Rav Kotler and Rav Schwab on MO

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    On the other thread Rav Kotler was quoted (from Mishnas Rabi Ahron) saying that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative. Rav Schwab was quoted as saying that has modern orthodoxy has become stale, stagnant, and fossilized and engages in “halachic foolishness” bordering on heresy and that Torah Umaada is treif lchol hadeios. It wasn’t clear what bothered these gedolim about MO. What about it, particularly, prompted them to make these comments?


    Chein: I think we’ve spoken enough about MO in recent days. Maybe now its time for us Chareidim to look inwards into ourselves and try to improve; we have our own issues which should be addressed.


    Is Young Israel considered MO?


    I don’t know about R’ Schwab, but I would assume that R’ Ahron was referring to the fact that both MO and Conservative/Reform have attempted to change Yiddishkeit to “fit in” with the modern times (note the Modern in Modern Orthodox). But Yiddishkeit should never be changed to accommodate passing fads and societies; we must remain what we always were, what we have been since Hashem gave us the Torah on Har Sinai. This is the basis of the Mesorah, and the basis of the Chareidi philosophy.


    “I think we’ve spoken enough about MO in recent days. Maybe now its time for us Chareidim to look inwards into ourselves and try to improve”

    I don’t see why the two are mutually exclusive.


    Do you follow every shita of Rav Schwab and Rav Kotler?


    To out it VERY briefly, I think R’ Aharon and R’ Schwalb had different problems with TuM.

    For R’ Aharon, the problem is MO in general, regardless of what particular MO philosophy one follows (TuM, TIDE, YCT, ect.). All are problematic as per the Chassam Sofer’s famous rallying cry of “Chadash Asur Min HaTorah – Anything New or Innovative is Prohibited by the Torah.” The Chassasm Sofer applied this maxim to combat Reform, but it has been extended to include any changes – even minor ones – from the way things were done in Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

    For R’ Schwalb, I think, the problem is not with MO per se, but with TuM as a philosophy. TuM in many ways is inconsistent with the central tenets of TIDE. Whereas TIDE embraces “secular” knowledge, it considers such knowledge inherently valuable only to the extent that it is not inconsistent with Torah; it synthesizes Torah and rest of the real world, with Torah always controlling which aspects of the larger world are considered acceptable. TuM (as per R’ Solevetchick) on the other hand, rejects this idea of synthesis. In TuM philosophy, both Torah and Maadah are inherently valuable. While Torah is of course the more important and always must control our actions, non-Torah ideas (philosophic, artistic, political, scientific, ect.) are also inherently valuable and are also to be fully embraced. For TuM there is no synthesis – Torah and Maadah are at times at odds; Torah must control our conduct, but we can still be fully immersed in the Maadah world. That is what R’ Schwalb was taking about when he criticized having a Yeshiva on the first floor and studying apikursus on the third floor (for those who saw that quote in the other thread). R’ Schwalb was alos criticizing MO (TuM) rejection of the austritt principle, which is so central to TIDE.


    And what was the the “halachic foolishness” bordering on heresy that Rav Shimon Schwab was referring to?


    Do you have a page number for that in his ESSAYS book, so I can look it up and see the context and maybe have an idea?


    first tell me what kefira aristotle held of then ill prove to you about R Schwab. joking. but point is why isnt a gadols written word, not heard third hand but his writings, not good enough for oyu? Why do you need to hear kefira to believe theres something wrong. do nyou make the expert in the shatnez lab show you the shatnez?! or do realize hes the qualified expert and not wear the suit, even if it fits.


    I don’t know what Rav Schwab zt”l was referring to, but I do know that Rav Schwab enjoyed a very close personal relationship with Rav Hershel Schachter, and held very highly of him. So I guess Rav Schwab didn’t consider Rav Schachter to be “Modern Orthodox.”


    Rav Schwab published his article in question in K’hal Adath Jeshurun’s journal “Mitteilungen” XLIX, April/May 1989: p. 2, under the title “He Who Loves Does Not Hate”.


    Keep in mind that there is a tremendous difference between a motion to change and those that follow a certain lifestyle. Chassidus was rejected and thought of as deviant for a few generations. Now it is just another group of people. Rav Schwab and Reb Aaron would not say today what they said then.

    If you were around in the days of wrap around Levush and you change to put on a Rekkel, you would be considered an outcast. Now, that is the norm (for Chareidim). Those that initiate changes are viewed with alarm, but an established group of Shomrei Torah uMitzmos are not bashed.


    “R’ Schwalb was alos criticizing MO (TuM) rejection of the austritt principle, which is so central to TIDE.”

    The reason MO rejected Austritt was that its intellectual founders were Rabbis Reines, Weinberg, and Soloveitchik. Rabbi Reines was from Lithuania, and Rabbis Weinberg and Soloveitchik were from Poland, where the previous generations of gedolim had never adopted austritt.


    HaLeiVi: What changed since Rav Aaron and Rav Schwab made their points (in R. Schwab’s case only 20 years ago) and today that you feel they would feel differently today?


    charlie: I know who Rav Reines was, but who was Rav Weinberg?


    If Charlie is referring to Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg zt’l (the Seridei Eish), a talmid of Mir and Slabodka, he most assuredly was not an intellectual founder or member of MO.


    mw13 wrote:

    “MO and Conservative/Reform have attempted to change Yiddishkeit to “fit in” with the modern times”

    Don’t us Chareidim do things like that too? For example, we stopped saying Piyutim because people don’t know what they mean, even though those circumstances existed for generations without such a change. Additionally, we have stopped getting up before dawn to say Selichos every day, because we’re tired. We have stopped fasting on all days of Selichos because we are hungry. We have stopped growing long peyos and beards because we want to fit in.


    when you have MO doing away with shelo asani isha, having women baalei tefilla, modifying tefillos, etc…all in the name of “progress,” whos idea of progress is that? what, the torah and rabbonim through the ages didnt know what they were doing? when internet is ADVOCATED for young children without any caveats or provisions…when television is lauded…i can go on and on…but all in the name of what teh secular world thinks of as progres…yes. you have a problem. and when i brought this up at a friends house his mother said “well, its to keep people interested in judaism” im sorry…but if thats your agenda then it really IS conservative. thatw as the stated objective of convervative judaism.


    I’m trying to determine what the toeles there is to this thread.


    Soliek: You obviously know the wrong “MO” people.


    MO do NOT have women as Baalei Tefilla, Change ANY part of davening including Shelo Asani Eisha, They usually use the Art Scroll Siddur which is used in most Charedi shuls (Except the MO ones are usually the Hebrew English ones and the Charedi use the Hebrew only ones)

    Feif Un

    soliek: Let’s go through your allegations against MO.

    doing away with shelo asani isha: I’ve never heard of a MO place doing this. Can you please name one?

    having women baalei tefilla: Only Avi Weiss’s does this, and they’re not MO. The RCA doesn’t recognize the semicha from YCT as valid, and they took a stance against Avi Weiss when it comes to the role of women in a community.

    modifying tefillos: Again, how is this being done? What tefillos are being modified?

    when internet is ADVOCATED for young children without any caveats or provisions: not true. YNJ, one of the big schools in Bergen County, sent out this to parents of 6th graders, as a pilot program: “Internet Safety. All parents in the sixth grade have received RYNJ Safe Home Pledges. Based on Rabbi Price’s PTA Parent Links presentations last year, all sixth grade parents have been asked to commit to use filtering and monitoring of internet devices. By joining together and undertaking a unified commitment we hope that every child will be safe from the dangers that accompany internet usage. The parental response of our sixth grade parents has been highly positive. We hope to extend this movement throughout the yeshiva.”

    when television is lauded: Again, untrue. Most people probably have TVs, but they are definitely not lauded.

    Now, let’s look at the yeshiva world, and things they’ve changed:

    Dress code: boys only in black & white, and more and more chumros on girls that never existed before.

    Kollel lifestyle: a new thing after WW2. The reasoning was originally that we needed to rebuild after the losses in the Holocaust. Now there’s a new reason given: the world is so bad, that we need long-term learning to shelter ourselves from it. Now who’s changing Judaism because of the modern world?



    Agreed, 100%

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