Centrist Orthodoxy, and the English Language

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  • #609232

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Yesterday, I heard someone refer to himself as “Centrist Orthodox.” Well, I heard him quoted as referring to himself such. This fellow is a candidate for graduation at YCT.

    And I wondered: does he even speak English?

    “Centrist” is a relative term–it refers to the relative position between extremes. If one identifies as Centrist, it is because one has identified an extreme on each side which is further to that side than he is.

    I am Centrist. There are communities to my right (Lakewood) and there are communities to my left (YU).

    I am quite curious to hear what sort of Orthodoxy he has identified that is to the left of himself.

    And they make fun of our secular education. I didn’t go to college, but at least I speak English.

    #952184

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    YCT is not centrist Orthodox, Its leftist Orthodox.

    Id estimate Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva is more centrist. They teach secular studies (serioiusly) and do allow the Bochrim to attend some college courses and do encorage the Bochrim to get jobs instead of lifetime Kollel

    #952185

    akuperma
    Participant

    Living languages are dynamic. New words get invented all the time. Languages are in a constant state of evolution. All lexographers and gramarians can do is record the changes.

    #952186

    Sam2
    Participant

    PBA: YCT still gets to point to Machon Hadar as being to the left of them.

    #952187

    yytz
    Participant

    You have a point, but you’re assuming that everyone at YCT is the same. Perhaps, like in most places, there is a range there, a right and a left. Presumably he sees himself as on the right of the intra-YCT spectrum.

    #952188

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Old story. R’ Gifter said it about Norman Lamm

    #952189

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    He is probably to the right of his teacher.

    Do you stand exactly midway between Lakewood and YU?

    #952190

    Exactly. Centrist is a relative term. That’s why someone from YU can call themselves centrist (YCT on their left, and Popa on their right), someone from Agudah can call themselves centrist (YU on their left and Satmar on their right), Satmar can call themselves centrist (Agudah on their left and Neturei Karta on their right), and YCT people can call themselves centrist (frei Jews on their left, YU/RCA on their right).

    Orthodoxy is far too broad and complicated a system to be as neatly categorized and compartmentalized as you would like.

    Also, what’s the deal with your constant digs at YCT? I disagree with their hashkafos as well- that doesn’t mean I create entire threads devoted to ridiculing their piskei Halacha, maliciously edit their Wikipedia page to make them look bad, or find every opportunity to criticize/insult them.

    I personally am much more worried about rising intermarriage rates, chillul shabbos, and disregard of ALL Halacha by thousands of non observant jews versus a couple dozen YCT rabbis running small shuls that let women lead Kabbolas shabbos.

    #952191

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    YCT people can call themselves centrist (frei Jews on their left, YU/RCA on their right).

    You’re forgetting that the term centrist is being used as a qualifier for the term orthodox.

    #952192

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Also, what’s the deal with your constant digs at YCT? I disagree with their hashkafos as well- that doesn’t mean I create entire threads devoted to ridiculing their piskei Halacha, maliciously edit their Wikipedia page to make them look bad, or find every opportunity to criticize/insult them.

    I’m on the front lines dude.

    Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.

    #952193

    But saying that YCT is centrist is just as absurd as saying Satmar is, or saying you are. That was my point. Who can judge what are the extremes in frumkeit, and who is really in the “center?”

    #952199

    Mods edit the repeats. And popa, great movie. You’re clearly a kofer for watching movies. That’s not being centrist, just goyish.

    #952200

    charliehall
    Participant

    IIRC, the term “centrist orthodox” was coined by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, former President of Yeshiva University to refer to what YU practices. YCT pretty much does the same thing. To say that he doesn’t speak English well is a massive slander at a major talmid chacham; an apology is in order.

    #952201

    Charlie, I was with right up into, you said “YCT pretty much does the same thing.” There’s a reason YCT rabbis cannot be part of the RCA. YU has never gone as far and pushed the boundaries of frumkeit as much as rabbi Avi Weiss and YCT have.

    #952202

    rationalfrummie, there’s a reason jts rabbis cannot be part of the irf. yct has never gone as far and pushed the boundaries of frumkeit as much as rabbi saul liberman and jts have.

    #952203

    JTS does not push the boundaries of frumkeit- they simply aren’t frum. Maybe decades ago they could be considered frum but not anymore. They’re the ones that ordain women and gays, and are mechalel Shabbos befarhesia! That ain’t frum by any standard.

    At least YCT seems to care about most of Halacha, there are many talmidei chachamim in their ranks, and they keep Shabbos, kosher, etc. however, in regards to women’s roles in frum life they definitely push boundaries.

    #952204

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    And popa, great movie. You’re clearly a kofer for watching movies.

    That’s a movie? I watched a play that had that line, in an outdoor theater in Door County, WI.

    #952205

    HolyMoe
    Participant

    I have yet to meet a person that considers himself to be an extremist.

    I firmly believe that every person considers himself to be precisely in the middle.

    He or she can always find someone or some group that is to their right and another that is to their left.

    Everybody sees him/herself exactly in the middle.

    This is the nature of all of us.

    Anyone disagree with me?

    #952206

    rationalfrummie, everything you said about jts could be said about yct. jts too had many “talmidei chachomim”, including saul lieberman, who kept shabbos, kosher, etc.

    #952207

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    To say that he doesn’t speak English well is a massive slander at a major talmid chacham; an apology is in order.

    Really? Is that where you want to make your stand? Why don’t you just say what everybody knows which is that it is hyperbole intended to make it sound better. Which isn’t the weirdest thing ever.

    #952208

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    I have yet to meet a person that considers himself to be an extremist.

    I am an extremist regarding certain Halachos (for example, Shekiah), and will admit it.

    #952209

    charliehall
    Participant

    “There’s a reason YCT rabbis cannot be part of the RCA.”

    Correct. The reason is called “politics”. But at least two YCT core faculty, maybe more, are members of the RCA and one, Rabbi Nati Helfgot, is featured on the RCA website.

    #952210

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Correct. The reason is called “politics”.

    Politics? Now we’re calling religion politics? Usually we just call it bigotry, so I suppose politics is a step up.

    YCT is not allowed in the RCA for the same reason Catholic priests aren’t. Because they aren’t practicing Judaism.

    #952211

    shepherd
    Participant

    since the “center” of jewish orthodoxy is the torah, as codified by the shulchan aruch, the correct definition of centrist orthodoxy is to follow shulchan aruch. I myself am trying to be a centrist jew (im not always as succesful as i would like…) as if something is permitted according to halacha I see no reason to prohibit it. similarly if something is prohibited i do not have the audacity to permit it. I am a centrist Jew (and proud)

    #952212

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Can RCA Rabbi’s be part of the Agudah?

    #952213

    Popa, I wouldn’t have said it in as an inflammatory or bar plugtadike way as you did. The reason is the RCA disagrees with the quasi-halachic decisions made by YCT’s administration. Of course they’re still Jewish chas vesholom to slander another Jew like that, they’re just making incorrect halachic conclusions. And the line is from a movie, A Few Good Men.

    Just a member: JTS isn’t like that anymore. I said it used to be fairly observant, maybe even the MO of its time. But those days are over, and they ended when JTS started ordaining women, later gays, and said that Halacha should change to accomodate women and mechalelei Shabbos. YCT purposefully tries to be creative within the halachic framework- they actually cite mekoros and learn Gemara. They might be wrong but they at least try. Most JTS graduates are not giving advanced Gemara be’iyun shiurim. YCT people often are.

    #952214

    shepherd
    Participant

    also i always find the term “modern orthodox” to be an oxymoron. the word orthodox is made up of 2 parts orthos “right, true, straight” and doxa “opinion, praise,” which my understand of it is that it has remained true to its original source which modernizing by definition doesn not do

    #952215

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Anyone disagree with me?

    I don’t know that NK isn’t aware that they’re on the right. They just don’t care, because they think they are correct.

    I don’t know how to measure right, left and center. It’s been argued that “yeshivish” is in the center, right in the middle, between LWMO and Satmar. I say, who cares? What’s correct is correct, no matter how many other ideologies there might be or how many people practice them.

    #952216

    Toi
    Participant

    zdad- only if you lose the apostrophe.

    #952217

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    ZDAD,

    “Can RCA Rabbi’s be part of the Agudah?”

    That does not even make sense. Is RCA a yeshiva?

    Does Agudah have member rabbonim?

    Your question cannot be answered because it just does not make sense.

    It’s like asking what is the difference between a peach.

    #952218

    LanderTalmid
    Participant

    I couldn’t care less if I am categorized as left wing, right wing centrist or extreme. I devote my life to doing what Hashem wants from me and don’t get involved in politics.

    #952219

    Nisht, RCA is the rabbinical council of America, a centrist orthodox group that gives semicha and has a few thousand member rabbis. It was led by rav Yosef Dovbear Solovetchik while he was alive. Surprised you’ve never heard of it.

    #952220

    torahlishma613
    Participant

    Landertalimd- that is absolutely beautiful. May we be zoche to the coming of moshiach. We need more people to think like you. Instead of labeling Jews, lets just serve Hashem to the best of our abilities and we will bring moshiach

    #952221

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    rational:

    I never said they aren’t jewish. What are you talking about?

    Also, it is a play. It was a play before it was a movie. Now who’s cultured.

    #952223

    “Just a member: JTS isn’t like that anymore. I said it used to be fairly observant, maybe even the MO of its time. But those days are over… YCT purposefully tries to be creative within the halachic framework- they actually cite mekoros and learn Gemara. They might be wrong but they at least try.”

    yct is on the same beaten path as jts. jts, also, gives a “creative” halachic framework with a “psak” citing mekoros, just as you say yct does.

    #952224

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    Rational,

    RCA is a Rabbinic Membership Organization. To become a member one must have an approved smicha. RCA does NOT issue smicha.

    I haave heard of RCA, apparently while you have heard of it, you do not know what they do.

    BY the way, they refer to primary leader as R Joseph B. Soloveitchik, ZT’L, not as DovBear, who is a small minded blogger.

    The Agudah is not a Rabbinic Membership Organization. It to does not issue smicha. Agudah is a services and representational organization.

    ZDs question therefore makes no sense.

    #952225

    skz
    Member

    there is only 1 definition of wat judaisim is and thats wat the torah says . once u start adding prefixes such as centrist , modern etc. thats already not judaisim thats your own religion based on your disinterest in wat the torah really want. so please if your not really interested in jewish dont represnt your self as a legitimate form of judaisim

    #952226

    charliehall
    Participant

    “yct is on the same beaten path as jts”

    That is not accurate. JTS did start out as Orthodox — their first graduate became the chief rabbi of the UK — but when Solomon Schechter arrived he brought a non-Orthodox hashkafa with him and its co-founder Henry Pereira Mendes disassociated himself from the institution. JTS did have a mostly Orthodox faculty for most of the 20th century — Rabbi Saul Lieberman, who could have taught at virtually any yeshiva in the world, has already been mentioned — but they also tolerated faculty such as Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, who is one of the rare people of whom it can be said that he was a sufficiently great talmid chacham to be an actual apikoros. JTS even has a few Orthodox faculty today but it ceased to be an Orthodox institution a very long time ago. Worthy of note is that JTS has very rarely in its history given an Orthodox Yoreh Yoreh semichah.

    By comparison, all the core YCT faculty are orthodox in both hashkafa and observance. It gives the ordinary Orthodox Yoreh Yoreh semichah and some of its graduates have made aliyah and passed the official semichah exams of the Israeli Rabbinate. They believe and teach Torah Mi Sinai and are fully observant. JTS has not been that way for generations.

    The real comparison to YCT is what the Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Theological School — now affiliated with Yeshiva University — was like in its early decades, prior to the founding of Yeshiva College. It was a fully Orthodox institution, but with a mission to train English-speaking pulpit rabbis for America. The Eastern European rabbinate in America did not support RIETS. But it is because of the vision of people who started and promoted RIETS, along with other parallel movements such as the Orthodox Union and the Young Israel movement, that Orthodox Judaism survived in America. YCT is very much in that tradition. It fills a void created by RIETS becoming primarily a Torah Lishmah institution (with an absolutely amazing faculty), with a huge fraction of its semichah recipients going on to careers in fields other than the rabbinate. Fortunately, the Eastern European rabbinate in America did not run RIETS out of Orthodoxy. And YCT should not be excluded today.

    #952227

    yytz
    Participant

    I think Charlie’s right about the major hashkafic difference between YCT and JTS — JTS faculty held clearly non-Orthodox beliefs (such as Biblical criticism and the rejection of Oral-Torah-from-Mount-Sinai) by early in the 20th century, and by the 50s they were doing such things as issuing statements annulling all kohanim marriage restrictions. In contrast, neither YCT nor its faculty hold any clearly non-Orthodox beliefs. Its students are required to daven at a shul with a mechitza, which hopefully should keep out the Conservadox.

    However, I did notice on their alumni page that a few of the YCT alumni have gotten master’s degrees at or otherwise studied at JTS. I’m not sure whether it was before or after they went to YCT — I guess that makes a big difference.

    #952228

    Wolfman
    Participant

    Let me jump in here. I don’t think the term “Centrist” as used is intended as a comparative term, although it may seem that way. I think it’s a reference to what the Rambam calls the middle path. Modern Orthodoxy has often claimed that they are following the Rambam’s path. As such, the term “Centrist”, in that context, fits.

    #952229

    rebdoniel
    Member

    I don’t care for these labels. These are subjective and relative terms. People generally use the term to refer to YU Yeshivish types; i.e. they emulate the roshei yeshiva in YU in dress (black-hat) and hashkafa.

    #952230

    Nisht,

    You were the one who said you didn’t know what it was, and asked if it was a yeshivah! And why did you bring dovbear into this, he has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

    Popa: You win. Shkoyach.

    Everyone else: Once most rebbeim at YCT renounce torah mi-sinai and tell their students they can drive on shabbos I’ll agree with you.

    #952231

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Everyone else: Once most rebbeim at YCT renounce torah mi-sinai and tell their students they can drive on shabbos I’ll agree with you.

    Right, so in my opinion, they have already done that. By saying that halachos and minhagim stated in chazal can be attributed to bigotry against women, the entire concept of mesorah falls. Thus, I think it is quite accurate that they have renounced torah sh’baal peh misinai.

    And I look forward to the day when they will just drive on shabbos and stop trying to be meisis umeidiach.

    #952232

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    Ration,

    I said that rhetorically. I know its not a Yeshiva. How can they issue smicha, they are not a yeshiva.

    Your description of RCA was incorrect because you assumed they issue smicha. They do not.

    You also referred to Yosef DovBear. (Perhaps he was called Duber, most often though it was Yoshe Ber. DovBear is a blogger, as defined in its most derogatory manner)

    I was pointing out that inaacuracy as well.

    #952233

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    Everyone else: Once most rebbeim at YCT renounce torah mi-sinai and tell their students they can drive on shabbos I’ll agree with you.

    And crossing out “kedoshim tihyu” does not matter?

    #952234

    Sam2
    Participant

    PBA: I don’t like YCT in the slightest either, but I think you’re greatly exaggerating what they say. I don’t think they’re that bad-yet. The near future will tell if they stay in the fold or move the way JTS did. I personally expect a JTS-type move, but I still hope that it doesn’t happen.

    #952235

    benignuman
    Participant

    “By saying that halachos and minhagim stated in chazal can be attributed to bigotry against women, the entire concept of mesorah falls.”

    Wait a minute. There is a big difference between “minhagim” and “halachos” here. How is the concept of mesorah harmed by saying that minhagim were influenced by bigotry towards women?

    Furthermore, if by bigotry you mean sexism (as opposed to misogyny) then they are correct. Many halachos are sexist (e.g. a woman cannot be an Eid for many matters). As long as that doesn’t mean that the halachos are invalid, how does it damage the mesorah.

    #952236

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Sam, I don’t think I’m exaggerating what they say.

    I think the only thing I can be accused of is extrapolating from the writings of the talmidim what the rebbeim hold. But I think that is fair, since they are in a large way using the talmidim to say the things they are afraid to say.

    I also have significant exposure to their ideologies by way of personal relationships and facebook. Which is stuff that is not in the public eye completely, but I think my conclusions are sound even just on the basis of op-eds, blog posts, and other public writings.

    You might also read a piece published last week or so titled “Should I Thank God for Not Making Me a Woman?” by another of their clowns who also happens to be a founder of Uri l’tzedek. The latter piece is somewhat more subtle about the allegation, but it is clear if you know what to look for.

    So for example, the latter piece’s thesis is to substitute a different meaning for shelo asani isha; specifically, that the bracha is because practically he thinks being a woman stinks. He writes that he insists on saying the bracha even if it needs a different meaning because “As a committed Orthodox Jew, I have accepted the entirety of halacha — the Jewish path of law and tradition — upon myself.”

    But then in the next paragraph he writes: “Written by male rabbis nearly 2,000 years ago, these words evoke for me the sexism too prevalent in the Orthodox world and beyond… Do I want any part of that sexism? No.”

    I don’t think this is ambiguous. Chevron Step one, for the win.

    Please, I would very much like to be wrong about them.

    #952237

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    PBA: An old friend of mine pointed this out to me when I was defending the Bracha of “Shelo Asani Isha”. (The “Gam Yesh Lomar”). Personally, even if it is true, it makes no difference, as once Chazal were Mesaken to say the brocha, we say it, no matter the reasoning behind it, just like any other Takanas Chazal which doesn’t fall off just because the reasoning no longer exists. This is the Torah Temmima, please allow the link.

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14052&st=&pgnum=219

    Finally, you have to differentiate between Minhag, Takanos & Halacha. The Halacha is that a woman can not be an Eid or be part of a minyan because the Torah requires males. Period. Takanos like Yichud (2 males vs. 2 females) also do not change due to society. Minhag on the other hand is more ambiguous. It was always the “Minhag” for women not to go to school until Bais Yaakov.

    #952238

    benignuman
    Participant

    “But then in the next paragraph he writes: ‘Written by male rabbis nearly 2,000 years ago, these words evoke for me the sexism too prevalent in the Orthodox world and beyond… Do I want any part of that sexism? No.'”

    First of all, he is not saying that the rabbis that wrote the brocho were sexist but that reading it today it evokes in his mind the sexism that he seas in the Orthodox community today. In other words what bothers him is how the words would be understood today, not their actual original meaning.

    Second, even under your reading, he is essentially saying that although he wished the brocho wasn’t sexist, he will say it even though he doesn’t like it. That’s being mevatel your daas to halacha, a good thing.

    At the very least this gets us to Chevron step two.

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