Modern Orthodoxy is Always at the Crossroads


By Michael Broyde

[Editor’s Note: Rabbi Broyde penned and submitted an eloquent reaction to my piece in Ami Magazine regarding the dilemma that Modern Orthodoxy faces in regard to the Far Left. It is a more than worthwhile read, for cogently capturing a very different point of view. Rabbi Broyde and I have been fast friends for years. Despite the fact that we very rarely agree about important matters, we both sense that we share far more than we disagree about. I do not regard him as a member of the Far Left, especially because of our shared passion for serious Torah learning – even though we frequently disagree about pshat in the passages before us. We are friends neither in spite of our differences, nor because of them. We are simply friends.

Needless to say, I disagree with both my friend’s analysis of the differences between the Far Left and mainstream Orthodoxy, as well as his recommendations for action. I am hoping that readers will do much of the heavy lifting in reacting to this piece, saving me from having to write a detailed response. – YA]

I. Introduction

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein’s brilliantly written essay “Modern Orthodoxy at a Crossroads” is, like everything else Rabbi Adlerstein has written, full of his erudite insights into community. However, ultimately, both his diagnosis of the problem and his explanation of the solution are, I think, wrong: Modern Orthodoxy is always at the crossroads – no more now than yesterday or tomorrow. Furthermore, he fundamentally misunderstands the Modern Orthodox ethos and condition – Modern Orthodoxy will always be more embracing of all Orthodox Jews than many are comfortable with as our boundaries are determined more by the historical parameters of halacha than by current gedolim. Modern Orthodoxy will always be more open to all Orthodox Jews.

At its core, Rabbi Adlerstein’s essay is an attempt to delegitimize what he call the Orthodox “Far Left,” a term he does not define or characterize, but is used throughout in his essay. Allow me to give it a definition: the Orthodox “Far Left” is a group within the Orthodox community which is attempting to discard many aspects of minhag yisrael on matters of women’s issues and perhaps will come to adopt the same approach to other issues as well. Yet it seems that at least in intent (if not in effect, to borrow Lawrence Summer’s term), they are not seeking to leave the halachic community at all. They are, instead, seeking to expand the borders of customary practice with innovative readings of sources, some grounded in classical insights, some grounded in innovation and some grounded in social change that they perceive as present. Furthermore, and this might be the crux of the issue, they steadfastly refuse to defer to the judgments of the gedolim who dominate the community that Rabbi Adlerstein comes from and instead either put forward their own gedolim or deny the need for sanction from gedolim to make the changes they recommend.

Rabbi Adlerstein’s view is that the RCA must expel the “Far Left” and without such an expulsion, the cooperation with the Charedi community will be jeopardized. Both of these conclusions are wrong – indeed, I think that the RCA should welcome as members those whom Rabbi Adlerstein thinks is the “Far Left” with open hands; the Orthodox center and right are all better with the Orthodox “Far Left” present, and much more importantly, the Orthodox “Far Left” is better served in a community with the rest of Orthodoxy. Each will moderate and temper the other. The parts are weaker than the whole. Modern Orthodoxy has to be more embracing of all Orthodox Jews. Furthermore, if we exclude the halachic “Far Left” from our community, we will have no say in what they do and how they do it.

II. Halacha First: A Modern Orthodox Credo

First and foremost, Rabbi Adlerstein’s plea for expulsion is completely unconvincing to me. Anyone who really understands what Modern Orthodoxy ought to be, understands that after we are finished expelling the “Far Left”, there will be a new far left to expel. In this regard, the Rav’s z.t.l approach to Rabbi Rackman was correct – wrong halachic ideas are criticized and sometimes even delegitimatized – but people are not normally expelled for advocating ideas that are within the halachic universe but simply not proper or normative.

(But this is not enough of a vision for the Modern Orthodox community – as we have to decide what idea and conduct are outside of these parameters. Our tent needs to have walls – otherwise, what kind of tent is it? More on this in the next section)

Second, and most importantly, Modern Orthodoxy is – as its name suggests – an attempt to meld the classical rabbinic tradition with the best of the modern world, and it requires, indeed even mandates, that the modern world be examined to determine what is in it that ought to be part of the Orthodox community. This can be found in the rabbinic idiom that “The best of the house of Yefet should reside in the house of Shem” – the best of western culture should be part of the Jewish community.

To implement this requires two things, one obvious and one less so. It requires that we examine western culture faithfully and diligently to determine that which is best and ought to be incorporated. More subtly, it requires that we recognize that there are things missing from our own tent, so that we ought to acquire them from the outside: the recognition that there are things missing from our own tent is a central point of the Modern Orthodox mindset.

Here is the Modern Orthodox difficulty: we sometimes argue about what is missing from our own tent that ought to be incorporated. For example, some of us think that greater egalitarianism is needed, and others think that egalitarianism is not a virtue. Some think that Messianic Zionism ought to be incorporated — and others think that Messianic Zionism is a vice. Some welcome a university which is a yeshiva — others do not. Some of us think that Talmudic rabbis can err about scientific fact — and others do not. Modernity has brought many changes, not all of them good – but not all of them bad, either. Modern Orthodoxy is itself uncertain about these issues and most of us believe that each of these ideas (and many other modern ideas) has brought both positive and negative changes. Equal pay for men and women performing the same jobs, and communal action to prevent domestic abuse and marital rape are two clear examples of a positive impact of feminism. The unbridled use of unwarranted abortions and immodest dress, on the other hand, are clear examples of a negative impact. As with other contemporary values, such as democracy, the halakhic community must determine which values within a given contemporary ideology are worthy of incorporation. Most topics are rarely questions of black and white, and require a careful analysis of the halakhic sources as well as meta-halakhic factors at stake. Truth resides typically between the polar ideals of a complex situation.

How are we to solve this basic problem? I suggest Modern Orthodoxy both cannot and should not. Instead, we should allow experimentation within the Orthodox community to allow time to help us discern what is and what is not missing from our tent and to incorporate external virtues into our community gradually.

Finally, and related, until the reestablishment of a Sanhedrin, we need to achieve unity and not uniformity, enabling a reality of diversity without divisiveness. This is the appropriate historical lesson of the terrible schism within European Orthodox Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries. The vicious fights between religious groups (Chasidim versus Misnagdim, Zionists versus anti-Zionists and many others) and the many polemical disputes about the details of ritual life (sermons in the vernacular, the placement of the bimah, etc…) with their delegitimizing tone strike one, with the wisdom of hindsight, as unwise. The fratricidal fighting did not help our community or Judaism as a whole, and appears particularly misguided in light of how we have come over time to live with these differences. Modern Orthodoxy – recognizing the difficulty of the task of melding the best of western culture with classical Orthodox Judaism – will be more embracing of all Orthodox Jews than those movements who see no value in this task.

This same motto of “unity without uniformity, diversity without divisiveness” should also apply to the range of opinions regarding women’s issues, and in particular, the role of women as students and teachers of Torah. Clearly, there exists a wide spectrum of opinions on this matter, ranging from Rabbi Soloveitchik’s opinion that Talmud study ought to be a routine part of women’s education, to Rabbi Teitelbaum’s approach that women may only be taught the Written Torah without even Rashi’s commentary. Many others fall out between these two poles, again recognizing that all remain a part of the Orthodox community.

III: Where Should the Walls of Our Tent Be?

But, of course there have to be walls to our big tent. These walls should be the wide historical walls of classical Orthodox halacha and haskafa and not the contemporary walls that bind our community in America or Israel. The Modern Orthodox community, and the RCA specifically, ought to welcome into its tent anyone who professes loyalty to the theology of Jewish belief endorsed by Rishonim and Aharonim as historically and halachically understood, and whose conduct is governed by classical Jewish law, even if that conduct is inconsistent with the current norms as put forward by the gedolim that Rabbi Adlerstein admires and expects fidelity to.
Let me add that Modern Orthodoxy by its very nature – incorporating the best of western culture into the rabbinic tradition – will be less traditional than other Orthodox communities which do not look at the world around them in any positive way. And that is not a problem. The Nodah beYehuda observes (correctly in my view) in OC 2:18 that when there is a clear minhag yisrael to do something (in his case, to have 12 windows in a shul), but that minhag is an obstacle to serious religious growth, then if the minhag is not grounded in halacha, we ought to abandon the minhag in that particular case. Most of us in the Modern Orthodox think that the Noda beYehuda’s formulation is correct, and if that is true, then all arguments of minhag without any serious reference to halacha will not really persuade anyone who is not already persuaded. They will always respond in reference to the Nodah beYehuda: non-halachic minhagim need to change as the reality of life changes. To really set limits on our community, we need to speak the language of halacha first and foremost.

Let’s focus on the example Rabbi Adlerstein focuses on most closely – Rabbi Kanefsky’s proposal to abolish the recitation of the bracha shelo asani isha, and replace it with the bracha she-asani Yehudi. (I will speak about the tone of Rabbi Kanefsky’s essay in the penultimate section.) Anyone who has read the halachic literature on this topic sees that such a proposal is grounded in the halachic literature, although very far from the current practice. A strong case can be made that the Rema endorsed the saying of the bracha of she-asani yehudi (see, for example, the Machon Yerushalayim Tur OC 46 note 12*), the Gra is widely quoted as endorsing such (see Sedai Chemed, Maarerchet Cherufin, Asifat dinim 5 sv umedi vedri on page 174) and so is the Rosh. It is not hard to find teshuvot on the Bar Ilan CD endorsing such a proposal as a matter of historical halacha.

I see no reason to exclude someone from Orthodoxy because they advocate a view that is far from normative now, when it has a fine rabbinic pedigree, even if it is unpopular with the giants of our contemporary times and untraditional. Let me add the obvious – even as I oppose this proposed change, I do not think that one who proposes it is outside of Orthodoxy.

Modern Orthodox tent walls need to exclude people and rabbis who advocate ideas outside the halachic box, but we should not exclude people who defy the current Orthodox convention. The way it is now is not the way it always was and we need not be convinced that it will always be the same. Exclusion should be limited to people who halacha lemaaseh endorse practices that are outside the confines of historical Orthodoxy, no matter what the current norm is.

IV. What then, Really, is at Stake?

So what is really at stake in the current controversy about the “Far Left”? Here, I think Rabbi Adlerstein again sees the world through his wonderful but focused eyes. He writes that the real reason the “Far Left” has to be excluded from Orthodoxy is:

Firstly, the impact upon areas of Orthodox cooperation will be enormous. If the Far Left grows stronger in untethering itself from both traditional hashkafos and accepted protocols of determining halacha, there will almost certainly be a reaction in the rest of the Orthodox world. Lemegdar milsa, to draw clear lines of differentiation, the traditional community will move in the opposite direction to oppose changes it sees as dangerous and illegitimate. We will drift even further apart. Cooperation in many areas – education, kashrus, kiruv, gerus, political advocacy – will be jeopardized or eliminated. Much of the right will argue that if Modern Orthodoxy can tolerate such aberrations in its midst rather than expelling it, than they cannot trust or continue to deal with the Modern Orthodox – especially if a YCT presence becomes mingled with the Modern Orthodox representation in common enterprises. Cooperation that took decades to accomplish may quickly unravel.

There is no “secondly” in the essay, a surprising breach of linguistic protocol for such a wonderful writer (and a member of Phi Beta Kappa) but this small linguistic faux pas reflects the fact that there is no other value present, really, in his calculus.

Let me be plain spoken here, because Rabbi Adlerstein is so honest. What he says might be true – the Charedi community might cooperate less with the Modern Orthodox community if we allow voices in our community that are repugnant to the Charedi mindset, and that is a political reason to remove the “Far Left.” I understand that rationale. I just do not favor these witch hunts; witch hunts never end – they just find more witches to hunt for, until the hunters consume themselves.

The threat is clear and the promise obvious. The Charedi community, Rabbi Adlerstein tell us, will not cooperate with the Modern Orthodox community unless we agree that there have to be clear limits and those clear limits will have to be determined by the gedolim approved by the Charedi community. Here, I think that no real reply is needed, but we should not substantively change our policies in light of this political truth, any more than the Rav zt”l did not respond to the cherem against participating in the Synagogue Council of America many decades ago – but he did not direct the RCA to withdraw from the SCA either. The Charedi community will have to accept Modern Orthodoxy on its own terms – or not – but I know that progress forward is not possible in any community if one has to look over one’s left or right shoulder all the time.

The same fatal flaw is found in Rabbi Adlerstein’s quoting of Rabbi Balk’s proposal to create a narrow based Modern Orthodox Moetzet gedolai Torah. Rabbi Adlerstein writes:

With the stakes so high, only one recourse suggests itself. The question of keeping YCT or defining it out of contemporary Orthodoxy should be put to the three talmidei chachamim within the American Modern Orthodox world that are most respected for their halachic ability: Rabbis Hershel Schachter, Gedalia Schwartz, and Mordechai Willig. The RCA should be prepared to abide by whatever decision these three come up with.

The decision to leave Rabbis Aharon Lichtenstein and Norman Lamm off this list, speaks volumes about what is wrong with this proposal and where its biases reside. I favor, truth be told, a Modern Orthodox moetzet – but Modern Orthodoxy needs to pick its own broad based leadership and I suspect that a Modern Orthodox moetzet needs to (like other mo’atzot) have many more than these three Torah giants as its voices in making such important decisions.

V. A Word to the “Far Left”

Having said all of this, the reader might think that I am an defender of the “Far Left”, so I end this essay with words of loving direct rebuke of that community.

The tone of much that is written from the leadership of the “Far Left” community leaves much to be desired; not only is their writing careless, but imprudent and haphazard planning of change has jeopardized the progress achieved on many levels within the Modern Orthodox world and brought our small community to the cusp of schism for no good reason.

So too, the “Far Left” community has proven bad at drawing lines in its sand and having walls in its tents. Nothing was said when the chair of the YCT attacked Rabbi Willig and Rabbi Schachter at a public event years ago; nothing was said when a YCT rabbi issued a gay friendly Haggadah featured in a YCT publication; nothing was said when Sarah Hurwitz was ordained rabba, and nothing was said when a women led kabbalat Shabbat at a prominent shul. Silence is not the way to define the walls of the tent – since people do not know which conduct was genuinely reflective of ideals, and which simply a mistake — and the sounds of silence are defining who the Far Left is. The same can be said for the tone of the initial article written by my good friend Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky (a “wonderful human being,” as Rabbi Adlerstein notes who I have known for more than 35 years) that provoked this current firestorm.

Everyone – left, right, and center – needs to be careful before they speak or write or do in public.

VI. The Path Forward

If Orthodox is to stay together – clearly a virtue that Rabbi Adlerstein and I share – it has to be because people are sensitive to what rocks the boat, and we all need to hesitate to the rock the boat without forethought and a great deal of planning. I turn again to the wise counsel of Rabbi Norman Lamm שליט”א Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University. He stated:

There are certain things that are acceptable only in the long run. I approve of the idea of increasing the role of women in religious life and think it is an important one….. At the same time, things have to be done gradually. To have a woman learn Gemara a generation or two ago like women learn Gemara today would have been too revolutionary. But with time, things change; time answers a lot of questions, erodes discomfort, and helps.

Orthodoxy – left, right and center – should take note of Rabbi Lamm’s reservations and hesitations regarding the future and recognize that the pace of change is a central measure of the likelihood of success. His nuanced formulation addresses well the question of change in minhag yisrael. Minhag yisrael does evolve over time, and yet slowly. Slow and careful change facilitates greater insight, feedback, and development, and could be a good motto for Orthodoxy in this area. The “Far Left” community has caused this crisis because they have adopted a pace of chance that is neither planed out nor thought out nor shared.

Lew me suggest a metaphor: change in Orthodoxy is a lot like orthodontics. To move teeth, you have to apply small amounts of pressure over great periods of time. Lots of pressure over small periods of time do not move teeth but break them. So too with the Orthodox community. Slow change produces positive developments, while large movements break us apart. There is also a natural limit to just how far teeth can move.

VII. Concluding Thoughts

Modern Orthodoxy, by its very nature, is always at the crossroads. As the modern world changes, Modern Orthodoxy must change as well, while remaining open to all Orthodox Jews. Responses that worked at a different time, no longer work, so the Modern Orthodox community has to craft new response to a new modernity. We understand that this is frustrating to our brothers on the right who are achecha bemitzvot, but who are less modern; we also understand that this is frustrating to the community to the left of us who are still waiting for us to incorporate the full impact of modernity. We sense that Modern Orthodoxy is a full blown lechatchela approach to the world that we live in, so long as we journey with care and deliberate speed — it incorporates two central values that we cannot live without: Halacha and the best of western culture. The question is whether we can still work together united if in fact we are all loyal to halacha. Modern Orthodoxy is happy to – but each community needs to do so on our own terms.

Rabbi Michael Broyde is a professor of law and the academic director of the Law and Religion Program at Emory University. He was the Founding Rabbi of Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta, and a dayan for Beth Din of America

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Michael Broyde
4 years 18 days ago

First and foremost, I want to thank Rabbi Adlerstein for publishing my essay. Whatever comes of this, Rabbi Adlerstein remains a shining model of how dialogue is supposed to take place. Although he is the director of Interfaith Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, if Orthodoxy had a director of intra-faith affairs, I would nominate him for that post too. So too, his kind words about me are over stated. I view myself one who struggles to keep up in serious Torah and the most that can be said is that I am blessed to have… Read more »

Mike S.
4 years 18 days ago

Let me cite four and a half cases where Askenazic practice is at complete variance with the psak of Chazal: 1) We do not permit women to do shchita 2) We do not duchen every day 3) We forbid eating rice on Pesach and 4) We do not give z’roa lchayayim and keva from shcitas chullin to kohanim and 4.5) The chassidic practice of not eating in the sukkah on shmini atzeret chutz la’aretz. The first is an explicit p’sak of the Rema without a clear source, and his successors argue as to the reason. For the… Read more »

Eric Leibman
4 years 18 days ago

Rabbi Adlerstein:

Expel the YCT people and Avi Weiss and his ilk now and be done with them. Permanently. Just put them in cherem. Your niceness is misplaced and misguided. This is war. And you need to act like it.

4 years 18 days ago

I am a bit confused on a few counts.

A. Firstly: He says that the Modern Orthodox tent must have walls. He just thinks these people are within his walls. Then, he criticizes the “far-left” for not having walls. He criticizes them for silence in the face of; (1) attacking Rabbis Willig and Schachter, (2) issuing a “gay friendly” haggada (whatever that means), (3) ordaining a rabba, (4) having a woman lead kabbalas shabbos.

The implication is that Rabbi Broyde would like to see the people who do this excluded from the far-left’s tent, and certainly from his own tent.
Well,… Read more »

Steve Brizel
4 years 18 days ago

R Broyde’s article failed IMO to note that many who consider themselves or are considerd LW MO view as legitimate the POVs advocated by many advocates of LW MO that TSBP is sexist, that there is nothing unique about the covenant between HaShem and Klal Yisrael, advocate the changing of Nusach HaTefilah and even maintain that the uniqueness of Moshe Rabbeinu and Chazal is limited to their times, culture and knowledge. Like it or not, IMO, MO has a noisy LW, a silent majority, and a vocal RW. The real issue remains whether MO will abandon what IMO is… Read more »

Steve Brizel
4 years 18 days ago

Let me add an additional point or two to this conversation. R Broyde is a fine talmid Chacham who has undertaken the very arduous, if not impossible job, of serving as a middle of the road between LW MO and the RIETS RY. That being the case, I think that RAL, as noted previously, views himself both as unqualified to serve in such a capacity with respect to a community that he basically visits for recruiting and fund-raising purposes since RAL made aliyah in the early 1970s. More fundamentally, in two articles published in Leaves of Faith , Vol.2,… Read more »

joel rich
4 years 18 days ago

dr. bill,
That is one of the dividing lines between MO and chareidism, well not really, IIUC chareidism would be OK on a defacto basis with your statement if you added “in a non-public manner” after “perspective to add”

4 years 18 days ago

“Allow me to give it a definition: the Orthodox “Far Left” is a group within the Orthodox community which is attempting to discard many aspects of minhag yisrael on matters of women’s issues and perhaps will come to adopt the same approach to other issues as well”

PRECISELY. The far left that Rabbi Broyde champions is simply and wholly a feminist organization that only “perhaps” might eventually approach other issues. In other words, it’s a special interest group for a small minority of women, masquerading as a religious ideal. There are plenty of areas withing contemporary orthdox life in which a… Read more »

dr. bill
4 years 18 days ago

Ellen’s comment (re poskim) brings an important issue into sharp focus. Is expelling the MO left a halakhic issue or an important political and/or hashkafic one where Rabbi Lamm (as well as other “non-poskim”) have important perspective to add?

4 years 18 days ago

Rabbi Adlerstein is concerned that failure to expel certain members from Modern Orthodoxy would jeopardize cooperation with charedim. Rabbi Broyde is not.

There are three problems with that argument:

1. It assumes that there is substantive and meaningful dialogue between the two camps. Does anyone believe that to be the case? Not one member of the Moetzet will ever say a shiur at YU and Rabbis Schachter and Willig will never be invited to give a shiur at BMG.

2. The best way to encourage the Modern Orthodox to consider the opinions of the Chareidim is to encourage the Chareidim to… Read more »

Noam stadlan
4 years 18 days ago

Excellent piece by Rav Broyde and kudos to Rav Adlerstein for publishing it here. Where great and small minds will disagree is on when to push for change and when to wait. When does the pull from the right mandate a greater pace for change? Sometimes waiting for gradual change doesn’t seem like an attractive option when the the other side is changing without waiting

Observer of the Orthodox Community
4 years 18 days ago

“The “Far Left” community has caused this crisis because they have adopted a pace of change that is neither planned out nor thought out nor shared.”

I would like to comment on this formulation of Rabbi Broyde because it highlights the Western Culture component of Modern Orthodoxy – the Western world currently moves at ‘one hundred miles a minute’, many (including teenagers) are connected to the internet through hand held devices and communication no longer occurs through snail mail. All posts/comments are analyzed and dissected in real time, such that slowing down the pace through orderly, conscientious discussion, speaking and… Read more »

L. Oberstein
4 years 18 days ago

Yasher Koach for real dialogue, rather than preaching to the choir. I spoke with an individual of importance today who said only half in jest, that if the RCA beggan kicking out people, soon there wold be no one left. This pointgs out the reality that the right wing of orthodoxy sometimes only barely recognizes the legitimacy of those who have another, less isolationist point of view.
Rabbi Broide is asking women who want equality to wait for the right time and not push the envelope. He may be right that what is accepted today was rejected not too long… Read more »

4 years 18 days ago

This is in response to Ellen:

I believe the suggested list (Rav Schachter, Rav Schwartz, Rav Willig) is a “gedolim list.” Why are those two absent? Rav Lichtenstein is not in the US (and has noted his different jurisdiction in the past) and Rabbi Lamm is not a posek. Here is essentially the difference of opinion you point out between Chovavei and some who have spoken against it: what is a gadol and do the Modern Orthodox care?

Me — Since when does one need to be a posek to be a gadol? The fact that Rabbi Lamm is not a posek… Read more »

4 years 18 days ago

Shimon: I think R. Broyde meant to write “4 walls in a shul” (although the 12 window issue in OH 90 is the usual issue, hence the confusion). But you could have been a little more generous in your comment, since R. Broyde’s halachic point from that tshuva was correct, and even the context (the architecture of a shul) was correct.

4 years 18 days ago

“Anyone who really understands what Modern Orthodoxy ought to be, understands that after we are finished expelling the “Far Left”, there will be a new far left to expel.”

This is true and really all that needed to be said. All the rest is commentary.

4 years 18 days ago

>the RCA specifically, ought to welcome into its tent anyone who professes loyalty to the theology of Jewish
>belief endorsed by Rishonim and Aharonim as historically and halachically understood, and whose conduct is
>governed by classical Jewish law, even if that conduct is inconsistent with the current norms…

Why hasn’t the Union for Traditional Judaism been incorporated into the RCA? Is it just because they once called themselves the Union for Traditional *Conservative* Judaism? Why is Avi Weiss more acceptable than David Weiss Halivni?

Bob Miller
4 years 18 days ago

Part of the difficulty here is that the concepts of Jewish authenticity and fidelity to Torah are resistant to precise definition in words. Many things that feel wrong or smell wrong to traditional Jews really are wrong, but the exact reasons why can be hard to pin down. As used now, “daas Torah” typically refers to the intangible and intuitive aspects, but it, too, fails to capture the idea completely. Also, its limits are not well-defined, and even the most well-respected authorities in any given camp have differed among themselves about policy.

4 years 18 days ago

Rabbi Broyde wrote
“The Nodah beYehuda observes (correctly in my view) in OC 2:18 that when there is a clear minhag yisrael to do something (in his case, to have 12 windows in a shul)”

I looked up this Noda biyehuda and it says nothing about 12 windows in a shul.

Harry Maryles
4 years 18 days ago

I wish I could define and articulate the positions of Modern Orthodoxy with the skill and knowledge that Rabbi Broyde brings to the table. I am truely in awe of his ability to do that. I would certainly add his name to any ‘roster’ of an MO Moetzes.

I have to say that while I understand Rabbi Adlerstein’s concerns and agree that we should do whatever we can to keep the trust of the charedi side of the Orthodox spectrum, I agree that we should remain a big tent on the ‘Far Left’ side of Orthodoxy as long as halacha is… Read more »

4 years 18 days ago

Although I really disagree with everything Rabbi Adlerstein wrote in his original article, I just want to say that I am very impressed with his allowing this critique by Rabbi Broyde to be published in Cross Currents. This is an example of true mentshlichkeit on his part and also a machloket l’shaim shamayim on the parts of both participants. Thank uou!

Menachem Lipkin
4 years 18 days ago

Rabbi Adlerstein’s article, while beautifully written as usual, troubled me greatly. I had difficultly articulating what about it bothered me so much. Now Rabbi Broyde has done the “heavy lifting” for me in so perfectly capturing my sentiments. As much as I admire Rabbi Adlerstein and see him an amazing voice of moderation, I’m not sure he fully understands the angst that so many of us in the orthodox community feel regarding many of these “modern” issues. Rabbi Slifkin gave voice to some of this last week in his article on “Post Chareidism” and today Rabbi Broyde has greatly… Read more »

4 years 19 days ago

people are not normally expelled for advocating ideas that are within the halachic universe but simply not proper or normative

The problem here is that they are not advocating within – they have set up their own institution to do things their own way. If the RCA includes them, they’ll participate as much as they can, but when the RCA votes against one of their ideas they’ll do their own thing anyway. Not exactly in line with Rabbi Yehoshua who yielded to the Sanhedrin’s calculation of Yom Kippur.

The decision to leave Rabbis Aharon Lichtenstein and Norman Lamm off this… Read more »

4 years 19 days ago

Isn’t R’ Adlerstein’s point that violating minhag Yisrael in order to incorporate a value not articulated in aggadita but rather through absorbtion of Western Culture itself a violation of halachic process, and thus its results beyond halakhah, beyond Orthodoxy? At some point not intending to violate halakhah isn’t enough; the violation in effect is so grievous there isn’t common ground.

If it isn’t R’ Adlerstein’s point, it is something R’ Aharon Lichtenstein declared about the Partnership Minyanim in Katamon and elsewhere. RAL’s actual wording included branding them “Conservative”; comparing them to another community that (at least large sections of) do not… Read more »

Baruch Gitlin
4 years 19 days ago

Kudos to Rabbi Broyde for writing such a wonderful and comprehensive exposition of Modern Orthodox philosophy, and to Cross-Currents for printing it. I particularly like the following: “The Charedi community will have to accept Modern Orthodoxy on its own terms – or not – but I know that progress forward is not possible in any community if one has to look over one’s left or right shoulder all the time.” I am a baal tshuva who adopted a charedi hashkafa for many years, until I left because, among other things, I found the intellectual atmosphere in the charedi world to… Read more »