Two Types of Orthodox Judaism

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Guest Post by R. Yonatan Kaganoff

Rabbi Yonatan Kaganoff served for many years as a Rabbinic Coordinator in the OU’s Kashruth Division and was the founding Online Editor of the journal Tradition. He has semikhah from RIETS, studied Jewish philosophy at the Bernard Revel Graduate School and serves on the Board of Advisors of K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights.

Lately, I have come to realize that there are two types of Orthodoxy. Not, as one might expect, Modern Orthodox and Chareidi, though that, too, is a useful distinction, albeit more based upon sociology than ideology. I am thinking more of two ways in which Orthodox Jews conceive of Orthodoxy and its relationship to halakhah and praxis.[1]

One way to think of Jewish law is to think of halakhah in a strictly legal sense, as a series of obligations, Biblical and rabbinic, that one is required to follow, either individually or communally. The only requirement for being Orthodox, then, is to keep halakhah as it is properly understood and codified, by whoever is empowered to accurately interpret and apply halakhah.

The other idea is that Orthodox Jews are those who have and follow a true mesorah or tradition, and Orthodox Judaism, as practiced now, embodies a mesorah historically continuous with earlier authentic expressions of this true mesorah. Any innovations from traditional practice must be rigorously justified. It is not enough for a practice to be technically permissible or not prohibited by Jewish law. Rather, it must already exist within this authentic tradition. Some examples of these innovations include women’s prayer groups, the Bais Yaakov school system, publishing religious Jewish newspapers, or teaching Torah utilizing new technology.

The former think like lawyers about halakhah. Whenever they evaluate a new practice for acceptability, we ask only this: Is it permissible, muttar, or prohibited, assur?”

This is not to say that the first type does not recognize conservative arguments such as the slippery slope and stare decisis. Such forms of reasoning, rather, are no more than legal principles, i.e. considerations internal to the halakhic process, rather than a priori considerations of propriety that precede the technical halakhic question.

The latter believe that we first must determine what the normative practice is, both as recommended by the canonical halakhic texts and as currently observed among those who follow an authentic tradition. Only after that has been established can we evaluate whatever reasons we may have to change the status.

Although the two groups operate with fundamentally different underlying conceptions of what it means to be an Orthodox Jew most of the time they are virtually indistinguishable in practice. It is only when a new activity, institution, or practice is encountered that the difference in ideology comes to the surface.

When the two factions engage in discussion, they often seem to be talking past each other. For the former group, the question is whether or not Jewish law permits this. The natural inclination is to examine the relevant texts, precedents, and parallels in the Rishonim and Achronim. For the latter, the question is whether or not there is a mesorah for this. If no such mesorah exists, then—unless there is some overwhelmingly compelling justification for the move under question—inaction or disapproval must be the default.

To be sure, every movement, religious or otherwise, needs a level of hischadshus, innovation. But this problem is solved by the idea of Gedolim, the leaders and halakhic decisors who are the arbiters of the tradition and who determine what is and what is not considered an authentic part of Judaism. When the Gedolim, the masters of the mesorah, give their imprimatur to an innovation, the innovation becomes justified and validated.

Therefore, one cannot point to any historical innovation and claim that change as a basis for the position that Judaism has changed and should continue to change. For if one can find Gedolim who defend a practice or innovation, either at the time or after the fact, that practice is validated, either immediately or retroactively. So the first group could point to an instance where an innovation was challenged or implemented without the prior approbation or approval of Gedolim. But then the second group would only have to find a Gadol who defended the practice ex post facto, in order to affirm their belief system.

Additionally, I would distinguish between new activities and prohibiting what had previously been permitted. There is far more room to prohibit, either explicitly or implicitly, that which had previously been accepted or even encouraged without violating the tradition, than to permit that which is new. That is why groups that would prohibit that which had previously been allowed (e.g. worms found in fish, yoshon) can claim to still be part of the authentic mesorah.

Support for both positions can be found in the thought of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik.[2] R. Soloveitchik emphasized the role of halakhah in Judaism and the centrality of halakhah as an independent autonomous legal system. R. Soloveitchik also emphasized the importance of mesorah, of maintaining authentic Jewish traditions. In practice, Rabbi Soloveitchik was radically innovative, changing practices to fit his preconceived notions of how Jewish life should operate and overturning numerous traditions of innumerable generations that he felt were incorrect.

In conclusion, we have two conceptions of Orthodox Judaism that are essentially different from each other, that yet may co-exist indistinguishable from each other. Or at least until the differences are brought out into the open.


[1] Of course, identifying only two groups with two approaches to halakhah is a grossly oversimplifies a complicated issue, as there is a range of positions on these questions. However this classification is useful in framing two ways of self-identifying Orthodox identity and praxis.

[2] It’s worthwhile to focus on Rabbi Soloveitchik’s position, as those to the left among his followers tend to the first approach, while those to the right tend to the second one.

About Yonatan Kaganoff

62 comments

  1. “The former think like lawyers about halakhah. Whenever they evaluate a new practice for acceptability, we ask only this: Is it permissible, muttar, or prohibited, assur?”

    I don’t think that’s quite accurate if we’re talking about the same group (as I am pretty sure we are). After they go through that process they also ask whether it is a *good* thing to do; whether it fits into their understanding of meta-halachic issues (e.g., veasisah hayashar vehatov; nachat ruach lenashim; kavod habriot) whether technically assur or not.

    Thus, perhaps a more important difference between the two groups, in addition to meta-halachic considerations, is this comment: “But this problem is solved by the idea of Gedolim, the leaders and halakhic decisors who are the arbiters of the tradition and who determine what is and what is not considered an authentic part of Judaism. When the Gedolim, the masters of the mesorah, give their imprimatur to an innovation, the innovation becomes justified and validated.” The first group is not willing to put so much power in the hands of a this nebulous group of people who, very often, the first group thinks do not relate to the world the way it does. That’s a very real difference, to be sure, but it’s not simply a bunch of pedantic lawyers against thoughtful traditionalists as is implied by this post.

  2. “Of course, identifying only two groups with two approaches to halakhah is a grossly oversimplifies a complicated issue, as there is a range of positions on these questions. However this classification is useful in framing two ways of self-identifying Orthodox identity and praxis.”

    Though simplifications are often useful to clarify complicated issues, they ellide important truths, and as such should be used with caution. It’s not clear to me exactly what you think this distinction tells us. Saying that it “is useful in framing two ways of self-identifying Orthodox identity and praxis” doesn’t explain why you want to frame it as a dichotomy. I’m not sure what this tells us about a large number of halakhic issues.

  3. Israel Fathers Rights Advocacy Council

    and then there is the alarmingly silent majority who practice little more than Lifestyle Orthodoxy, with little concern or interest as to why

  4. I enjoyed Rabbi Kaganoff’s post. There are many ways that one can divide Orthodox Jews.
    Can one be a perfect Jew if one only observes all mitzvot-is other behavior required to attempt to follow Gods will when halacha is silent-that is a debate for about 1000 years.
    Is one pro or anti the State of Israel
    Is one in favor of secular studies?
    Can one use the internet?
    There are many issues in which Jews differ not all follow a neat Chareidi ,Modern split.

  5. ” It’s worthwhile to focus on Rabbi Soloveitchik’s position, as those to the left among his followers tend to the first approach, while those to the right tend to the second one”
    Or is that how people define who is to the left and who is to the right.

  6. Another problem with the second approach is that in our times it is impossible to define who is and who is not a gedol.

  7. Basically, R’ Kaganoff posits that a useful divide are the Torah Jews as Lawyers versus the Torah Jews as Cultural Conservatives. (Of note, R’ Kaganoff only states secular parallels for the legal side.)

  8. I read his segmentation as between activist lawyers and originalist lawyers.

  9. It might be helpful to point out that each description can be applied to both ultra- and modern- orthodox.

  10. About “prohibiting what had previously been prohibited” Is this a typo?

  11. “When the Gedolim, the masters of the mesorah,”

    On what basis do you claim that they are the “masters of the mesorah”? As the events of recent years have shown, sometimes they are unaware even of major historic traditions in Torah scholarship, let alone in Jewish historical practice.

    Furthermore, in order to determine whether an innovation is justified by the needs of the era, a person would have to be very in tune with current social realities. But many Gedolim are very cloistered from wider society, and therefore not in a position to evaluate what social realities are.

  12. Nearly all the comments so far are quite insightful, each in its own way.

    One thing that has not yet been mentioned, beyond the occasional inaccuracy of the right-wing’s “mesorah”, is their own strong tendency – well discussed in “Rupture and Reconstruction” – to abandon mesorah in favor of halachic analysis, as long as that analysis leads to chumra.

  13. There are two types of Orthodox Jews. One who is aware that all societies, from the most secular to the most charedi, develop based on a complex set of sociological forces. The other type deludes itself into thinking that its direction is determined by Gedolim.

    No Godol or Gedolim decided to make Simchat Torah into a festival, to institute mass kollel, or that publications should not show pictures of women. All these things happen due to various social forces, and the Gedolim, like everyone else in that society, get swept along and find post-factor justifications for it all. Occasionally, you get a strong leader like Rav Aharon Kotler who innovates, but that’s a rarity.

  14. There is far more room to prohibit, either explicitly or implicitly, that which had previously been accepted or even encouraged without violating the tradition, than to permit that which is new.

    Wrong. What about being motzi laaz on previous generations?

  15. I am curious how this distinction plays out re: hot button issues like family size. (See RHM July 8 http://haemtza.blogspot.com)

  16. “Occasionally, you get a strong leader like Rav Aharon Kotler who innovates, but that’s a rarity.”

    It would be interesting to study how much RAK’s influence really was in his lifetime-Lakewood was a small fraction of what it is today-was it really R Schneer taking over the family business who pushed RAK. Of course, I do not mean to imply that RAK was not a gadol byisrael, etc but how many followed him during his lifetime compared to those who state that they follow him now. Only write this because you write RAK a strong leader who innovates-.

  17. When I was about twelve I was taken to a mass meeting in honor of R’ Kotler’s 25th yahrtzeit. I remember they had a book of student-written essays, once of which began with something like “It seems like only yesterday that R’ Aharon was taken from us.”

    The author, of course, was born at least a decade after he died.

  18. It seems to me that I know a great many people, including respectable Torah scholars, on both my left and my right who switch between R. Kaganoff’s modes depending on the issue. Generally depending on which supports an answer consistent with their world view.

  19. Mycroft-One has to give RSK much credit for developing the concept of community Kollelim and the expansion of BMG from its very small beginnings to where it is today.

  20. the italics makes this all hard to read.

  21. Regarding Rupture and Reconstruction mentioned above, it’s available here:
    http://www.lookstein.org/links/orthodoxy.htm

  22. “many Gedolim are very cloistered from wider society”

    That itself appears to be an innovation!

  23. That’s for sure. Traditionally, rabbinic authority was with community rabbis, not insulated roshei yeshivah.

  24. Any innovations from traditional practice must be rigorously justified. It is not enough for a practice to be technically permissible or not prohibited by Jewish law. Rather, it must already exist within this authentic tradition. Some examples of these innovations include women’s prayer groups, the Bais Yaakov school system, publishing religious Jewish newspapers, or teaching Torah utilizing new technology.
    =====================================
    The rigorous justification for Bais Yaakov (and I suspect the rest of the list) only came after the facts on the ground existed. And what of the entire chassidic movement?

    IMHO (and I was raised on the other side of this divide), there’s a great desire to pretend that the forces mentioned by “observant” above play little or no role, yet they play a great one. Not that it’s a bad system, but we should be honest about it. A great study would be the sociology of the “gedolim” (e.g statements like – yes , but the kannaim would attack me if I allowed that, or mandated this…)
    KT

  25. interesting post. i question whether the two types of orthodoxy are mutually exclusive and the demarcations of their respective topologies are correct. both believe they are following a mesorah that is historically continuous. both types are text centered and isn’t mesorah based on our large attic of text and observable past history (via shut)?

  26. I agree with this comment:

    “Mike S. on July 11, 2011 at 6:19 am
    It seems to me that I know a great many people, including respectable Torah scholars, on both my left and my right who switch between R. Kaganoff’s modes depending on the issue. Generally depending on which supports an answer consistent with their world view.”

    Although I’d cynically tweak it to end, “depending on which supports an answer consistent with where they want to end up on that particular issue”.

    However, that’s not as cynical as it sounds, since I think the great poskim are unpredictable. The great poskim are those who surprise us with a teshuvah that we wouldn’t have predicted based on their supposed camps within the spectrum of Orthodoxy.

    To take some example, R. Henkin would probably be described in the Lawyer category. Yet look at his teshuvah on women covering their hair in their own homes in the presence of guests in Benei Banim 3:24

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20024&st=&pgnum=83

    The Lawyer in him goes through the arguments, and cites the Terumat Ha-Deshen allowing the practice, but essentially concludes with a ‘notwithstanding clause’ as they say in Canadian law. Notwithstanding the heter, we don’t do that. R. Henkin is acting as Mesorite.

    You can play the same game with others. R. Shternbuch is possibly the other side of the coin, someone many would think of as a Mesorite. Yet there are countless teshuvot where he dismisses the “mesorah” for the lawyerly response, kivyachol. Tehsuvot ve-hanhagot volumen 3 isn’t avaialable on HebrewBooks.org, but I’d place his teshuvot on issues like marrying a ben or bat niddah, or taking photographs in that category.

    I think often there’s an end game, and then the poskim work backwards. Instead of RJBS as the prime example of combining both Lawyer and Mesorite in one, I’d suggest R. Ovadia Yoseph. And there too I think sometimes the outcome is inevitable, and sometimes it takes a Lawyer and sometimes it takes a Mesorite to get there. Come hell or high water, he’s going to rule that single girls should cover their hair when davening, and that soldiers can bring their neshek to a makom tefillah and that soldiers can duchen birkat kohanim.

    I don’t think the two groups are talking past each other as much as employing each type of argument depending on their end game.

    As for the oblique reference to the argument if halachah is changing, I think it’s more a semantic argument than anything else. Yes, a person can argue halachah doesn’t change, but then one needs to employ any one of a number of arguments to explain the change away: nishtanu ha-tevi’im, or changed desiderata, or a different situation, or relying on a previously discounted view among Rishonim, or relying on re-interpertation, etc etc etc. Worse comes to worse, one can play the trump card of eit la’asot. Anything that admits halachah changes. Although that obscures the distinction between halachah changing and changing halachah.

    Personally, I think the dichotomy between Lawyer and Mesorite plays out for us as individuals as well. We all make decisions on various matters how to act. I think that we all employ one of four elements in our decision making process, perhaps unconsciously, and certainly to varying degrees depending on our personalities and depending on the case in hand:

    1. What the seforim say. This will influence us how to act. We will look up teshuvot and piskei halachah on the issue. This is perhaps more being a Lawyer, but it’s also being a Mesorite.

    2. What our local orthodox rabbi says. Is that being a Lawyer? a Mesorite?

    3. normative practice in our community. Perhaps that’s more being a Mesorite, but it’s also being a lawyer.

    4. our brains, which we don’t leave at the door to the rabbi’s office or to the beit midrash or library.

  27. I think often there’s an end game, and then the poskim work backwards
    ====================================
    See R’YBS in C-C-C on the draft/chaplains question – it’s an eloquent articulation of this concept
    KT

  28. At the very least, I think that’s a premise of the limud zechut — finding a precedent for what you want as the end game. A holy community is acting a certain way, and it appears as if to contradict halachah, so you work backwards to justify it.

    However, that only works for a holy community, since a holy community are as bnei neviim and cannot err. They are holy because their motivations are sincere. And we know their motivations are sincere because they are holy.

    As opposed to an un-holy community. We know they are unholy because their motivations are not sincere. We know their motivations are not sincere because they are unholy.

    So a holy community that appears as if to act contrary to halachah engenders a limud zechut faster than you can say “halachah changing”. However, an unholy community’s actions that appear as if to contradict halachah are proof of their perfidy.

    Which brings us back to the issue at hand. Because poskim will alternately use the Lawyer approach to explain why the Bais Yaakov system [or women studying gemara, or birth control, or issues having to do with the State of Israel etc.] are not contrary to halachah, or they will use the Mesorite approach to explain why it is problematic. Or they will use the Lawyer approach to explain why it’s assur, and the Mesorite approach to explain why it is not.

    Take women studying gemara (even that one is pretty settled; the viku’ach du jour is now women in religious leadership positions] — you could argue both sides, assur and muttar, wearing either the Lawyer hat or the Mesorah hat. That’s four permutations:

    Lawyer muttar: they need to study matters of relevance
    lawyer assur: tiflut
    mesorah muttar: examples of learned women
    mesorah assur: never been done except exceptional women who did it surreptitiously

    or kollel:
    lawyer mutar: rambam at end of hilchot shmitah ve-yovel
    lawyer assur: rambam in hilchot teshuvah
    mesorah muttar: ever since the rashba
    mesorah assur: chazal had jobs for the most part

    and so on and so forth.

  29. Given the secular legal comparison of this post, the following analysis from the current The New Republic may be of interest: http://tinyurl.com/65m3ptf — “Disorder in the Court: Legal conservatism goes to war with itself.”

  30. “anonymsly on July 11, 2011 at 10:50 am
    interesting post. i question whether the two types of orthodoxy are mutually exclusive and the demarcations of their respective topologies are correct. both believe they are following a mesorah that is historically continuous. both types are text centered and isn’t mesorah based on our large attic of text and observable past history (via shut)?”

    I think where that question comes to the fore is if we can leapfrog back in time.

    Take women having aliyot for example. I’d argue the mesorah is that women can’t have aliyot. A text based approach might dig up the Mordechai and Hagahot Maymoniyot cited in the Beit Yoesph that in a city of all kohanim that women DO have aliyot. So there the mesorah and the texts are not the same.

    Again, that’s why I think we need all four elements:
    1. texts
    2. rabbi
    3. normative practice
    4. our brains

    They may draw us in different directions.

    That’s also the argument, for example, of the place of the texts like the Meiri. Some will argue that the Meiri isn’t part of the continuous mesorah b/c it was out of circulation for so long.

  31. “I think often there’s an end game, and then the poskim work backwards”

    Poskim absolutely do this in some circumstances, such as in resolving a mamzer problem. Any posek who didn’t do this isn’t a posek. The question is in what other circumstances is this appropriate.

  32. One approach that may has some consistency, and many find intuitively appealing is that mesora/accepted psak are always dominant, unless it is an issue that has been re-opened by modernity. Thus, bugs in fish are muttar because they have always been, whereas women being taught gemara is no longer problematic (partly spurred by the change in women’s status), and birth control should be re-evaluated in light of changed medical and social realities. I think Rav Henkin’s approach is not too far from this. I even think there can be some internal consistency to saying that in general, our ancestors didn’t eat treif or have longstanding (and rabbinically approved) practises that were sinful – thus the fish they ate was kosher and they were allowed to use city eruvin, and that modernity should not cause us to re-assess these things. But when it comes to issues such as women’s curricula, one is not being ‘motzi la’az’ by changing one’s approach.
    One should also realize that the contemporary Litvish chumra-ite’s are the real lawyers (it is they who are coming up with new things that put previous generations in a bad light, and the ‘gedolim’ are used when seeking an imprimatur le’achar maaseh), but unfortunately, they often have a rather limited legal library.

  33. mitch morrison

    What about the Orthodox Jew who tries to view Mitzvot as transformative, to help us evolve as people and a community. So, whether it’s of purely legal consequence or catalyzed by Mesora, if performance is purely fueled by robotic adherence are we truly achieving the prospect of being an Am Segula. seems to me, regardless of the 2 models set out, mitzvot must be viewed as enhancing us and refining our nature. If one looks at Bilam’s nevuot, what is striking is the weight of his own self-importance in the actual prophecy’s introductions. such is never seen with Moshe or that of the other Jewish prophets.
    i could offer another construct of divisions among Orthodox Jews: those who take great delight in the knowledge they’ve obtained and flaut it; and others who integrate their knowledge (whatever it may be) to refine themselves.

  34. Charlie Hall wrote in part:

    “Poskim absolutely do this in some circumstances, such as in resolving a mamzer problem. Any posek who didn’t do this isn’t a posek. The question is in what other circumstances is this appropriate”

    Actually, whenever there is a Safek Mamzer, there is a built in Halacha LMoshe MiSinai that Safek Mamzer Lkulah. That is one huge factor that one would hope is always considered by Poskim in such circumstances.

  35. Observant wrote:

    “That’s for sure. Traditionally, rabbinic authority was with community rabbis, not insulated roshei yeshivah”

    In all seriousness-that’s when the Nodah BiYehudah, Chasam Sofer, R Yitzchak Elchanan and other Acharonim were both rabbinical authorities and communal rabbis. One can argue that in sheer terms of knownledge, at least since the days of the founding of the Volozhin Yeshivah ,knowledge has shifted to RY.

  36. What knowledge do RY have which is relevant to assessing whether innovations have basis in mesorah and are needed by the klal? Brisker lomdus in Nashim and Nezikin doesn’t say anything about this.

  37. “Steve Brizel on July 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    In all seriousness-that’s when the Nodah BiYehudah, Chasam Sofer, R Yitzchak Elchanan and other Acharonim were both rabbinical authorities and communal rabbis. One can argue that in sheer terms of knownledge, at least since the days of the founding of the Volozhin Yeshivah ,knowledge has shifted to RY.”

    I think that’s also the meme about the difference between the Mishnah Berurah and the Aruch Hashulchan.

    As for the Noda BiYhudah, I love this dissertation about him which I found floating around the Internet (I don’t even remember how any more):

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0Byx6sZjO1KzmMDg4MWQwNGItMWJkOC00NDk0LTlkYzAtNzQ2NmZiZTAwYjg1&hl=en

  38. “Anon on July 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm
    One approach that may has some consistency, and many find intuitively appealing is that mesora/accepted psak are always dominant,”

    I think that’s because rabbis, and fundamentalist religions, tend to be reactive. They tend to be reactive to changes (societal, technological, etc.) and it’s seen as their job to maintain the status quo. There’s all sorts of reasons that Orthodoxy resists change, but be that as it may, it tries to deal with the present based on the past. Its entire authority stems from the past, so that’s not surprising.

    Would that Orthodoxy be ahead of the curve, anticipating social or other change, and dealing with those challenges proactively instead of being X years behind the curve.

  39. Anonymous-FWIW, I would suggest that you and anyone else interested listen to the various RIETS RYs’ views re family planning. I would not characterize the same as advocating having kids without the means to support them.

  40. ” insulated roshei yeshivah”

    The large yeshivah itself would seem to be a bit of a modern innovation.

  41. I fail to understand what the Gedolim do under the second proposed view of Judaism, other than spread pixie dust. If there are some criteria under which innovations can be considered traditional, why do we need gedolim to find them? Or is it merely the fact that a Gadol approves that makes it traditional? Then how do they decide? Also, then no Gadol, such as R’ Soloveitchik, can be considered anti-traditional, no matter what they do, because if they do something, then it is traditional.

  42. I think part of the problem is that rabbis derive their authority from from being part of the continuous chain of tradition. And they need precedent to justify their rulings and actions.

    But because past generations communicate with us through texts, then current rabbis need to find some sort of textual precedent. Even if the textual precedent is “eit la’asot…heifeiru toratecha”.

    But at the end of the day, the gedolim always need precedent for their innovations!

  43. In the dichotomy ,it appears to me an important element needs discussion.What aids the Orthodox Jew the most to have a personal relationship with HKB”H?

  44. I’d guess that what aids the Orthodox Jew depends on the Orthodox Jew. Just like for some, their avodah is enhanced by chumra, and for others by kula, and for some people chumra in one area and kula in another.
    So too here for some they may feel their avodah enhanced through a connection to the mesorah, that they are continuing what they feel to be a continuous chain of tradition which is a bulwark against dilution of authentic values. For others, the ability to innovate, while staying within the halachic envelope as defined by textual analysis, and thus bend with and adapt to economic, geopolitical and psychosocial changes may be what enhances that particular person’s avodah.

  45. mitch morrison

    daat y, that, in my less articulate post, was my point.
    we’re so concerned about labels and less about relationships with HKBH. sincere belief accompanied by sincere practice will hopefully be more important than what kind of O or MO Jew you are.

  46. Please forgive me for not including your important comments.As you stated” lo nitna HaMitzvot ela letzaref (refine) behen et Habriot”.
    Which emphasizes the bein adom lechavero.
    I suggest if chumrot are important to an individual,let them start being machmir “bein adom lachavero.”

  47. Observant on July 11, 2011 at 2:36 am
    “There is far more room to prohibit, either explicitly or implicitly, that which had previously been accepted or even encouraged without violating the tradition, than to permit that which is new.

    Wrong. What about being motzi laaz on previous generations?

    As the Rav commenting on the increase of size of what is required to be yotzeh mitzvah matzah “and Grandfather was not yotzeh mitzvah matzah?”

  48. “Mycroft-One has to give RSK much credit for developing the concept of community Kollelim and the expansion of BMG from its very small beginnings to where it is today”
    Agreed-

  49. “expansion of BMG from its very small beginnings to where it is today”
    Agreed-

    Nachum on July 12, 2011 at 12:28 am
    Why?”

    It was R Schneer who built up Lakewood to the powerhouse it is today not RAK.
    I believe it was during his reign that Lakewood set up satellite institutions around the world.

  50. I suppose the question is whether ‘Lakewood being the powerhouse that it is today’ is an entirely positive phenomenon.

  51. “daat y on July 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm
    Please forgive me for not including your important comments.As you stated” lo nitna HaMitzvot ela letzaref (refine) behen et Habriot”.
    Which emphasizes the bein adom lechavero.
    I suggest if chumrot are important to an individual,let them start being machmir “bein adom lachavero.” ”

    I’m not sure that’s not a later vort. I think classically the phrase לא נתנו המצות לישראל אלא לצרף בהן את הבריות contextually refer to mitzvot bein adam la-Makom such as the laws of shchitah [and interestingly, milah]. Which is perhaps the chiddush — that the mitzvot bein adam La-Makom refine people.

  52. Melech -You are correct that the original in Breishis Raba 44:1
    was related specifically to shechita.However it has been expanded to find the “sod” in every mitzvah, that all mitzvahs have the capability of refining us.
    I was attempting to state when peopl think of chumros they generally only think of ‘bein adom Lamakom.”

  53. “I suppose the question is whether ‘Lakewood being the powerhouse that it is today’ is an entirely positive phenomenon.”
    To try and argue that Lakewood has not been a positrive phenomenon would be as suicidal as Casey Anthony meandering down the street in front of the Orlando Courthouse.
    Like any organization from Lakewood, to YCT,to RIETS,to AMCHA etc there have been plusses and negatives to all. One would be hardpressed to find objective scholarship on any of them.

  54. Fotheringay-Phipps

    Mycroft: “It would be interesting to study how much RAK’s influence really was in his lifetime-Lakewood was a small fraction of what it is today”

    It’s a mistake to compare those days to today. OJ society was not nearly as bifurcated as it is today. RAK had a much smaller number of da’as Torah-obsessed followers, but he had a lot of respect from, and exerted a lot of influence on, other segments of OJ.

  55. GREAT post.

  56. “One would be hardpressed to find objective scholarship on any of them.”

    Is there objective scholarship about anything?

  57. . “OJ society was not nearly as bifurcated as it is today.”
    Probably true-but one had far more different active Rabbinic organizations then than now.

    “RAK had a much smaller number of da’as Torah-obsessed followers, but he had a lot of respect from, and exerted a lot of influence on, other segments of OJ”
    Not sure how much influence he had on MO back then.

  58. Mycroft and others interested-see this link. http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/rappaport/Research/PDF/Hoveret%2013_01-64.pdf IMO, R D A Ferziger is a superb writer and analyst of the American Charedi and MO scene.

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