Modern Orthodoxy at a crossroads

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  • #599858

    Jothar
    Member

    Rav Yitzchok Adlerstein (also known as Rabbi Jeff Adlerstein, a well-respected rabbi who has appeal to both yeshivish and MO Jews) wrote an interesting piece recently in Ami Magazine (and available on his blog) called Modern Orthodoxy at a Crossroads. Did anyone here read it? Comments?

    #817469

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Let’s link it: https://ajop.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/pdfs/adlerstein54-60.ami039.moder.pdf

    Mods: It’s a good article, and the link goes straight to the article. So let it up??

    #817470

    I read it. It’s a great article! It’s very well written, very informative, and very balanced.

    It’s definitely worth reading.

    #817471

    Jothar
    Member

    It’s also available on cross-currents, on his own blog.

    In a nutshell (my own words, feel free to add nuances I missed):

    1. YCT and the “far-left” crowd are de-legitimizing the RCA and MO.

    2. the RCA needs to put its foot down or risk having its connection to regular Orthodoxy disappear as it becomes viewed as supporters of YCT and its innovations of ignorance.

    There is a lot going on between the lines.

    I’m getting vibes from the article that Rav Adlerstein and many other “right-wing YU”-type RCA rabbis (btw I am aware that Rav Adlerstein didn’t go to YU) want to make a splinter organization if the RCA doesn’t take a stand on its Orthodoxy.

    {ka-ching}

    #817472

    shlishi
    Member

    I’m getting vibes from the article that Rav Adlerstein and many other “right-wing YU”-type RCA rabbis (btw I am aware that Rav Adlerstein didn’t go to YU) want to make a splinter organization if the RCA doesn’t take a stand on its Orthodoxy.

    I don’t see that in the article from R. Adlerstein or as being realistic in any event. If they want to be right-wing-types they can simply be Chareidi. There really isn’t any room for a something more right-wing than the RCA but less right-wing than Chareidi.

    #817473

    Toi
    Participant

    funny thing is that departures from the hashkafic norms were the reason that the right-wingers dumped MO. come a full circle?

    #817474

    Ofcourse
    Member

    I liked the article.

    Id like to add-

    From my involvement with YU-right wingers, I can say that they are at least as aidel and Torah-dig as other right-wingers. Theyre Real McCoy through and through and not learning because they’ll do better Shidduchim or because its the tradition in their circles, etc. They really want to be Marbitz Torah.

    #817475

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Jothar: You’re right about a lot going on between the lines. I only have what a rather inactive RCA rabbi (been a member for almost 50 years) tells me. Most of the older RCA members basically ignore YCT because they want to keep leading their kehillos and have no interest in dealing with new movements (in which they include American-style yeshivish). Others, like Rabbi Adlerstein worry about political realities and what the charedim think.

    Toi: Go away.

    #817476

    Toi
    Participant

    ofcourse- shaychis?

    #817477

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    So I was in a city for shabbos recently, and they have an eruv.

    So I asked who the rav hamachshir of the eruv is. It is the local YCT rabbi of the local shul.

    So I didn’t use the eruv. Even forgetting any hashkafa issues, an ?? ???? cannot be a rav hamachshir on an eruv.

    (Aside: My brother was once out of town somewhere, and called a mikva and asked who the rav hamachshir was. The response: “If you’re asking, you don’t want to use this mikva.”)

    #817478

    Did anyone read the letter that appeared in the Yated Ne’eman a few weeks ago about the YU roshei yeshiva and YCT?

    #817479

    Jothar
    Member

    I was looking for a comment from one of the real MO members of the coffee room. Do they agree with his assessment? is YCT that big of an influence on the direction of MO? And would they want a splinter rabbinical group? Are there any red lines that can’t be crossed or they leave their MO shul?

    Many shuls have bylaws that the rabbi must be a member of the RCA. They would have to be amended.

    #817480

    EzratHashem
    Member

    There are a lot of disaffected young adults (20’s) who are likely to be attracted to this “orthodoxy” which crosses many red lines, but they can still call themselves observant because the leadership tells them it’s OK.

    #817481

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Jothar: I don’t think so. As far as I can tell, most people couldn’t care less about Rabbi Weiss’s innovations. You also have to remember that YCT isn’t monolithic either. Not all of their alumni are trying to push the egalitarian agenda.

    popa: Why not? Do you want me to tell you who supervises the kitchens at your favorite restaurants?

    #817482

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Confused.

    The hashgachos I use do not hire Am Haaratzim as rav hamachshirs. (I’m not talking about the mashgiach temidi- I’m talking about the person taking responsibility.)

    #817483

    Jothar
    Member

    Itchesrulik, the point is: If you were associated with a movement that crossed halachic lines, when does it become something to make a protest about? When do you say “enough is enough”? When does the newt jump out of the pot?

    I know of a family who switched from a conservative shul to an Orthodox one once the Conservative shul ordained female rabbis. they are Orthodox today. When does an MO say “This is not yiddishkeit”? When does it go from a hashkafic difference to a red-line “This is not my yiddishkeit” difference? Or does MO mean “it’s all good,like Outback Steakhouse- no rules- just right”?

    #817484

    Jothar
    Member

    Rabbi Adlerstein is implying that many rabbis are growing uncomfortable with their RCA memberships They view it as a stamp of approval, not a nonjudgmental social club. The Rav zt”l was very clear about belonging in a group with non-Orthodox rabbis. Many of them are wondering if the RCA has become such a group.

    #817485

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    One recommendation is for the RCA to insist on some yeshiva learning, not just knowing ??? ????.

    #817486

    From my involvement with YU-right wingers, I can say that they are at least as aidel and Torah-dig as other right-wingers.

    This was the case even 25 years ago when the YU right wing started to take shape.

    YCT (Yeshivas Chovlei Torah), on the other hand, is an outgrowth of the Upper West Side “chattering classes,” composed of borderline con-servative, a handful of followers of Rabbi David Weiss-Halivni, Soviet Jewry activists who were “fellow travelers” as far as Yiddishkeit was concerned and then they were left without a cause when Communism fell, and “social” baalei tshuva who came out of the 60s and 70s counter-culture. All of these people kept their krum values including a desire to add leftist “social justice,” feminism, environMENTALism etc to Yiddishkeit. (C.H. was our representative of that crowd; many of them were raised with almost Communist values by the children of Bund leftovers, labor organizers etc and they really don’t know any better.)

    YCT won’t last, but sadly it will take a few hundred or even a couple of thousand Yiddishe neshomos down with it. They are really no more significant or authentic than the US Neturei Karta, except that they are placing “rabbis” in congregations where a real kiruv organization might otherwise have gone.

    YU and much of the rest of non-Chassidic American right-wing orthodoxy will converge together and become a Torah-true but more open society.

    #817487

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Orthodox Jews draw the line at a violation of halacha. I don’t get what your question is. If you want to ask someone who davens at HIR about female rabbis, charliehall davens there. If you want to ask a YCT musmach, I don’t think we have any in the CR, but a close friend of my family has a son who went there and is now a rav in greenpoint.

    popa: Which does no good if the kitchen mashgichim are amaratzim and/or couldn’t care less about halacha.

    #817488

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Itche:

    I don’t understand what you are getting at.

    All the hashgocha agencies use am haaratzim as mashgiach temidi’s.

    I don’t know what conclusion you want to draw from that, but it does not seem logical to therefore decide that you will eat from a hashgach which uses am haaratzim as rav hamachshirs. Or a mikva. Or an eruv.

    #817489

    Toi
    Participant

    thanks itch. you always scratch.

    #817490

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I think the article gives more creedence to YCT than it merits.

    Frankly I have never heard YCT ever mentioned in publically shul or in private conversations. ONCE when the Rabbat came out was even Avi Weiss mentioned.

    I hear more about YCT here than I do anywhere else. I wonder if some are just pumping them up.

    I do think YCT is to MO what Netueri Karta is to Charedism. Even the leaders have the same name WEISS

    #817491

    am yisrael chai
    Participant

    “If you want to ask a YCT musmach,…”

    I just looked up the YCT site, and the first words from the Yom Kippur drasha were the following, believe it or not!:

    Am Yisrael Chai. Od Avinu Chai.

    #817492

    Feif Un
    Participant

    As long as the RCA sticks to its guns and doesn’t accept YCT semicha as legitimate, things will be ok. Most shuls won’t accept a Rabbi who’s not an RCA member.

    I have a friend who got semicha from YCT. He’s a great guy, but I wouldn’t use him as my Rabbi. When he got a job, it was in a place where most of the members of the shul weren’t shomer shabbos, and the youngest person there was over 70. If they stick to those shuls, I think we’re fine.

    The fact is that Modern Orthodoxy made its stance. It issued statements against the radical changes that Avi Weiss wants to implement, and is not treating his school as legitimate. Other than that, they just don’t even acknowledge it. Why should they?

    #817493

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    popa: It doesn’t matter how great the rav hamachshir is if the guy actually supervising, isn’t in fact supervising.

    Toi: Thanks, I think?

    zahavasdad: I agree with you about the article giving YCT too much time. I thought I mentioned earlier that turning them into an Issue is just somebody playing politics, but I see I didn’t.

    Feif:

    As long as the RCA sticks to its guns and doesn’t accept YCT semicha as legitimate, things will be ok.

    I agree.

    I have a friend who got semicha from YCT. He’s a great guy, but I wouldn’t use him as my Rabbi.

    We could very well be talking about the same person.

    …If they stick to those shuls, I think we’re fine.

    From a demographic point of view, you’re right. But, as much as I abhor kannaus, you can’t just “throw the old folks to the wolves.”

    Other than that, they just don’t even acknowledge it. Why should they?

    100% though some people who don’t think the RCA is “frum enough” seem to want more statements of that sort as assurance that they’re wrong, or that they’re right — sometimes it’s hard to tell what people want.

    #817494

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Itche:

    I’m still confused.

    Are you trying to convince me that I should not eat hashgachos who use am haaratzim as mashgiach temidi?

    I trust the rav hamachshir that he knows what he is doing.

    #817495

    Feif Un
    Participant

    ItcheSrulik: I’m not saying to throw seniors to the wolves, I’m saying some shuls aren’t Orthodox, even if they claim to be. If a shul says its Orthodox, but its members don’t keep Shabbos, what does that tell you?

    People who don’t think the RCA is frum enough are just looking for excuses to attack. If it wasn’t YCT and Weiss, it would be something else.

    #817496

    Jothar
    Member

    Feif Un, the article was written by an RCA member who teaches in law school, not some reporter for Der Tzeitung. Did you read the actual article? He says, as an active RCA member who knows what’s going on, and is actively involved in the MO community, that it IS a big deal, and that Avi Weiss’ continued membership in the RCA and the RCA’s refusal to come out with anything stronger than a tepid proclamation is ruining both MO and the RCA. What does he know that you don’t?

    BTW he has a blog ( called Cross-Currents) where you can question his views directly and receive a response.

    From his comment there:

    “While I take responsibility for the writing, the article emerged from a group effort of a number of rabbonim, all RCA members,

      none

    of whom are charedim.”

    {sticky content}

    #817497

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Popa: I’m saying that I don’t understand why you have a problem with an am ha’aretz being rav hamachshir if you have no problem with hashgachos where the working mashgichim are themselves amei ha’aretz who often couldn’t care less about listening to the learned rav hamachshir.

    PS show me where it says an am ha’aretz can’t be a rav hamachshir and I’ll join you for your next korban todah.

    #817498

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    ok. I’m assuming you have an opinion. So, what is your opinion?

    Do you think it is ok to eat from a hashgacha where an am haaretz is the rav hamachshir?

    Or do you think that even the mashgiach temidi has to be a talmid chochom, and you never eat out.

    Why are we even discussing this? This is stupid.

    #817499

    Jothar
    Member

    Itche, when the rav hamachshir has a clue, the am ha’aretz in the kitchen checking lettuce asks his shailos to the rav hamachshir, who accurately paskens the shaila.

    When the rav hamachshir is also an am ha’aretz, the question isn’t asked. If it is, the answer becomes “Well, I’m a rabbi and I don’t know, so safek derabanan lekula”.

    #817500

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Even in Riverdale I belive the Hebrew Institute is the smallest shul of the orthodox places there.

    He is basically insignificant even in his own community

    #817501

    GeshmakMan
    Participant

    This much I know about the MO crowd, they aren’t wasting their time in a “Frum” Chatroom aka The CR discussing the silliest topics known to mankind.

    #817502

    shlishi
    Member

    GMan: Actually they’re here all the time in the CR (and elsewhere online) defending themselves.

    #817503

    Jothar
    Member

    If MO people never posted here, Joseph would be pretty lonely.

    #817504

    Toi
    Participant

    ya i would be too. why is the rca having such a hard time? he doesnt really address why its so terrible if the RCA denounces these people. personally i think theyre wackos but i guess in a world of crazies…

    #817505

    Jothar
    Member

    Itche, the difference between a mashgiach who’s an am ha’aretz and a rav hamachshir who’s an am ha’aretz is the difference between a running back with an 85 IQ and a head coach with an 85 IQ.

    #817506

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    ya i would be too. why is the rca having such a hard time? he doesnt really address why its so terrible if the RCA denounces these people. personally i think theyre wackos but i guess in a world of crazies…

    How many Charedi Rabbis denounce Neteuri Karta??

    #817507

    msseeker
    Member

    “GMan: Actually they’re here all the time in the CR (and elsewhere online) defending themselves.”

    By hocking against chareidim.

    #817508

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    This is the main problem: People like Avi Weiss and YCT believe that the primary point of the Torah is chesed, which is a very valid belief.

    If that is the case, then it raises many difficulties in some of our practices, which are legitimate kashyas, just like any other kasha in any sugya.

    For example, they grapple with how one can be commanded to kill a child of certain nations. This is a very serious question. It is compounded by the fact that simple answers like they will grow up to be wicked, is also a justification for the Nazis killing our children.

    So it is very convenient for the Chareidi world to just smugly say that our religion says so, end of story. Because that raises questions as to how we look on in horror when an Islamic terrorist kills one of our children. He believes just as strongly that his religion is the only true one, and has commanded him to kill Jewish children R”L (case in point, the Fogel murders).

    So while one may disagree with Avi Weiss’s answers or his approach to these difficult questions, but I highly doubt anybody from the Chareidi world has any answers at all. It is convenient to just ignore things that one doesn’t want to face, and go around smugly patting oneself on the back for being a very religious person.

    Another issue the people of Avi Weiss’s camp raise is if a woman can be a brain surgeon these days, why can’t she study gemara? Remember that Sarah Schenirer also met with opposition when she founded the Bais Yaakov movement, because it was against the mesora. However, because girls were then required to go to school for secular subjects, it was reasoned that she must have a Jewish education, as well. Should girls just be taught pirkei avos these days, when they go to college and medical school and learn sophisticated subjects of all other kinds?

    The questions are not easy, but ignoring them is.

    #817509

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Pashuteh Yid:

    Sure, one can have kashos. I have lot’s of kashon on lots of sugyos. I have had kashon on sugyos in hilchos shabbos, on kashrus, on all sorts of things.

    Having kashos doesn’t make you a rasha. Deciding based on your kashos that you will therefore stop observing the halachos you have kashos on- that makes you a rasha.

    It is also extremely arrogant. To think that after thousands of years, you finally found the kasha that has no answer, is just ridiculous. Especially if you happen to be an am haaretz.

    #817510

    msseeker
    Member

    “How many Charedi Rabbis denounce Neteuri Karta??”

    Too many to list. Hisachdus Horabonim, for starters.

    #817511

    msseeker
    Member

    Bottom Line: LWMO is just reinventing the broken wheel of Haskalah, Reform, Conservatism etc.

    #817513

    Toi
    Participant

    popa- i think R chaim soloveitchik said it best- theyre not kashos; theyre tirutzim.

    Zdad- lts of them. and the ones who dont are because they dont feel theres too much sakana in a bunch of self-hating crazies. if MO feels some level of threat they should also feel compelled to respond. which i also think is the reason no chareidi gedolim (not newspapers-i mean the manhigei hador) took a stand against weiss; they dont even have a chashash that their kehillos will be swayed- no threat- hence no reaction.

    #817514

    Jothar
    Member

    PY,I understand. first we start with a flawed premise of the heterodox (that our understanding of chessed is BETTER than Hashem’s understanding), and we just rewrite the Torah wholesale to fit our understanding. I guess akeidas yitzchok is just written out of the torah, as it’s cruel to ask someone to kill his only child, but what do you lain on rosh hashana? This is the same approach that Conservative and Reform took, and may be “valid” for other streams who view the Torah as not being divine and perfect in origin, but is not an approach to be endorsed by the RCA. So you just confirmed Rabbi Adlerstein’s premise- Avi Weiss is nonorthodox and shouldn’t be a part of the Orthodox RCA.

    #817515

    Pashuteh Yid
    Member

    Papa, yes, we cannot change halachos, but excess baggage that has no basis in halacha, like requiring people to dress in black and white, can be discarded for the sake of not turning people away.

    The question becomes what is halacha and what is not. It is not always clear.

    #817516

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    YCT only represents themselves. In the article it mentions a new rabbinical organization.

    Guess who is in charge of it. Rabbi Avi Weiss.

    YU is the main trainer for MO rabbis and that is very unlikely to change

    #817517

    mosheemes2
    Member

    Popa,

    When HIR lets a woman lead Kabbalas Shabbos they do so because they don’t think they have stopped observing halacha. Let’s say for the moment that it’s true that they’re deciding halacha in such a way that they can avoid suffering from the cognitive dissonance that would come from Halacha conflicting with their sense of morality (and I suspect they’d deny that they’re doing that either). I have a hard time defining that as Rishus, or almost everyone would be a Rasha.

    #817518

    Feif Un
    Participant

    msseeker: how often do they speak out against it? How many letters have they written?

    The RCA has said that it doesn’t consider YCT a real yeshiva, and they’ve said that many things Avi Weiss does are wrong. They’ve been attacked for not doing more, not speaking out more often, etc. Why is that different than how chareidim treat NK?

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