Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dr. Marc Shapiro Urges On the Great Orthodox Schism of the 21st Century

In response to the Rav Druckman Conversion Scandal...

An exerpt from his piece in The Jewish Week:
...The Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist world should not seek to delegitimize the haredi form of Orthodoxy. But basic pride in one’s ideology would suggest that the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist world should not feel the need to follow the haredim and adapt its own practices in order that there be “one standard.” Whenever people urge the adoption of one standard, you can be sure it will always be the haredi standard, and this applies to conversion, kashrut supervision and any other matter you can imagine. In other words, as long as “one standard” becomes the goal, there is no longer a need for Modern Orthodox halachic authorities. Halachic matters can be left to the haredi world, all in the interest of preserving “Orthodox unity.”
Yet isn’t it time to ask why the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist world doesn’t model itself on the haredi world in at least one area? The haredi world follows its own authorities without regard for the non-haredi rabbinate. Isn’t it time for the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist world to do the same?
This would mean a complete break with the haredi halachic authorities and the establishment of religious courts that share at least some of the values and worldview of the community in which they serve. (I was struck by how, in his lengthy ruling attacking Rabbi Druckman’s conversions, the haredi dayan relies on the halachic decisions of a well-known posek who serves the anti-Zionist Edah Haredit. In other words, the writings of one who believes that the creation of the State of Israel was a terrible sin — and who clearly has no sympathy with the goal of helping ease the conversion of sincere non-Jewish immigrants — is helping guide the decisions of a dayan who works for the Israeli government and is supposed to have the best interests of the State at heart.)
I am sure some readers will protest that it goes against Orthodox unity to advocate this approach. Yet with such a step the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist world would only be acknowledging the situation that the haredim have created, and are now pursuing with a vengeance.
There are hundreds of thousands of non-Jews in Israel, many of whom are interested in conversion. There is also an enormous intermarriage rate in the United States, and there are many non-Jewish partners who are also willing to convert. Yet before solving the problem of who will be a Jew, we must solve the problem of who is a dayan and who is a halachic authority. The haredim have already given their answer to this question. One would that think that the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionists would take the hint and realize that the time has come to go their own way.

Maybe he'll join my campaign to call the OU and tell them to get rid of R' Yisroel Belsky as one of their head halakhic decisors for his public defaming of the Modern Orthodox world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the RCA which has R. Dovid Cohen on its halachib board? I understand why the OU has Belsky. It is all about business. In order for the OU symbol to be acceptable in the haredi world, they need a haredi posek on board. That makes more sense to me than the RCA including a haredi among it chief halachic authorities. BAsically all the mashgichim the OU employs are also haredi as this is not a profession that non-haredim go into. As long as Belsky's role is only in the food, why does that concern you?

5/08/2008 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There might be a fear that whichever party declares the rift is in the wrong. We tell ourselves that the various branches of Progressive Judaism were wrong to break away from Orthodoxy; perhaps there is a fear of being the party that breaks away from Ultra-Orthodoxy.

I'm not saying that fear is justified, or that the Charedi community is not already breaking away from the Modern Orthodox community, just that this fear might exist.

5/08/2008 8:16 AM  
Anonymous sister miryam said...

Rav Belsky's defaming of the ModernOrthodox world is some of the lamest half-witted ramblings I've ever seen! I'm not sure he needs to pay for them, he reads like a buffoon!

On another topics, how arrogant, condescending, and misplaced is the term "Torah Judaism"?

5/08/2008 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their yeshivot could not survive without our money. Why do we fund these places when they are turning out such products? And of course haredim would never contribute to our schools. We let haredi rabbis speak in our shuls, we even have haredi kollels in our shuls, yet they would never let our rabbis speak in their shuls? How long are we supposed to be treated like that?

5/08/2008 10:29 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Yeah, that's what a friend of mine who has OU connections told me. They want to follow the "frummest common denominator" model, so they pick whoever is the strictest (except for certain issues, like חלב הקאמפאניעס). I don't know much about the RCA except that some people I know think it's sorta useless when it comes to fulfilling their rabbinic needs.
What concerns me about R' Belsky is that the OU puts him on a pedestal as a poseiq, which gives him stature beyond just the area of kashrut. And what the heck does he think about the people he works with? Does he say nasty things about them behind their backs? Or just the groups they belong to in public media?


Interesting. Some people are proud of breaking away, though — that was one of R' Shimshon Refael Hirsch's cornerstones — Austritt, the secession of independent communities from larger organizations that were harming them.


Actually, R' Dov Linzer, the rosh yeshiva of YCT, once gave a speech in which he brilliantly appropriated the term Torah-True Judaism, applying it to YCT/MO and explaining it as something like "True to the Complex Reality of Torah and Life".


I don't contribute to organizations that work against me.

5/08/2008 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Garnel Ironheart said...

First off, I have an answer to Shapiro's challenge at Before blithely wandering into the abyss, we should look at the potential consequences.

If MO wants to be taken seriously, it has to present itself seriously. Leniency for the sake of leniency in the MO world is as stupid as stringency for the sake of stringency in the Chareidi world. One can be lenient, but you need good sources to back you up. It's one thing, for example, to use peanut oil on Pesach by saying "Well, come on, no one ever made flour out of peanuts." You'll get taken a lot more seriously if you note that the Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Seridei Eish both said that it's okay because of that very reason.
When MO gets its scholar act together, the Chareidi world might change its attitude. It certainly won't until then

5/09/2008 9:44 AM  
Anonymous jewtah said...

There are plenty of people doing serious halacha in the m.o. world (although I'd always love to see more), and in fact there may be TOO much sighting of sources for the sake of sighting sources. Its not going to change the way chareidi judaism views the modern orthodox world. The disagreement runs much deeper than that - its not something we are doing to loose their respect, its a fundamental difference in underlying assumptions. They think that the modern world is a source of evil and corruption. As long as MO Judaism's is committed to the idea that the modern world can be a source of inspiration and should be integrated into our identities, which is pretty much the basic idea and not something that can be compromised, the chareidi world will think the modern orthodox world is also a source / result of corruption and will not respect it. Since this is not something we can change, I say full steam ahead being a self supporting community with confidence in its own halachic authority and institutions - this means supporting our own rabbis, yeshivot, etc. and providing our own Jewish services - including training and respecting our own mashgiachs, teachers, and sofrim.

5/11/2008 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>>As long as Belsky's role is only in the food, why does that concern you?

Shapiro's point is that - mistama - Modern Orthodox or RZ halakha is not the same as Chareidi halakha, including in matters of kashrut. Thus, if his point is valid, is absolutely is questionable why R. Belsky ought to be the decisor for the OU's kashrut division.

>I understand why the OU has Belsky. It is all about business. In order for the OU symbol to be acceptable in the haredi world, they need a haredi posek on board.

If the OU was only a business then you're right. It is and it should be all about business. I don't think the OU thinks it's all about business.

5/11/2008 2:45 PM  

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