accepting modern scientific findings, like not smoking and the need for cancer screening. But it would never occur to me that it was permissible to attempt to define a segment of Jewry on the basis of said laxity.

  23. > No mention is made of the fact that the Chazon Ish took off his glasses when visited by Ben Gurion because of the halacha of ‘assur lehistakel bifnei adam rasha’.

    Is this really true or a legend? What I mean by is it true is, not did he really take off his glasses, but did he really explain that its for the reason everyone says it is? If so, to whom and when? Did someone suggest it to him and he didn’t say no? How do we know this is what he did and why?

  24. Without wishing to draw undue attention to the sewer that is Frumteens, it should be noted that the Moderator can barely write a single sentence without lying and distorting. The moderator writes:
    “And since Rabbi J.B. Soloveichik was the preeminent authority for Modern orhtodox Jewry, does that mean he, too was lenient? In what? He was makpid on Cholov Yisroel, for instance. Does this make those who follow Rav Moshe’s heter more Modern Orthodox than Rabbi Soloveichik?”

    To quote R. Jachter:
    “It is well known among Rav Soloveitchik’s students that the Rav when he resided in the United States drank packaged milk that did not have any special Rabbinic supervision.”

    For normal human beings I would apply the rule of ‘milsa de’avida ligluyei le meshakrie ba inshei’. It seems the ‘Moderator’ has no such compunction.

  25. S., IIRC, it’s in (among other places), the hakdama to one of the volumes Shaarei Aharon (on Rashi al HaTorah), written by R. Aharon Rotter, who lived in the Chazon Ish’s house.

  26. >S., IIRC, it’s in (among other places), the hakdama to one of the volumes Shaarei Aharon (on Rashi al HaTorah), written by R. Aharon Rotter, who lived in the Chazon Ish’s house.

    Thanks for the reference. I’ll see if I can get hold of it, but just to clarify, I’m wondering if this comes from the mouth of the Chazon Ish himself.

  27. J.,

    You piqued my curiosity. What did the Chazon Ish think of Rav Goren? What’s your source?

    [Brief note: I tend to take student’s notes, meant for a Charedi audience, with more than a grain of salt. They tend to be very slanted.]

  28. The term “Modern Orthodox” has always seemed to me to be somewhat apologetic and in some ways an oxymoron. Why not just “shomer mitzvot”? There are so many shades between what is called Charedi and Conservative, but the common denominator is a self conscious attempt to live a lifestyle according to Halacha.

  29. David, a lot of times self-labeling is an attempt to retain purity, either through excluding a minority that threatens to dilute the brand, or a majority that threatens to overwhelm and change it. I think these days “Modern Orthodoxy” feels that it could be overwhelmed and changed (or suffocated out of existence). Perhaps decades ago (or maybe even today) the “Chareidi” communities felt that it too could be diluted, if not overwhelmed (mainly in the past). And probably non of these are irrational concerns.

  30. Modern Orthodoxy is a philosophy, not a derech. It exists more on paper than in real life. That is why if you want a serious religious atmosphere for your child, send him to a haredi school. You can’t live inside a Tradition magazine.

  31. Orchos Rabeinu, written by R. Horowitz, the RY of Tiferes Tziyon, RSZA’s BIL, and a talmid muvhak of the Steipler. I won’t repeat the stories here, as they made me very uncomfortable, and I do not think they are suitable to be repeated. Most of the sefarim coming out of the Chazon Ish’s circle make me similarly uncomfortable (as they would most of the readers here) so the particular stories involving Rav Goren do not seem out of character.

  32. Michael Rogovin

    Not so sure about the Waxman split between philosophical and behavioral, though I certainly know people squarely in the behavioral camp. However, the examples given for prototypical behavioral camp strike me as less about halacha than culture or conformity. I know many people who fit squarely into philosophical (and I would include myself, but also friends who are certainly more to the “right”) but will listen to women sing when there is no violation of kol isha, the women wear women’s pants, do not cover their hair, etc. There are good halachic arguments that those are within bounds. Even some ball playing may be permissible, and bike riding too, though these are clearly frowned upon in most circles. I leave it to others to discuss whether mixed beaches/swimming can be justified.

    Any scheme is apt to be over and underinclusive. I just found these examples, which implied that a person who does any of them is somehow lax in halachic observance, to be inaccurate and defamatory.

  33. This discussion would have been great fodder for one of REDC’s classic Purim spoofs. Too bad it happened a month too late.

  34. J.,

    I feel the same way about the “Brisker Rav Hanhagot” that has made the rounds of the internet. The deep disrespect and contempt towards anyone not like them is appalling.

  35. aiwac – that was written by my wife’s cousin. What you saw is just a tippa min hayam. Unfortunately, this is what many of our youth are taught to aspire to. OTOH, when I learned in Chevron Yeshiva, I remember them removing a volume of Orchos Rabeinu from the library, as it was considered so disrespectful towards Gedolei Torah; that’s one form of censorship I can support!

  36. J.,

    Well, it’s nice to hear that some places have integrity. Which is also fitting since R. Goren learned in Hevron…

    BTW, if we’re on the subject, has anyone seen Shlomo Tichochinski’s doctorate on Hevron Yeshiva in Israel? I’ve enjoyed his earlier stuff and I wanted to know if it was just as good or better…

  37. How is removing a book from a library a signifier of integrity?

  38. Well, at the very least it’s a sign of decency (in this case).

  39. I think there is a 4th branch of orthodoxy – chasidism. It is not yeshivishe and not MO or CO. They have their own halachos (Zman tefilah? pshaw!) and their own way of life (not to much Kollel) as compared to the chareidim.

    I happen to think that much of chareidism comes from chasidism; e.g., the old ‘infallibility of the rebbe’ versus the newer trend of the ‘infallibility of the Rosh Yeshiva’ as one example. Another may be the mode of dress – the chasidim all dress alike for many years; the chareidim picked up the “black pants/black hat/white shirt for all” much more recently.

    But the bottom line is that those two camps are not the same. The yshivishe crowd moved out of Boro Park to Flatbush to stake a place for themselves, leaving BP to the chasidim.

    The only time they merge is when they are both represented at the Siyum Hashas, but that is only because the Agudah is trying to make some money selling tickets. And even then, they still won’t let Rav H Schechter speak, though he would probably be the only speaker who actually knows shas.

  40. “Moreover, beginning in the 1980’s, children from MO homes have become increasingly CO, partly as a result of their study in Israel post-high school. ”

    You see this line time and time again in these type of articles, but empirically it is not correct. I am in my early thirties, grew up MO, went to yeshiva in Israel, and virtually none of my friends are still halachically observant, but rather they are socially Orthodox at best – send their kinds to yeshiva, go to shul every shabbos, but turn on lights etc. and eat dairy out. Those who are really in the know see that far more young adults have stopped being frum than those who are frummer than their parents.

  41. Wait, I want to know who would be the two rabbis in the MO gedolim cards. 🙂

  42. Yi’yasher kochakha, R. Clark, for an illuminating treatise. Fundamentally, this is a halakhic topic. The gemara in Yevamot 14a establishes that there is only one Orthodox Judaism: “lo titgodedu – lo ta’asu agudot agudot”. However, Orthodox Judaism itself tells every adherent to follow his posek, as long as the Jew does so consistently, as described by Chazon Ish in YD 150 and by RMF in his introduction to the first volume of IM. The result is that there will be a beautiful panoply of diverse behaviours within Orthodox Judaism, each behaviour being legitimate so long as endorsed by a posek of stature (within the norm*) and so long as it is being followed with consistency by the disciples of the posek.

    Two caveats: As mentioned in my exchange with R. Doron Beckerman and Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan in an earlier forum, I believe others (such as RSZA) disagree with Chazon Ish et al. on this point, and hold that there is a certain degree of uniformity required, viz. on any unresolved dispute regarding a mitzvah di’oraita everyone must be stringent – even disciples of the lenient decisor. But the jury is still out on this first caveat of mine. My second caveat is that for an unresolved dispute regarding piku’ach nefesh, Encyclopedia Talmudit IX, p. 267 interprets the gemara in Shabbat 129a to mean that everyone must follow the opinion that says to desecrate Shabbat.

    [* = As described by RJDB in his introduction to Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol. 4, an eccentric opinion which has been rejected by the normative consensus cannot be granted practical credence. In my opinion, an example of a ruling that is outside the norm, and which may not be followed, even though it was enunciated by a posek of stature (-in fact, the Gedol Hador Ad Sof Kol Hadorot for that matter) is RMF’s permission to discharge one’s obligation of havdalah over the telephone in IM OC 4:91 (sec. 4).]

    R’ Ben,
    I agree with you that RHS is an awesome Torah scholar. Yi’yasher kochakha for championing his honour. At the same time, I am sure that RHS will gladly acknowledge that there are other wonderful Torah scholars who do speak at the Agudath Israel Daf Yomi celebration. There’s no competition; each person must say “bishvili nivra ha’olam” (Sanhedrin 37a).

  43. Michael R: I agree wholeheartedly that the examples I gave of behavioral MO stem from conformity to general cultural mores. I was trying to sketch a sociological category, not analyze halakhic questions. In the case of pants, for example, a good halakhic case can be made for a woman to wear loose-fitting pants, especially if she is going horseback riding. But I think there is a segment of women who wear pants, not based on rigorous halakhic research, but simply out of a desire to be comfortable or fashionable. The latter I think are “behavioral MO.”

    Ben: I agree that there are significant differences between the hasidic and misnagdic communities. Prof. Brill writes of 12-14 different ideologies within Orthodoxy.

    JJ: Thank you for illustrating the danger of generalizations. Certainly many people come back from Israel and then drift away from halakhic observance. But, even if your immediate friends went in a different direction, that does not disprove the existence of the phenomenon known as “flipping out.”

  44. Rafael Araujo

    “The only time they merge is when they are both represented at the Siyum Hashas, but that is only because the Agudah is trying to make some money selling tickets. And even then, they still won’t let Rav H Schechter speak, though he would probably be the only speaker who actually knows shas.”

    And you know that no one else at Siyum HaShas knows Shas because….

  45. R Eli,

    The phenomenon of “flippign out” obviously exists, but it is talked about as if that is the norm. What I am really saying is that I see time and time again, and not just from my immediate friends, that often when these post-Israel graduates enter early adulthood, the strictures of halacha become silly/inconvenient, not just in single life but after marriage as well. I still maintain that a signficant percentage of MO young adults are no longer halachically observant, and that this is a phenomena no one likes to talk about or face but that should be taken seriously.

  46. Based on my own andecdotal observations, I say that:

    Most of the opposition that the average Chareidi non-demagogue has with MO is not against philosophical Modern Orthodoxy, but with the phenomenon of “Orthodox-Lite” that they then blame philosophical Modern Orthodoxy for countenancing.

  47. R Eli-is there really a Nefkeh Minah LMaaseh in this discussion, or is it yet another round in bemoaning the fact that none of RYBS’s talmidim muvhakim are 100% the same in their approach to Halacha and Hashkafa as RYBS? If the latter is the case, then the entire discussion can be compared in its value to the still ongoing comparison as to whether the Rosenbergs were guilty as charged-a subject that invites much emotion, but little cnange in the positions of each competing side.

    Aside from the above, I would argue that MO sociologically has always had a quiet majority with noisy left and right wings, and that each of the above tried to use RYBS as their Hashkafic model. If one reads the Commie the Observer , Kol HaMevaser and the YU Beacon, one sees such issues discussed passionately. If one searches the YU Torah site, there are many Charedi, RZ and MO speakes who draw audiences that want to hear such speakers. Since 1993, the debate has intensified, but I would also maintain for a variety of reasons, that MO today is a Dor Asher Lo Yada Es Yosef, but has many Talmidei Chachamim of a world class caliber to whom it addresses and should adddress issues of Halacha and Mesorah, as opposed to bemoaning the past, as the Talmud notes in RH. It is of no small importance that the halachic issues that arose out of a terrorist attack on a Pan Am jet , 9-11, were resolved by RHS and R M Willig. In a similar manner, the RCA pre-nup was developed by R M Willig who obtained the approval of ROY and R ZN Goldberg for the same. The assumption that the MO of the 1960s and 1970s would remain adequate ignores the fact that all hashkafic approaches tend to grow stale as they cease being a supplement to and tend to supplant the nature of one’s committment to Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim.

    I would note in passing that one can detect an impatience with the spiritual depth of MO that RAL and others quoted in the name of RYBS. I think that you can find MO in its philosophical form in Tradition, the works of the Orthodox Forum, but then again, these works are essentially preaching to the converted, ala NPR. I would also note that RAL has also criticized the effects of modern culture on MO and that far too many MO are far more comfortable in discussing the same, as opposed to the ins and outs of a RAE, as well as questionning whether one must go to college to become a Gadol BaTorah. In a similar manner, a RaM at two major post high school programs once told me that he was appalled at the low level of knowledge of basic Halacha LMaaseh, as opposed to Chumros and Hidurim, among his students. Once again, as RD CS pointed out, much of what many MO perceive as a Chumra is really required MeIkar HaDin.

  48. I just want to say that this sentence provided me with a much needed laugh: “Then we can go back to arguing about important issues, like what Rav Soloveitchik said to my brother-in-law on May 12, 1979 about brain dead women rabbis.”

  49. Steve >then again, these works are essentially preaching to the converted, ala NPR.

    You’d be surprised how many were and are converted, so to speak, by Tradition, Orthodox Forum books and cognate literature.

  50. I think it is interesting that the halachic literature is in a sense catching up to what was referred to as ‘laxity’ of the masses. e.g. kol isha – Rav D Bigman recently wrote a teshuva explaining how it applies in a modern context (although other lonely MO rabbinic figures have of course followed this line of reasoning for years, but not to my knowledge in published form); similarly WRT women wearing pants or not covering hair. There is a notion that part of Jewish tradition is contained within the folk wisdom of the klal, and I think this can be seen here.

    It is true that MO contains people who are lax about certain things. However this applies to every ideological/social community, from Chareidi to Reform.

  51. S-when I read Tradition and Orthodox Forum articles, I have a feeling of deja vue, as to the contents, and an ivory tower lack of appreciation of the issues that MO needs to confront. At least for my POV, Chakira and the RJJ Journal are a far better read.

  52. >S-when I read Tradition and Orthodox Forum articles, I have a feeling of deja vue, as to the contents, and an ivory tower lack of appreciation of the issues that MO needs to confront. At least for my POV, Chakira and the RJJ Journal are a far better

    Firstly, I’m not saying that these are fresh produce at the moment. Not to speak ill of the dying, but I happen to think Tradition is boring as all getout.

    Nevertheless, you would be surprised at its missionary power, how interesting and refreshing and enlightening it can be. Certainly their back issues. I happen to agree re Hakirah. Or at least I did, before it became another Orthodox Forum style platform to slowly debate Hirhurim threads all over again (latest issue).

  53. It seems to me that we need some better terminology, devoid of historical and assumptive baggage. E.g. the assumptions made about what constituents being “halachically observant” in the exchange with JJ.

    My hypothesis is that different sub-groups measure halachic observance through the lens of different litmus-test mitzvot. Perhaps a taxonomy that attempts to segment such sub-groups is a necessary first step toward a meaningful discussion?

  54. One more point-there are many within MO that have an attitude of complete antipathy and hostility towards ArtScroll that borders on a fetish.I think that the same is overly simplistic-ArtScroll’s Siddurim and Machzorim are halachically accurate and aid the Mispallel in fullfilling his or her obligation of Tefilah, especially during the Yamim Noraim and Chagim. ArtScroll’s Mishnah and Talmud have opened the same for many who last opened a sefer when they were in high school. It remains to be seen whether the Koren Siddur will ever be a rival, let alone supplant ArtScroll in many committed MO communities.

    The hagiographical works re Gdolim and history, in general, do not appeal to me. Once I read MOAG, Even though I never bought an ArtScroll hagiography, once I read MOAG, the only such works that I thought were worth the price were the Lashon HaKodesh works on R Velvel ZL and R Baruch Ber ZL. One can quibble re R Berel Wein’s books, but they do make history interesting.

  55. IH,

    “It seems to me that we need some better terminology, devoid of historical and assumptive baggage.”

    Is this even possible? More importantly, can such a seemingly detached and analytical discussion be relevant to the real world?

  56. Steve – Artscroll is a useful tool, but like any tool it has limitations the reader should understand. E.g. I was reading one of their Gemata notes the other day that made me smile:

    “A ‘year’ signifies a solar year unless the context indicates otherwise. A solar year is a natural unit, for it represents a complete orbit of the earth around the sun. [This is in contrast to a lunar year, which is merely a sequence of twelve lunar cycles] (see Yad Ramah; cf. Rashbah; see also Maharal).

    aiwac — I think it is possible. There are major value differences amongst the major sub-groups; and spectra with clustered weightings that separate among, say, the “modern” Orthodox. Prof. Brill started that in his Edah article that I quoted earlier in the thread — which is why it struck a chord with me.

  57. Steve:>R Eli-is there really a Nefkeh Minah LMaaseh in this discussion, or is it yet another round in bemoaning the fact that none of RYBS’s talmidim muvhakim are 100% the same in their approach to Halacha and Hashkafa as RYBS?

    The nafka mina is azoi. If MO is a hashkafa, then I can call myself MO even if I eat nevelos or (lehavdil) daven at Aguda in my Borsalino. But if MO is a sociological category, then I can’t be MO unless I live in Teaneck and wear a kippa seruga, even if I think the Moetzes Gedolei haTorah has ruach hakodesh.

    >Once again, as RD CS pointed out, much of what many MO perceive as a Chumra is really required MeIkar HaDin.

    He also pointed out that the reverse is true: much of what frum Jews perceive to be basic halakha is a chumra.

  58. R Eli D Clark wrote:

    “The nafka mina is azoi. If MO is a hashkafa, then I can call myself MO even if I eat nevelos or (lehavdil) daven at Aguda in my Borsalino. But if MO is a sociological category, then I can’t be MO unless I live in Teaneck and wear a kippa seruga, even if I think the Moetzes Gedolei haTorah has ruach hakodesh”

    IMO, that attempt at clarification does not further aid the discussion. I think that RAL , and years before, R S Riskin, in a series at LSS, set forth the pluses and minuses of MO in practice, as opposed to theory. I would argue that it is highly implausible that someone who wears a Kippa Srugah and who lives in Teaneck and sends his or her kids to MO schools, would view the Moetzes Gdolei Torah as having Ruach HaKodesh. I don’t think that it is incongruous for a YU grad, RIETS Musmach or RIETS RY to wear a Borsalino. OTOH, if anyone eats Nevelos or commits a similar transgression, regardless of his or her headgear or community, then I would suggest that such a person was envisioned by the Ramban in the opening words to Parshas Kedoshim.

  59. Rafael:
    “And you know that no one else at Siyum HaShas knows Shas because..”

    As someone who went to a VERY yeshivishe yeshiva, I can say with 100% certainty that the RY had not finished Shas and in fact would tell the bochurim not to even ask him questions from later in the ‘Yeshivishe’ mesechta we were learning.

    Knowing Shas means learning it not once but again and again, and I am 99% certain that the RY themselves would admit to not knowing it. Granted they do know the ‘hock’ on the first few blatt in each masechta better than anyone.

    RHS is not the only one who knows it; so does Rav Belsky in YTV, Rav M Brown in Far Rock and others. And I guess they won’t be asked to speak either. But sitting at the last siyum and watching the RY and the Rebbes speak (and some in yiddish while the crowd had no idea what they were sahying) really annoyed me.

  60. Ben-Ever hear R NI Oelbaum’s DY or other shiurim? Are you aware that every Leil Slichos, a RIETS RY has spoken at R Oelbaum’s shul followed by R Oelbaum?

  61. “ArtScroll’s Siddurim and Machzorim are halachically accurate”

    What do you do with your tefillin before Musaf on Rosh Chodesh?

  62. Beating a dead horse, I know, but let me just point out that there are Charedi-lites just as much as there are MO-lites.

  63. Nachum wrote:

    “What do you do with your tefillin before Musaf on Rosh Chodesh”

    If I am not a Baal Tefilah, I fold up my Tefilin completely and insert them back in their bag, which IIRC, is what the MB posits is proper. If I were a Baal Tefilah, I would let someone else do that so as not to cause Tircha DTzibura-especially in an early morning Minyan.

  64. “The nafka mina is azoi. If MO is a hashkafa, then I can call myself MO even if I eat nevelos or (lehavdil) daven at Aguda in my Borsalino. But if MO is a sociological category, then I can’t be MO unless I live in Teaneck and wear a kippa seruga, even if I think the Moetzes Gedolei haTorah has ruach hakodesh”

    I don’t get it. You “can” call yourself whatever you want. The better question is why one would care whether she “can” call herself MO.

    The only reason all this hair splitting matters is if one ascribes some normative value to being/not “really MO” – being MO defines what you “can” do or not. But who says there is such a value? I am not aware of any mitzvah to be or not to be “Modern Orthodox” (or even, pace R. Spira, to be “orthodox” at all, since the latter is also mainly a sociological category).

  65. Rafael Araujo

    “What do you do with your tefillin before Musaf on Rosh Chodesh?”

    What the MB proscribes to do, which happens to be found in the Artscroll siddur as well.

    Are there any kehilos, even Yekkishe kehillos, where they daven with tefillin on for Musaf Rosh Chodesh?

  66. emma,

    While I agree with you that it doesn’t really matter religiously, sociology does count. Especially in a religion like ours that places such a heavy emphasis on communities.

  67. sociology matters. my point is social categories are not, or should not be treated as, normative categories.

  68. OK,

    So how do we discuss normative categories separate from sociology?

  69. “Ben-Ever hear R NI Oelbaum’s DY or other shiurim? Are you aware that every Leil Slichos, a RIETS RY has spoken at R Oelbaum’s shul followed by R Oelbaum?”

    I guess that just makes Rabbi Oelbaum a CO. 🙂
    And maybe the Agudah wouldn’t let him speak at their siyum hashas either.

    3 cycles ago (as I recall) Rav Yaakov Kaminestky spoke at the siyum hashas and said he did not feel that it was appropriate since he had not done the cycle. But his job was to say the first mishna in Brachos and he said that hopefully “kol hamaschil b’mitzvah omrim lo G’mor” and he hoped to do it everyday and be able to make a siyum 7 years later. Unfortuntely, he and we were not zoyche. But his thougth was right on – perhaps onyl those who lernt it should speak. And I apologize from my eaarlier snide comment haig taking us off topic….

  70. by using normative or otherwise value-laden terms? e.g.: required, permitted, forbidden, good, bad, correct, innacurate, foolish, virtuous.

  71. Thank you for an interesting post. I question the the premise that MO’s are any more lax than Charedim in observance of halacha. Both groups have areas they focus on and areas they are lax about or simply disregard.
    Would you say that Charedim are lax about the prohibition of stealing(especially from the government program) or lax about stopping child molesters?

  72. Ben wrote:

    “I guess that just makes Rabbi Oelbaum a CO. 🙂
    And maybe the Agudah wouldn’t let him speak at their siyum hashas either”

    WADR, R Oelbaum spoke at the most recent Siyum HaShas.

  73. Yoshua wrote:

    “Would you say that Charedim are lax about the prohibition of stealing(especially from the government program) or lax about stopping child molesters”

    WADR, one can find evidence of ignoring the dictates of CM and Dina DMalchusa across the hashkafic spectrum. Abuse as defined in the above post also appears to have no hashkafic boundaries.

  74. R Eli D Clark wrote:

    “To briefly expand these points: (1) ascribes religious value to secular culture beyond the practical utility of secular education for parnasa purposes; (2) ascribes religious value to the restoration of Jewish political sovereignty over the Land of Israel, separate from the Jewish State’s role as a physical refuge for Jews and home of talmud Torah; (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity; and (4) promotes women’s involvement in halakhically approved activities. ”

    I think that point 3 in the above post is quite revealing of the some aspects of the MO mindset, despite the fact that NCSY is an OU funded program and many RIETS RY and YC and SCW students are active as advisors. It is indeed a tragedy IMO of immense importance if MO does not believe that it has a message of depth and profundity that would attract the average unafffiliated American Jew, and prefers to see kiruv as a Charedi enterprise. FWIW, I do not believe that communal unity and kiruv represent mutually exclusive goals, especially when one utilizes RYBS’s formulations of Klapei Chutz and Klapei Pnim.

  75. As a follow up, if Kiruv is as R Clark posits, what MO is not about-how do MO understand the Mitzvah of Teshuvah?More fundamentally, if the message is “I’m Jewish, you are Jewish, and hashkafa and halacha are irrelevant details of difference”, why would anyone be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos in the first place?

  76. Yes Reb. Steve, you got a point however i know a guy who takes his wife to a schvitz in downtown manhattan who whose wife always asks him what all the Chassidim are doing there with out there wives? But it is the MO who are assumed to “go mixed swiming” and who are “lax” about certain pionts of halacha.
    By the way I work in a “charadi community” and what they have done to cover up CM is an art form unaparalled by any one I know of except the Catholic chuch.
    By the way I never heard a MO say “the goverment poverty level is only for goyim, frum living is more expecnce that’s why you can lie in order to get goverment benfits.” This is what peoples RABBIS tell paskin for them. Or mosdos hatorah paying people on the books and cash off the books so they qualify for goverment program. I am not even joking I wish I was.

  77. I have no idea if Nobel laureate Dr. Baruch Blumberg A”H, who attended Yeshiva of Flatbush as a young man, was observant or not; but, his obituary that I just read (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/health/07blumberg.html?pagewanted=all) indicates that he was blessed with a life of fulfilling Ratzon ha’Shem in a very profound way.

    The obit ends: “Saving lives, he said, was the whole point of his career. “Well, it is something I always wanted to do,” he said. “This is what drew me to medicine. There is, in Jewish thought, this idea that if you save a single life, you save the whole world, and that affected me.” “

  78. >WADR, one can find evidence of ignoring the dictates of CM and Dina DMalchusa across the hashkafic spectrum.

    Yes yes. everybody does it.

    However:

    I have yet to see a MO Jew berate an elderly lady on the bus and make her stand up and move to the back.

    I have yet to see a MO Jew put on Muslim religious garb (chukas haGoyim?) in the name of tznius.

    I have yet to see a MO community leader create a quota for sephardic kids in his school and be caught on tape yelling at sephardic parents: “Ganavim, Menuvalim, get out of here!” while defending a principle who molested kids from the weaker strata of his community (sephardim) – see the latest story from the wonderful “kehilla kadisha” of Emmanuel, Israel.

    I have yet to see a MO Jew publicly embarass another person by not reciprocating a hand shake to a woman. Especially not to an elderly woman in a geriatric ward of a hospital.

    and there is more more more.

    Maybe we can make the chiluk this way:

    To the extent that MO is lax in shemirat haMitzvot, the chareidim are lax in basic derech eretz and ethics.

  79. ..and, chardal, those *are* mitzvot. 🙂

    Steve and Rafael: Look at what Artscroll tells you to do with your tefillin.

  80. For some, MO refers to the non-yeshivish wing of Orthodoxy. This is based on a simple division of the Orthodox community into two camps. On this view, if you are not haredi, you are MO.

    Why not vice-versa and refer to all non-MO as Hareidi? When you answer that, you’ll have the same answer why the above is untenable.

  81. In 1991 Chaim Waxman, the sociologist, distinguished between “behavioral MO” and “philosophical MO.” The behavioral MO Jew basically keeps Halakha, but tends to be lax on the finer points, especially those at odds with modern society. Stereotypically, these are Jews who play ball on Shabbat and go mixed swimming; the men listen to women sing, and the women wear pants and do not cover their hair.

    IOW, there is a tenable and accurate description of a part of MO officially (“b’shitta”) violating halacha.

  82. But on a substantive level, the classification means nothing.

    As do all classifications for anyone. This principle equally applies to the usage of the term Orthodox.

  83. “Stereotypically, these are Jews who play ball on Shabbat and go mixed swimming; the men listen to women sing, and the women wear pants and do not cover their hair.”
    “IOW, there is a tenable and accurate description of a part of MO officially (“b’shitta”) violating halacha.”

    1. Your (and your leader’s) interpretation of halacha.
    2. Selective omission of the b’shitta violations
    of halacha in your camp (whatever that is).

    Let’s leave the judging to God, please. Excepting:
    עבירות שבין אדם למקום, יום הכיפורים מכפר; שבינו לבין חברו–אין יום הכיפורים מכפר, עד שירצה את חברו.

  84. Joseph

    Women wearing pants, playing ball on Shabbat and going to mixed swimming is not necessarily against Halacha. For example my Rabbi, a prominent MO Rabbi, said that dress and closths are society-based according to Halachah, and therefore women wearing pants is not against Halachah. Obviously there is a general Torah hashkafa to be tzanuah but a woman can be tzanuah wearing pants or wearing skirts and vice versa.

  85. Yoshua wrote:

    “By the way I never heard a MO say “the goverment poverty level is only for goyim, frum living is more expecnce that’s why you can lie in order to get goverment benfits.” This is what peoples RABBIS tell paskin for them. Or mosdos hatorah paying people on the books and cash off the books so they qualify for goverment program. ”

    WADR, take a visit to any minimum security federal penitentiary. You will see MO and Charedim-both of whom are serving time for white collar criminal convictions and sentences.

  86. Unlike many of the participants here seemingly seized by an odd taxonomical compulsion I do not fret much over the need to designate everybody with an at-a-glance label. But if that is a desideratum, I can’t help thinking that the crudity of the current efforts dooms any such activity l’mafreyah. After all, on the planet inhabited by real people, many denizens are considerably more multi-nuanced than might be captured by relegating them to one of the boxes offered to date. Thus, a talis-oifen-kup wearing sheitel-banning external- tzitzis- flying slifkin-avoiding godol-worshipping fellow may root for the yankees, own a tv, think a family is ill-served when the husband doesn’t work, and that accusations of pederasty are best dealt with by the police. So people are complex admixtures and the few categorical boxes suggested to date, even with an ever growing list of modifiers, just doesn’t cut it.

    My modest suggestion is to characterize individuals by a vector in frum-space. Basis vectors spanning the space would then be all the various designators imagined to date (O, C, R, behavioral MO, philosophical CO, Ch, ChL, LWMO, RWCO, …) but the vector coefficients provide the weights. So we may understand at a glance that this fellow is 15% charedi light, 30% behavioral MO, and 55% RWCO and so on while the amplitude provides a measure of overall religious intensity, whatever the direction. So, for all those of you seized by, let’s call it, the categorization imperative, think how useful that may be.

  87. Let me add one further point on this portion of R E Clark’s post:

    “To briefly expand these points: … (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity.””

    If you have an OU Luach, it contains a list of officers and directors. There are numerous BTs who became Shomrei Torah UMitzos thru NCSY on that list, and many others who are active rabbinical,educational and lay leaders and activists in both the Charedi and MO worlds. IMO, while much is debated and written about integrating BTs into the FFB world, one cannot deny the many positive contributions of BTs to both worlds or their abilities in helping both worlds develope, especially after 1967 in both Israel and the US. IMO, both the Charedi and MO worlds would have stagnated and evolved into sterile movements in neat little sociological cookie cutter or cocoon like environments where everyone went to the same institutions from playgroup thru marriage and would never have realized that Torah observant Judaism had a message of depth and profundity that would attract the unaffiliated American Jew. IMO, it is a tragedy and mistake of no small proportions that one of the purported elements of MO as defined on this blog in 2011 is an eschewing of Kiruv.

  88. Steve – to your point, the eschewing of converts (and women) from serving as Presidents of shuls (e.g. NCYI) is also unforgivable in this regard.

  89. chardal on April 7, 2011 at 12:32 am

    “I have yet to see a MO Jew berate an elderly lady on the bus and make her stand up and move to the back.”

    True – but I’ve seen some MO Jews berate each other on the bus and then start to smack and punch each other in front of the entire bus.

    “I have yet to see a MO Jew put on Muslim religious garb (chukas haGoyim?) in the name of tznius.”

    True – But I’ve seen MO Jews remove even basic garbs and walk around in a highly un-tznius manner that would make any adherent to halachah blush.

    “I have yet to see a MO community leader create a quota for sephardic kids in his school and be caught on tape yelling at sephardic parents: “Ganavim, Menuvalim, get out of here!” while defending a principle who molested kids from the weaker strata of his community (sephardim) – see the latest story from the wonderful “kehilla kadisha” of Emmanuel, Israel.”

    Indeed – but I’m personally aware of a certain MO principal of a frum MO Day School who refused entry to children from a lower socio-economic group and explained to those who advocated on their behalf that if he allowed them entry, the wealthier one’s wouldn’t come and they’re the ones who support the school.

    “I have yet to see a MO Jew publicly embarass another person by not reciprocating a hand shake to a woman. Especially not to an elderly woman in a geriatric ward of a hospital.”

    I’ve never seen that either. I have seen MO Jews initiate contact with women who were not related to them and for whom there was no reason to do so other than pure Taavah.

    “and there is more more more.”

    No doubt. I could go on and on with stories about MO Jews who violated basic halachah. Of course I could do the same for Hareidim but that’s not the point since you’ve covered that topic already. Neither house is perfect and there are trends found in certain communities but none of those point to the entirety or even necessarily an accurate picture of the group.

  90. Guys, this discussion is going nowhere fast (as do almost all discussions on this topic here…).

    Why don’t we try anew, perhaps by taking emma’s advice and discussing normative categories?

  91. IH wrote:

    “to your point, the eschewing of converts (and women) from serving as Presidents of shuls (e.g. NCYI) is also unforgivable in this regard.”

    IH-WADR, RYBS stated that while there was nothing from a Ger Tzedek from becoming a Gadol BaTorah, based on the Rambam, there is an Issur Srarah that would prevent a Ger Tzedek or a woman from being a Dayan or any other communal positions. I don’t see how that is relevant to my critique of MO as a movement that eschews Kiruv.

  92. Coming late into the discussion, but I think R Clark, normally very insightful, misses on several issues.
    1) O lite. While the category of behavioral MO (“O lite) clearly exists, it is problematic to associate it with certain specific behaviors (eg, listening to women singing, mixed swimming, hair covering) – because while O lite may practice those behaviors, they were (and are) also done by many who were (and are) seriously Orthodox – and those who besmirch their commitment, by being motzi la’az, show themselves to be non Orthodox….

    2) Moral Orthodox. One major divide (that subsumes many of the issues discussed) is the role of morality – that most MO would view moral values as a source of independent authority – sanctioned by torah, to be sure, but given a more autonomous role and value in relation to other values – while the more haredi viewpoint would view moral issues and values as a mere subcategory of more general halachic values. The commitment to basic moral values may be the same – the issue is not which community is actually more moral – but the discussion and the views of issues is different. The issues of women’s rights and relation to the non O are very much part of this split. R M Willig’s recent drasha that ethics have no meaning outside of halacha is very much part of this split. (Yehshayu Leibowitz z”l is a major counterexample, but discussion of his views would be actually more complex). This modern viewpoint is very clear in people such as Rav Berkovitz z”l and rav amital z”l. It is also explicit, eg, in Rav Sperber’s writings on partnership minyanim and halachic methodology. In American YU MO, which tend to be far more Brisker trained, this view is not articulated as clearly (harder to articulate this view in brisker terms..), but is also very much present.

    3) Autonomy. This split leads to another one – perhaps the major divide – because on moral issues, the MO community would grant the individual a great deal of autonomy – (a major split with the haredi in itself), and by rephrasing debates as moral rather than halachic, it gives the individual far more autonomy on many decisions..

  93. Aiwac-WADR, I disagree. WADR, and IMO, I think that R Clark’s definition of MO not only is a Chakirah Bli Toeles LMaaseh and devoid of a Nafkeh Minah LMaaseh, and improperly defines MO. I would also add that if anyone on this list has ever heard RHS and R M Willig speak, they do not advocate Kollel forever on a 24/7 basis, but rather that whatever a male Jew does in life, he should try to maximize whatever spare time that he has for some sort of Limud HaTorah Bkvius, and consider how to maximize his spare time. WADR, that is quite removed from the classical Charedi POV.

  94. Meir,

    I applaud your introduction of more substantive discussion. Some comments:

    Re: Moral Orthodoxy

    Many of us are very seriously divided on how far morality can go in overriding halacha/torah. It’s not just a debate on whether morality plays an independent part, but also how much. The same goes for autonomy. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much an analytical discussion can help, since most of us decide these matters on an intuitive basis, not exact definitions.

    Historicism

    A big debate (that keeps plying itself out here and constantly stalemates) is the value of critical scholarship to our present-day beliefs and laws. Even if we agree that mada has independent value as a field of study, does it compel us changing our halachic or hashkafic modus operandi? Again, not just a yes or no question, but also one of degree – i.e. where’s the line drawn? The Tanach? Talmud? &c.

  95. R Meir Shinnar-WADR, during many of your prior posts on related issues, you have stated that essentially while “MO (“O lite) clearly exists, it is problematic to associate it with certain specific behaviors (eg, listening to women singing, mixed swimming, hair covering) – because while O lite may practice those behaviors, they were (and are) also done by many who were (and are) seriously Orthodox – and those who besmirch their commitment, by being motzi la’az, show themselves to be non Orthodox”

    WADR, even R Broyde pointed out in a related context that he was not justifying the same as halachically permissible, but essentially providing a rationale.

  96. Mark – without wanting to take sides in the ‘my orthodoxy is better than yours’ game, it should be noted that for UO in many cases the problems extend to the leadership. Support (at least lack of condemnation) for tax evasion is found in the writings of many chareidi rabbonim (see R. Chaim Rapoport’s article in Ohr Yisroel for more details). The encouragment of ‘sweeping things under the carpet’ is MUCH more prevalnet amongst charedi rabbonim (eg R. Menashe Klein’s teshuva on child abuse, general charedi reluctance to involve authorities, mass reliance on welfare (with the inevitable entailing fraud) is a lifestyle designed and practised by charedi rabbonim, disgusting attitudes towards nachriim are preached by many charedi rabbonim (eg Chumash Rashi shiurim of the previous Sanzer Rebbe), contempt for anyone slightly different comes straight from the top (see cheilek 5 of Orchos Rabbeinu); refusal to condemn or even active support of mob-violence is something you certainly won’t find amongst MO rabbonim. SO yes, maybe some MO rabbonim have female family member who reveal their elbows, but I think we need to regain a sense of proportion.

  97. R Meir Shinnar also wrote:

    “The commitment to basic moral values may be the same – the issue is not which community is actually more moral – but the discussion and the views of issues is different”

    WADR, if one accepts the notion of secular humanist ethics as a man made construct that is difficult to build and easy to topple, the case for accepting any moral view that is not based on Halacha IMO is simply not a tenable approach. More fundamentally, such an approach IMO fails to answer the following simple query-if secular humanist ethics is entited to as much if not more consideration than Halacha, why would anyone willingly be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos or want to ? What view do you have of the mitzvos of Teshuvah and Kiruv/Chizuk, as opposed to merely saying “I’m Jewish, you’re Jewish, and Halachic and Hashkafic points of departure are irrelevant?”

  98. J
    writing “without wanting to take sides in the ‘my orthodoxy is better than yours’ game,” doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing exactly that.
    And that, my friend, is precisely my point. Unfortunately this entire thread is all about how wonderful one brand of orthodoxy is compared to the other.
    For my money, both have significant issues [if I had the slightest inclination to do so, I could write far more about MO than I did and implicate many of its leaders and I could add much more about Hareidim than you did, but I have no such desire] and need real upgrades. Neither will accomplish much by pointing out that their problems are nothing compared to those of the “other” so why the obsession?
    Suppose we agree that MO is better than Haredi Judaism, does that negate the very real problems inherent in that society?

  99. WRT cetain ‘YU-style’ Brisk acolytes disavowal of ‘morality’ outside of halacha, I would contend that this is a position born of naivete. It’s very east to make this claim when the people you identify as ‘pure’ halachists hold moral views that are fairly westernized anyway, but when we bring up, say the case of the posek who thought mamzerim should have a ‘mem’ tattooed on their foreheads, or the extremely racist attitudes of many traditional authorities, or the fact that say Rav Kook didn’t want women to vote, or the fact that women are forbidden from involving themselves in any significant Jewish learning (or even driving!) in certain traditionalist communities under the guise of halacha, or the permissive attitudes towards defrauding nachrrim I referenced in my earlier comment etc etc, I would hazard a guess that the YU Brisker would feel some discomfort that is not purely based on ‘halacha’, although he might try and frame it this way.

  100. Mark – not at all. That’s why I’m (sociologically) semi-charedi.

  101. Steve – WADR, IMHO, stop it with the acronyms!

  102. J wrote:

    “Mark – without wanting to take sides in the ‘my orthodoxy is better than yours’ game, it should be noted that for UO in many cases the problems extend to the leadership. Support (at least lack of condemnation) for tax evasion is found in the writings of many chareidi rabbonim (see R. Chaim Rapoport’s article in Ohr Yisroel for more details). The encouragment of ‘sweeping things under the carpet’ is MUCH more prevalnet amongst charedi rabbonim (eg R. Menashe Klein’s teshuva on child abuse, general charedi reluctance to involve authorities, mass reliance on welfare (with the inevitable entailing fraud) is a lifestyle designed and practised by charedi rabbonim, disgusting attitudes towards nachriim are preached by many charedi rabbonim (eg Chumash Rashi shiurim of the previous Sanzer Rebbe), contempt for anyone slightly different comes straight from the top (see cheilek 5 of Orchos Rabbeinu); refusal to condemn or even active support of mob-violence is something you certainly won’t find amongst MO rabbonim. SO yes, maybe some MO rabbonim have female family member who reveal their elbows, but I think we need to regain a sense of proportion”

    Let me offer the following response:

    1) who says that R Menashe Klein’s POV is respected outside of his own bailiwick? Have you ever heard of Shalom Task Force or Nefesh’s work which spans the spectrum on issues of abuse? Even RYSA advocates resorting to authorities where the communal institutions can’t be of assistance.

    2) Please define the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance.

    3)If you read the Charedi media, especially in the US, you would be surprised how many Charedim work.

    4)Halacha diffentiates between Jews and Gentiles in many instances. That is a fact of life rooted in our acceptance of the Torah.

    5)The questionnable nature of some of the contents of Orchos Rabbeinu has been mentioned.Yet, the history of secular Zionism and its relationship with the secular world is yet another example of my comparison of certain issues in the Torah world with the Rosenberg case-there is always room for debate, despite the evidence.

    6)AFAIK, the RY of Mir and other Charedi Talmidei Chachamimim have condemned what you call mob violence.

  103. Tax evasion – deliberately hiding income that you legally have to declare in order to evade tax in an illegal fashion.
    I’m not talking about halachos distinguishing between
    Yisrael ve’ha’amim; I’m talking about making sure you say ‘hu chole’ in lashon hakodesh when you hear that a nachri is ill ‘so that it has a kiyyum’. This comes straight from sefer Shefa Chaim al HaTorah. If you think that R. Menashe Klein is not representative of large swathes of charedi thought, you are dreaming. We don’t have to get into details here of the molesters that are being sheltered in communities where one word from the rebbe would lead them to be handed over to the police. Steve, do yourself a favour and buy a few ‘hashkofo’ seforim from both members of the Chazon Ish/Brisker Rav circle in Israel and Hungarian Chassidim in the US (read a bit about ‘chitchers’ or ask an Ingrisher about it) The two of these together are a relatively significant portion of the charedi world. These guys are light years away from what you are defending.

  104. Steve Brizel
    IMO, it is a tragedy and mistake of no small proportions that one of the purported elements of MO as defined on this blog in 2011 is an eschewing of Kiruv.

    I think Steve misunderstands the issue

    What I think Rav E Clark was saying in stating that the relationship to the non Orthodox is not based on kiruv – is not that kiruv is not desired, but that we have a relationship with them that remains and needs to be fostered even if they remain (and we know they will remain) non Orthodox – communal unity is a value.
    (to use terminology from rav soloveichik, one is committed to both brit avot and brit sinai)
    That doesn’t mean that one abandons kiruv as a goal – but that even those one is not mekarev have value. One deals with them – both individually and institutionally – out of communal unity.

    I would add that given the current status of the Jewish community, such an approach is actually a requirement for kiruv for much of the community – because so much of the Jewish community has no contact or knowledge of the Orthodox community.

    Lastly, although not necessarily what Rav Clark implied, the community tends to be viewed as being on a spectrum of observance – from litte to truly observant, while the more RW tends to want a stricter bifurcation and boundaries between the observant and nonobservant. Kiruv in this model is moving across the spectrum..- and past a certain point, one ends up in the Orthodox community – but is not denying value to those who move only a little..
    (one thinks of initiatives such as NJOP shabbat across america and hebrew learning – which work with the non Orthodox..)

    (BTW, this view of the non Ortodox is is quite different than, say, Rav Schacter’s stated position that to be a non Orthodox Jew means that we can’t use them as a shabbes goy or for mechirat chametz – it gives them value in addition to their level of torah observance)

  105. AIWAC
    Many of us are very seriously divided on how far morality can go in overriding halacha/torah. It’s not just a debate on whether morality plays an independent part, but also how much. The same goes for autonomy. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much an analytical discussion can help, since most of us decide these matters on an intuitive basis, not exact definitions.

    Stating the issue as morality overriding halacha/torah already biases the discussion – it is not that morality overrides halacha – it is that halacha itself grants morality a certain autonomy and role in decision making. Of course, the bounds of how far to go are complex and difficult – and not for a blog discussion – but the recognition that this si the basis for much of the discussion.

  106. >1) who says that R Menashe Klein’s POV is respected outside of his own bailiwick?

    R Menashe Klein *himself* is respected well outside of his “bailiwick.” Try saying anything negative about him, and you’ll get a lecture about bizui talmidei chachomim. Not that he’s really a Reform rabbi who is “meshaneh halachos,” but that he’s a distinguished talmid chochom.

    Look, the bottom line is that in a large segement of the Chareidi world it is considered normal, usual and even absolutely necessary (not to mention muttar, heimish and Jewish) to cut corners in business, to not respect things like copyright in advertising (or in news publications), to have a close to condoning fraud attitude in things like government entitlements, sales tax, income tax, etc.

  107. “Stating the issue as morality overriding halacha/torah already biases the discussion – it is not that morality overrides halacha – it is that halacha itself grants morality a certain autonomy and role in decision making.”

    Of course, putting it in terms of what “halacha itself grants” also biases the discussion…

  108. Emma,
    Thank you for the kind recognition.

    Parenthetically, since the question has been correctly raised as to what is R. Menasheh Klein’s approach to paying taxes, I offer the following link to the most recent volume of Shu”t Mishneh Halakhot (Vol. 17). R. Klein says that it is indeed a mitzvah to pay taxes (final paragraph of CM 125).
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=38243&st=&pgnum=243

  109. FWIW, the Talmud on the last amud in Elu Metzios, quotes the verse from Isaiah which says HaCharedim LDvar HaShem and understands that the same refers to Talmidei Chachamim.

  110. R M Shinnar wrote:

    “What I think Rav E Clark was saying in stating that the relationship to the non Orthodox is not based on kiruv – is not that kiruv is not desired, but that we have a relationship with them that remains and needs to be fostered even if they remain (and we know they will remain) non Orthodox – communal unity is a value.
    (to use terminology from rav soloveichik, one is committed to both brit avot and brit sinai)
    That doesn’t mean that one abandons kiruv as a goal – but that even those one is not mekarev have value. One deals with them – both individually and institutionally – out of communal unity”

    WADR, IMO, that is not what R Clark wrote, which without any gloss superimposed, I understood to mean that MO is not into kiruv. I also commented that the twin tracks of Klapei Pnim and Klapei Chutz would certainly allow for both kiruv as well as working together on communal issues, while challenging their views on issues that can be best defined as legitimizing religious pluralism, which the RCA and the OU, as participants in the long gone SCA, evaluated on a case by case basis, as to whether to even threaten to use their veto on any issues that smacked of religious pluralism, in accordance with RYBS’s understanding of the differences between Klapei Chutz and Klapei Pnim.

    While this was truly an area of difference between RYBS and RAK, etc, the facts are that via Kashrus and NCSY, the OU enables many to keep Kosher food and at least present a message to American Jewish teens of the profound and timeless nature of Torah via advisors primarily from RIETS, YC and SCW.

    As far as your observations on Kiruv, please see my comments on the multiple paths and approaches at Beyond Teshuvah wherein I set forth based on RYBS’s comments on why we mention all of th Avos, Neviim, etc at the end of Slichos that there are numerous approaches such as NJOP, NCSY , Aish, etc, and that no one approach works for everyone.

  111. Anonymous wrote:

    “R Menashe Klein *himself* is respected well outside of his “bailiwick.” Try saying anything negative about him, and you’ll get a lecture about bizui talmidei chachomim. Not that he’s really a Reform rabbi who is “meshaneh halachos,” but that he’s a distinguished talmid chochom.

    Look, the bottom line is that in a large segement of the Chareidi world it is considered normal, usual and even absolutely necessary (not to mention muttar, heimish and Jewish) to cut corners in business, to not respect things like copyright in advertising (or in news publications), to have a close to condoning fraud attitude in things like government entitlements, sales tax, income tax, etc”

    I would question whether R M Klein’s Piskei Halachah are considered as having the same weight as those of RMF, RSZA or RYSE. Again, ignorance and/or failure to adhere to CM or Dina DMalchusa is hardly a Charedi phenomenon.

  112. R Meir Shinnar wrote:

    “BTW, this view of the non Ortodox is is quite different than, say, Rav Schacter’s stated position that to be a non Orthodox Jew means that we can’t use them as a shabbes goy or for mechirat chametz – it gives them value in addition to their level of torah observance”

    WADR, I think that you misunderstood RHS’s POV. All RHS was saying was that a not yet observant Jew is in the classical category of Af Al Pi SheYisrael Choteh, Yisrael Hu, and we much show such persons Ahavas Yisrael and hope that they or their children or grandchildren will be either be attracted to Torah observance.

  113. FWIW, I would argue that the approaches of both RYBS and RHS vis a vis non-observant Jews on the communal and individual levels can be found in the writings of the Aruch LaNer as well the CI, who quotes the Aruch LaNer, as opposed to Oustrit approach of RSRH, which was probably IMO the only aspect of RSRH’s thought that the Charedi world ever embraced wholeheartedly.

  114. See Mishne Halachos 16:58 for the truly shocking teshuva on dealing with child molesters that I referenced earlier. See here for English translation from Rav Daniel Eidensohn:
    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2009/06/abuse-strict-din-according-to-torah_01.html

  115. >I would question whether R M Klein’s Piskei Halachah are considered as having the same weight as those of RMF, RSZA or RYSE.

    That’s completely irrelevant. R. Hutner is accorded zero or little weight as a posek, yet that doesn’t make his teachings or persona irrelevant. Was anything I said about R. Menashe Klein, that he is accepted as a legitimate talmid chochom, and one whose decisions cannot be criticized as such, not true? On the contrary, it is perfectly true. He is considered to be both a talmid chochom and a legitimate posek who knows horaah.

  116. Steve: I respect the passion with which you argue your positions, but you utterly misunderstood what I wrote about MO and kiruv. Meir Shinnar hit the nail one the head. And you still refused to hear reason.
    MO does not eschew kiruv. You yourself mentioned NCSY (and there is also the JSS program at YU and NJOP, Torah Tours, etc.), which should have tipped you off that you were misreading me. It fact, MO pioneered kiruv in America.
    But historically the MO community and its leadership have ALSO encouraged cooperation with the non-Orthodox in a communal setting. This includes the now-defunct Synagogue Council of America, which many Gedolim prohibited joining, the NY Board of Rabbis, local Federations, community events marking Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut, etc.
    None of this conflicts with kiruv. Kiruv is great and there is plenty of MO kiruv. But the yeshiva world also does kiruv. So kiruv does not distinguish MO from the yeshiva world, and I was delineating distinguishing principles. And cooperating with non-Orthodox groups and non-Orthodox rabbis in an communal setting is distinctively MO.

  117. The difference between (non-RW)MO and yekkes is:
    yekkes appreciate knowledge from the non-jewish world,but have no value for the secular jewish world

  118. To paraphrase R’Dr.J Breuer TIDE is Hirsch
    TU is Hirsch and Graetz

  119. The emphasis on Nach is also questionable.As disparate as R’Dr.S Breuer and R’ E.Henkin were of view that one shouldn’t study Nach until he is thoroughly knowledgeable in Halacha and TSB”P.

  120. Rafael Araujo

    Maybe kiruv wasn’t traditionally part of the MO world simply because old-style MO, in terms of lifestyle, were almost indistinguishable from their non-Orthodox/secular counterparts.

  121. Rafael Araujo

    That’s also why DL in EY was not into kiruv as much. Most DL live interact daily with their chiloni counterparts and in lifestyle, besides shabbos, kashrus and a yarmulke were not indistinguishable.

  122. I define MO as anyone who keeps Shabbos and has indoor plumbing! >:-}

  123. R E Clark responded in part:

    “MO does not eschew kiruv. You yourself mentioned NCSY (and there is also the JSS program at YU and NJOP, Torah Tours, etc.), which should have tipped you off that you were misreading me. It fact, MO pioneered kiruv in America”

    However, R E Clark also set forth the following:

    “To briefly expand these points: (1) ascribes religious value to secular culture beyond the practical utility of secular education for parnasa purposes; (2) ascribes religious value to the restoration of Jewish political sovereignty over the Land of Israel, separate from the Jewish State’s role as a physical refuge for Jews and home of talmud Torah; (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity; and (4) promotes women’s involvement in halakhically approved activities”

    R Eli Clark-I appreciate your clarification, but stating that MO “is not about kiruv” is IMO should have at least been modified by you in response to my comments, in which you now admit that Kiruv and communal unity are not only desirable, and are not mutually exclusive goals.

  124. Steve,
    R. Clark did not state that “MO is not about kiruv,” he stated that his prior proposition #3, “cooperation with the non-Orthodox,” is not about kiruv.

  125. R E Clark also wrote:

    “But historically the MO community and its leadership have ALSO encouraged cooperation with the non-Orthodox in a communal setting. This includes the now-defunct Synagogue Council of America, which many Gedolim prohibited joining, the NY Board of Rabbis, local Federations, community events marking Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut, etc”

    Each of these issues should be discussed separately. RYBS AFAIK, permitted membership in the SCA on issues relating to Klapei Chutz, but did not approve of belonging to the NY Board of Rabbis. RYBS also worked with Joseph Gruss ZL to get matching funds for buses, etc for many yeshivos from Federation. R H Neuberger ZL, of NIRC, was on the board of the Federation in Baltimore.

    While RYBS had a very nuanced and positive view of the State of Israel, he did not say Hallel. Yet, RHS is in favor of sayng Hallel and R M Willig as well as other RY march with YU’s contingent in the Salute to Israel Parade. In 2002,all of RIETS went on buses to DC for a massive pro Israel rally and learned on the bus,

    As far as Yom HaShoah is concerned, IIRC, RYBS opposed the entire concept as being part of the historical commemoration of all Churbanos in Jewish History and thus more properly observed on Tisha BAv.

    Given the fact that Yom HaShoah and Holocaust studies in general have led to an ersatz and a very negative sense of Jewish identity,unless one assumes that “Never Again” is a positive message, I would suggest that the commemoration of the same cannot lead to a positive sense of Jewish identity. R N Lamm has a drasha in his recently published book of Drashos that raises this issue. I would add that a generation that knows every detail about the Shoah but cannot articulate the meaning of any of the concepts in Echad Mi Yodea is a Jewishly illiterate generation.

  126. R Meir Shinnar wrote:

    “BTW, this view of the non Ortodox is is quite different than, say, Rav Schacter’s stated position that to be a non Orthodox Jew means that we can’t use them as a shabbes goy or for mechirat chametz – it gives them value in addition to their level of torah observance”
    Steven Brizel
    WADR, I think that you misunderstood RHS’s POV. All RHS was saying was that a not yet observant Jew is in the classical category of Af Al Pi SheYisrael Choteh, Yisrael Hu, and we much show such persons Ahavas Yisrael and hope that they or their children or grandchildren will be either be attracted to Torah observance.

    Discussing with Steve can be problematic.
    Those who are interested can listen to

    http://www.yutorah.org/showShiur.cfm/710777/Rabbi_Hershel_Schachter/The_Gaza_Disengagement-A_Torah_Perspective,_a_non_political_view_

    relevant portion towards the end
    Essential argument –
    disengagment reflects two conflicting values (peace and land), should be settled by klal yisrael asher be’erets yisrael.
    Who is klal yisrael- those who believe in 13 ikkarim.
    What about those Jews who don’t believe in the 13 ikkarim? They are
    still Jews, even if not part of klal yisrael. What does this mean? We
    can’t use them as a shabbes goy, and we can’t sell them chametz on
    erev pesach..

    This is not about af al pi shechata yisrael hu, and ahavat yisrael – this is that they are not part of klal yisrael, and don’t get to vote even on whether to go to war..

    However, Steve’s comment is somewhat relevant to another part of the discussion – (whether it reflects RHS’s position I do not know) – the ahavat yisrael one shows the non observant is predicated on the hope that they or their descendants will become observant – rather than that they are part of klal yisrael and our community

  127. “UO in many cases the problems extend to the leadership. Support (at least lack of condemnation) for tax evasion is found in the writings of many chareidi rabbonim ”

    And at least tacit approval/acceptance for such crimes as money laundering, bank fraud etc.

  128. “disengagment reflects two conflicting values (peace and land), should be settled by klal yisrael asher be’erets yisrael.
    Who is klal yisrael- those who believe in 13 ikkarim.
    What about those Jews who don’t believe in the 13 ikkarim? They are
    still Jews, even if not part of klal yisrael. What does this mean? “We
    can’t use them as a shabbes goy, and we can’t sell them chametz on
    erev pesach..

    This is not about af al pi shechata yisrael hu, and ahavat yisrael – this is that they are not part of klal yisrael, and don’t get to vote even on whether to go to war”

    I am curious as to the viewpoint of Rav Blau on this position.

  129. R’ J.,

    Thank you for illuminating our eyes with R. Menasheh Klein’s responsum in Shu”t Mishneh Halakhot 16:58. I note that R. Klein concedes that he is disputed on this particular responsum by RSZA, R. Eliezer Waldenberg and (yibadel lichaim) R. Yosef Shalom Eliashiv. Accordingly, I would compare this responsum of R. Klein to RMF’s responsum regarding havdalah over the telephone that I mentioned in my comment yesterday at 2:21 p.m. R. Klein is a great tzaddik and posek, but (bemechilat kevod Torato) this particular responsum is a little bit eccentric. I think what occurred here is that R. Klein, in his noble enthusiasm to trumpet the mitzvah of disciplining one’s child the emerges from the gemara in Makot 8a (-and it is indeed a mitzvah of the paramount importance, no doubt about it-), overlooked the countervailing gemara in Bava Kamma 87b that states that a father is liable for injuring his child. Pit’chei Teshuvah to Shulchan Arukh CM 424, se’if katan no. 4, notes the contradictory messages from these two sugyot and concludes “tzarikh iyun”. We all know what that means halakhah lima’aseh: a parent with Yir’at Shamayim will say to himself “shev vi’al ta’aseh adif”, when faced with the necessity to discipline a child.

    But this does not detract from the fact that R. Menasheh Klein is a tzaddik and great posek. As I already noted at 1:49 p.m., R. Klein has definitively ruled that it is a mitzvah to pay taxes. So let us celebrate this wonderful decisor in our midst, even if his particular responsum on educational discipline is rejected as eccentric by the normative consensus.

  130. Parenthetically, this is not the sole department where R. Klein’s opinion has been rejected. Another instance is showcased by RHS in his Hilkhot Eruvin classes at YU. R. Klein claims that any street which is paved or which has traffic lights (and all the more so which has both) cannot constitute a reshut harabim di’oraita, because these civil engineering features did not exist in the wilderness, from which we learn the definition of a reshut harabim. For obvious reasons, this claim is dismissed by RHS as not even rising to the threshold of a safek likula. Again, a nice try by the formidable posek R. Klein (-he gets credit on the Heavenly ledger for effort in Torah study), but rejected as eccentric by the normative consensus.

  131. possibly the reason separation from secular culture has become more widespread is that the secular culture at the founding of modern orthodoxy (well, you can nitpick over when that was, but let’s say rav soleveitchik days) was much less objectionable than the secular culture now…
    My parents gave me unlimited access to the computer as I was growing up, but I do not think if they could remake that decision they would do the same knowing what they do now. It was just that they didn’t grow up versed in the internet culture or attuned to its dangers. And I think the same goes for tv and other things as well.
    I’m not saying that the charedi approach of BAN IT ALL is correct (or rather, realistic)… but that nowadays to not impose any barriers seems to necessitate violating halacha.

  132. “morality”— aka the morality of the outside culture as opposed to halachic morality?

    otherwise how on earth could we discuss morality overriding halacha. halacha=morality.

  133. I apologize and ask mechilah; I accidentally misrepresented the ruling of the Gedol Hador R. Klein on the definition of a reshut harabim. The issue for R. Klein is not that today’s roads are paved, but rather that today’s pedestrians are not free to traverse the road anywhere they wish.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1889&st=&pgnum=85
    Regarding the traffic lights, though, I did recapitulate R. Klein’s position accurately:
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1889&st=&pgnum=88
    Thank you for your kind understanding.

  134. “Who is klal yisrael- those who believe in 13 ikkarim”

    Tell that to the Rishonim who did not agree with the Rambams 13 Ikkarim

    “R. Klein claims that any street which is paved or which has traffic lights (and all the more so which has both) cannot constitute a reshut harabim di’oraita, because these civil engineering features did not exist in the wilderness, from which we learn the definition of a reshut harabim”
    I’m curious as to R Kleins rationale of why the difference is crucial-I can think of hypothetical reasons-but I certainly don’t know enough to enter the fray but I am curiopus as to his reasons

  135. “I’m curious as to R Kleins rationale of why the difference is crucial-I can think of hypothetical reasons-but I certainly don’t know enough to enter the fray but I am curiopus as to his reasons”

    I was not aware of the following when I posted the above. For some reason recent post often are not displayed in my computer unless I have made a comment and then aafter my comment is visible the more recent posts also become visible. I have no idea why.

    “The issue for R. Klein is not that today’s roads are paved, but rather that today’s pedestrians are not free to traverse the road anywhere they wish.”

  136. R Merir Shinnar wrote:

    “this is that they are not part of klal yisrael, and don’t get to vote even on whether to go to war..

    However, Steve’s comment is somewhat relevant to another part of the discussion – (whether it reflects RHS’s position I do not know) – the ahavat yisrael one shows the non observant is predicated on the hope that they or their descendants will become observant – rather than that they are part of klal yisrael and our community”

    The above post IMO is indicative of what transpires when one confuses a specific halachic understanding of who is considered part of Klal Yisrael for one particular Halacha with how in general we are to relate to non-observant Jews. Believing in Teshuvah as a Mitzvah and necessity for the Geulah, AFAIK never ceased to be a Mitzvah merely because we have to work with heterodox movements on communal issues or with heterdox individuals in our personal lives.

  137. Emma, R Clark used the phrase “is not about kiruv”, with none of the gloss that you placed on it, and subsequently clarified his POV. I consider that part of the discussion over.

  138. Steve Brizel
    The above post IMO is indicative of what transpires when one confuses a specific halachic understanding of who is considered part of Klal Yisrael for one particular Halacha with how in general we are to relate to non-observant Jews. Believing in Teshuvah as a Mitzvah and necessity for the Geulah, AFAIK never ceased to be a Mitzvah merely because we have to work with heterodox movements on communal issues or with heterdox individuals in our personal lives.

    Arguing with Steve is always problematic..

    First, what I cited from RHS was not about one particular halacha – because he explained what it means to be non Orthodox in general – and in terms of other halachot…

    Second, Steve confuses two separate issues. No one here disputes the ideal of everyone (including the Orthodox…)doing teshuva as something we hope for. Part of the ideal of klal yisrael does relate to future ideals and hopes.

    The question is our relationship with concrete other Jews and other Jewish institutions – and we have such a relationship with all – regardless of whether we think they or their children might be favorably influenced to ORthodoxy = even though we clearly hope that all would eventually do teshuva. (eg, I would deal with an unrepentant childless person…)

  139. “Emma, R Clark used the phrase “is not about kiruv”, with none of the gloss that you placed on it, and subsequently clarified his POV. I consider that part of the discussion over.”

    You may consider it over, but the undeniable fact is that you took his quote completely out of its plain context. End of story. Emma and others have demonstrated this very well.

    “The difference between (non-RW)MO and yekkes is:
    yekkes appreciate knowledge from the non-jewish world,but have no value for the secular jewish world”

    Well, then, they’re creating a crazy dichotomy. Is Einstein “secular Jewish”? Does he have value? Or do you just mean contributions of secular Jews to Judaism? If so, why would a non-Jewish Bible scholar be acceptable and a non-religious Jewish one would not?

    By the way, I assume you are referring to a very narrow band of “yekke.” Reform Jews were yekkes too; so too are the Charedi KAJ of today.

    “To paraphrase R’Dr.J Breuer TIDE is Hirsch
    TU is Hirsch and Graetz”

    If you’re paraphrasing, I assume this is you. Lovely.

    “The emphasis on Nach is also questionable.As disparate as R’Dr.S Breuer and R’ E.Henkin were of view that one shouldn’t study Nach until he is thoroughly knowledgeable in Halacha and TSB”P.”

    I thought the above was hilarious (and sickening) until I saw this. Tanach study is neglected, but outside of Purim parodies, I’ve never seen a claim that it’s *assur*. Chazal assumed you were a master of all of Tanach *before* you started learning Mishna.

  140. “By the way, I assume you are referring to a very narrow band of “yekke.” Reform Jews were yekkes too; so too are the Charedi KAJ of today.

    “To paraphrase R’Dr.J Breuer TIDE is Hirsch
    TU is Hirsch and Graetz”

    The Hirschian Community was probably always a minority of Orthodox German Jewry.

  141. > Chazal assumed you were a master of all of Tanach *before* you started learning Mishna.

    They assumed you were ten years old, not a “master.”

  142. anonymous 1:38
    correction : non-jewish disciplines

    It is politic to call KAJ today charedei,even though the only thing that has changed is that their rabbonim no longer have doctorates.
    When convenient MO becomes all literalist(while decrying non-MO for the same).

  143. “The question is our relationship with concrete other Jews and other Jewish institutions – and we have such a relationship with all – regardless of whether we think they or their children might be favorably influenced to ORthodoxy = even though we clearly hope that all would eventually do teshuva. (eg, I would deal with an unrepentant childless person”
    Agreed

  144. “It is politic to call KAJ today charedei,even though the only thing that has changed is that their rabbonim no longer have doctorates”
    Much ahs changed in the hashkafa of KAJ-it is probably safe to say it has been a gradual change since they hired R S Schwab. To some extent KAJ is a noraml chareidi schul with different minhagim. Their Rabbonim haven’t believed in TIDE for decades.It has been a revisionism on the order of YUs smicha progam of the Rav.

  145. R Meir Shinnar commented in part:

    “The question is our relationship with concrete other Jews and other Jewish institutions – and we have such a relationship with all – regardless of whether we think they or their children might be favorably influenced to ORthodoxy = even though we clearly hope that all would eventually do teshuva”

    WADr, that has been my point throughout this thread. However, that does not mean that the Orthodox world, Charedi and MO, should support institutions or individuals whose views on “Jewish continuity”, are radically at issue with Bris Avos and Bris Sinai. Participation IMO, as I clearly set forth in my 4.7.11 post is 6:27 PM, is governed by the distinction between Klapei Chutz and Klapei Pnim. IMO, that determines whether he have a relationship, and, if so, the level of the same. I would maintain that even under Klapei chutz, there is no room for any relationship with either NK or J- Street, as opposed to the more recognized Charedi communities that have all disowned NK, and heterodox movements

  146. “IMO, that determines whether he have a relationship, and, if so, the level of the same. I would maintain that even under Klapei chutz, there is no room for any relationship with either NK or J- Street,”

    Agree with Steve on J Street because it is clear that they do not take a pro-Israel position on hardly anything as opposed to groups that favor return of vast majority of shetachim but clearly support Israel against terrorista and do not tell other countries to be harsher against Israel. J Street’s main purpose is to make life easier for BHO.

  147. This is what modern orthodox is to me, following the halakah and shulan aruch,and modern poskim, feinstein soleveichik for example, the left make it up as they go along and bend the halakha, the far right make it up as they go along and bend the halakha, chumra’s anyone? if you deviate from the halakha for political/personal/social reasons you are either to the left or the charedi, Halakhah evolves but does not add or detract for personal gain, power, political advantage, or monetary gain, so i am modern in my adherence to our traditional mesorah and it’s ability to meet the challenging needs of an ever modern world without fear or an obsessive need to return to a past sincerely, raquelle

  148. “Emma, R Clark used the phrase “is not about kiruv”, with none of the gloss that you placed on it, and subsequently clarified his POV. I consider that part of the discussion over”

    Steve, read the quote in context:

    “In contrast, the philosophical MO Jew marries firm commitment to Torah and mitzvot to Western values that the mainstream ideology of the yeshiva world rejects. Waxman names two: (1) a positive attitude toward secular culture, and (2) Zionism. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks adds: (3) cooperation with the non-Orthodox. Based on recent history, one might add: (4) advocacy of increasing the religious role of women.

    To briefly expand these points: (1) ascribes religious value to secular culture beyond the practical utility of secular education for parnasa purposes; (2) ascribes religious value to the restoration of Jewish political sovereignty over the Land of Israel, separate from the Jewish State’s role as a physical refuge for Jews and home of talmud Torah; (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity; and (4) promotes women’s involvement in halakhically approved activities.”

    The second paragraph “expands” on the first. Number three below needs to be read as refering to number 3 above. Indeed, “(3)” is the subject of the sentence, and is shorthand for “proposition 3 that I outlined in the previous paragraph,” much as the other numbers in the second paragraph refer to their corresponding propositions in the first paragraph.

    This is obviously a minor point but I’m having a “something-is-wrong-on-the-internet” (http://xkcd.com/386/) moment and can’t let it go…

  149. Emma-I think that the phrase ” (3) is not about kiruv, but conduct that takes account of the needs of the non-Orthodox and promotes communal unity”, should have been expressed in a more positive way so that the average reader would have been left with no doubt that Kiruv, communal unity and taking account of the needs of the heterodox movemenmts vis a vis Klapei Chhutz issues were all deemed of equally positive importance, instead of saying MO “is not about kiruv” and then having to realize that some of Kiruv’s most imortant initiatives had their origin in MO.

  150. MiMedinat HaYam

    to r shpira and mycroft — “For obvious reasons, this claim is dismissed by RHS as not even rising to the threshold of a safek likula. ”

    actually, r klien got that from the klauzenberger rebbe, the divrei yatziv.

    rationalization is simple — its a broken up street by requiring mandatory stops.

    to cj and mycroft (again) — kaj / breuers hasnt believed in tide for a long time. there was a post on it in hirhurim (referencing the (in)famous “seudat shilshit” — correction — “shalesdhidis” a few years ago where they (rav gelley, etc) admitted it (and the prez of breuers quit right after shabat over the issue (and subsequently took back his resignation, but …)

    note — they send their children / grandchildren to lakewood (even dr moeller, the prez). though very few still live in kdushat washington heights.

  151. R Eli D Clarke wrote in part:

    “But the yeshiva world also does kiruv. So kiruv does not distinguish MO from the yeshiva world”

    The above IMO misses the distinction between kiruv and chizuk. Kiruv is designed for would be BTs. Chizuk is designed to provide a boost for a FFB, whose spiritual batteries either have not developed sufficientlty or have run down. That IMO, is one of the reasons for the one year in Israel programs. Ask any rebbe or morah in any of the programs that attract MO high school graduates-their levels of knowledge of Halacha LMaaseh, Machshavah and understanding the difference between a Chumrah, Hiddur, Lchatchilah, Bdieved and Shas Hadchak, as well as their sense of appreciation of the importance of Limud HaTorah and living a Torah observant life are underdeveloped. The fact that a few may wind up more Mdakdek BMitzvos than their parents has nothing to do with a Charedim imposing their views on MO.

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