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On Modern Orthodoxy’s Boundaries

On Modern Orthodoxy’s Boundaries

I agree with both Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s essay, “Can Modern Orthodoxy Be The New Center?” May 6), and Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer’s response to it in Cross Currents.
Rabbi Greenberg, who represents the left wing of Modern Orthodoxy, presented an analysis of what has happened to Modern Orthodoxy in the last 50 years or so. It has moved to the right. And in some cases, lamentably so. I agree with him.

Just to cite examples cited or alluded to by Rabbi Greenberg: The fact that mixed seating at weddings is becoming harder to find; the ArtScroll phenomenon that puts a decidedly charedi spin on biographies and history; the fact that many Modern Orthodox schools have turned to charedi rabbis as their teachers (for lack of finding enough Modern Orthodox rabbinic teachers); and the fact that many of the ‘gap year’ yeshivas in Israel that are charedi recruit in Modern Orthodox yeshivas.

This has indeed resulted in many young people raised in Modern Orthodox homes becoming charedi themselves.

Where I part company with Rabbi Greenberg is exactly the same place that Rabbi Gordimer does. Rabbi Greenberg believes that an important feature of Modern Orthodoxy should be to embrace the spirit of the times at the expense of traditional Orthodox values. He suggests we embrace innovations based on the spirit of the times in order to retain observant Jews who might seek membership elsewhere if their views are not incorporated in to the system.

This includes acceptance of organizations like Porat that question the Divine authorship of the Torah. This is not Modern Orthodoxy. This is revisionist Judaism, not all that different than the origins of the Conservative movement.

Modern Orthodoxy, like charedi Orthodoxy, is not some sort of malleable religion where traditions can be discarded and its values re-shaped to fit the times.


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