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- This topic has 37 replies, 20 voices, and was last updated 4 months, 1 week ago by AviraDeArah.
January 15, 2023 2:38 pm at 2:38 pm #2156470
Sharing the following from a friend. I’m curious to hear your thoughts:
Ethical Orthodoxy: A Manifesto
When people ask me to describe my religious worldview, I respond that I believe in “Ethical Orthodoxy.”
Although no labels are perfect, “Orthodoxy” describes the commitment to both standard practice and belief within traditional Judaism. A term like “Shomer Torah Umitzvos” would work similarly, but “Orthodox” is the best the English language can do (with some help from Greek).
The term “Ethical” describes and constrains, to some degree, the category of “Orthodoxy.” It means that the sort of Orthodoxy I am committed to is one that sees the indelible importance of ethics. As Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, ztz”l, clarified, this commitment to ethics within an Orthodox framework stems both out of Halakhic principles proper and from the intuitions that Hashem placed in our minds and souls, which must be play a role in our Judaism and Avodas Hashem.
It is important to reflect on the way that “Ethical” modifies “Orthodoxy” here. Significantly, it does not weaken or moderate the commitment to Torah and Mitzvos one iota. It does not presume that Halacha must be updated to conform to the current age, or that certain Halachos no longer matter. And it does not exclude any group of Jews who are Shomrei Torah Umitzvos because they are too far “right” or “left.”
What “Ethical Orthodoxy” describes and calls for is a Jewish observance that both provides due focus on internal Torah ethical categories (Tzedaka, Chesed, Middos) as well as the incorporation of ethical values that extend from the Torah’s exhortations to Lifnim Mishuras HaDin and Tzedek, even if they lack a clear Halachic source.
It charges frum Jews with caring about those who are not Jewish, not observant, or differently observant, even those outside one’s immediately dalet amos. It charges frum Jews with being aware of which communal structures and strictures pose difficulties or exclude others, and to try to support and relieve the burden of those who have been hurt in the process. It charges us to think carefully about our political decisions, at all levels, to ensure that they support building a better world.
“Ethical Orthodoxy” can and should include every observant Jew. It does, however, exclude some people. It excludes those who weaponize Halacha to hurt others. It excludes those who willfully break the law or knowingly participate in or support fraudulent practices. It excludes those who see observance as including a limited set of ritual practices but not Chesed and Ma’asim Tovim.
The category “Ethical Orthodoxy” is not meant to cast aspersions on any groups under any other descriptions. I would hope that all observant Jewish religious leaders (and followers) would grant that this description refers to them as well.
May we merit to build a world where this is the case!January 15, 2023 3:35 pm at 3:35 pm #2156543ujmParticipant
This doesn’t sound like Judaism at all. It sounds like a newfangled religion, such as Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist, that falsely advertises themselves as Judaism.January 15, 2023 3:35 pm at 3:35 pm #2156546
“not changing one halacha”
“It charges frum Jews with caring about those who are not Jewish, not observant, or differently observant”
This changes many halachos. Would an “ethical Orthodox ” person rescue an idolater from death? That’s against halacha. Would he return a lost item without making a kiddush Hashem or avoiding a chilul Hashem? That’s against halacha too. Would he prioritize doing business with frum jews as the halacha requires?
That’s just a few examples.
The problem here is that something besides Torah is influencing your Orthodoxy. Unlike rav hirsch, who said that everything is subservient to Torah, people like aharon Lichtenstein believe in Christian “natural law” that Hashem put in our heads to know right and wrong. What he won’t admit is that halacha demands that we suppress even our good midos when necessary (mechias amalek) and demands that we bend our minds to fit halacha, not fake into account what we personally “feel” based on “intuition”
“Intuition” varies from person to person, and from place to place. One country’s culture would lead to one feeling of morality, and another will produce a different result.
Not that Lichtenstein has any shred of source for this delusion. Not one. It’s just his “intuition”.
Ask a goy from 200 years ago and he’d say slavery was fine. That was his “intuition”
Funny how people who are into “ethics” and who grimace at racism and treating goyim differently have usually never spent time breaking their middos and attempting to serve Hashem the way HE told us to serve Him.
Instead they run to help goyim and serve themselves.January 15, 2023 4:00 pm at 4:00 pm #2156553☕️coffee addictParticipant
Ethical seems like it’s defining orthodoxy like standard orthodoxy isn’t ethical (modern and open do it too, they claim that standard orthodoxy is neither modern nor open) however we know that to not be trueJanuary 15, 2023 4:00 pm at 4:00 pm #2156554Emunas1Participant
Ethics are created and administered by the Torah. There is no ethical code of conduct that is outside of the Torah. There is therefore no need for your designation. It is redundant at best.
In fact, however, it implies that Yiddishkeit is lacking in ethics and needs to be improved, Chas v’shalom. I therefore believe that this is not Yiddishkeit at all.January 15, 2023 8:32 pm at 8:32 pm #2156564
emunas and coffee – very well putJanuary 15, 2023 8:38 pm at 8:38 pm #2156579SQUARE_ROOTParticipant
I recently read a book about Jews [adults, not teenagers] who were born into Chassidic homes, but went off-the-Derech, and no longer practice mitzvot, unfortunately.
This book mentions several reasons why Jews go off-the-Derech.
Reason Number One was the lack of business ethics [or monetary ethics] in the world of Orthodox Judaism.
Simcha613: Orthodox Judaism already has ethics!
Ethics from the 613 mitzvot, ethics from all of Tanach, ethics from Mishnah, ethics from Talmud, ethics from Midrash, ethics from Halachah books, and ethics from Mussar books.
The problem is not that Orthodox Judaism lacks ethics;
the problem is that people who claim to believe in Orthodox Judaism forget the ethical teachings of Orthodox Judaism.January 15, 2023 8:39 pm at 8:39 pm #2156590akupermaParticipant
sounds like halacha – it was introduced a few thousand years ago
if someone thinks its a hiddush, it suggests serious deficiencies in their Torah educationJanuary 15, 2023 8:40 pm at 8:40 pm #2156597anonymous JewParticipant
Ujm,Avira then why do Torah institutions respect and honor individuals who earn their wealth through unethical/illegal means? I won’t name the examples. My friends shul has two prominent frum members currently serving prison terms for embezzlement, as is the former treasurer of a five towns shul. A close friend is a lawyer and many of his clients were frum clients who were victimized civilly by other frum JewsJanuary 15, 2023 8:41 pm at 8:41 pm #2156598GadolHadofiParticipant
So if “Orthodoxy” roughly translates to “Shomer Torah Umitzvos” than “ethical orthodoxy” roughly translates to “ethical Shomer Torah Umitzvos”? As if one can be Shomer Torah Umitzvos without being ethical according to the Torah? Or do you get your ethics from philosophers such as Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel and Schopenhauer who made Germany into such a paragon of ethical behavior?
Does your “ethical orthodoxy” also exclude those who see observance as including a limited set of Chesed and Ma’asim Tovim but not ritual practices? If your “ethical orthodoxy” automatically excludes those who willfully break the law or knowingly participate in or support fraudulent practices, how do you allow for inclusion of “poshei Yisrael” which is a Torah mandate? Or do you satisfy that itch by slavishly pursuing the “tikkun olam” crowd for inclusion?
It sounds like your little invention is just the same rehash of gripes against Torah Judaism that some are trying to “fix” by redefining kosher as the immigration status and hourly wage of the workers. If that’s the case, then you’re really just “open orthodox”.January 15, 2023 8:42 pm at 8:42 pm #2156600
This statement has very good intentions but very vague so it could be mis-directed, same way as “tikkun olam” by Reform. That is why you are immediately met with criticism here.
On the positive side, I heard specific statements along these lines from many “standard/RW orthodoxy” Rabonim, and if you read from R Salanter to R Avigdor Miller, you will find similar sentiment. R Miller, for example, suggests that batei dinim will be administering punishments to bad drivers.
Focusing on “saving an idolater” is an interesting theoretical bit to clarify positions, but it does not deny my experience thinking about saying gomel after driving through a parking lot in a “frum” town [several drivers dashing in front of me, a pair of frum drivers waiting to be towed after bumping into each other, and others driving around them creating further havoc, several children from B’H large families standing alone in the cars way]. There are many areas we can improve without getting into obscure issues.January 15, 2023 8:43 pm at 8:43 pm #2156602
Maybe this discussion will be more grounded if the proponents start simple. Rather than making grandiose statements, pick up specific gemoras that discuss what you would call “ethical behavior” and then make implications to current life.January 15, 2023 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm #2156638adlcParticipant
@AviraDeArah, I’m curious if you are familiar with R’ Lichtenstein׳s writings (and even though you don’t agree with him, he earned his “R” Aharon so a bissel kavod). You wrote that “Unlike rav hirsch, who said that everything is subservient to Torah, people like aharon Lichtenstein believe in Christian “natural law” that Hashem put in our heads to know right and wrong.” You can bring your issue up with the Rishonim who explain the Taanos on Dor HaMabul using that idea. You continue “What he won’t admit is that halacha demands that we suppress even our good midos when necessary (mechias amalek) and demands that we bend our minds to fit halacha, not fake into account what we personally “feel” based on “intuition”.” Your argument isn’t logical; you can believe that we have an intuition that is given by HaShem and has value, and still believe that we are commanded at times to disregard it.January 15, 2023 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm #2156639puttinginmy2centsParticipant
When I was growing up, (B”H I’m in my mid-70’s now), we never heard the word ‘frum’. The word that was used was ‘erlich’. It meant that the person could be trusted in ANY situation. You didn’t have many erhlich people sitting in jail. but today, unfortunately there are many frum people sitting in jail.January 16, 2023 9:53 am at 9:53 am #2156664amiricanyeshivishParticipant
Reb Moshe Feinstein Zatzal once said when asked about a boy for a shidduch if he is frum.
“Frum is a gallach. Ehr is ehrlich”January 16, 2023 9:53 am at 9:53 am #2156670
PIM2C, thanks!! Finally, I was asking here before what happened with ehrliche yidden… this is indeed connected to the topic and shows that there is nothing new here. So, maybe, the pompous statements above do not sound right for some people, but sentiment is correct.January 16, 2023 9:53 am at 9:53 am #2156672maskildoreshParticipant
Bringing up the “Frum people who are unethical” straw man argument is a distraction that does nothing to take away from the basic point that the Torah is the source and measure of Ethics. Claiming that the Torah needs to be hyphenated (e.g. Ethical-Torah ) is a claim that the Torah is Chas vishalom deficient in some way, rl.
תורת ה׳ תמימה משיבת נפש, מאירת עינים, מחכימת פסי, טהורה ועומדת לעד.
Of course, a Torah Jew’s intuition will be in consonance with the Torah, a healthy Neshama will want what’s right and abhor what’s wrong . But the litmus test isnt one’s intuition , it’s the Torah.
In fact, there are those that explain that this was the actual Nisayon of the Akeida. Avrohom Avinu “felt” that it was wrong. That’s what his heart told him. (In fact, it wasn’t Ratzon Hashem to kill Yotzchok, so his heart was sensing correctly). Yet, he was Mivateil his human understanding and intuition to the Ratzon of HKBH. And the Aibeater said “Now I know that you are a YIREI ELOKIM “January 16, 2023 9:53 am at 9:53 am #2156676maskildoreshParticipant
The Shleimus of Torah demands that we treat it with the respect of allowing it to remain majesticly unhyphenated.
People are not always perfect. We do not always follow a perfect Torah perfectly. So sometimes we have people who follow some of the Torah and succumb to their Yetzer hora and act in an unethical manner . This doesn’t reflect negatively on the Torah, Chas vishalom.January 16, 2023 9:53 am at 9:53 am #2156679
The way I understoof the manifesto in Halachic terms is to preclude an ethical “naval birshus haTorah.” In other words, halacha is not unethical, but one can be an Orthodox Jew and a Shomer Torah UMitzvos while still being unethical. There are so many parts of our lives and aspects of our personality that aren’t directly regulated by the Torah that one can do many ethical things and retain many negative midos while still claiming to be a shomer Torah uMitzvos. Ethical Orthodoxy is the effort to preent that from happening by ensuring that ethics and Torah values (which are obviously not mutually exclusive) direct every aspect of our lives.January 16, 2023 9:56 am at 9:56 am #2156673
Anon, unlike mr Lichtenstein’s intuition -defined judaism, real judaism has laws. And those laws allow the honoring of bad people for the sake of maintaining Torah institutions, as per the osak of rav moshe in igros moshe.
Now if the money itself is not kosher, meaning it was earned in a way that is fraudulent in halacha, then that money is not supposed to be accepted. It’s treifeneh gelt. The beis halevi says that this is why parshas terumah is next to mishpatim, that only kosher money can be used for jewish institutions.
That doesn’t mean things that your intuition says are not kosher are considered stealing. We have a shulchan aruch choshen mishpat for that. And many illegal activities are not at all forbidden in halacha, including insider trading, for one example.January 16, 2023 9:56 am at 9:56 am #2156682
adlc- I agree with you. Unfortunately, some people resort to being mevazeh Gedolei Torah as a defense mechanism when faced with an outlook that differs from their own, rather than responding with respect and actually learning about that derech. That kind of bizuy would certainly not fall within “ethical Orthodoxy,”January 16, 2023 9:57 am at 9:57 am #2156669
Adl – there is an expectancy to understand the 7 mitzvos. The dor hamabul, sdom, etc…were held to task for not coming to them through sechel. That doesn’t mean that every intuition we have is valid and we need to “reexamine” torah as he held, mitzvos which don’t fit into current intuition of ethics and morals.
My point about mechias amalek is that Lichtenstein “grapples” with how a merciful G-d could command violence, because to him it’s unethical. For believing Jews, it’s not a question; Hashem is the one who creates ethics and who dictates what is right and wrong.
You haven’t addressed my main idea, that intuition is subjective, and constantly changes by time and place.
Christians believe that our moral feelings are determinate in and of themselves; they use this as a substitute for a religious legal system.
Lichtenstein may have earned a semicha, but bmakom chilul Hashem ain cholkin kavod larav, and every time you mention him it’s a possibility of causing a chilul Hashem…January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156860besalelParticipant
you can argue moshe rabbeinu was an ethical orthodox jew. the gemoro in maseches nedarim says that when he married tzipora, moshe rabbeinu made a neder to stay in midyan and had to do hataras nedurim (hatara done by Hashem himself) in order to be able to go back to mitzrayim, later on. but once he satisfied his orthodox obligation as far as hilchos nedarim are concerned and he did his hataras nedurim he STILL went back to yisro to get his permission to go back to mitzrayim because that was the ETHICAL thing to do even though his halachic limitations were already addressed by the hataras nedarim. Ethical orthodoxy.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156850erParticipant
Avira’s initial post was well-thought out. Question:
So long as I am within halacha, isn’t there a variation on how “fair” to be based on that person’s nature and compass? As a practical matter, if I am lending to a goy, can I not charge below market interest, market-rate, or 18%. Is it possible to avoid one’s personal sense of fairness in coming up with a rate, which depends on their personality, how much return he subjectively believes he requires, and what he feels entitled to? What is “fair” is unavoidably part of the picture, whether relying directly on a Torah source or not. I’m sure there are sources to rely on to determine boundaries on what to charge ad what not to charge. But if halacha says no problem charging the 18%, does that mean I am not allowed to charge 12%? I am assuming in my example there are no ulterior motives for charging the 12%. For example, maybe he has no one else to borrow from, and let’s assume you’ll never be doing business with him again.
If I am correct, then the next step may be to recognize that its impossible for any one of us to know 100% what motivates our sense of fairness. Does it come in part from the medina we are living in? A Torah source? How your parents raised you?
So maybe it’s not that we are relying on Christian sensibilities, but it’s OK in certain situations to have rachmonis where halacha permits.
Thoughts appreciated.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156807doom777Participant
“halacha is not unethical, but one can be an Orthodox Jew and a Shomer Torah UMitzvos while still being unethical”
1. If the Torah and Mitzvos don’t say that something is unethical, then who are you to say that it is?
2. Do you accept upon yourself Torah UMitzvos? Are you willing to hurt people, commit crime, and fraud when the Torah requires you?
I think that there is an intuitive code, called “derech eretz” which is “kodma latorah”. However the Torah supersedes any d.e. considerations, and informs us on what true d.e. really is. I.E. “tikkun olam” is not a reform invention, it’s mentioned in mishna, but chazal used it sparingly.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156794
Avira- name me one posek who allows one to speak about R’ Lichtenstein disrespectfully because he is a Chilul HaShem? It seems like you are doing the very thing you are fighting about… Using your own warped intuition to violate aveiros.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156779
Asking for a friend: I would be curious to see a teshuva explaining under which conditions insider trading is kosher.
This involves explicitly breaking a contract that a person signs and also ensuing hillul Hashem caused by almost inevitable SEC action.
Is one allowed to break a contract for no good reason?
And even if there is some heter for the contract – mybe the teshuva was written before (or was unaware of) SEC deploying algorithmic search for irregularities in trading.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156778
> So sometimes we have people who follow some of the Torah and succumb to their Yetzer hora and act in an unethical manner . This doesn’t reflect negatively on the Torah, Chas vishalom.
This is mamash opposite of what Chazal say on this issue – our inappropriate behavior reflects on how people think of Torah.
Just to see how we view different aspects of Torah – if you were to suggest that it is OK to wait one hour between meat and milk, you will be called apikores and pounded by citations, even as there are no Gemoras that contradict that. And while there are hundreds, if not thousands of Gemoras calling for exquisite thoughtfulness in bein adam l’havero, this is still up to debate.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156777
Maskil > Claiming that the Torah needs to be hyphenated (e.g. Ethical-Torah ) is a claim that the Torah is Chas vishalom deficient in some way, rl.
right, I agree with the sentiment. But modernity brings this need to define your position. A similar unreasonable term is “Orthodox Judaism” – as if there are others (R’L), but everyone is using the term to define themselves. So, while “ethical O” sounds corny, there is – again R’L – who are not careful on that.January 16, 2023 6:37 pm at 6:37 pm #2156776GadolHadofiParticipant
Kedoshim Tihyu specifically precludes an ethical “naval birshus haTorah” so again, one cannot be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos while still being unethical. Your insistence to the contrary is quite troubling, especially when you do so in the name of Rav Lichtenstein, zt”l.January 16, 2023 8:32 pm at 8:32 pm #2156895
Er, fantastic question – mussar teaches us to have rachmonus. It’s a good middah, and there’s no reason not to be merachem on goyim when it’s allowed, unless that person is known to be an active enemy of klal yisroel. To speak to your case, charging a goy interest at a lower rate if you can tell that he’s not wealthy would be totally fine. Charging him no interest… I don’t know of an issur; it’s assur to return a lost item, because you’re showing that mitzvos aren’t important to you and that you’ll do them for everyone, as rashi explains. Here, by interest, are you showing that the mitzvah of lending a Jews money isn’t important by doing it for a goy? Great shailoh…
But charging a lower level of interest is definitely fine.
As to where we should get a moral compass; we call it the 5th chelek of shulchan aruch. One achieves moral thinking by immersion ones self in learning, until his thought process is the result thereof – a ben Torah is so called, because he is literally the son of the Torah… It dictates ever move and every thought he makes. The bigger one is in learning, the more of this daas torah he will have. We can get glimpses of this from stories of gedolei yisroel.
As for Lichtenstein, he promoted haskalah and violations of torah, not to mention Hebrew nationalism. My rebbeim never called him or his ilk by the term rabbi. Rabbi hershel shechter, most of my rebbeim called him rabbi, some didn’t, so i do.January 16, 2023 8:33 pm at 8:33 pm #2156897
I should add that i never heard a lot of my rebbeim mention Lichtenstein’s name, but those who did, did not call him rabbi.January 16, 2023 8:35 pm at 8:35 pm #2156910DaMosheParticipant
Wow, who needs Hamas, neo-Nazis, and other antisemitic groups, when we have AviraDeArah?January 16, 2023 9:51 pm at 9:51 pm #2156927
not charging interest is a form of chesed, so it might be questionable to do it to avdei kochavim. Presumably, you have a decent person in this case, so this might not apply (I think Radaq says this).
I am not sure what the difference is with returning a lost object, maybe because the latter one is really an extreme behavior that most non-Jews do not extend to each other.January 17, 2023 10:30 am at 10:30 am #2157031erParticipant
So perhaps, Avira, one can promote an ‘ethical orthodoxy’ on the basis of rachmanis, so long as it’s within bounds of halacha. Seems it would be fair criticism if a large number of Jews aren’t acting with kavod habrios. I do think it is a problem to call such a movement anything other than Torah Judaism. No need to create new labels. If we need to show more compassion, needs to be reflected as a mainstream value.January 17, 2023 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm #2157093
I also disagree with the OP’s contention that Orthodox is the best english description – it’s not. A Torah Jew is a simple term. It means a Jew who lives wholly, to the best of his ability, according to the Torah as handed down to us from chazal, rishonim and achronim. Anything else isn’t a Torah Jew, even if they wear fabric on their heads and put strange leather boxes on their arms and heads.January 17, 2023 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm #2157090
er, the point is that it’s all torah – there’s no torah ve’taaruos, no torah ummada, no torah v’rachmanus – the expression torah im derech eretz is a mishnah, and rav hirsch used it in terms of torah and being active in the world according to the torah, not as if there’s something else of value OR something else which from the outside influences our torah values. He (and even rabbi yoshe ber soloveitchik) write explicitly that torah is a self-contained continuum, not affected by outside values – rather the torah is what guides us in how to approach anything from the outside.
rachmanus is a torah value, and it is expressed when the torah says to express it, and suppressed when the torah says to suppress it. On shabbos, if one sees a goy dying and there’s no issue of “aivah” or someone finding out and refusing to save Jewish lives in the future, there is absolutely no heter to be mechalel shabbos for him. Furthermore, if a person was mechalel shabbos for such a reason, he would be chayav misah!
I’ve told this to some modern jews, and they’ve told me, in their heresy, that they’re willing to be put to death to save a goy. But even in their foolish notion of self-sacrifice, they miss the point; the idea is that they’re flouting the will of Hashem! He and he alone decides who lives and dies, and putting a jew there on shabbos is akin to putting him behind an iron fence – you might want to help, but what can you do? you’re unable to.January 17, 2023 2:16 pm at 2:16 pm #2157161
It is unbelievable that we as a nation are still grappling with this. However, let’s ignore the larger discussion and focus on the fatal error of your original post.
“It excludes those who weaponize Halacha to hurt others. It excludes those who willfully break the law or knowingly participate in or support fraudulent practices.”
What is the nature of this exclusion? Where in Torah does an error make one excluded? How do we fault people who clearly do not see the religious value of religion itself? How do you differentiate between willful and unwitting infractions Can the most strict adherents of Ethical Orthodoxy be confident to not transgress their own commitments? Can anyone determine who is being ethical? Isn’t it a purely mental exercise? Wouldn’t we just end up with the same game of calling everyone an ethical fraud or non-orthodox?
This has been rehashed for decades and there is nothing new here. the value of a strong ethical philosophy is purely the realm of the individual. With little impact and no significant affect on community life. It is none of my business if people live up to their ethics or not. But it is very meaningful to the practitioner. This is abstract thought. It has nothing to do with religion.
Religion is collective thought. That thought gives it no legitimacy. It could only be useful if it is believed to be Divine. It takes it’s legitimacy from it’s own context. It can never think itself into a non-existing situation. Therefore it always entertains those with serious moral failings. It allows those failings to modify the system. Some people see this as a major threat to authenticity. But it has no strength against true religion. Because true religion is convinced that it cannot be permanently vanquished Do you feel so strongly about Ethics?January 18, 2023 3:36 pm at 3:36 pm #2157557Avram in MDParticipant
“Religion is collective thought. That thought gives it no legitimacy. It could only be useful if it is believed to be Divine. It takes it’s legitimacy from it’s own context. It can never think itself into a non-existing situation. Therefore it always entertains those with serious moral failings. It allows those failings to modify the system. Some people see this as a major threat to authenticity. But it has no strength against true religion. Because true religion is convinced that it cannot be permanently vanquished Do you feel so strongly about Ethics? “
Can you clarify this paragraph? I have no idea what you are trying to say here.January 18, 2023 8:26 pm at 8:26 pm #2157562
It’s hard to be specific on this thread. I never heard of this specific label [EO] before. It was all a lead up to the statement in bold and the question. As in, does the OP feel confident about adding a clause (ethics – or whatever they think it means) into something (Judiaism – as it was Divinely given) that will eternally outlast them?
The paragraph is about all religions. Religions are not for one person. They are only for people. So what the people as a group think of their religion tends to make up what their religion consists of. But that is not the religion itself. It is only how they relate to it. It doesn’t go by what people claim they think of their religion. It thrives off of how they perform as a religious group.January 19, 2023 2:53 pm at 2:53 pm #2157852Avram in MDParticipant
“It’s hard to be specific on this thread.”
You wrote a lot, and it seems to me that you’re trying to make a specific point, I just wish I could understand it. “The paragraph is about all religions” – what paragraph? “Religions are not for one person. They are only for people.” – I never heard of this limitation in the definition of religion. It’s not what makes religion distinct from ethics, if that’s what you’re trying to argue. “So what the people as a group think of their religion tends to make up what their religion consists of. But that is not the religion itself.” – These two sentences seem to directly contradict one another.
“I never heard of this specific label [EO] before.”
No, but it’s quite common in the non-Orthodox movements. A notable example is the Conservative Movement’s “hechsher tzedek” where they seek to “certify” food that is made according to their own ethical and social justice standards. They claim a distinction between Torah and “Jewish values”, which doesn’t exist. Orthodox Jews refute the notion that the Torah, written by Hashem, is lacking something that must be filled by a separate set of ethics. I think what really bugs the OP is that someone who keeps Shabbos, kashrus, and taharas mishpacha, but is mean, or took benefits he wasn’t entitled to, is still considered “Orthodox”, while someone who’s a nice guy and submits a squeaky clean tax return to the IRS on Jan 2, but who eats out in non-kosher restaurants or uses a smartphone on Shabbos, is not considered Orthodox. So he created his own category of “Ethical Orthdox” where he could exclude the former. The thing is, inclusion in the frum community is not necessarily an attestation that a person is good or doing the right thing.
“It was all a lead up to the statement in bold and the question. As in, does the OP feel confident about adding a clause (ethics – or whatever they think it means) into something (Judiaism – as it was Divinely given) that will eternally outlast them?”
Seems so. He’s already done it after all, right?
“Religions are not for one person. They are only for people.”
So what the people as a group think of their religion tends to make up what their religion consists of. But that is not the religion itself. It is only how they relate to it. It doesn’t go by what people claim they think of their religion. It thrives off of how they perform as a religious group.””
As I wrote above, these seem like contradictory notions to me, and thus needs more explanation. How I’m interpreting it:
1. Religion is a collective exercise, not a personal thing. Huh? Religion is all about one’s personal beliefs in the divine. Adherents with similar beliefs may opt to form religious communities though it’s not a requirement, e.g., Protestant Christianity, or one’s religious tenants may dictate that adherents form communities, as is the case with Orthodox Judaism.
2. Religion is what this collective group thinks it is, except that it’s not. Huh? I can’t reconcile these two statements.
3. Religion is independent of the people who adhere to it, but what it is depends on what those people do. Huh? I feel like the definitions of terms are shifting rapidly.January 19, 2023 4:49 pm at 4:49 pm #2157881
Thanks for taking the time to work through my posts. I’m using this minute to respond to the simple stuff. Hopefully I’ll get to the real stuff before shabbos. So, just some bullet points.
-I was intentionally vague because I’m not aware of what this is all about.
– What paragraph? The one you asked me to clarify. Sorry for the confusion. Please reread that post.
-Later we can discuss if my distinction about religion not being for one person is correct. I was trying to say that religion is not just a purely philosophical exercise.
-I’m aware of the contradiction. Later.
-About the OP. I’m not sure if this is an imitation of those other attempts, or is it an attempt to be more orthodox. Also, it seems pointless to have to go back to ethics to simply say, “what so and so is doing is unacceptable”.
-He has excluded those who are unethical. My question is if he has religious conviction in his own philosophical conclusion.
– I equate personal religion with syncretism.
On the last three points:
1. We’ve debated this before. I would love to continue it with you.
2. What people think is religiously important, has an outsized impact in how the people form the community. But what was or is critical to the religion, is not the communal part. An example. Our communities revolve around the imperative of having yeshivos. It affects so much of our lifestyle. But the goal is not to be a ben yeshiva. The goal is to be a ben torah.
3. A true religion wouldn’t permanently shift it’s goal because of the failings of it’s adherents. The religion is more vibrant when the group unifies to participate in the religious goals.
I think I got to everything. I’m not convinced I’m right about all of it or even most of it.January 19, 2023 9:11 pm at 9:11 pm #2157941ujmParticipant
One very vital point that I think many are overlooking is that labels are meaningless. Including the label of being “Orthodox”. The descriptor “Orthodox” is not something the so-called Orthodox took upon themselves. It was a name (originally intended in a derogatory sense, comparing them to the Christian Orthodox) that was imposed on us by the “non-Orthodox”. It was intended to include anyone that, at the time, didn’t abandon half of the Torah and replace it with (then) modern concepts (i.e. Reform).
L’maaisa, the point is that labels are absolutely meaningless. A Jew is a Jew. Everything else is irrelevant. Some Jews fully keep the Torah, some mostly, some partially, etc. But they’re all Jews. The rest is commentary.January 25, 2023 4:04 pm at 4:04 pm #2159598
Way to go, Josef!!! L’chaim!January 25, 2023 6:12 pm at 6:12 pm #2159610
Except UJM agrees that conservatives who keep some mitzvos aren’t included in “those who keep part of the torah” – because they don’t believe that Hashem commanded them to do so. If there is no commander, there is no commandment. Their actions are meaningless in halacha, they have accomplished no mitzvah, their brochos are in vain, and they are not going to receive any reward for doing things that they themselves decided are spiritual nice things to do, or traditions.January 25, 2023 6:12 pm at 6:12 pm #2159611
A believing Jew does, however, get credit for every little zchus and mitzvah that he does.
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