Schorsch’s Problem Isn’t Orthodox Jews

Reading Jonathan Schorsch’s latest salvo in his debate with Rabbi Shafran, I can only say that I am struck by how incredibly disingenuous he is. He is marketing a particularly virulent hatred, while piously dressing himself in the holy mantle of “Ahavat Yisrael,” even going so far as to beg readers to believe “that my pleas come for the sake of heaven, out of love of Torah and for all Jews.” He doth protest too much, methinks.

If he really wished to engender love and brotherhood, then even were he entirely right on the facts he would have silenced himself by now. Why? Because an article in the Jerusalem Post, telling a predominantly non-Orthodox audience how the Orthodox hate them, will not create love. He’s not writing a rebuke towards the audience that (according to him) needs it. So even if he were right he would be wrong.

All the more so when his essay distorts the facts, puts words in Rabbi Shafran’s mouth, and turns truth on its head. The essay speaks for itself: his goal is not Ahavat Yisrael, but more of the old, tired Ortho-bashing, spawning hatred by crying hatred where none exists.

In the end, he plays his hand. His problem is not with Orthodox Jews, but with traditional Judaism itself. He says regarding those who fail to “think for themselves” about “the supposed ‘minimum standards’ – the divine authorship of the Torah, divine providence, resurrection, etc.,” [emphasis added] that “one denies one’s God-given intelligence… one kills important and healthy parts of who one is.” In what can only be described as a stunning level of chutzpah, he then asserts that this is “what Torah comes to teach us.” “Torah should lead to expansive consciousness, not small-mindedness,” he writes. It’s chutzpah, and a willful blindness to what the Torah actually comes to teach us — that there is a G-d Who gave the Torah and Who watches over us.

Schorsch persists in conflating beliefs with people, a fallacy that Mrs. Katz effectively skewered this morning with nary a word of her own. What I find bizarre is that Marie Coyle found it necessary to defend herself as being merely against eating disorders, as compared to the people who have them. I am not aware of any group of anorexics busy propagating a myth that those opposed to eating disorders hate anorexics or don’t think they are real people, to parallel what we who were raised in the heterodox systems learned since Hebrew school.

Schorsch asks, “If Orthodoxy is going strong, ‘making’ so many new Jews, why the constant need to delegitimize other streams of Judaism?” Give this man an award for hypocrisy, please. For the record, I see far, far more written about how the Orthodox are backwards, benighted or evil than I ever hear about the Reform or Conservative movements’ lack of legitimacy — even on Cross-Currents, which is supposed to be a counter-balance to the media’s steady drumbeat. If it weren’t for the Jonathan Schorschs or David Ellensons of the world, leaping to collect anti-heterodox statements by Orthodox Jews wherever they might be found, then I’d live in an Orthodox community, surrounded by Orthodox Jews going to Orthodox shiurim and synogogues, and hear nary a word. The strongest critique of Conservative Judaism written recently has to be the one read at the last JTS graduation by Jonathan Schorsch’s father, then retiring from the office of chancellor.

He claims it is the “Torah of separation and exclusion… that leads a rabbi to instruct a ba’al teshuva to no longer eat at the house of his non-Orthodox parents, a case I had the displeasure to witness.” Without filling in details, Schorsch appears to say that gedolim [great Rabbis] would eat hot meals off plates that last were used for ham and eggs. Somehow, I for one find that hard to believe. I have never heard a Rabbi discourage a baal teshuva from being in his parents’ home, honoring his parents, eating Kosher food together, doing what is possible together, and could only imagine it if the parents were causing psychological harm by fighting an ongoing war with observance, as embodied in the body of their child (I know of at least one such case, but at that point the parents were telling the child to stay away, rather than the other way around). Does Jonathan believe a vegan has to eat eggs in his or her parents’ home, or is it only standards of Kashrus that should be treated as a triviality?

Rabbi Shafran referred to “a quick look at any of countless articles in the Orthodox media calling on readers to reach out to and care about all their fellow Jews.” In Schorsch’s distorted thinking, this morphs into an example of “a well-founded principle of legal history: When a law or correction of a transgression is repeatedly promulgated, it is because the problematic behavior continues to be widespread.” Now if Schorsch were asserting that there are miscreants who act and speak inappropriately in any community, including the Orthodox, he would not be wrong — Rabbi Shafran was the first to call such things “deeply disturbing.” But what Rabbi Shafran was actually referring to were articles encouraging all sorts of chessed, acts of kindness, without reference to any label.

For example, since it is so easy to find on the web my first thought was to find the site of the OU’s Jewish Action magazine. Although Rabbi Adlerstein is a frequent contributor, I confess that I am not a subscriber, and had no idea what I would find: an article on the virtues of providing “care of the physical and spiritual needs of the dead,” one on Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), and a third on care for the long dead through restoration of cemeteries.

None of these articles discuss the level of Jewish observance or denominational affiliation of the recipients of care. This is what Rabbi Shafran was talking about. Do you get it now, Mr. Schorsch? Whether the Shabbos guest is observant or non-observant makes no difference — it’s still a mitzvah. A fourth article honors a family with five special needs children, three of whom are Jewish children that they adopted. You can be sure, Mr. Schorsch, that they did not inquire how observant the parents were before taking on the incredible responsibility of caring for those Jewish souls.

But here is the kicker. Schorsch writes, “the organizations Shafran describes may all do wonderful things, but they all share the same goal, turning non-Orthodox Jews into their vision of what an Orthodox Jew should be.” Were he only speaking of outreach organizations, we could merely call Schorsch evasive. A minute ago he was arguing that the Orthodox hate the non-Orthodox. Whatever their motives, the multitude of outreach organizations and kollelim do put the lie to Schorsch’s claim.

But he isn’t only talking about outreach organizations, and that’s why the lie isn’t merely to be “put.” To accuse Chai Lifeline or the “Satmar ladies” of any motivation other than sincere care for other Jews is libelous and disgraceful.

That is pernicious hatred, and it needs to come to an end. If Schorsch writes further on this issue, I for one hope it will be merely to apologize for virulent and entirely unwarranted comments. He, too, is a precious Jew — and we can hope that he will realize that what Rabbi Shafran wrote was genuine and on the mark. Orthodox Jews do not hate the non-Orthodox, even those who write hate-filled articles to inflame passions against us. For our part, we still hope one day for Jonathan Schorsch’s return to Judaism — not merely in practice, but in belief and community as well.

Share It:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Print

25 comments to Schorsch’s Problem Isn’t Orthodox Jews

  • Larry Lennhoff

    For the record, I see far, far more written about how the Orthodox are backwards, benighted or evil than I ever hear about the Reform or Conservative movements’ lack of legitimacy… If it weren’t for the Jonathan Schorschs or David Ellensons of the world, leaping to collect anti-heterodox statements by Orthodox Jews wherever they might be found, then I’d live in an Orthodox community, surrounded by Orthodox Jews going to Orthodox shiurim and synogogues, and hear nary a word.

    Are you willing to share with me where you live? I’d love to make contact with the people there and get advice for how to spread that attitude. It certainly isn’t true in any of the Orthodox Jewish communities with which I interact. Do the people where you live simply ignore the Conservative movement, or do they actually have something neutral or nice to say about it?

  • Bob Miller

    Over here in my neighborhood, the Conservative temple and Reconstructionist temple are one and the same. That says a lot. Their husband and wife clergypeople frequently falsify Judaism in op-eds in the local daily.

  • hp

    “or do they actually have something neutral or nice to say about it?”

    “Something nice” about the Conservative movement is not what this article is about. For further clarity, see Toby Katz’s offering in an earlier submission.

    “Something nice”, or many things nice, about Conservative people, is what it’s about. And I have lived and interfaced with multiple Orthodox communities, all of which reflect R’ Menken’s experiences.

  • Common use check

    …he overplays hs hand.

  • Lakewood

    I live in Lakewood. I can literally go weeks without ever hearing reference to the Conservative or Reform movements. As institutions, they’re simply not on our radar.

  • Loberstein

    I read the response to Avi Shafran in the Jerusalem Post and I do not feel your anger at Jonathan Schorsch is totally deserved. I really think part of this is cultural. In Europe there was an ideological war between those who wanted to change the Jewish People and those who defended the Old Ways. It wasn’t just Reform, it was a polethora of movements. I don’t think we are at war any more. I think that the orthodox, to which I am a member, have demonstrated that we are winning the battle to survive, but at a very great price. We are a small part of the Jewish Population and our outreach is still only in its infancy. We need to do even more to show the good side of a torah life to more Jews. However, the majority of Jews are not willing to give up their lifestyle to become frum. If there is no understnding of what the Conservative Movement is trying to accomplish, if we just write them off, we are also writing off any half-way house or half a loaf approach.
    Living in Lakewood is not the same as living in the USA and you know it. Do you want klal yisroekl to be limited to Lakewood Jews? I think if you acdtually knew Conservative Rabbis instead of charicaturing them you would not have the same animosity . They may be mistaken, they may be unsuccessful, they may suffer burn out in large numbers and maybe ultimately doomed to failure, but they are not bad people and we hurt them all the time with our trumphalist holier than thou attitude, for what good purpose?

  • Reb Yid

    When I read this post I was reminded of the Woody Allen character in “Annie Hall” who sees anti-Semitism everyone and anywhere (“Did you”..did you hear him…he said “DJew, “DJew””).

    YM sees only the most sinister motives in what JS has to say (and conveniently ignores parts of his article that lavish praise on the Orthodox world), yet ironically he cries “foul” when others use similar criteria, as he would perceive them, in critiquing AS and YM’s view of the non-Orthodox world, movements, people, etc.

    Let’s not paint everything so black and white.

    Does YM truly believe that if not for JS, DE, and others like them that no-one would be aware of the problems that they describe? Does YM not see the utter condescending and dismissing attitude towards non-Orthodox Jews (let alone the official movements) even in these recent threads and posts when in the more “enlightened” posts that “restrict” the “problem” only to the Jews themselves, along the lines of having a disease, etc.?

  • Yaakov Menken

    With all due respect, I think Rabbi Oberstein is very much mistaken. Leave Schorsch’s father out of this! Jonathan himself disclaims both the labels Rabbi and Conservative in his most recent piece. Those who know me a little better also know that to suggest that I don’t know Conservative Rabbis personally is inaccurate in the extreme. This has nothing to do with the movements per se, and everything to do with an article long on Orthodox-bashing and sorely short on accuracy.

    I think “Lakewood’s” response to Larry says it all. We were indeed talking about how the movements talk about each other — but Schorsch’s reference to the “constant need to delegitimize” stakes new ground in the hypocrisy department. To give another example: my children go to full-day Jewish schools, and have yet to so much as mention Conservative or Reform Judaism in class. I clearly remember films and comments teaching me that the Orthodox were backwards and primitive by the time I was the same age. [As Rabbi Shafran has recalled on any number of occasions, he was moved to respond individually to a young woman who wrote to Reform Judaism magazine about how painful it is to her that the Orthodox hate her. He corresponded with her and explained that this was untrue; she said that he sounded very nice, but she could not believe him over everything she had been taught in school.]

    If Reb Yid cared to address any of the host of examples I provided to substantiate my claim of an unfair assault on Orthodoxy (or could provide an example where I similarly and inaccurately fostered hatred towards non-Orthodox Jews), then I might take his protestations that I am imagining things a little more seriously.

  • Bob Miller

    Reb Yid,

    If something is wrong, is it less wrong because many people buy into it? Do we therefore respect the people who lead them to buy into it?

  • Moishe Potemkin

    “If something is wrong, is it less wrong because many people buy into it?”

    No, but if many people buy into an idea, there is an element of arrogance in the assertion that they are not only wrong, but that they are indefensibly and inexcusably wrong. R’ Eliezer Berkovits made the point that while he believes absolutely that the Torah is from Heaven, that belief itself did not come from Heaven, and as convincing as his proofs were to him, he understood that they would not necessarily be convincing to others. (I have no doubt that those disinterested in adopting this approach have a bevy of dismissive names to call it. It remains, to my mind, a salient point expressed by a significant talmid chacham.)

    “Do we therefore respect the people who lead them to buy into it?”

    Of course. First of all, they are overwhelmingly well-intentioned people that frequently exert enormous efforts into caring for their flocks. Secondly, in general, they are no different from the vast majority of the Orthodox, who also largely view the world and live their lives in the context in which they were raised. There’s not a great deal of support for the idea that all Orthodox people, and only Orthodox people, have carefully thought through the world’s numerous theological issues. From that perspective, the “leaders” and the “led” are the same.

    – Moishe Potemkin

  • Bob Miller

    Let’s look at a somewhat different but parallel situation:

    For thousands of years we have proclaimed in every possible way that idolatry is totally and irredeemably wrong. The sincere idolaters in the world (along with their sincerely idolatrous religious leaders) still outnumber the Jews by a huge margin.

    So what? From Avraham Avinu to the present, we have stood by and lived by and died by the truth. We few will win and their billions will finally straighten out.

  • Jacob Haller

    Moishe Potemkin wrote

    “the vast majority of the Orthodox, who also largely view the world and live their lives in the context in which they were raised. There’s not a great deal of support for the idea that all Orthodox people, and only Orthodox people, have carefully thought through the world’s numerous theological issues.”

    Pardon some possible obvious biases but regarding the Orthodox it may not be so simple. The challenges that the Orthodox must face, even in today’s comparatively easier world, such as work-related issues including Shabbos observance and the limited number of communities with a Torah infrastructure makes this a completely different category than others who might continue to live within the context of their upbringing.

    It’s not quite the same to continue Orthodoxy into adulthood as it would be for lets say a Presbyterian. Furthermore at the risk of setting off someone’s short fuse, it’s not quite the same as someone who was born into a Reform or Conservative community and continues likewise into adulthood. That of course is not meant to draw parallels between R/C and Protestant sects.

    Perhaps you’re right; that the Orthodox like the overwhelming majority of Americans/Westerners/Everyone have not carefully thought through the plethora of theological issues. However, they are constantly confronted by PRACTICAL issues which others are not. I’ll also dare put forward that the depth at which the Orthodox learn about their own theological issues puts them at an advantage to see through the ones not necessarily pertinent.

  • Moishe Potemkin

    “It’s not quite the same to continue Orthodoxy into adulthood as it would be for lets say a Presbyterian. Furthermore at the risk of setting off someone’s short fuse, it’s not quite the same as someone who was born into a Reform or Conservative community and continues likewise into adulthood.”

    My short fuse remains comfortably not set off. Your analysis is fair, and I’m probably devolving into useless little details, but I would propose the pressures and presence of Orthodoxy also serve as somewhat of a non-ideological restraint on its members’ lifestyles. Culture is powerful stuff, and people are complex. I’m not sure these distinctions change the colour of my argument much.

    “I’ll also dare put forward that the depth at which the Orthodox learn about their own theological issues puts them at an advantage to see through the ones not necessarily pertinent.”

    I affectionately and respectfully disagree – in my experience (which admittedly may not be representative of anything other than a single fairly right-wing yeshiva in Thornhill during the 80s, although it doesn’t actually seem to be terribly uncommon) there is an emphasis on accepting theological issues. Thinking them through is often very actively discouraged.

    – Moishe P.

  • Reb Yid

    Jacob, your comment may take us astray a bit but it’s worth discussing.

    I would be careful not to lump all non-Orthodox Jews together in your argument. In fact, I would suggest Conservative Jews may face the greatest challenges in maintaining community throughout a lifetime. Let’s say you went to Ramah and/or Schechter then are in college. While there are many campuses where the Friday night Conservative service will be packed, Saturday morning is somewhat more iffy, especially if there’s a big football game on campus.

    After college, I would argue there are far fewer places for young single Conservative Jews to find community than for their Orthodox counterparts. If you keep kosher, won’t work or travel on Shabbat or Yom Tov but want to be an active part of a community that’s not Orthodox there are probably only a handful of cities that you can locate to. And don’t belittle the members of this group–it’s often the best and brightest of the Conservative movement, they most certainly exist.

    By the way, this helps to explain why some Conservative Jews are now Orthodox–they are looking for community and had few places to turn during or after college. It gets much easier across the denominational spectrum to find community after one gets married and has kids–but in those transitional years one has to have a lot of mettle to stay within the Conservative fold.

    Doesn’t explain ALL the reasons why some Conservative Jews are now Orthodox–my own experience in many places is that some older Conservative Jews over time simply become more conservative politically across the board (and Orthodoxy among other items becomes more to their liking) while Conservatism grows politically more liberal.

    In any event, I give a lot of credit to active, practicing Conservative or other heterodox Jews who have been part of (and/or created) these communities throughout their lifetime, when one can argue it could have been “easier” for them to simply join more readily available Orthodox communities at some point along the way.

  • Shira Schmidt

    22 b Iyyar

    I think Jonathan Schorsch’s position reflects tremendous kibud av. Although I may disagree with the younger Schorsch’s interpretations, I can learn from him filial piety. Similarly, I heard Tova Halbertal Hartman defend the Shira Hadasha minyan where women read Torah and receive aliyot. She said her father, R David Hartman, said it was within the framework of halakha. Again, a case where I disagree with the person, but admire the honor accorded a parent.

  • Bob Miller

    Regarding Comment by Shira Schmidt — May 9, 2007 @ 6:26 pm :

    Shira, in your two cases, is there any reason to believe that the children do not actually agree with their parents, but publically take these positions in order to honor their parents?

  • Dan Friedman

    A little bit of knowledge (of Torah, Yiddish and Hebrew) is a very dangerous thing in the hands of men like Jonathan Schorsch. It gives the false appearance of piety and learning but it is just a blunt instrument they use to club the heads observant Jews for “intolerance” because we refuse their offer of a glass of milk and a ham sandwich on a paper plate.

  • Ori Pomerantz

    Shira Schmidt, are you saying it’s a good things to espouse views you don’t really hold out of respect for a parent who holds them? It would seem to me to be hypocracy.

    Or are you saying that such behavior, while not good, is understandable and at least motivated by a noble desire?

  • Steve Brizel

    I think that Jonathan Schorsch’s arguments require a multi-phased response. As a starting point, Hillel and Shammai both said that we should love peace, all Jews, BUT also try to bring them close to Torah ( Mkarvan LaTorah). Yes, one can argue that issues of being mlamed zcus, neemanus and kashrus apply to someone who is not a Sabbath offender and will probably never become Torah observant.Yet,WADR, I don’t belief that we have a halachic or hashkafic warrant not to engage in efforts to help as many Jews as possible undertake and adhere to a Torah observant way of life.

    Obviously, one can distinguish between heterodox leaders and their followers. Leaders of heterodox movements may represent a majority of world Jews, but as R Yonasan Eibeshutz pointed out, the rule of halacha krabim only applies in a case of safek. That being the case, WADR, Orthodox leaders have been engaged in a debate since the 19th Century whether Gemeinde, Austritt/TIDE or Klapei Pnim and Klapei Chutz are proper means of dealing with heterodox movements. OTOH, kiruv is not a means by which we view other Jews as targets of some well oiled mechanism, but our way of showing other Jews on an individual by individual and mitzvah by mitzvah way the beauty of living a life in accordance with Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. As the CI and RAYHK pointed out, we have long since lost the ability to give rebuke in a positive manner . Therefore, we must embrace individual Jews with ties of love to draw them near and close to a life of Torah observance that they will embark on with our help. Like it or not, Torah Judaism entails not just Orthopraxy but also Orthodoxy in halacha and hashkafa that fits somewhere in the Mesorah. Within the Mesorah, there is plenty of room for any BT to find his or her Derech HaChaim.

    However, Mr Schorsch fails to tell his intended audience under what basis heterodox movements can be considered as faithful to Torah Judaism. In fact, the evidence is that as movements they are not so. OTOH, Mr. Schorsch and many others within CJ will tell you that many who belonged to USY or atended Camp Ramah ultimately became Orthodox in halacha and hashkafa. I also agree that it is highly unlikely that any Gadol ever ate off a plate or with silverware that were used for hot tarfus within 24 hours and that BTs are given the type of advice that he referred to. I know for a fact that NCSY avoids such alleged draconian piskei halacha.That being said, I think that Mr. Schorsch is engaging once again in O bashing, albeit of the more common variety that is generated by heterodox leaders.

  • Tal Benschar

    In a word, Schorsch’s problem is Orthodoxy itself. The notion that certain beliefs are fundamental, uincompromisable truths which form the basis of “Judaism” sticks in his craw.

    Schorsch’s pieces read like a post-modern tragedy. The notion of truth and falsehood has been thrown out the window. All that is left is personal preference. Thus, the Orthodox must “hate” the non-Orthodox because, in rejecting their beliefs, they have rejected their personal choice.

    Think of the following analogy. Some like chocolate ice cream; others like vanilla. Neither is the “correct” view — it is all a matter of personal preference. Now if a group of people decided that they would only associate with those who ate chocolate; if they formed organizations to be “mekarev” the poor benighted vanilla people; if their leaders issued public proclamations not to associate with those who eat vanilla ice cream and not to dare enter the vanilla ice cream parlors; if the same leaders privately advised chocolate BTs not to eat in their parents’ home. After all these, one would easily understand that some people who eat vanilla ice cream might get the impression that chocolate ice cream lovers “hate them.”

  • Tal Benschar

    “[I]f many people buy into an idea, there is an element of arrogance in the assertion that they are not only wrong, but that they are indefensibly and inexcusably wrong.”

    1. Really? Millions of people bought into some very dubious ideologies — idolatry, Nazism, Communism. Does this sentiment apply to them?

    2. The issue is not whether the holding of incorrect opinions is “indefensible and inexcusable.” The notion of a tinok she nishba — particularly the Rambam’s version — is the excuse. Ones rachamana patrei. At least that is what much of the Orthodox world thinks today.

    The issue, rather, is whether these other opinions are not merely wrong but FUNDAMENTALLY wrong — meaning that holding the wrong opinion makes one not merely mistaken, but detrimentally effects ones entire life.

    What Schorsch is really claiming is the right to deny Torah min ha Shomayim and yet still be considered part of “Judaism.” Orthodox Jews will never agree to that proposition — if they do, they will cease to be Orthodox.

  • Steve Brizel

    Tal and all others interested-if you followed the discussions at Hirhurim and R Harry’s blog in the wake of the Yated article on YCT, you would certainly have learned by now that there are many people who consider themselves Shomrei Torah Umitzvos who either rationalize away or deny many Ikariei Emunah without being able to affirmatively or positively state what they consider to be Ikarie Emunah or elements of Hashkafa 101.

    (I higly recommend that the interested reader read R Yitzchak Blau’s review of R D M Shapiro’s book on the Ikarim in one of the TuM Journals for a more in depth discussion. IOW, while poking logical holes in the Ikarim can be done with some ease, one can object to the use of virtually unknown manuscripts despite their wonderful haskamos and the lack of any positive alternative beliefs set forth by the author.)

    In many instances in the course of the discussions at Hirhurim and R Harry’s blog, you can see the views of Chazal or Rishonim dismissed with the seemingly cavalier view that takes the form of “that is only a Medrash” or “that is not pshat” or a distortion of “Ain Mikra Yotzei Yidei Pshuto” as a basis for relying upon “context, history and archaelogical findings” as opposed to approaching Tanach from the view that Tanach is subject to multiple levels of understanding that begin with Pshat, Drush, Remez and Sod. FWIW, I am by no means urging either a maximal view of Ikarie Emunah, but IMO, we need to at least acknowledge that there are some Ikarim such as Nevuas Moshe Rabbeinu, Bchiras Yisrael, Yetzias Mitzayim, Kabalas HaTorah, Torah MiShamayim and Torah MiSinai, Mesorah of TSBP, Scar Vonesh , Techiyas HaMesim and Olam HaBaah. During the discussion of these issues, I was amazed at how some of our brethren view many of these elements of what many would consider fundamental elements of Hashkafa 101. Rashi in Parshas Bchukosai points out that too often kefirah begins with a cavalier attitude towards halacha, hashkafa and those who are Baalei Mesorah. Unfortunately, we live in an age where some people are considered Orthodox even if they believe and publicly state that God speaks and reveals Himself in Arabic on Fridays, Lashon HaKodesh on Shabbos and Latin on Sunday. (WADR to those who support such a view, I don’t and can’t pretend to understand how they understand the Nusach HaTefilos or any Birkas HaMitzvah.Those interested in why our Tefilos and Brachos have their Nussach should start with the Siddur Otzar HaTefilos which sets forth the sources for every bracha in Tanach and Chazal) IMO, this discussion was one of the most positive and important aspects of the entire discussion of the Yated article on YCT.

  • Moishe Potemkin

    “1. Really? Millions of people bought into some very dubious ideologies—idolatry, Nazism, Communism. Does this sentiment apply to them?”

    I think it actually proves my point. People, as a species, have historically accepted all sorts of silliness as truth. Perhaps in the arena of bein adam lechaveiro, there is some value in recognizing that our own theological certainties were also developed using intellectual tools that have not proven to be fool-proof.

    (As I write this, I feel as though I’m phrasing this awkwardly, and possibly offensively, neither of which is intentional. I’ll try to get the exact quote from Rav Berkovits, because he expressed this thought specifically with regard to interdenominational relations, and he expressed it far better than I am.)

  • Moishe Potemkin

    “2. The issue is not whether the holding of incorrect opinions is “indefensible and inexcusable.” The notion of a tinok she nishba—particularly the Rambam’s version—is the excuse. Ones rachamana patrei. At least that is what much of the Orthodox world thinks today.”

    It certainly is an issue – if non-Orthodox people don’t think in Orthodox paradigms, then some portion of the non-Orthodox world will likely be permanently put out when their fundamentals are, rather than respectfully disputed, simply dismissed.

  • YM

    Unfortunately, anyone can hold any belief or any practice and call it Judaism and convince many people that it is Judaism. There is a book that argues that worshiping Baal and Asherya (sic) is a true legitimate expression of Judaism that was repressed by the victories of “Rabbinic Judaism.”

    The victims in this case are the vast majority of the Jewish people who don’t know and who may never know (G-d Forbid) what Judaism is really about. A few years ago, the Conservative movement, to try to promote adult Jewish education, promoted two hours of learning per week. To really function as a Jew on an intellectual level requires the equivalent amount of effort to what it takes to earn a bachelors degree, at a minimum. Judaism isn’t a religion, it is a full time, full space commitment. To paraphrase Uri Zohar, “They Wuz Robbed”.