The Modern Orthodox “Mesorah”

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    Does anyone know what the MO Mesorah is? Or how old it is? Who started it?

    And what are the commonalities that all MO Jews share (that makes them MO)? Is anything a must/mandatory or is everything optional and open to each person’s wishes?

    Is a Rabbi ever required to be consulted or is each person able to decide everything on their own?

    Ari Knobler

    The scare quotes tell us what you think.


    Modern Orthodoxy made a movement out of not having a mesorah.


    major troll. but for people who really dont understand. i suspect that most of the people you are referring to find the term a poor description or condescending. yes obviously one of the pitfalls of living in a frum non-chasidic community is that religious practices get stretched thin or ‘poorly reinterpreted’.
    there are plenty of pitfalls of chassidic communities too.
    if you wonder why i havent mentioned the litvish chereidim it is because they are largely similar to chasidim in this regard.


    Hey UJM – we’re a few weeks past Tisha B’Av and heading into the Yomim Noraim. How about toning down the Sinas Chinum, huh?


    >>>Does anyone know what the MO Mesorah is? Or how old it is? Who started it?

    Depends on who you ask. Some would say that the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin was the first “modern” MO institution so MO traces it roots to there. Others would claim that Rishonim like who were up secularly educated were haskaficlly MO so they trace their roots to them. Others would claim that RYBS from Boston and YU was the founder of MO. And others would claim…

    You would get conflicting claims if you were ask about the current variations of many other movements as well. While no one disputes that the Baal Shem Tov was the founder of Chasidus, many would question how strongly he would identify with the current practices and haskafa of certain Chasdish groups today.

    >>> And what are the commonalities that all MO Jews share?

    The answer to that would depend on how you define MO. As above one can ask that about many other groups as well

    >>>Is a Rabbi ever required to be consulted or is each person able to decide everything on their own?

    No learned or deeply committed member of any frum community believes that each person able to decide everything on their own. MO included. Am Haartzim and apathetic people rarely have halacha shaalos. That isn’t unique to the MO world


    The Mesorah of MO is Have Your Cake And Eat It Too


    Just like there are different kav within the yeshiva Velt, such is the way within MO. Some follow the teachings of holy Yidden like R Moshe Feinstein, R YB Soloveitchik, and Rav Herschel Schechter and some follow Rabbi Dr Norman Lamm. The more Zionist leaning MO follow Rav Kook. R Kook and R Soloveitchik all learned in Litvish Yeshivas.


    Technically the Baal Shem Tov didn’t follow the mesorah of his predecessors. There was a cherem on Chasidim because of a concern that it’ll lead to a new Sabbatean movement. Mods this is fact in case you want to hide the truth.

    wow, you got me all figured out


    the whole point of “modern orthodox” is specifically to not be 100%. It was considered a compromise to help people stay “in the fold” by some rabanim in the 20th century. It has run its course, as the Jewish community has established itself enough that 100% Yiddishkeit has become a mainstream option.


    From all the “sinas chinam” or “it ain’t different in xyz community” it would seem that no one has a good answer to OP’s question.

    Hello? Anyone there that can answer it without shifting the question on others or screaming sinas chinum?


    The founder of the MO movement is Moses Mendessohn. He led the Enlightenment movement which craved acceptance in Non Jewish circles, studying German philosophy and literature etc, all the while proclaiming fidelity to Halacha.

    That said it’s impossible to put all MO under one umbrella. Many have moved to the right over the past decades and the lines get blurred at some point.

    Thoughtful Response

    To answer your question, I will present the four differentiators of “mainstream” orthodoxy vis-a-vis “modern” orthodoxy. However, none of the four has anything to do with Halacha as modern orthodoxy maintains, nonetheless, that Halacha reigns. What you may be referring to is the unfortunate failures of some who practice modern orthodoxy.

    1. The role of the Rov: mainstream orthodoxy views the Rov as a life mentor who is often asked questions about marriage and business and child rearing as much as Kashrus and Shabbos. This differs in modern orthodoxy which views the Rabbi as strictly a religious figure to answer halachic questions.

    2. The State of Israel: Modern Orthodoxy believes that the Medina is “ikvisa d’meshicha” and therefore requires accepting the bad with good as the bad is only temporary until Moshiach. Mainstream disagrees and believes that we must fight every attempt of anything that “smells” of being contrary to Torah to the point of harog v’lo ya’avor. This results in religious Zionism being synonymous with modern orthodoxy, while the mainstream believes that the term “religious Zionism” is an anachronism.

    3. Secular Education: Modern orthodoxy believes there is an inherent value of achieving success in secular education as doing so makes one worldly and “educated”. Mainstream orthodoxy disagrees and views secular education is only as important as one’s need for panosso. Therefore, any other time spent on secular education is being b’tul Torah at best and blasphemous at worst.

    4. Women’s Roles: Mainstream Orthodoxy believes that we must follow the longstanding mesorah, articulated by the Chofetz Chaim and the Ger Rebbe when questioned by Sarah Schenirer. This dictates that women and girls should largely focus on Torah Shebichsav and Halacha. Further, while women do you get jobs and may have careers, their focus remains largely on the homefront. Modern orthodoxy believes that, as the world has changed, women must be intellectually stimulated by opening up all forms of study, across the board, and allowing, even encouraging, women to seek careers that satisfy their intellectual quest.

    In closing, I hope I presented these ideas in such a way that the reader will not be able to know my personal beliefs on the subject.


    I’m not going to debate anything, and will not respond to “questions” that are really opinions. But I cannot be a bystander while an entire portion of the Jewish People is smeared. I’m only responding to questions in the original post because I don’t want to be a bystander and there is an audience who may not here this if no one else speaks up.
    Depending on who you ask, it was started by R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch or R’ Asriel Hildesheimer. The current Yekke community (i.e. Breuer’s) will deny the former, hence I’m referencing the latter. Basic math makes it about 175 years old.
    Regardless of which of the two you will choose to focus on, don’t lie to me and say that they either was not a savior of Orthodox Judaism in Germany.
    The current version that we see in America today is based on the ideas of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveichik & Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm (not an exhaustive list, but two major ones that come to mind).
    The Mesorah is as old as the Torah, as in 3335 years. They are Orthodox and have more respect for Chareidi rabbis than you have for Modern Orthodox rabbis. What they all share is the belief that there is wisdom from the outside world as well; it complements Judaism.
    Anything written in the Torah is a must, assuming it applies. (In the sense that not every mitzvah applies unless you are simultaneously male, female, kohen, levi, yisrael, married, single, living in EY & chutz la’aretz, and the list goes on…) Therefore, it is mandatory if written in the Torah; not necessarily mandatory just because one rabbi said it. I believe Tosfos says in Pesachim that one is not required to follow a ruling of beis din if they have a valid source from another rabbi in the period of the ruling’s source or earlier who disagrees. Don’t dismiss this unless you can attest that you learned the entire Pesachim with Rashi & Tosfos and didn’t find it.
    A rabbi must be consulted in cases of ambiguity and doubt; that’s what they exist for. Hope I answered your questions. Like I said, I will not debate UJM or anyone else. I will only answer serious questions; not poorly disguised opinions.

    anonymous Jew

    UJM and Avirah
    Why do you both care? UJM, your questions, besides being very condescending, betray an intentional pseudo ignorance as this subject has been discussed here ad nauseum. Avira, do you actually believe there is a single mesorah? Is it the Yemeni, Iraqi, Italian,North African, Sfardi, Bucharian, Ashkenazi, Chassidish mesoras?


    There is nothing modern in modern… Avraham Avinu dealt with people and norms of his time, Moshe Rabeinu went to Pharoah,
    Tannaim addressed Greek influences, Ramban disputed apikoirosim of his time… As r Soloveitchik wrote, quoting from memory, we are not going to fulfill our mission in the world by hiding in caves. We can have legitimate debate on specific positions, and many issues are complicated, but a tradition of being modern is pretty old.


    Ps as Hazon Ish refers to Rambam’s idea of going to the desert 🏜 when there are no other options, he eem to admit that this a temporary extraordinary measure. Involvement with Hashem’s world 🌎 is the norm


    Moses Mendessohn lead first response to an extraordinary challenge of the modern world. I don’t think we had similar challenges from the time of Rome and beginning of Xianity. A typical view is that Moses lead jews into reform and conversion…but do we really think that his German Bible made all Yiddish speakers proficient in high German? Jews assimilated in other countries too. Maybe we can admit that he was looking for a right response, whatever the results are. And from current hindsight, unfair of course, the rest of the community didn’t respond either. Even later, when Chofetz Chaim in 1920s laments about polish jews assimilation, he is not proposing a lot of solutions… for one obvious example, Sara S proposed BY school, not any of the leaders… those were extraordinary challenges and many people tried to address them in a different ways, and no reason to denigrate those who earnestly tried


    >>>R Kook and R Soloveitchik all learned in Litvish Yeshivas.

    This is incorrect

    While Rav Kook learned in Volozhin, Rabbi Soloveichick was never formally enrolled as a student in any of the standard Litvish Yeshivas. Not even in Brisk by his grandfather.

    Neither of them ever claimed to be following the Mesorah of the Litvish Yeshivos



    “Depends on who you ask. Some would say… Others would claim…”

    What kind of Mesorah is that, where some say RJBS (as you suggest), others say Moses Mendessohn (as Ely said) and others say Hildesheimer (as you also suggest)? If a hashkafic group claims to be a coherent legitimate expression, they should at least all know who their common Mesorah is from.

    As far as your answer as to what the commonality between MO communities are that makes and defines a person as Modern Orthodox, what is *your* definition of MO that, let’s say, clearly establishes an individual is MO and not Chareidi or Conservative.

    What makes Rabbi Hershel Schachter and Rabbi Mordecai Wilig MO (and not Chareidi) and what makes Rabbi Shlomo Risking and Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm and Rabbi Yitz Greenberg MO (and not Conservative)? And what makes Rabbi Schachter and Rabbi Greenberg both MO?


    Thoughtful – calling everyone outside of Modern Orthodoxy “mainstream” is laughable


    >>>From all the “sinas chinam” or “it ain’t different in xyz community” it would seem that no one has a good answer to OP’s question.

    As the famous comment from the Rav Chaim Volozhiner goes “Questions have answers, answers do not” Meaning that if someone isn’t looking for an actual answer no one can give him one.

    If someone is sincerely interested in understanding MO haskafa and how they deal with the questions asked in the OP they can be addressed. If someone isn’t you may as well focus on the sinas chinom and hypocrisy of the implied questions . Things are not so simple that they can be answered in the simplistic manner they are presented. They are like asking Can you be Yeshivish and wear a blue shirt and no hat? Can you be a Satmar Chosid but oppose women shaving their heads? Can you be a baal musser but only learn from musser sources that the musser movement did not stress learning? What was the mesorah that the musser movement used in picking the seforim and some of the concepts it would focus on?


    Chief, it’s the belief that Torah needs something to complement it that is considered apikorsus by gedolei yisroel. Rav hirsch wrote that the chochmos are the handmaids of the Torah, they serve it, they don’t add to it itself. They add to OUR understanding of the Torah , not due to the Torah lacking anything – see maharsha on the gemaros that deal with refuos…hafoch bah, toras Hashem temima, etc…the chisaron is in us, that we cannot access everything from Torah study alone, but we need to learn math and science from the outside to understand Torah better.

    Where modern orthodoxy split off, and this was not the view of rabbi yoshe ber soloveitchik, rather it was the view of norman lamm, Bernard revel, and Samuel belkin, who were the ones who brought the idea of something besides Torah having value. Rabbi yoshe ber had his opinions which were not agreed upon by the gedolei hador, but they were nowhere near the apikorsus and insult to Torah the likes of the others brought into American jewry.

    Lf course, that group was not the original source – the idea of there being something of value besides Torah was popularized by maskilim in Europe. It was their bread and butter.


    If you want to know who founded Modern Orthodoxy, then I suggest that you read the biographies of Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch.
    Here are a few quotes from one of his biographies:

    Behold! G_d speaks to you through nature, and again through history!…

    Rabbi Hirsch’s positive view of the study of secular
    subjects was not limited to science and history.

    SOURCE: Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman (chapter 17, pages 204 to 205), year 1996 CE, ArtScroll History Series, Brooklyn NY 11232

    “The girls in the [Orthodox] Realschule [which was founded and directed by Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch] studied the same subjects, including Chumash and Hebrew grammar, as the boys, except for Talmud and mathematics, in place of which they were taught handicrafts.”

    SOURCE: Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman (chapter 19, page 223), year 1996 CE, ArtScroll History Series, Brooklyn 11232, ISBN 0-89906-632-1.

    “Rabbi Hirsch preferred honest Gentile teachers for secular subjects over non-observant Jews, who he felt would have a negative influence.”

    SOURCE: Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman,
    year 1996 CE, ArtScroll History Series, Brooklyn 11232, ISBN 0-89906-632-1.

    In [year] 1888 [CE], the Prussian government issued a decree requiring all students to take standardized examinations, which were to be administered on the Sabbath.

    No special dispensation was granted to Jewish students to take the exam on a different day.

    Rabbi Hirsch authored a petition to the Prussian Minister of Education Gossler, signed by 115 Rabbis from all of Germany, stating that all writing on the Sabbath was prohibited by Jewish law…soon before his passing Rabbi Hirsch received a reply from the Minister of Education assuring him that school principals would be permitted to “judge sympathetically” requests to defer the examination to a weekday.

    SOURCE: Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman (chapter 19, page 231) year 1996 CE, ArtScroll History Series, Brooklyn 11232 ISBN 0-89906-632-1

    Rabbi Shmuel Landau, the son of [the author of] Noda BeYehudah and his successor as Rabbi of Prague, also expressed his approbation for [secular] studies directly related to earning a living:

    “[One should] learn German thoroughly, as well as other required subjects, because without German, including written German, it is impossible to survive in these countries.

    Someone who does not read and write German cannot succeed in any trade, and every father has an obligation to teach his son the language and customs of the country in which he lives…”

    SOURCE: Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch by Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman (chapter 18, page 210) year 1996 CE, ArtScroll History Series, Brooklyn 11232 ISBN 0-89906-632-1


    Square, please read my post. There’s nothing in the sources you bring which contradicts it – rav hirsch wasn’t that much of a chidush in principle, because rishonim and achronim had long since advocated havijg a knowledge of chochmos leshem shomayim, to understand Torah better, etc…his chidush was in institutionalizing it into part of chinuch, synthesizing it with the teaching of a parnosa. While neither learning a trade or learning chochmos were inherently new, making them institutionalized was a novel concept.

    It also ran contrary to the rema which says that one may not learn chochmos b’kevius. Rav hirsch i don’t believe ever addressed the rema directly, but i believe his defenders say that for parnosa there is no such limitation; rav elchanan wasserman writes something along those lines about college, with the prerequisite that no apikorsus be taught.


    No the movement was designed by ppl who wanted to rebel against the gedolim of the time and didn’t want to be told what to do by rabbonim. BH by now a LOT of their descendants did teshuva and understood that there is no such thing as modern “orthodoxy”

    Thoughtful Response


    Mainstream orthodoxy is a defined term that encompasses the commonalities of hashkofos of the litvish/yeshivish and ashkenazik world.


    Thoughtful, i disagree. Mainstream orthodoxy makes claim to never have changed and accepts a mesorah from rishonim and achronim with complete adherence to every word of chazal as torah misinai, even the things modern society doesn’t like. It doesn’t seek to reexamine anything or change halacha or hashkafa to fit the times, or make sacrifices to “conserve” the “greater” picture. It lays claim to an unadulterated Judaism, and this encompasses sefardi jews, temani, litvishe, chasidishe, yekkish, hungarian…literally every sect of jews who did not submit yo haskalah. Modern Orthodoxy is the only group among the rest of klal yisroel which does not accept the above, depending on how modern they are versus how Orthodox they are.

    So they are not mainstream. They are deviating by their own admission. They believe that humankind jas discovered something of importance not given to us at har sinai; in doing so, they have taken themselves out of the mainstream.

    Also in numbers, they are the minority worldwide among Orthodox jews.


    Avirah, that answer to Ramo is poshut.


    I rarely comment. However, missing from these discussions is the primary source of contention between the MO world (and similar) and the chareidi world- and people should be aware of what it is.

    The main reason why there is pushback from the chareidi world is because the MO (and many similar movements that started over the years) always put something other than torah (and Mesorah) either, equal to, or higher than the the torah itself (such as secular education for the sake of “knowledge” and “being educated”). It comes out in the way they speak and from their actions. If you don’t know what I am referring to, it is because you are not talking to the leaders of these groups.

    An argument these groups make is that many of the chareidi Gedolim (such as RSRH) themselves have even stated at times these things are benefit and worthwhile (like secular education for the sake of “knowledge and being educated”), and in fact, they are correct. Many Chareidi Gedolim do feel that way.

    However. The charadei Gedolim vehemently disagree with MO approach and will continue to do so because under no circumstance may one put on a pedestal something other than Torah- and these groups are.

    The proof that it is on a pedestal is the passion these groups (or at least the leaders) come with promoting their agenda. We could have a debate about the importance of secular education, but the passion and insistence for it is misguided and an indication of ulterior motives (many times deep down) that the chareidi Gedolim keep calling out, and unfortunately they have been proven right time and again. The next generation picks up the ulterior motive and throws away even the Torah.

    A few things:
    1. Secular education was used as an example because it’s a common theme for these groups.
    2. keep in mind there is a MO movement heading towards the right, and as another poster mentioned, the lines are increasingly becoming blurred (in a good way for some).
    3. The average person within these groups may not be aware of the bigger picture and they are generally a tenok shenishba (but watch out for those with a strange passion you can’t seem to be able to explain).

    This “conversation” and back and forth has been going on for years, and like it or not, it will continue due the passion and importance of the pushback.


    Here are two examples of something you might hear.
    1. “There is chochmo in the world you cannot attain by learning Torah” or “Many civilizations brought to the table chochmo we wouldn’t have through Torah study”.
    2. A constant comparing of the Torah as a subject similar to any other subject.
    (How and why this is the case is due to the ulterior motives- left to your imagination).

    These conversations are very complex. One example: These groups have lines from Reshonim or early Achronim (we hold of) that may at first glance sound like the agenda they are pushing.

    THIS is where the conversation of Mesorah truly comes into play.

    Put simply, one can’t just take random lines from different reshonim and Achranim that when combined push a new line of thinking that the vast majority clearly did not hold off and would outright be horrified.


    what would we name the Mesechta if the Greeks hadn’t invented the word ‘Senhedrin’. thats not a serious thing but on serious note the Gemara quotes Greek sources (for non halacha) often. The sefer Torah could be written in Greek letters.
    theres something to chochmas yevanis other than Covid varient symbols


    if ‘mainstream’ orthodoxy still believe that blood-letting is beneficial to one’s health, then i know exactly why i consider myself modern orthodox.
    and that’s just one example. another one would be not to take medicine (a little ol’ pill) on shabbos because in the old days they had to grind medicines, well, again, i know why i am modern orthodox, and very happy with it.

    Menachem Shmei

    On the topic of Modern Orthodoxy, here is an excerpt from an English letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe from Adar 5738 to a woman who was becoming frum.

    (Disclaimer: Obviously, the exact definition of Modern Orthodoxy is blurry, so I doubt that everything written here applies to every person who calls themself MO)

    “P.S. Your using the term “modern orthodoxy” prompts me to make the following observation.

    Although this term is frequently used, if you reflect on it you will realize the inner contradiction in terms. For, orthodoxy refers to a full commitment to a life regulated by the Torah, Toras Emes, and its Mitsvoth, by which Jews live, whereas “modern” implies a compromise and adjustment supposedly in keeping with “modern” ideas. But where truth is concerned, there can be no compromise or accommodation, for even 99% of truth is not the whole truth, and therefore not truth at all.

    Needless to say, 99% is better than 98%, but one must not delude oneself in believing that it is the whole truth. Indeed, the Rambam rules that if a Jew accepts the whole Torah except one letter, he is deemed as if he denied the whole Torah. And one of the explanations of it is that truth and compromise are contradictory.

    The above does not mean that unless a Jew observes all the 613 Mitzvoth, he is not an observant Jew. Indeed, the Torah declares, “A Jew, though he has sinned, remains a Jew.” It states further that no sinner is rejected, and eventually everyone who had strayed will return to the fold. What is emphasized above is that any thought that the Torah is in any way “outdated” and needs to be “modernized” that is heresy and a denial of the Divine origin and eternal nature of the Torah and Mitzvoth. There is surely no need to elaborate to you further on the above.”


    Yechiel, i am genuinely pained by your post. Not only because you have shown zero regard for divreihem hakedoshim of chazal, but uou are advocating a wholesale abandonment of the halacha against taking refuos on Shabbos. A gezera was made forbidding all kinds of refuah, whether they are medications or otherwise, due to a concern of grinding.

    Like any takanah on Shabbos, the act is still assur even if it’s not common to do the melacha attached to it, such as swimming, even though it’s not common to forge rafts in our time, or any number of takanos.

    Taking medication in general is assur on Shabbos. It is allowed when one is in severe pain, defined as wanting to lay down from it. A mild headache would not warrant permitting Tylenol, but a headache that makes you want to lay down would.

    Re, bloodletting. Refuos change, tosfos says that all of the refuos mentioned in the gemara worked in their time, but the teva of people changed even in their time, and they no longer work. However bloodletting does have a practical medical application even nowadays, as it is used for certain conditions.

    Learning shabbos with daf yomi has probably led you to believe these things, or hearing people talk about the halachos – you should learn them yourself. If you are unable to learn them from their respective sugyos in shas and poskim, there are wonderful English seforim which discuss them at length in great detail, including rabbi ribiat’s popular 39 melachos set.


    Rav Aharon Kotler ZTV’L, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol. 3, Hesped on the Brisker Rav) states that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative. That is, change Judaism into something that more people will be willing to accept.

    Rav Shimon Schwab, Mitteilungen, Bulletin of Khal Adas Yeshurun April/May 1989):
    “Sometimes the Modern Orthodox halachic foolishness which is flirting with the anti-Torah establishment, may border on heresy. This is all part and parcel of the spiritual confusion of the dark ages in which we happen to live”.

    Menachem Shmei

    Rav Aharon Kotler ZTV’L, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol. 3, Hesped on the Brisker Rav) states that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative.

    I guess this is a point where he and the Rebbe agree.

    Here’s an excerpt from a 5717 letter of the Rebbe:

    “This is also the case with regard to the person to whom you refer in your letter, who obviously does not belong at all in the Conservative movement, nor in the so-called “New” brand of Conservatism, which goes under the name of “Modern Orthodoxy.””

    yaakov doe

    I consider myself ‘modern orthodox” as I accept and observe all halacha but I have a secular education and work in a non Jewish environment. I wear a black hat, daven 3 times a day, hold by glatt meat and cholev Yisroel, am strict about tznius, don’t have TV or go too movies but read newspapers and interact with the world.
    Everyone’s definition of “modern orthodox” differs. There is a huige difference between the teachings of Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch and Avi Weiss.


    >>>Rav Aharon Kotler ZTV’L, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol. 3, Hesped on the Brisker Rav) states that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative. That is, change Judaism into something that more people will be willing to accept.

    Then he wasn’t referring to most people who consider themselves modern orthodox because virtually none of them would say they ascribe to such a view.


    I do not think anyone would consider RSR’H as what is today’s modern orthodox.

    There is a very distinct difference between Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE) and Torah Umaada (TU). TIDE calls for secular studies to accompany Torah, but the clear and absolute primacy belongs to Torah. TU equates both on the same level. The actual terms used clearly describe the differences, which are vast.


    I just saw a thread where people wrote about items paid for but rarely or hardly used. The responses ran the gamut, but along the lines of a wedding dress or similar.

    A person who is described as a musmach of YU, a member of the RCA and a member of their ethics panel responded that a yeshiva education is paid for but is rarely used. And another MO individual agreed with that.

    I do not know what to make of that. I cannot belive that is actually the attitude of MO.

    a regular yid

    rabbi nochum/ norman lamm z’l stated in a lecture that the idea of “torah u’mada” originates from rabbi yitzchok yaakov reines z’l of lithuania, who is often overlooked in the discussion of modern orthodoxy (ayin shum, google it). interestingly, one of rabbi jb soloveitchik’s closest talmidim, rabbi arnold rakkefet rothkopf shlita stated in an interview that rabbi solovietchik never used the term torah u’mada. in terms of mesorah, rabbi soloveitchik saw himself as perpetuating the brisker mesorah of his father rav moshe soloevitick ztzl and most importantly his illustrious grandfather, maran rav chaim brisker ztzkl.
    rav jb soloveirchik writes about the tension of belief and faith that “halakhic man” faces in the modern world, but stayed away from actively embracing modernity in a theological sense, or even zionist-dati leumi-mizrahi and kookian orthodoxy, which is in a class by itself( or “open orthodoxy”). ultimately, the best summation of rabbi soloveitchik’s philosophy can be understood as “to be a torah jew in the western world” (as stated by rabbi a. rakkefet rothkopf shlita). the problem which the question of mesorah and modern orthodoxy is that modern orthodoxy is a broad tent which various philosophies and theologies, as such this forum is too short to to explain all of them.


    Yaskov, what makes you modern and not just a talmid of rav hirsch?


    It is a contemporary approach to Judaism that seeks to integrate traditional Jewish values and observance with engagement in the modern world.
    The origins of Modern Orthodox Judaism can be traced back to the 19th century, when Jewish communities in Europe were grappling with the challenges posed by modernity, secularism, and assimilation. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808–1888), a prominent figure in the development of Modern Orthodox thought, emphasized the importance of maintaining Jewish observance while also participating in the broader society. His writings and teachings laid the foundation for Modern Orthodox Judaism.

    Commonalities among Modern Orthodox Jews include:

    Commitment to Jewish Law (Halakha): Modern Orthodox Jews adhere to traditional Jewish laws and practices, known as Halakha, while also engaging with contemporary culture.

    Synthesis of Tradition and Modernity: They strive to balance their observance of Jewish traditions with active participation in modern society, education, and professional pursuits.

    Zionism: Many Modern Orthodox Jews are supportive of the State of Israel and view its establishment as a significant event in Jewish history.

    Torah Study: The study of Torah (both written and oral) is highly valued in Modern Orthodox communities, and many individuals engage in regular Torah study.

    Community Involvement: Modern Orthodox communities often emphasize communal engagement, social justice, and acts of kindness.

    Ethical Values: Ethical teachings and values are important in Modern Orthodox Judaism, guiding interactions with others and promoting a sense of responsibility towards society.

    In terms of practices being mandatory or optional, Modern Orthodox Judaism, like other branches of Judaism, follows a framework of Halakha. While certain practices are considered obligatory for all observant Jews, there are also areas of interpretation and flexibility. The level of observance might vary from individual to individual, but adherence to key aspects of Jewish law remains a central tenet.

    Regarding the role of a Rabbi, in traditional Judaism, Rabbis are often consulted for guidance on matters of Jewish law, interpretation, and communal issues. In Modern Orthodox Judaism, Rabbis continue to play a significant role as sources of knowledge and guidance, but individual autonomy is also respected. People often seek guidance from Rabbis for clarifications on religious matters, ethical dilemmas, and personal decisions. Ultimately, the extent to which a person consults a Rabbi can vary based on personal choice, community norms, and the specific issue at hand.


    nishtdayngesheft, where did you get that idea from? Here are some quotes from various YU and RIETS faculty members, when asked to explain what Torah u’Mada meant to them:
    R’ Zevulun Charlop: “Torah U’Madda implies, within the totality of Jewish aspirations, the acceptance – and, indeed, perhaps the indispensability – of both Torah U’Madda, but with the unquestioned allegiance to the primacy of Torah, and that the apprehension of all other intellectual disciplines must be rooted and viewed through the prism of Torah.”

    R’ Michael Shmidman: “If you contemplate “Torah Umadda,” one could say they are two separate values, but that one can incorporate the other wisdoms as well within the realm of Torah. I see the world through only one overriding wisdom and ethic: Torah. For me, a bachur [young man] who goes to college – that’s part of his Torah too, if we recognize that he’s going to college to make a living, raise a family, and that his other pursuits, including going to college, are part of a Torah way of life, which includes marriage, job, community, tzedaka [charity], and chesed [acts of goodwill].”

    R’ Dr. Lamm: “Torah Umadda does not imply … coequality. Torah remains the unchallenged and preeminent center.”


    Regular, norman lamm used his English name when writing Hebrew “torah” articles, so whatever he was called for aliyos is not really relevant. He identified with his English name, North Man, and it’s very telling that he did so

    מצפון תפתח הרע.

    Reines was a man full of fantasies if you read his post zionist writings; nor was he considered a gadol batorah by any stretch where his ideas can be reckoned with baaeli mesorah. Not only that, but where does reines say anything about there being other important things besides Torah or that secular studies are chas veshalom equal to it?

    There’s no source for any of this dribble. The Torah is not missing anything; if you feel it is, אם רק נוא, מכם,! If someone thinks that the Torah is empty, or in lamms view, not full, then the chisaron is in them, not the Torah.


    Modern orthodox are simply Orthodox Jews who became less observant and adopted the surrounding culture. In typical Ashkenazi fashion, when the group became large enough they earned their own label as Modern Orthodox. People who ask these questions are incredibly lacking in ahavat Yisrael and choose to further divide rather than bring close.


    Who can forget Harav Gifter Zatzal screaming “Rabbi Lamn?? Mr Lamn!! Zol zein smicha aropfallen!!”


    Yaakov Doe: Based on your written description of yourself you could describe yourself as Chareidi, with all those attributes you ascribed yourself with. What, then, makes you MO and not Chareidi?

    smerel: “none of them would say they ascribe to such a view”

    Are you, therefore, declaring that Rav Aaron Kotler zt’l was wrong? The Conservative movement ascribes itself as a Halachicly observant movement that follows Halacha (unlike Reform, which admits that it eschews halacha.) Since the Conservatives do not ascribe themselves to a view of being Non-Halachic, do you therefore accept that the Conservative movement is Halachic?


    Da, those quotes all seem to agree rhat there is value in Secular studies on its own, it coexists separate from Torah, even though Torah is higher.

    Torah isn’t higher. Hashem made the world from the Torah. It is the only thing valuable to Hashem and to us.

    Rav hirsch looked at secular jews studies as a handmaid of the Torah, because he was frum. MO largely os guilty of ascribing something value outside of Torah, and this is akin to shituf.

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