Local Rabbinic Leaders

Local Rabbinic Leaders

I must take issue with certain assumptions that Jewish Week Editor and Publisher Gary Rosenblatt makes concerning Modern Orthodoxy and our leaders, (“Hail to the Chief,” Between The Lines, April 20).

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is indeed very inspiring, erudite and well spoken. The Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, was a great leader and his influence will have an everlasting affect on Jewry. We Modern Orthodox, however, don’t really have someone who is our “leader,” as say, a chasidic Jew might have, nor do we seek one. Instead we tend to look to our local rabbis for advice and halachic leadership wherever we live. Those local rabbis are often haredi/yeshiva-world types, not necessarily Modern Orthodox at all. We take inspiration wherever we find it.

Which leads me to the next issue — Rav Soloveitchik, of blessed memory, was neither the founder of Modern Orthodoxy nor Modern Orthodox himself, as contended in the article and as often cited by others. In all the public shiurim [lectures] of the Rav that I attended I only heard him refer to Modern Orthodoxy once. That was to sneeringly refer to the “So-Called Modern Orthodox.”  Evidently, he didn’t approve. The Rav defied that type of narrow categorization. His appeal, scholarship and wisdom were global.


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