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FACTIONS-----modern orthodox-what is it? 3


BaronPhilip Posted - 08 January 2002 19:07

I've been watching this board for a while and I have to say that I'm very impressed by the moderator, and all the hard work he puts into getting all the information to respond and forming such articulate replies to the questions.

I'm particularly impressed with the hard work he has put into fighting the dangerous Lubavitcher messianism that is robbing so many Jewish people of an authentic Torah Yiddishkeit.

But some of your attacks on "Modern Orthodoxy" need qualifying.

First of all, your criticisms of Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik are often on the mark, but your vagueness is giving people the impression that he was far more left-wing than he really was.

I think it's possible to disagree with his specific positions on Jewish education and communal policy without tarring him with a brush that puts him together with the Conservative movement.

Rav Aharon Kotler and Rav Soloveitchik had vastly different ideas on how to rebuild Torah in America--and frankly, I think Rav Aharon's derech was more on the mark--but let us not forget that they were fighting for the same things.

I think it's possible to acknowledge Rav Soloveitchik as having been one of the gedolei hador without agreeing with all of his policies. A Gadol can make mistakes.

Another point I would like to make is that you shouldn't call him the "foremost speaker and leader of Modern Orthodoxy". The simple fact is that most of the Modern Orthodox did and still do find Rav Soloveitchik "too frum" for their tastes.

If you look at Ramaz, Yeshiva of Flatbush, and Frisch and are disturbed by the level of observance of the people you see, you will be joining the ranks of ALL of Rav Soloveitchik's serious talmidim (like Rav Hershel Schachter) who are fighting tooth and nail against all the pritzus, hypocrisy, and apikorsus that are so common in these communities.

You may be familiar, for instance, with "Edah", a "modern-Orthodox" umbrella group that advocates women's tefillah groups, mixing of the sexes in schools, and more cooperation with the conservative and reform.

The Rabbeim in Yeshiva University are the most outspoken critics of this movement, some of their comments about it being too harsh to repeat.

There really isn't a "Modern Orthodox" hashkofoh. What there is, is the following.

On the one hand you have bnei Torah who are college educated and followers of Rav Willig, Rav Schachter, and others, and on the other hand you have radical individuals like Rabbi Avi Weiss, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi Emmanuel Rackman, Rabbi Saul Berman, and others.

You mention that in the "Five Addresses" Rav Soloveitchik says that every one besides "Modern Orthodoxy" would disappear. He certainly thought his approach to outreach would help the frum world, but he certainly was not so arrogant as to imply something so offensive as that the yeshiva velt was going to disappear or anything! Chas VeShalom!

I see from your postings that you have had spoken with Rav Gorelick zt"l and quote Rav Schwab zt"l. It is well-known that they both had strong and passionate critiques of Rav Soloveitchik, and their views are certainly worth hearing and thinking about.

But I recommend you also speak to Rav Moshe Meiselman shlit"a if you want to know more about Rav Soloveitchik.

Rav Meiselman was a student and nephew of Rav Soloveitchik and argues very compellingly that his rebbe and uncle was not nearly so right wing as some people in the yeshiva velt seem to think.

A couple of technical points. You explained the concept "austritt" in a very philosophical fashion. The main point of the term was merely that Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch believed that it was untenable for his frum followers in his kehilla to remain part of (and pay taxes to) the larger Jewish political structure, which was controlled by the Reform movement.

As far as all the drushy interpretations you offered, they certainly have merit, but they are not austritt per se.

Another thing you dwelled on was the vast chasms of difference between Torah im Derech Eretz (TIDE) and Torah uMadda. It seems obvious to identify TIDE with Rav Hirsch, but if you are using the phrase Torah uMadda, you have to choose a specific proponent of it, since there are many who given explanations of it.

If you are referring to Rav Soloveitchik, then fine and good. The Austritt issue certainly would be a subject of disagreement between them, and also probably the attitude towards Zionism. (although it is VERY difficult to say what Rav Hirsch's attitude towards the medina would be if he were alive today, after it's become an accepted fact.)

As far as secular studies, liberal arts, and the humanities, you declared that the Khal Adas Yeshurun community has the living mesorah of Rav Hirsch, and that Rav Schwab was its latest exponent. I would like to point out to you that many, many individuals including PRACTICALLY EVERY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF RAV BREUER would tell you that the community in Washington Heights is NO LONGER at all representative of the derech of Rav Hirsch, namely TIDE.

Anyone who has family and personal ties with the Washington Heights kehillah knows that Rav Shimon Schwab ztz"l was not at all universally accepted by the kehillah, many of whom, including members of the Breuer's family, will tell you straight out that Rav Schwab did NOT represent TIDE as Rav Hirsch saw it.

(It should be mentioned that Rav Schwab's father was among the fiercest opponents of Rav Breuer's brother in Frankfurt, and successfully led a campaign to prevent Rav Rephoel Breuer from becoming the next Rav after Rav Shlomo Breuer passed away.

You have given people the impression that Rav Hirsch simply wanted people to "speak proper German" and be respectable and earn a living. Rav Hirsch's interest in secular studies and humanities went far, far beyond that.

For example, on the centenary of the birth of the German poet, Friedrich Schiller, Rav Hirsch told his kehilla (during a drasha in shul!) that every Yirei Shammayim among his congregants ought to go out and read his poetry. He instructed his talmidim to study Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Mathematics, German, and French. Those who observed his seder hayom observed that he set aside MANY hours of his day to do these very things himself.

That all this was definitely NOT a "horo'as sho'oh" is attested to by everyone who knew him, and specifically in print by his grandson, Rav Breuer ztz"l. Rav Hirsch seemed to believe, along the lines of the approach of the mussar movement, that secular humanities, when they are deemed compatible with Torah, can be very uplifting and ennobling and help a person grow in Torah and yiras shammayim.

If anything, Rav Soloveitchik was LESS interested in the humanities when you compare him to Rav Hirsch. I don't think that Rav Soloveitchik thought a person could grow in Yiddishkeit by reading German literature. He was more cerebral, into philosophy and abstract lomdus. . . (Frankly, I prefer Rav Hirsch.)

As far as college, Rav Hirsch certainly did perceive university in Germany as lechatchila and encouraged his students and followers to attend it. All this is historically indisputable and on the record.

As far as college nowadays, you mentioned that Rav Hutner had "changed". It should be mentioned that Rav Hutner's own daughter (named Bruria, hmm...) holds a PhD from Columbia University, where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on the life and teachings of the Maharatz Chayos, another gadol in Germany who possessed a PhD, by the way. (It's also obvious from reading the dissertation that Bruria Hutner, now Rebbetzin David of BJJ, is quite well versed in Shas and poskim.)

There is a strong masorah, especially among the gedolei Ashkenaz, for the combination of secular learning with Torah studies. The Aruch LaNer (Rav Hirsch's rebbe) also held a PhD. Also on the list of Torah luminaries are Rav Azriel Hildesheimer (who also supported Austritt) Rav Dovid Zvi Hoffman, and Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg.

In university, Rav Y. Y. Weinberg studied the Pe****ta (Syriac translation of the Torah) under the mentorship of the great (non-Jewish) German scholar of Targumim (and oheiv yisroel) Paul Kahle. Rav Weinberg, it should be mentioned was the star pupil of the Alter of Slobadka as a youngster, and wrote beautiful essays about Rav Yisroel Salanter and the mussar movement.

As for here in America, ms you may know, in the early 1950s, Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz of Torah Vodaas and Rav Hutner from Chaim Berlin wanted to merge their yeshivos to form a college, a more "yeshivishe" version of YU. The school would offer a full range of secular studies, including academic degrees in religious areas. The plan almost reached fruition, but was scrapped because of the staunch opposition of Rav Aharon Kotler.

The point is that in principle Rav Hutner and Rav Mendlowitz were not as opposed to secular studies as you might think.

Look, is "Modern Orthodoxy" for the most part "messed-up". The obvious answer is YES. No gadol in Torah would hold from working for working's sake.

No gadol would approve of people watching TV and attending movies, and no gadol would approve of going mixed swimming. (Story: When the movie Schindler's List came out, a number of students in YU wanted very much to see it, even thought there was pritzus in it. They asked Rav Hershel Schachter who told them "absolutely not!" When they kept bothering him and said that they really wanted to see it, he said "I have a yetzer hora too. what's your point?" It's a shame that I should have to post stories like this, but I am afraid that some of the readers of this site have the impression that Rav Soloveitchik and his talmidim are "off the derech".

I think you would be pleasantly surprised. I would like to add that all of Rav Schachter's sons went to Ner Yisroel, and that many of the other rabbeim here, students of Rav Soloveitchik have educated their kids there, or in yeshivos like Philly and Long Beach (even Ponevehz in one case!)

I loved your comment here that working was a curse for Adam HaRishon. I think you were totally on the mark. It's a terrible shame that many people who call themselves "Modern Orthodox" have no respect for the self-sacrifice of kollel and mistakenly think that they should be getting their "fulfillment" out of life through a career. As I said, neither Rav Soloveitchik nor any other gadol would approve of that misguided hashkofoh. I hope people here don't have that impression.

All in all, I think you are on the mark with all of your essential arguments. All I am asking is that please, please don't paint a black and white picture of the Torah vis-à-vis secular studies. It's a VERY VERY complicated issue, and the way you are putting Rav Soloveitchik on one side, and every other gadol beyisroel on the other side is inaccurate and unfair. Rav Hirsch certainly had a much, much more positive view of secular culture, especially liberal arts, than most people in the velt know.

BaronPhilip Posted - 17 January 2002 23:26

Oops! I made a mistake in the last posting. I mentioned that Rav Moshe Meiselman, shlit'a could tell you that Rav Soloveitchik was not as right wing as people think. But what I meant to say was the very opposite! Rav Meiselman will show you that Rav Soloveitchik was not nearly so left-wing, so liberal, as people in the yeshiva velt seem to think. Sorry for the mistake.

MODERATOR Posted - 18 January 2002 0:01

Rav Soloveichik in Five Addresses clearly states that "separatist Orthodoxy" would disappear and only MO will survive. Exact quotes are cited above. "Tourist attractions" he says we would end up. Clearly he was 100% mistaken, and it was that which he said justified "Modern Orthodoxy" - survival, nothing else.

Rav Schwab was not only the undisputed Morah DAsra of the Washington Heights Kehilla, but he was also Rav in Frankfurt. All Rabbonim have their opponents, but there is no basis to c"v discredit Rav Schwab or to say that he was not a maven on TIDE.

There is no "mesorah" that advises secular learning in the way MO does. A Mesorah cannot start 100 or 150 years ago in regard to an issue that is 500 years old. In Germany, the hotbed of Haskalah, and only when Germany became the hotbed of Haskalah, did the Rabbonim there endorse college. The reason was either a response to Haskalah or the result of being influenced by it - depends who you ask. But it is no coincidence that only during the time and place where Haskalah was decimating our ranks did this "Mesorah" appear.

There is no problem with such a response. If secular studies is permitted for parnasah, it is also permitted for spiritual survival as well.. If people in Germany needed rabbis - wanted rabbis, at least, who were well versed in Shiller, then it is not surprising that it was encouraged in order to deal with the time and place they were living, then.

This does not mean "horaas shah". Many agree that a certain amount of secular knowledge is beneficial - even today Yeshiva students go to high school mostly, and basically all of them understand English and basic math etc., which was NOT the case in Germany - where many did not even know German.

The question is, how much secular knowledge is necessary and desirable for a Ben Torah? The answer is, it depends on the time and place and people. Whatever is necessary for the betterment of Torah is the answer. In Germany, much more was necessary to maintain Torah than is today in America. Rav SR Hirsch and the others in Germany did not universally encourage an unlimited amount of secular knowledge - if so, what’s gonna be with Torah? The quantification of this depends on the need.

In short, secular knowledge is looked upon by all of them as a "tool" not an end in itself. Modern Orthodoxy looks at secular knowledge as part of an integration into secular society, part of a lifestyle more than a tool.

Example: Law. Law has zero value as a "science". It is merely the ground rules laid down by our government and states that allow you to win cases or to live without trouble from the government. it is not philosophy and is not an "objective science". Rather, it is the rules of the game - like baseball for instance. People make a living paying ball and others make a living being a lawyer. Neither are philosophical or scientific objectively, and neither are "sciences".

Yet someone who has a law degree is considered in MO world to have accomplished something in "secular knowledge" field. Rav Hirsch would not have considered that an accomplishment. it is not philosophy or science. It is merely a game. Yet to MO, it is still "secular knowledge".

MO looks at "all knowledge" as "coming from G-d", - a quote from Norman Lamm, which is true, but not relevant to whether we should pursue it. Ice cream also comes from G-d but someone who spends his life pursuing it is a fool. MO holds that knowledge - whatever knowledge is valued by secular society is also valued by us. Makes no sense, but that’s what it is. Ask a MO why law is more valuable than the knowledge of Britney Spears trivia - after all - doesn’t all knowledge come from G-d? And making a living is not the criteria, so what is?

Secular society’s values are the criteria, which are valued by MO but NOT AT ALL by Rav Hirsch.

Re Rav Hutner. No. Rav Hutner was very much against college. His Yeshiva regularly discourages it, as did he. Always. Part of the job of a Rebbi in Chaim Berlin in the HS is to convince the students not to go to college.

However, 50 years ago, eh wanted to make a college for those who anyway would have gone to college, to me mekarev them so they can be encouraged to learn more. Not to encourage college c"v for anyone. Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL told him it was a bad idea, for various reasons, and Rav Hutner acquiesced to Rav Aharon's superior authority. Rav Aharon did not foil Rav Hutners plans, Rav Hutner himself foiled them after Rav Aharon explained to him why it was wrong.

Rav Hutner as I said, changed a lot in the last 40 years of his life. The 1939 Chaim Berlin yearbook features him almost beardless, with a nice 3 pierce suit, looking more like a professor than Rosh Yeshiva, with the title "Rabbi Isaac Hutner, Dean."

The 1976 yearbook has him in a Shtraimel (spudik), bekeshe (with velvet cuffs), long white beard, payos flowing behind his ears down almost to his shoulders. he changed a lot.

As far as his daughter, yeah, we know about her Maharitz Chiyus paper. I’ve seen it. But in context, today she runs a seminary for girls where college is not only discouraged, but a girl who went to college is not even likely to ever get admitted to begin with. A girl from there who married a college guy is considered second rate. In fact, it is probably the most anti-college of all the girls’ seminaries. whatever her reasons were, her policy, today, is different. You will have to ask her why she went. Who knows - maybe she went for parnassa reasons, which is permitted.

But college the way MO looks at is was never endorsed by anyone.

simcha Posted - 18 January 2002 16:49

Would Touro College be considered "modern orthodox", close to the YU system? I mean it is advocating a "higher degree" or more secular learning, however, there is no MO hashkafa.

I suppose a rephrasing of the question would be - is it YU itself (the college aspect) that is so off the derech (meaning, saying that college is necessary as part of their hashkafa) or is it the MO hashkafa that prevails there that is the main problem(though obviously that must be PART of the problem) ?

grend123 Posted - 18 January 2002 16:49

"Norman Lamm didn't start the gay clubs, he defended their right to exist and refused to abolish them."

Let's set the record straight.

There is NO GAY CLUB in YU, and in fact, the only student who claims to be gay graduated this year.

The 'gay club' that everyone refers to is in Cardozo School of Law, which is only 10% Jewish (approximately.. depends on the year), including Jews of all sorts, and only a tiny percentage (around 3 to 6, depending on whom you ask) frum.

The YU umbrella includes yeshiva college, which everyone refers to as YU, stern, sy syms college, riets, isaac breuer college, james striar school, belz school of music, wurtzweiler school, azrieli school, revel school, einstein college of medicine, 2 high schools, a museum, and several other institutions (which at one point included several other graduate schools, two more high schools, and a summer camp).

Of these, the undergraduate schools are frum, while only half of the graduate schools (riets, azrieli revel and belz) are frum.

The rest of the graduate schools are entirely unaffiliated religiously, except that they close on Jewish holidays.

Once again, YU (the undergraduate school) has NO GAY CLUBS.

As for the one in cardozo, a law school has no legal ability to regulate the lifestyles of its students, even a law school owned by the same organization that runs a yeshiva.

So, please stop spreading lashon hara against yu... check rumors before repeating them as fact.

Oh, and Rabbi Lamm didn’t defend them, he merely saved YU the negative publicity of losing an unwinnable court battle and tolerated them because he had no other choice. (I don’t care if he 'defended' them in public... everyone in the yu community understood that it was a publicity thing because he had no choice)

MODERATOR Posted - 20 January 2002 21:26

The Rogachover's responsum is referring to a father teaching his child privately, he says explicitly that he is not permitting it as a public community behavior.

Rav Bloch's Teshuva does not contradict that of Rav Elchonon. Rav Elchonon also permitted college for Parnassa or as a "tool" to use for practical purposes, and that is what Rav Bloch was referring to when he said it depends on the case.


Norman Lamm refused to abolish those gay clubs even though he could have. The only thing he had to lose by doing so was money.

It would break no law, nor would it endanger the school’s accreditation. He misrepresented the nature of the clubs as well as the laws "protecting" (sic) them.

Please see
where the issue is explained at length.

But none of this is the main point. The main point is that if these were anti-Semitic Nazi clubs under YU auspices, believe me they would have been abolished.

At the very least, the outcry from the supporters and the institution itself would have been deafening.

Unfortunately, Dr. Lamm does not understand that homosexuality to Hashem is as offensive as an abomination the same way that Nazism is.

They are both enemies of G-d and hated by Him.

Nobody with proper Torah Hashkofos would allow such anti-Torah elements in their school - or anywhere they were able to prevent it. Even for money. Sorry.

danny Posted - 25 January 2002 0:24


The fact is that just because some Roshei Yeshiva of the last generation were against secular studies as an end to itself, does not make it a Torah violation.

There are many talmidei chachamim of this era and of the last 200 years who believe in the benefits of secular education, even when not for the sake of parnassa. You can choose to follow the Roshei Yeshiva of your choice while others can choose to follow the other group, and I dare say there are some big names in the latter group as well.

Torah Vodaath has always promoted college study and had some big name Roshei Yeshiva throughout its history. This is not the same as saying that secular education is more important than Torah. No one believes that. MO simply says that secular studies rounds out a person so that he is more worldly and can interact with the outside world.

R’ Moshe, R’ Boruch Ber, R’ Aaron and R’ Elchanan did not interact with the outside world. They were the Torah leaders of their generation, interested only in the advancement of Torah studies. It does not mean that ordinary baalei batim must behave in that manner. Does that mean that the baal habais violates Torah?

Regarding the other elements of MO, such as boys speaking to girls – where is this prohibition mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch? You say that R’ Moshe prohibits it? Is not accepting R’ Moshe’s psak equivalent to violating Torah? What was the halacha prior to R’ Moshe? What if not all Orthodox Jews accept his psak, are they sinners?

The point I am trying to make here is that MO Jews are shomrei Torah and mitzvos, no less than the most right wing chassid. They differ in accepting certain chumros and psaks from modern day Rabbis. If you wish to belong to the group that is machmir and follows all the psaks, gezunterheit, but don’t think for a moment that the other group are Torah violators, just because they don’t practice exactly as you do. They are not. Saying that they are creates a la’az against an entire group of kosher Jews and is a big aveirah.

BaronPhilip Posted - 06 February 2002 15:30

Moderator, the main problem here is that you keep saying "MO says" as if there were such a thing as "the MO derech", and then you lump together the all sorts of different things that bother you that were said by different people.

As far as Rav Shimon Schwab, you are not addressing the issue by saying that he was the "mara d'asra of Washington Heights" and therefore I cannot challenge him and claim he was not a maven in TIDE. A person's opinions do not automatically become correct because they were hired for a job in a certain neighborhood. The fact is that far greater scholars of the thought of Rav Hirsch, including EVERY SINGLE DESCENDANT AND MEMBER OF RAV HIRSCH, and ALL THE BREUER'S did not--and still do not--believe that Rav Schwab's representation of TIDE was correct.

Rav Hirsch placed a massive emphasis on secular culture, and would indeed have found it a great accomplishment if a member of his congregation would attain a law degree.

And again, with Rav Soloveitchik, why listen to only Rav Yerucham Gorelick? Why not also speak to Rav Moshe Meiselman, a student and nephew of Rav Soloveitchik, and also a bona fide member of the charedi world, one who strongly discourages his talmidim from attending college. He will present you with a very different version of Rav Soloveitchik from the one you heard from Rav Gorelick. Why not listen to what he has to say?

And as far as the Five Addresses and what Rav Soloveitchik said in them, I suggest you read some of the essays of Rav Hirsch, which sounds strikingly similar to those words in terms of predictions of the charedi world becoming a thing of the past. Read Dayan Yitzchok Grunfeld's book "Three Generations" for an excellent presentation and selection of mareh mekomos on the matter.

The simple fact is that when you take Rav Hirsch's statements in context--the context of whom he was speaking to, and the age in which he was speaking--you understand that Rav Hirsch wasn't, chas ve-shalom, saying that the traditional yeshiva velt was a relic of history. So the same goes for Rav Soloveitchik. The simple fact, with which you would agree, is that Rav Soloveitchik, like Rav Hirsch, was able to keep a mass of ignorant and partially committed people from going completely off the derech.

Anyway, Moderator, please be aware of the danger of making things black and white when they are not. You are trying to take every rabbinic personality and place him in either the "right camp" or the "wrong camp". There were, and are, a wide spectrum of opinions in our mesorah on secular studies, and they range from the very hostile, to the very favorable. Why not simply study the words of the gedolim of previous generations for what they said, and not try to cram them into categories that seem convenient for modern Orthodox politics?

One more thing, the mesorah for secular students does not go back only 150 years. I presented a litany of rabbinic figures from 19th century Germany because they were the most recent and relevant. The fact is that there were always, in every generation, gedolei Torah who were involved in the secular studies, and gedolim who weren't. During the time of the Rishonim, the baalei ha-Tosfos and the rest of chachmei ashkenaz were generally insular, but the chachmei provans and chachmei sfard were very involved with and open to secular learning. Look at Ibn Ezra, Rambam, Ralbag, Meiri, etc. . . You see a tremendous engagement with Greek learning as conveyed through Arabic sources. And not just in philosophy. This includes grammar, comparative philology, piyyut, history, etc... And this trend can be traced backwards to the Geonei Bavel and Eretz Yisroel. You know perfectly well that there are thousands of mareh mekomos to support this.

The simple fact is that there has been a solid mesorah for the study of secular subjects together with Torah going back almost a millennium and a half, not just 150 years.

BaronPhilip Posted - 06 February 2002 15:30

Moderator, had Lamm tried to ban the gay club at Cardozo Law School, it would have been he who was banned. He would have been fired from his job. Exactly how much power do you think he has anyway? He was hired by a secular board of directors to manage a secular university with a vast majority of non-Jewish students. The "gay club" in question was funded with the students' own money that had been given to a fund for "student club activities". And it was more than merely a matter of money. Without government funding, YU would have gone completely bankrupt years ago.

I've heard Lamm speak on homosexual issues, and you can be certain that he does not equivocate. He is one of the very few people today in the public eye who will openly say, even in interview with the New York Times, that homosexuality is not, G-d forbid, an "alternative lifestyle", but is, actually, a mental and moral illness.

And here's some information you all should know: There was a gay student in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (of Yeshiva University) who was refused married housing for her and her "partner". Despite her insistence and complaining, Norman Lamm's office refused to grant her request. Elliot Spitzer, who is a district attorney there in New York City was trying to prosecute YU for this. Let's at least give YU credit for making a great Kiddush Hashem in this instance.

Let me ask you one thing, Moderator: Would you own stock in a corporation, like IBM, that has an association of gay employees? Do you think that that would be ossur? If not, how is that different?

Moderator, there are, of course, serious, very serious problems with YU, and a real Ben Torah may indeed have plenty of reasons to avoid it. But gay clubs? They have, Boruch Hashem, no effect or connection whatsoever to the undergraduate campus of YU. No bochur in the yeshiva is ever exposed in any way to that sort of shmutz. Please don't leave people with the impression that they do.

MODERATOR Posted - 06 February 2002 22:35


The Rama, the Gemora (Yerushalmi) and various authorities prohibit college. The Rabbonim of the past generation were merely pointing that out.

And they were not merely some "Roshei Yeshivos" they were the Gedolim of the generation. And nobody has of yet contributed anything close to an opposing Halachic reasoning. The Halachah is clear: college is assur (except in cases such as Parnasa etc.)

it is for this reason - that there is no valid halachic opposition, that the Gedolim considered the secularists not merely as mistaken or having another halachic opinion but rather simply "off the derech".

As far as Rav Moshe's Teshuva on boys and girls mixing, the only way you would not be violating the Torah by violating this Teshuva is if you have some kind of Halachic defense to rely on that would negate Rav Moshe’s authority and proofs. You cant just say you don’t care.

Besides, Rav Moshe just made it into an Issur D'Oraisa. Regardless of that, it is definitely discouraged and frowned upon in Torah literature all over the place. (As in "al tarbeh sichah im ha'ishah")

And the problem in Modern Orthodoxy is therefore that they glorify what the Torah frowns upon. That makes it something to oppose vehemently.

BaronPhilip Posted - 11 February 2002 15:22

Moderator, please take the time to learn the relevant history.

You claim that Rav Hirsch did not send his pupils to secular colleges. Rather, you claim, he created his own. Moderator, all Rav Hirsch ever created was a school system that ended with high school. After high school, the students continued on in the finest universities in Germany. This is simple recorded history.

Next, "austritt" has nothing whatsoever to do with separating from secular culture. It refers to separating from non-Orthodox Jews, from the Reform.

Next, everything you said about Rav Hirsch dealing with a German community that was thoroughly saturated with haskala and that he saved them also applies to Rav Soloveitchik in the 1950s and 1960s. You keep quoting from some rhetoric Rav Soloveitchik used in a Mizrachi convention. In the context of his speeches to his kehilla in Frankfurt, Rav Hirsch was equally, if not more, vehement that the derech of the frum world must be to move to adapt and value Western culture and learning.

As far as Rav Hirsch having never "attacked" the frum world the way Rav Solovetichik supposedly did, I suggest you get a hold of the first edition of "Nineteen Letters" in English, where he voices strong criticism against the Rambam. It was no less than the Chazon Ish who insisted that subsequent editions of the book have the passages removed.

I'm in a rush now, and will write more later, but I would like to add that not only do all the members of the Breuer's family feel that Rav Schwab took the kehilla away from TIDE, they will tell you that their father, Rav Yosef Breuer, ztz"l, took issue with many of Rav Schwab's positions. As to why Rav Schwab was hired, I'll write you a letter about that if you are interested.

And yes, Rav Hirsch would have been extremely proud of someone with a law degree. And I'm sorry you can't see the difference between MTV and law school.

MODERATOR Posted - 11 February 2002 17:00

Well Rav Soloveitchik obviously agreed with you, that America in the 50's and 60's was doomed without his approach, but history shows he was dead wrong.

Rav Hirsch's comments in Nineteen Letters about the Rambam have nothing to do with the Rambam’s philosophy of Torah-Only, but rather his approach to Mitzvos in Moreh Nevuchim.

The Chazon Ish's response was due obviously to the strong language that Rav Hirsch uses against the Rambam (if memory serves, something to the effect of a mothball-ridden relic, he says the Talmud becomes, according to the Rambam).

The opposite camp of Rav Hirsch was not the Rambam in 500 years before him - it was Gedolim of his generation. He did not denigrate them at all.

Staying away from the non-Orthodox and non-Jews is in order not to learn from them. This flies in the face of an "integration into secular culture and society" which MO espouses.

MODERATOR Posted - 11 February 2002 17:12


Part of the problem with MO is that it was not created in the same way Torah movements such as Chasidus or TIDE were. There were no rabbis - great or otherwise - who articulated a philosophy that they referred to as MO.

MO began as a behavior of people without any reasoning, and ex post facto became a philosophy. For example, secular studies in RIETS developed when some students went on strike because their friends were expelled from school for attending secular studies.

The rabbonim in charge of RIETS then were against secular studies, but the board of directors and financial backers made a business decision to incorporate it into the curriculum.

Later more influences came upon the scene, none of which were Torah perspectives but rather business or secular ones. Furthermore, even the ex post facto definition of MO is a hodgepodge of opinions of many different people, none of whom have more of a copyright on the term than others. I have no interest, nor is there a need, to deal with every individual opinion on the street in this matter.

And almost none of the opinions address the pertinent issue anyway: What's the point of Modern Orthodoxy?

But some do. Those are the opinions that I am using here. Rav Soloveichik articulated a reasoning, namely, survival. Obviously, he was dead wrong.

His reasoning was based on his vision of the future, his own opinion of what will be, and what needs to be done.

He was so confident in his perception that he accused the vast majority of Gedolei Yisroel of "lacking the courage" to admit he was right.

He stated clearly that only his derech will be successful and the others will fail.

In the end of his life, I heard from someone close to him, that he was extremely distraught and depressed over the fact that he and his derech was not accepted in the Torah world, whereas those who were supposed to become "tourist attractions" were.

In particular, he was complaining a about the fact that Rav Shlomo Heiman ZTLs, seforim are learned in every Yehsiva in the country, while he is totally ignored by the bulk of Torah students.

Rav Hirsch did not encourage non-Jewish culture, in fact his policy of austritt was designed specifically to separate culture from education. He also did not send his students to outside colleges, he made his own.

And why in the world would anyone consider it a positive thing to spend years learning secular law - and if so for law, why not for MTV trivia?

If all knowledge comes from G-d (quote from Norman Lamm) and therefore is worth pursuing then all knowledge that comes from G-d is worth pursuing - why limit your knowledge to what the colleges teach?

Rav Hirsch was talking about Germany during Haskalah. He was right, then. He and his small Kehilla (about 300 members) saved German Jewry.

Rav Soloveichik was talking about New York in the 60's. There was no comparison.

Even the Minchas Elozor (in his Divrei Torah) concedes that for the Jews of Germany, who "have been so poisoned by secularism and haskalah", have also been immunized to any ill effects of the secular studies encouraged by Rav Hirsch's teachings.

Rav Hirsch did not recommend secularizing a Torah world, but rather stabilizing an already lethally secularized Jewish community.

He also never, ever attacked or personally denounced the Torah Only camp.

Rav Soloveichik demanded secularizing the Yeshiva world - or else they will all disappear, as is "obvious" (sic) to anyone who can see the future - and denigrated those who did not agree with him.

Rav Soloveichik stated clearly, that "for the first time in history" we need his approach. He knew it was not the same as Rav Hirsch's. Or anybody else’s.

He never, even mentions Rav Hirsch in this context, and is forever explaining how he is alone and original in this idea.

An integration into Goyish culture was not endorsed by anyone in the past. And certainly nobody ever endorsed moving further into secularism than the community already was.

Here's the difference, in the bottom line: Rav Aharon Kotler said about Rav Soloveitchik, "He destroyed an entire generation."

Whereas the Chasam Sofer's Talmidim, who was in their days the foremost "separatists” in the world, said about Rav Hirsch that "he saved an entire generation".

The difference is, Rav Soloveichik denigrated the "seperationists", and Rav Hirsch was denigrated by other Orthodox communities for being a seperationist! (Yes, that is the word they used to describe Rav Hirsch, the same word Rav Soloveichik uses to describe his opponents).

Yes, it is true that "A person's opinions do not automatically become correct because they were hired for a job in a certain neighborhood", but here we are talking about being hired by Rav Hirsch's congregation (nowadays) to be the foremost authority on Torah and Hashkafa for them, including TIDE.

Re the descendants of Rav Breuer etc: A person's job doesn’t make him right, but neither does a person's yichus.

Rav Schwab was a world class Talmid Chacham, who knew Rav Hirsch's writing almost by heart (I can testify to that) and who also spent a large chunk of his life discussing Rav Hirsch's shitos with Gedolim from all other spectrums, such as Rav Elchonon, Rav Bloch, the Gerrer Rebbe and others

(btw I heard from Rav Schwab that the Gerrer Rebbe suggested not printing Rav Elchonon's teshuva because of Kovod for Rav Hirsch! - even though he agreed with R. Elchonon l'halachah, the way some things were said he thought it better not made public).

He was also a very, very big Ish Emes.

Another thing about him. He once told me of a story where he once mentioned something anti-Zionist one Chanukah in his congregation. He told me of the harassment that he got apparently from among his own congregation because if it - not a lot, I don’t want to exaggerate - but more than a Rav should.

Now it is clear that Rav Hirsch was staunchly anti-Zionist, yet today not everyone in Khal Adas Yeshurun is. Who knows how those members of his Kehilla would interpret Rav Hirsch?

I see some disloyalty to Rav Hirsch in Washington Heights, but not from Rav Schwab.

So while Rav Schwab could be wrong, you’re going to have to show me why you say that, or why others say that, rather than just saying it.

I did not hear about Rav Soloveichik from Rav Gorelick. I didn’t say that. I never spoke to Rav Meiselman, but I did once speak to his father about Rav Soloveichik, many many years ago, in Buzzard's Bay, MA (long story).

Regarding who is "insular" - sigh - this is one of the problems of MO. They tend to frame these kind of issues in sociological terms, which have nothing to do with anything.

The point is, none of the Baalei Tosfos, or any other Rishonim on record permit learning secular studies regularly for non-parnassa or utilitarian purposes.

"Insular" is not the issue. And the statement itself is subjective and open ended. Satmar encourages their students to go out into the world and work for a living after marriage, and Chaim Berlin encourages them to learn in Kollel. So does that mean that Chaim Berlin is insular and Satmar is not?

The reality is, "insular" is not a value or a criterion, or a standard used in considering any course of action. Only the Torah is.

SmarterGirl Posted - 27 February 2002 18:52

Ok, I know this is from awhile back, but I was reading it and I didn't understand what was meant. Moderator wrote: "The Zionists have succeeded in making the Arabs bloodthirsty enemies of the Jews" I know that the Zionist have succeeded in making the Arabs MORE thirsty for Jewish blood, but I'm not so sure they're the ones that caused the hatred.

Originally, the Arabs were good to the Jews, unlike the Christians. But I think that they're hatred for us had already surfaced before the rise of Zionism, about when they realized that their religion was a copycat of Judaism.

Maybe I'm not clear on what I'm saying, but this is what I think. Maybe someone could clarify? I know it really had nothing to do with Modern Orthodoxy, but I saw it here.

grend123 Posted - 12 March 2002 14:39

Just to pick up on two points
First, in igros moshe volume 8, the new volume, and specifically in yorah deiah daled, rav moshe's approach to college is far more permissive, provided there is adequate gender separation.

Second, as to why a law degree is more important than trivia, I would imagine this is a fairly obvious answer. Law is a recognized part of society in Judaism - its one of the sheva mitzvos even for bnei noach to set up courts of law, and in pirkei avos it says that if not for government (i.e. law) "ish es reyaihoo chaim belaho" - we would eat each other alive.

Law is a constructive force, and therefore has an intrinsic worth- obviously it is secondary to torah, but it is certainly far removed from pop culture trivia.

And, dear mod, you know this as well as I do - I respect the point you are trying to make about secular knowledge being worthless, but the comparison between a law degree and between trivia just doesn’t hold water.

MODERATOR Posted - 12 March 2002 15:24


Yes, it is true. None of the goyim were ever our friends, but there are levels. A group of Jews cannot march into Harlem and start shouting racial slurs because "anyway" the Goyim hate us. The Arabs as a whole, were not interested in killing Jews until the fight over the land. And even Moslems today, in countries other than Arab ones, are not interested in it, except to the degree that they are involved in the middle-east conflict.


No, Rav Moshe is not more lenient in the last volume (even though the last volume, as I am sure you know, is not 100% reliable).

He says the reason people don’t object more to college is that it wont help, and also people go for parnassa reasons, and some people anyway wont do anything better with their time.

The next paragraph where he discusses going to college where there are no girls is referring, as he says to someone who goes for the "right reasons", meaning, for Parnassa.

Re Law. Even according to you, you are agreeing with me that not "all knowledge" has value, which is the statement of Norman Lamm that I was refuting.

But I don’t understand your point. You’re saying that knowledge which is an "accepted part" of society" and plays a "positive" role is valuable. And since Law is "positive" for the Goyim, so . . . Jews may go to Law school???

Even though Goyim are allowed and encouraged to create some kind of standard of justice for themselves, Jews are not allowed to do that - we have Torah - so what in the world does that have to do with us? If you are considering all "knowledge", i.e. "information" as G-d given, then MTV is also knowledge; but if the criterion is value, then this particular knowledge only has value to Goyim, not to us, so why in the world should we care about it?

To us, its as useful, as holy, as and as permitted to utilize, as MTV. Less, in a way.

Beautman Posted - 15 March 2002 13:13

But I don’t understand your point. You're saying that knowledge which is an "accepted part" of society" and plays a "positive" role is valuable. And since Law is "positive" for the Goyim, so . . . Jews may go to Law school???

Even though Goyim are allowed and encouraged to create some kind of standard of justice for themselves, Jews are not allowed to do that - we have Torah - so what in the world does that have to do with us? If you are considering all "knowledge", i.e. "information" as G-d given, then MTV is also knowledge; but if the criterion is value, then this particular knowledge only has value to Goyim, not to us, so why in the world should we care about it? To us, it’s as useful, as holy, as and as permitted to utilize, as MTV. Less, in a way.

That's not really right. Secular law is perhaps not more holy than MTV (although if you've ever been exposed to MTV, it is on a completely different level of unholiness than law or many other things in contemporary society).

But it definitely has value to Yidden, if not in the metaphysical sense. Living in golus, we're stuck governing many aspects of our behavior by those "standards of justice," that are expressed in the rules goyim have created, especially people in business, but also anyone planning for taxes, dealing with buying or renting a home, having insurance, driving a car, v'chulu. (Truth is, many U.S. laws are created by Jews.)

The people who have studied the law know those rules the best. It is certainly useful for Jews to know how to stay out of jail, avoid fines, avoid getting sued by neighbors and customers, minimize their taxes, etc. (and possibly even make a parnasah from advising others about the rules).

Sure, all secular knowledge is not useful (especially if you are going to define "knowledge" to include the most vulgar and trivial "information," which perhaps Rabbi Lamm would not). Some secular knowledge is very useful, and some can be employed for holy purposes.

MODERATOR Posted - 15 March 2002 13:25

You’re supporting my point, not disagreeing with it. I said that secular knowledge is only worth pursuing if it has some kind of practical value. Lamm said that "all knowledge is form G-d" and therefore even without any utilitarian purpose, knowledge in and of itself, all knowledge, is worth pursuing.

I said this makes no sense, one of the reasons being, much knowledge that is taught in universities is artificial, man-made opinions about things rather than objective science, such as law. And MTV.

So you tell me that law is different than MTV since it has a practical value.

Fine. But the issue is, is secular knowledge worth pursuing NOT because of its practical value, but by virtue of the fact that it is "knowledge"? Which is a question that Lamm would answer "yes", an answer which your post, which says that law does have a practical utilitarian value, does not support.

If Norman Lamm has a definition for knowledge different than the dictionary, and different than "information", please let him tell it to us. What does he consider knowledge? Only what the secular universities teach? That’s precisely the point. If "all" knowledge is form G-d, then, well, they all equally come from G-d. If not "all", then what? The Torah says only secular knowledge with practical value, that can be used as a tool is worth pursuing. That’s not the MO view according to Lamm.

So again I ask, if knowledge is worth pursuing even with no practical value, does this mean "all" knowledge? If not, then what? Which knowledge does not "come from G-d"?

Incidentally, I disagree with the value aspect of law as well. Of course we need to know how to deal with our legal issues. That’s why we hire lawyers - which can be non-Jews. We don’t need to be lawyers.

grend123 Posted - 16 April 2002 1:28

Mod, I think you answered yourself in your last post.

No one would claim that "knowledge" and "information" are exact synonyms - information includes trivia, and even such useless factoids as how many tiles there are in your ceiling, while knowledge generally refers to information with some cultural or practical value.

Information is a synonym for data; knowledge is a synonym for, what for lack of a better English word, I will call "chachma".

You can claim I'm playing with semantics, but you and I and everyone else here understands what Rabbi Lamm meant.

MODERATOR Posted - 16 April 2002 1:47

What Rabbi Lamm meant was, any knowledge the secular world considers "valuable" they consider "valuable" too. That is the problem. Ancient Greek is a lot less useful than ghetto slang.

Doesn’t all "information" come from G-d the same way as "knowledge" does? According to Dr. Lamm's logic, there should be no difference. And if he means to say that they only teach things with a practical value, that contradicts his whole thesis, which states that the difference between the MO and the traditional Orthodox is that MO believes in learning secular studies for no practical reason, except its intrinsic value (this was also one of the main points of his "goodbye" speech last year).

The problem is, WHAT intrinsic value? Where did it get this value? And how did he decide what is considered valuable and not? The whole thing is just a type of assimilation into non-Jewish culture and an acceptance of their lifestyle and values, and making them into c"v something Jewish. From a Jewish perspective - and a logical one - the whole thing is meaningless.

MusicMan Posted - 19 April 2002 15:57

Hi Mod - I posted a similar question on another forum, but it doesn’t look like u check that one. Basically, I am an orthodox Jew and I completely agree with the importance of fitting your life into Torah, rather than the Torah to fit your life. I also agree 10000% that Torah is the most valuable knowledge there is.

But, I was just wondering if Halacha and Torah in general places value on the objective sciences, namely Physics. I would be dishonest to myself if I ignored my desire to learn physics. This does not say that physics is as important as Torah and that Torah learning should Stop C"V, but what is the Torah view on learning Physics, a concrete science?

MODERATOR Posted - 19 April 2002 16:13

For parnasa purposes, it is permitted.

For learning it without any practical reason it is prohibited to learn as a regular course, but permitted sporadically to browse the topic.

That is the psak of the Rama in Hilchos Talmud Torah, based, as the GAR point out, on a Yerushalmi.

For relaxation purposes, it is also permitted, but, like all practical purposes, it is only permitted to the extent that it is actually needed. You have to exert much intellectual honesty here.

ptgard2281 Posted - 08 May 2002 17:08

Mod, you still haven't convinced me that Lamm is wrong . . . although perhaps you should be placing the "blame" on Solvetchick where the whole YU concept started. Point is that the same thing can be said about many things Rabbanim have said in the past, and it's just a matter of who you think is right or wrong.

I mean, where did the rabbeyim come up with their ideas in the gemarah that they argued over? This is a mere opinion, which I happen to agree with the same as I might agree with rabbeyim. Anyway, I don't see you point because G-d did create certain things, so why shouldn't we be learning about them? You haven't given me sufficient proof that we shouldn't be.

MODERATOR Posted - 09 May 2002 17:15

Just because Hashem made something does not make it a Mitzvah to pursue - G-d make poison too, right? Nor does it mean it is not a waste of time to pursue it.

So the whole idea is not logical to begin with. His cause does not lead to his conclusion.

Halachicly - learning Torah is a Mitzvah. Pursuing other studies is Bitul Torah and/or a Bizayon HaTorah, as the Halachah clearly states, quoted numerous places on these boards. Where necessary for utilitarian purposes, such pursuits are permitted. But only as necessary tools for living, the same as, say, a pot or pan, or bathroom. But they are not more intrinsically valuable than any other of G-d's creations, such as pots, or pans, or bathrooms.

Askenazadox Posted - 21 May 2002 17:48

I hope that I am not repeating anything already said, but it boils down to this...

The term Modern Orthodoxy is misused today. If you want to define Modern Orthodoxy as Torah U'Madda or Torah Im Derech Eretz, that is fine.

But I will tell you what Modern Orthodoxy is NOT. Modern Orthodoxy is NOT about it being ok to go mixed swimming or mixed dancing, going to co-ed schools and camps, not dressing tznius, eating treifus ("because it's only dairy, so what can be wrong?"), carrying on shabbos where there is no eruv, not keeping taharas hamishpacha etc.

This is flat out Assur (!!!) and it is a terrible affront to the great Modern Orthodox rabbonim (whether or not you agree with their shitas) when people justify doing these issurim under the banner of "modern orthodoxy".

MODERATOR Posted - 21 May 2002 18:01

Modern Orthodoxy has no definition. It’s just a term and a copyright on it has never been acquired. It’s not a Torah term but a social one and anyone who wants to use it can.

The problem is, the Rabbonim who refer to themselves as MO have set themselves up for this. It is no insult to Rav Elyashev that Yitz Greenberg of CLAL, or Steven Greenberg, the openly gay "rabbi", call themselves "Orthodox". Rav Elyashev's status is not defined by self-defined labels, but by their greatness in Torah and Mitzvos, which put them in a totally separate category than the Greenbergs and others like them, even though they both call themselves Orthodox. Its like calling yourself homosapien. Im not insulted as a human being if Jeffrey Dahmer calls himself that. Its just a label. My status is defined by my actions, which show that I have nothing in common with him.

If a Modern Orthodox rabbi is insulted by the fact that Edah for instance call themselves MO, then he has to rethink what defines his status. Its not the label. Its his actions.

That’s the problem with the whole concept of Modern Orthodoxy. It really doesn’t mean anything, and can be used to define anything from going to college to being Zionist to mixed swimming to openly gay rabbis. There is no need for a new label "Modern Orthodox". Just as Chasidim, Misnagdim, Yekkes, and Sefardim do not consider themselves a different branch of Orthodoxy because of their different shitos or hashkofos, there was never any reason for the MO to do so either. the fact that they did separate themselves from traditional Orthodoxy is what causes this.

Nobody can define unanimously what Modern Orthodoxy is. All we know is what it isn't. It is not traditional Orthodoxy, otherwise you would not need a new name.

Therefore, since the only objective definition MO has is that is it not traditional Orthodoxy, anybody that does not practice traditional Orthodoxy can equally define themselves as MO without any objective opposition.

That’s what happens when you use meaningless

DannyBoy67 Posted - 04 December 2002 16:18

As long as a person keeps Halacha (ALL of them)he/she can call him/her-self whatever he/she wants for all anyone cares.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 December 2002 16:58

Nope - first, Halachah isn’t enough. you have to keep the rest of the Torah, too. Please see the hashkafa vs. haklachah forum. Second, you cannot call yourself what you want. Associating yourself with a group who stand for anti-torah values is wrong. Imagine keeping the Torah and telling people you’re a Reform Jew...

grend123 Posted - 05 December 2002 20:59

Ok, Im imagining it.

Distasteful, perhaps, but no more

MODERATOR Posted - 05 December 2002 21:25

You have some imagination...

dudess50 Posted - 06 December 2002 8:37

okay here’s where I disagree. people try as hard as they can to do as much as they can. if that means that they are modern orthodox, so be it. we don’t know anything for sure which kind of bugs me sometimes but that’s a different issue so if we don’t know for sure what to do and what Hashem means in His torah and Torah She Baal Peh, then isn’t it okay to do what we believe to do what we can? if someone keeps shabbos and kosher, and davens with as much kavana as they can muster, but isn’t shomeret negiah (just an example) does that make them a "distasteful" modern orthodox Jew?? come-on ppl can we grow up here?

the exact translation of Chet(which some translate as sin) is mistake. so when we say chatanu it means we made a mistake were sorry.

oh and another thing, if someone is shomer negiah keeps shabbos kosher davens keeps halacha to the highest degree but their one problem is lashon horah does that make them any "better" than the person who doesn’t say loshon horah as much keeps shabbos kosher etc. but isn’t shomeret??!


MODERATOR Posted - 06 December 2002 9:31

The problem with Modern Orthodoxy, Dudess, is not that its people have problems - we all have problems and are struggling, as you say - but rather that it takes those problems and makes them "OK". They made those aveiros into part of Judaism, rather than something to fight against.

You are right that reaching our goals does not happen overnight. But Modern Orthodoxy, rather than saying "we are having trouble reaching the goals" simply changed the goals.

Nobody claims that speaking loshon horah is legitimate - MO claims that their coed schools are.

The aveirah of Modern Orthodoxy is that they do NOT look at themselves the way you describe - as people who are trying as hard as they can NOT to mix boys and girls; NOT to violate negiya; etc - rather, they look at themselves as an alternative form of Orthodoxy.

Modern Orthodoxy does not mean "people who cannot do better". It means people who believe their behavior is OK. It is that belief, that the violations of halachah and hashkafa that MO has is OK, that is the reason MO is opposed.

They are not violating the Torah like the speakers of Loshon Horah - they are changing it.

Its like if someone would open up a new branch of Orthodoxy - "Gossip Orthodoxy" - where people officially allow loshon horah, schools and shuls are set up where loshon horah is considered "cool" and nisyonos for loshon horah are inevitable. It becomes a culture where, if someone does NOT want to speak loshon horah, they cannot, and are even looked upon as strange by their peers.

They produce their own schools, their own rabbis, their own shuls - "Gossip Orthodoxy."

And when someone says they have a problem with this, they answer "Well, people try as hard as they can to do as much as they can. if that means that they are gossip orthodox, so be it."

"Hello," you would tell them. "But you’re not trying!!! You’re accepting your problems without resistance, institutionalizing them, glorifying them even!"

Now substitute "loshon horah" with "shomer negiyah", and "gossip" with "Modern" and see what I mean.

And also, we DO know for sure what Hashem wants. Such statements are found only in MO schools where they use it as an excuse, as if to say, "Nobody can say we are wrong because nobody knows what’s wrong."

Uhu. So just ask your MO rabbis about the Neturei Karta - Orthodox Jews - who burn Israeli flags and demonstrate with Palestinians, if they, too, are not wrong? And try writing a Letter to the Editor in response to the endless articles by MO rabbis about how evil these Orthodox Jews are, and say, "if someone keeps shabbos and kosher, and davens with as much kavana as they can muster, but supports Palestinians and wants to abolish the State of Israel and burns Israeli flags (just an example) does that make them a "distasteful" Neturei Karta Jew?? come-on ppl can we grow up here?"

And then say "we don’t know for sure what hashem wants".

What do you think the answer would be?

Some things, dudess, we know what Hashem wants. We know He does not want boys and girls to mix; we know He detests violations of Negiyah. We know lots of what Hashem wants. And we know it for sure.

Regarding your question of the keeping loshon horah etc - the answer is, if the person thinks that its OK to speak loshon horah, or its not so bad to touch boys, then they are the worst. Violating the Torah is not as bad as changing it.

This loshon horah question, commonly asked, is not a defense for Modern Orthodoxy. With that logic, I can eat pork and say "well isn’t it better to keep shabbos daven with kavanah not speak loshon horah and eat pork, better than someone who speaks loshon horah?"

You can end up permitting the entire Torah with that logic.

And its not logical. The reason why MO are criticized is NOT because they are struggling humans who sin, but because they have set up a system where certain sins are no longer an issue, due to "Modern society". THAT is the one, big sin of Modern Orthodoxy, and that, yes, is much worse than loshon horah. Loshon Horah is a violation of the Torah - this, on the other hand, is a changing of the Torah. If a person wants to corrupt himself by speaking loshon horah or sinning, that’s one thing - but at least leave the Torah intact. One you change the Torah, your aveirah is no longer Negiyah - it is now kefirah.

The word "chet" by the way, means to "miss". When you say you did a "chet" you mean you missed the goal. Rashi in chumash says this, when Yaakov tells lavan that not a single animal under his care was ever "missing" ("chet").

MODERATOR Posted - 06 December 2002 9:53

Dudess, I think you sent a post in response to this, but I cant find it. Its totally lost. Can you please resend it?

dudess50 Posted - 06 December 2002 14:10

okay. so if chet means to miss, then chatanu we missed... lets try again. I mean on yom kippur don’t ppl repent for their sins n then their a clean slate if u know what I mean? so if u die on yom kippur your gonna def connect wit G-d and go to heaven? Hashem doesn’t judge u by what u were or what you will be He judges you at the moment when you daven to him or ask forgiveness. like it sez in berashis 21, "hashem judged the lad as he was there"

Battzion Posted - 25 December 2002 6:33

Modern Orthodoxy has absolutely NOTHING to do with permitting things otherwise known as issurim (ex. negiyah). Modern Orthodoxy believes in every single mitzvah of the Torah, just like u Rabbi Mod. What they mite believe, that u mite not believe in, is that things having to do with the outside world, including secular subjects, are muttar. ( I think.)

What is the matter w/ secular subjects? To quote of one my teachers, "If G-d is universal, he must be universally found"- if Hashem is everywhere, he must be able to be found even in things like math, science, history, poetry/literature, etc....???????

MODERATOR Posted - 25 December 2002 6:44


If you die after Teshuva, regardless of when you did it, Yom Kippur or any time - you go to heaven.


We discussed this often. MO is not a belief system - its not like Chasidus or Mussar where someone formulated a philosophy. Rather, it just developed out of assimilation and leniencies that crept in to our society. Today, mixing between boys and girls and other forms of aveiros are institutionalized exclusively among those who call themselves MO - and use that label as an explanation for those imperfections. As far as g-d being universal, what your teacher said makes no sense. According to that logic, G-d could also c"v be found in pornography as well -- there would be nothing in the world that is "wrong", since "G-d can be found everywhere". The answer is, just because G-d can be "found" everywhere does not me we are capable of seeing Him everywhere. We are humans, not all-knowing G-ds. Because we have a Yetzer horah, there are things that we are not allowed to have, and or do, and material that we are not allowed to access. Open a filthy magazine and try to find G-d there? No, I don’t think so. G-'d being universal has nothing to do with the fact that certain things in this universe are forbidden to us humans.

The halachah of secular knowledge has been discussed before - to learn secular studies as a curriculum, the way they do in colleges, is prohibited. If you have to learn something for parnassa, it would be permitted, providing that no heresy or pritzus is involved.

And even then, it is a much higher level not to do any secular learn gin at all, and merely spend all your time in Torah.

Battzion Posted - 30 December 2002 6:37

ok- obviously, it is very unlikely that u would find Hashem in dirty things like you mentioned. but what my teacher was saying that Hashem's TRUTH can be found everywhere, even in secular things, b/c Hashem is universal.

And therefore, studying these secular things enhances our understanding of many Torah concepts! one example my teacher gave of this is the book the little prince. he said that there was a certain part in this book that beautifully mirrors our relationship with Hashem- therefore, reading that book would help us in our understanding of our relationship with Hashem=just because something is secular doesn't mean its assur!!! also, didn't the Rambam quote Aristotle often and say that many parts of his theories were correct? thanks

MODERATOR Posted - 30 December 2002 6:56

The fact that G-d is universal does not mean His "truth" can be found everywhere - in nature, and certain secular places, yes, and others, no.

But the problem with secular studies is, no matter what value they have, including the "Little Prince", they are not as valuable as Torah studies, and whatever your secular stories do in terms of helping your relationship with G-d, Torah sources do infinitely better, and without the invariable sediment of useless at best, and likely counter productive lessons you will find in the secular literature.

That being the case, this is the question you have to present to your teacher:

If I have a choice between learning Torah literature and secular literature at any given moment, what is there in secular literature that would make me choose to learn it over the Torah literature?

To say that the secular literature helps you find G-d is now a slap in the face to the Torah literature, which helps you find G-d even better.

If I offer you a job that pays $50 an hour and instead you take one that pays $1 an hour, there is obviously something very undesirable about the first job.

And so by choosing to "find G-d" in secular places when you could find Him much better in Torah places, or whatever reason you are choosing to pursue chol instead of Kodesh, you are demonstrating that there is some superiority in that chol, and that is the Bizayon HaTorah that is the problem here.

Unless, of course, a person pursues secular studies as let's say a vacation or realization technique, or he needs to knows something secular for some specific purpose. That’s OK. And that’s why the Halachah is, that to read secular studies now and then is OK, but to pursue it as a course of study is prohibited.

As far as Aristotle, yes, the Rambam did say that much of what he said was correct, but first, as the Chosid Yaavetz points out, just because the Rambam was able to know what to accept and what to reject from Aristotle doe not mean that you know as well, and therefore were you to pursue Aristotles' works, you would inevitably be accepting heresy;

and two, the Rambam considered Aristotle NOT typical of secular people - he said that he was on the level of understanding almost as high as a Navi!

By saying that, he is making Aristotle the exception, and not the rule regarding secular studies. There are those who say that Aristotle even got his knowledge from Torah sources that got mixed into Greek knowledge.

And even the Rambam's pursuit of Aristotle was controversial.

Others said he was wrong; the GRA wrote that even the great Rambam was influenced negatively in his Hashkofos by his pursuit of Aristotle.

But either way, (a) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is not Aristotle, and (b) you are not the Rambam. Its no comparison.

For us, the Halchah is clearly stated in Shulchan Aruch: Secular studies (not for parnassa) are permitted only to glance at now and then, but not to learn as a course or regularly.

Battzion Posted - 09 January 2003 7:09

I totally understand what you were saying, Mod.

Torah 100% goes before learning nothing else. ( I actually thought I had that in my last post.)

the point I am trying to make is that to say that learning secular studies is bitul zman is totally false.

so, I will also make and analogy: if you are studying for a chemistry final in college from ure chemistry textbook, and someone shows you a different book that explains the concepts on you're final really well, will you ignore the other book or only glance at it quickly, or will u read the book quite a bit? obviously you will read a lot of the other book, but will stick to the actual textbook for you're basic facts and most of the things u need to know.

so too with Torah and secular studies: Torah is where we get our basic facts and what we study most often, but we also study other things that can greatly enhance our understanding of the most important thing: Torah, if we learn it in the right way.

yes Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is not Aristotle.

even so, whatever meaning he meant there to be behind his writing in that particular part of the book, ( I just read it myself today- its amazing how much it really IS like our relationship between us and Hashem!!!) if we learn it in the proper way, we can learn amazing things. the key is to interpret things the right way.

I know, so we are not Rambam, but even so there are probably plenty Rabbanim today that are capable of interpreting a simple book like the little prince the correct way.

MODERATOR Posted - 09 January 2003 12:59

But we don’t NEED secular literature to teach us our relationship with Hashem.

In your moshol, the secondary book has some content that you cannot get from the first.

In real life, these secular writers cannot come up with anything regarding our relationship with G-d that we do not already know from the Torah.

And even more importantly, how in the world do you know that what you are learning from the secular places is correct?

Maybe it is giving you a false idea of your relationship with G-d?

A better moshol would be if someone is offering you $100 bills on one side and on the other side someone is offering you pennies - who in their right mind would take the pennies? You may as well get the hundreds!

Never mind that the moniey may also be counterfeit! Or booby trapped!

That’s why, if someone needs a rest from learning or just a vacation for his brain, then innocuous secular literature - if it is innocuous - is OK.

But if you are learning it for its value, then you are slapping the Torah in the face - because you are turning down the Torah's offer, which is much, much better.

CC613 Posted - 09 January 2003 21:38

Moderator. Maybe this isn't a worthwhile comment- but I hope you post it anyway.

The last couple of years I've been struggling to keep more of torah & mitzvos, halacha, etc, and baruch haShem it's been a rewarding journey- working on tznius, on davening, lashon hara, the works- and guess what- you might call me modern gasp.

I don't appreciate being generalized, I'll have you know. Yes, there are many problems amongst some MO leaders, some MO organizations, some MO schools, - and there are also some problems with some "yeshivish", or "aguda", chasidish, misnagdish, etc organizations, schools and whatnot as well- but for some reason- you don't go saying that those whole movements are bad!

I'll be the first to agree that there are many things in MO that need to be changed and that are wrong- but I strongly disapprove of someone, especially a Rav- degrading a large group of JEWISH people on a whole. Perhaps might that constitute lashon hara??

MODERATOR Posted - 09 January 2003 21:58

This has been mentioned several times previously. The difference is, Modern Orthodoxy as a philosophy, as a movement, as a matter of policy - is wrong. Chasidus is not.

The rest of your examples are apples vs. oranges. "Agudah" is an organization, not a philosophy. And "yeshivish" is an adjective that is neither an organization nor a movement.

Saying that a movement is wrong is of course not Loshon Horah at all.

Tryin2Learn Posted - 12 May 2003 19:48

I have a little problem with your attitude toward that Rav. If you don't mind, let’s put things into a little historical perspective and see what this man was willing to do for Klal Yisroel; things that NO ONE ELSE WAS prepared to do.

The time is post WWII. Jews are all leaving Europe for either Eretz Yisroel or America. The Gedolim of the time realize that all these Jews are going to need leaders and teachers so most of them go to Israel. Of the FEW that were convinced to come to America, they mostly catered toward those already frum yeshivish families that had also fled to America and were in search of Rabbeim.

But who was there for all of those people in America that had already been sucked into the American culture, so much so that contact with the Yeshivish would have completely turned them off? They were Jews too and they deserved a chance, but were any of the Gedolim ready to step up and cater to them?

(Don't get me wrong, I am not, Chas V'Shalom, faulting any of the American Gedolim, but you see my point)

The answer: Just one man. His name was Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik. Believe me, he was a smart man. He KNEW fully that he was going to be ostracized by thousands of Jews. He knew that he would probably lose the respect of his friends and his sect of Judaism... but there were millions of Jewish souls DYING and BURNING in America and he had to do something.

We have a term for this in Judaism: Mesiras Nefesh. This man gave up EVERYTHING. He came from such an illustrious background (as you know), his rabbeim authored those works sitting over there on your shelves, but he gave it all up for the burning souls of America.

This man knew what he was getting into and he knew the price he would pay. That, my dear friend, is what made him great. All the millions of Jews today that learn torah (whatever the amount) and are shomer torah and mitzvos to the best of their abilities, they send their kids to Jewish day schools... that is all due to the efforts of this one man.

I ask you, please please please, at least be HESITANT before you bash his ideologies. At least think logically... here is a man who knew the Rambam up and down, he was as familiar with the Gemara as he was with his phone number.

Please, don't just dismiss him with some half-baked argument that you conjured up from a source or two. Don't infer things from a certain Gadol's decision to enter or not to enter the YU building, because THAT was what Rabbi Soloveitchik's sacrifice was; he was willing to open the door, walk in, and change a country.

MODERATOR Posted - 13 May 2003 9:05


Your assessment of Rav Soloveichik’s ideology is fictional. You are describing kind of a Kiruv project where allowances were made because otherwise worse would happen.

First, even if that were true, it would not justify it. Although we do treat people on their own level, and we do not expect more of them than they can provide, we never, ever create a new "type of orthodoxy" for the public.

We are allowed to treat individuals like that sometimes, but never are we allowed to institutionalize, and officially sanction, those compromises as if there is nothing wrong with them. Even when you make allowances for Kiruv purposes, you must make it clear that those allowances are not proper conduct and are only for temporary use.

If someone is not ready to keep Shabbos 100% for instance, you will not object if he goes to the ballgame on Shabbos, but you will never, ever create a "modern orthodoxy" where it is OK to go to the ballgame on Shabbos. That’s first of all.

But that is not what happened anyway.

If Rav Soloveitchik though that he was being moser nefesh for a certain segment of Jewry that would not be able to reach proper Torah Judaism, then he would not have criticized those Bnei Torah who do NOT go to college, which he did.

In fact, I know of a then-young rabbi who, after impressing Rav Soloveichik in learning, was asked "did you go to college?" And when the rabbi said "no", Rav Soloveichik told him "that’s a pity." If you are bringing people up to a higher level, that is one thing; but then you will not try to bring those on the higher level down to a lower one. Unless you think that the lower one is higher.

Rav Soloveichik did not believe that he was merely helping a segment of Orthodox Jewry -- he held that "the future of Torah in America" depends on following his approach. He held that the "separatist" Orthodox will die out and only YU and MO will survive. He held America was too strong for the real, pure Orthodoxy.

He therefore tried to proactively change the picture of a Ben Torah into a YU guy. Those who insisted on continuing the "old style" Orthodoxy would, he said, be come nothing but tourist attractions and die out eventually, and those Gedolim who refuse to admit this "lack the courage" to admit their mistake, which is/was quite obvious to him.

Although he did expect to be ostracized he expected the ostracizers to whither away and he and his would be leading Orthodox Jewry. I heard from a Rebbi in YU who Rav Soloveichik confided in that he (Rav S) was "terribly distraught" that he was not accepted in the Yeshiva world. In particular, he was complaining that Rav Shlomo Heiman's Torahs were used more than he was, even though he considered Rav Shlomo his inferior, Torah-wise.

His problem was that he misread the world. Rav Shach writes that he was influenced by his secular studies which corrupted his hashkofos, and that’s what derailed his vision. But whatever the reason, he made a terrible error in judgment regarding the future of Orthodox Jewry in America, and whether that error was a plain mistake or the result of tainted hashkofos, he was considered a danger because he was misleading people.

Not only was his teachings bringing some people up, but they were bringing others down to the level that he held was the maximum that could be reached in America.

Why he thought that The Light of Torah could not shine here is a good Q -- and as I said, Rav Shach says it was because his hashkofos were tainted by his value for secular studies. And not only in regard to this particular issue - Rav Shach says this regarding Rav Soloveichik’s general outlook on Jewish matters.

In context, he was referring to the first of the "Five Addresses" where Rav Soloveichik attributes certain vision flaws to the shevtei kah, which of course, serve for Rav Soloveichik as a moshol to the vision flaws of the gedolim on him.

The assimilation of secular values (not so only the studies but the values) is bad enough, but to make that assimilation into the l'chatchilah Torah lifestyle is much worse. That is why Rav Aharon Kotler said that he (Rav Soloveichik) "destroyed an entire generation" -- and that’s not the harshest thing he said about him.

He was considered a great gaon in Torah learning - but in hashkafa he was considered totally off. There were plenty of people in Jewish history - bigger geonim than Rav Soloveichik - from biblical times down - who were Torah scholars but hashkaficly tainted. it’s not such a big chidush.

MODERATOR Posted - 09 March 2004 13:42

If Modern Orthodoxy would be a Kiruv stage for people who aren’t yet ready for real Torah life, that would be fine. The problem is that they consider themselves not a b'dieved, but a l'chatchilah - a full fledged legitimate lifestyle.

They often even make claims of being superior to Torah Judaism. That is the problem - compromises sometimes have to be made for individuals who are on their way up. But to take those compromises and make believe they are not compromises at all, thereby fooling people who WOULD be able to go higher that they need not, or worse, that they are already the highest, is a terrible crime.

GoelMiChoshech Posted - 30 March 2004 7:51

You can't take some examples of places that call themselves Modern Orthodox and use that to define the term. If a Jew that acted like a reform Jew called themselves Orthodox, you wouldn't think Orthodoxy was reform!

Specifically, a few Modern Orthodox institutions got a psak to have co-ed classes because otherwise the enrollment wouldn’t be big enough to support the school. The understanding was that once the school got big enough, the psak would expire and the school would have to separate classes. If you want a short-list off differences between Modern Orthodox Hashkafa and Right-Wing Orthodox Hashkafa here it is:

1) Modern Orthodoxy believes that we should live in society and not confine ourselves to living in Boro Park and learning in Kollel all day.

2) Modern Orthodoxy doesn't agree with the philosophy to "Be Yotzei all the Deyos." rather you have one psak and that is what you follow, even if a different Rabbi says something else, there is no merit in doing it that way as well.

3) Modern Orthodoxy places value in Secular Education (as you have discussed here)

4) Modern Orthodoxy supports the existence of the State of Israel as the beginning of the Geulah.

Outside of that list, Modern Orthodoxy is pretty much the same as Right-Wing Orthodox.

The difference in terms of halacha is only on point 2, and even then you must admit it is not outside the realm of 4 amot of Halacha since that is a valid Shita. Halachic Process, poskim, Mesorah in Hashkafa are all parts of Modern Orthodoxy as well.

MODERATOR Posted - 30 March 2004 8:08

There is no such thing as an official "Modern Orthodox" hashkafa. Modern Orthodoxy was not created in the same way that lets say chasidus or the musar movement was, where leaders got together and said "this is what we want to do."

Rather, it was created from the bottom-up, by default - certain people were not meeting a certain standard, and that lower standard became communal and institutionalized and so you have modern orthodoxy. Nobody has a right to say "this is what MO believes", since everybody has equal right to call themselves MO.

Your particular list is not helpful:

“1) Modern Orthodoxy believes that we should live in society and not confine ourselves to living in Boro Park and learning in Kollel all day.”

How did MO decide this? The Torah clearly tells us that learning Torah is the greatest Mitzvah - hence, the more learning the better. As far as living in a Jewish neighborhood, we are warned by the Torah not to flirt with goyishe culture - as Rav Yosi bar Kisma said "even if you give me all the money in the world, I will only live in a makom torah."

“2) Modern Orthodoxy doesn't agree with the philosophy to "Be Yotzei all the Deyos." rather you have one psak and that is what you follow, even if a different Rabbi says something else, there is no merit in doing it that way as well.”

Nobody believes that you always have to follow all deos, but every halachic authority in history believes that there is merit in doing so. Exactly how much merit, and how much effort we ought to put into this, depends on the situation and the deos.

“ Modern Orthodoxy places value in Secular Education (as you have discussed here)”

Learning secular studies as a matter of curriculum not for the exclusive purpose of making a living is against the Torah, contrary to an explicit halachah in shulchan aruch with no dissenting opinion.

“4) Modern Orthodoxy supports the existence of the State of Israel as the beginning of the Geulah.”

A baseless heretical fantasy.

The question is: Why did Modern Orthodoxy choose to follow the above positions? What do they have in common? You are not really explaining what drives MO, but only what you believe is the result of what drives them. WHY did they decide that the above things are important?

The answer, no matter how you cut it, is that besides Torah, MO is driven by a desire to be like the goyim. The only question is how far that goes. But that is the problem. Any factor that drives our religious beliefs besides religion is a falsification of Torah. The equation is that simple.

The truth is, MO is much much more, and a lot less, than you describe. They will not tell you in the MO schools about the vast difference in outlook, lifestyle, and core beliefs of the MO, simply because they don’t know enough about traditional orthodoxy to understand how they are different. There are 2 main differences between traditional orthodoxy and modern orthodoxy (and this applies to all strains of MO):

1) MO includes in its religious drivers the need or desire to be like the gentiles - ergo: the State of Israel, secular education, secular culture, etc

2) The wrongheaded idea that our job in this world is to "follow halachah" as opposed to following "the torah". In Mo circles you will constantly hear the idea of living "within the framework of halachah" and that besides the do's and don’ts of the law, our outlook, lifestyle, and perspectives are up to us.

This is plain heresy, and originates in the heretical teachings of Moses Mendelsohn. Please see the Halachah/hashkafa forum for details. When I get a chance, in the "Learning" section I will write about "Internalizing your learning" which will explain this form a deeper angle. Modern Orthodoxy is simply missing a large part of religion.

Jjj157 Posted - 02 April 2004 12:02

MODERATOR, a question for you. What denominational category of Judaism do you consider yourself fitting into, and how do you justify your place in it. Also, what determined your placement within this category; by chance of birth or by choice, and how do you justify your position in terms of other categories?

MODERATOR Posted - 02 April 2004 12:08

Judaism has no "denominational categories". Judaism means "the religion of the Torah." Any denominational divisions are purely synthetic, with no real meaning. When a person takes his own behavior or his philosophy and attributes it to Judaism, such as "Conservative Judaism" or the like, then no matter what the author of such a phrase believes, he is not defining a denominational category within Judaism, but rather his own personal label, within which the term "Judaism" is merely a homonym with the term "Judaism" that means "the religion of the Torah."

Toyrah Jew Posted - 18 August 2004 7:39


I recently discovered this website and I have read basically everything that's been written on the topic.

I agree with your analysis on the cause and failure of Modern Orthodoxy. But, one important point that I think has not been mentioned- in terms of correcting this error now (in 2004), the Modern Orthodox Rabbonim may feel that if they espoused right-wing philosophies on a broad scale, then their constituents will begin to reject their orthodoxy and possibly start joining the ranks of those "rabbanim mit'am" like Avi Weiss... (or even sink further down into the ranks of conservative or conservadox-traditional, something that would be a terrible tragedy)

For a very simple example, take co-educational schools: If Frisch and HAFTR were to cease allowing co-education, or even if they allowed it with some degree of separation between the boys and the girls, parents may cease sending their kids there, and they may instead send their kids to more modern schools like Ramaz or even public schools, Rachmana Litzlan.

This is not just hypothetical- I know that six years ago, an MO school (one of the ones mentioned above)hired a pretty frum principal who began to initiate some type of separation between boys and girls by assigning their lockers to different hallways (c"v!).

The students began to protest, signing a petition, and even declaring a "black day," where all students came dressed in black to express their aveilus about this "churban," that to go talk to a member of the opposite gender between periods or during class, one would have to walk through a whole hallway! The parents and the board were on the side of the students, and the principal lost that battle. After about a year he left (or was asked to do so), because he couldn't accomplish anything if the parents and the board were not willing to support him.

True, this is an unfortunate and tragic mess that MO cooked. But, it seems like it is going to be difficult to change. Because, the truth is, it all depends on the youth; and with the current happenings in MO high-schools, such a little percent has a good chance of living a future life as even close to ideal ba'al batim. (Not even mentioning that probably no more than 10 percent will continue learning after their high-school years. And not even mentioning the abysmal number who will learn in kollel for a period of time.)

Baruch Hashem, it has become somewhat normative for even MO parents to send their kids to Israel for a year, but G-d help us, some of them go to Machon Shalem and Bar-Ilan. Its depressing to think about, but do you get my point?

MODERATOR Posted - 18 August 2004 8:03

First, none of that is an excuse. To make compromises in our religion because people will not accept the real thing is the same as what the Conservatives and Reformers have done. its only a question of how far you want to go. This is why Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol 3 - Hesped on 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.

While it is true that on an individual, private, level, we are allowed to even proactively cause someone to sin if by doing so we will have prevented him form committing a greater sin, nevertheless, we may never, ever institutionalize those sins, making a b'dieved into a l'chatchilah, making the exception into the rule. Doing so in Kefirah.

By institutionalizing their compromises and making them into an official "version of Orthodoxy" which they believe, or came to believe, is just as authentic, or even more authentic, than Torah Orthodoxy, constitutes changing Judaism, and is prohibited regardless of what some people will do if you don’t provide them a new version of Judaism.

But for the record, what you are saying is far from clear. HAFTR, which you mentioned, is currently taking big a hit from schools like SKA (boys and girls versions) which compete on an educational level, but are not coed. HAFTR is losing many students to them. While there are, I am certain, people whose credo is "either coed or nothing", there are also those who would choose the more frum schools, if only those were available.

People laughed at Rav Aharon Kotler when he said that American students would be willing to go to Yeshiva full time with no college. Now look at who's laughing at whom.

It is neither our job, nor within our ability, to assess what is "better for Klall Yisroel" according to our finite vision. It is our job to follow the Torah. And the Torah says it is not permitted to institutionalize changes or compromises into our idea of Judaism, even if there are those who will not accept real Judaism.

MODERATOR Posted - 01 November 2004 18:34

I am reprinting this here from the "Skool issues - Maayanot HS" forum because it pertains to this topic:

I have been inundated with posts from various Modern Orthodox readers insisting that teaching Gemora to girls is permitted. They all basically run in the same direction, so I will reply to them collectively:

Once again, the unanimous opinion in Chazal and the poskim, including the Rambam and shulchan aruch, is that it is prohibited to teach girls Torah shebal peh in a classroom setting. There is not a single authority who disagrees with this.

The heterim (sic) set forth by the Modern Orthodox world are halachicly invalid, make no sense (sorry, guys), and if taken to their logical conclusion, would permit many, many more issurim as well.

Please see the following forum, and from now on post all further discussion on this topic there:

The root problem with Modern Orthodoxy, the issue from which stem all other issues, is that they incorporate secular, non-Jewish, values into their religious practice. What the secular world values, they believe is valuable. What the secular world thinks is normal, civilized, sophisticated, good, and proper, they do too, and they incorporate those values and attitudes, which are often corrupt and against the Torah, into their religious practice.

And so, because in the secular world, a "people" is bizarre when you’re talking about a people with no country and no common language - imagine the Italians without Italy or Italian - therefore, Zionism, which, to their standards "normalizes" the Jewish nation (that was actually the word the Zionists used) becomes almost a requirement of Modern Orthodoxy; because secular studies, college education, mixing of boys and girls and a general a collegiate, yuppy lifestyle, is considered "normal" in the secular world, it become part and parcel of the MO lifestyle.

And ironically, where college and mixing of the sexes is concerned, the MO community become tremendous meikilim way beyond what the halachah allows. In these areas, they will struggle to find heterim, whether they exist or not; on the other hand, regarding making aliyah, they will become fanatical machmirim, and despite the myriad leniencies and historical precedent of Jews willingly living outside of Eretz yisroel, they will often run around saying that you[I] have to [/I]make aliyah, and not to do so is in violation of the Torah.

When secular values demand they be fanatical machmirim, they become fanatical machmirim; when secular values demand they become unreasonable mekilim, they become unreasonable mekilim.

In order to avoid coming in conflict with the Chazals that explain the terrible crime of making a State in Eretz yisroel before moshiach comes, they will dismiss them as "agadita" - not binding, and non-cognitive. It doesn’t matter what they say. Only halachic Gemoras count. (The truth is, they are wrong on both counts - Agadita is not non-cognitive - they definitely reveal the will of Hashem, and according to most opinions, they are also halachicly binding unless overwritten by a different halachic Gemora. But these Chazals that prohibit making a Jewish State in EY are quoted l'halachah by the Rishonim and Achronim in countless places).

Yet they will make "ahavas eretz yisroel" a mainstay of their lifestyle, their studies, and their duties, even though there is no halachah anywhere that says one has to have ahavas eretz yisroel. The entire obligation is completely Agadic in nature. The Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch, and the poskim codify no such obligation.

So when their secular values demand they become Agadists, they do so - to the point where Agadita becomes one of the most important elements of their philosophy, if not the most important; and when their secular values demand that they disregard open statements of Chazal, they dismiss them, saying Agadita is not binding.

And so, when their secular values demand that women be "treated equally", and that education be "available to all", and that women's "intellects should be respected", they misconstrue all of those clichés into the act of ignoring open halachos and instituting a clear aveirah into the list of what they consider noble: teaching girls Gemora.

That is why all their "heterim" are not based on shas and Rishonim, but rather on the secular idea that "today's women are different - we are no longer in the shtetle (someone actually sent me that in a post); today's women think; today’s women are sophisticated and deserve and need a full Jewish education - and even though they have not yet finished all the halachos and hashkofos that they are utterly OBLIGATED to learn, what they mean by "full Jewish education" is really "opportunity equal to that of males".


And then they want to know what people have against Modern Orthodoxy. Well, here's an example, They violated a open halachah and made their aveirah into something noble, because their modernity demands that they do it. Unless they come up with some kind of real heter - something more halachicly valid than some Virginia Slims advertisement showing how much more sophisticated and intellectual their women are than our holy ancestors - what in the world do they want from those who consider them off the path of Torah?

nechy Posted - 02 November 2004 7:58

Mod- not everyone who was asking about it is modern orthodox- far from it in some of the cases.

also I was asking not in terms of these as you call them "modern" reasons, but simply to see how a certain topic is developed in the gemara, and then the rishonim and acharonim.

additionally, these are often "just" aggadatas

and finally, I do not believe that anyone says it is assur to teach girls gemara, just that they are fools to do it.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 November 2004 8:03

No, it is assur. Please see the forum that I referenced above. That includes seeing how a certain topic is developed in the rishonim and achronim. That is exactly what Torah shebal peh is, and that is exactly what is prohibited.

I didn’t say everyone who was asking about it is Modern Orthodox. Please scroll up. I said everyone who says its OK nowadays because today women are educated / smart / thinkers / worldly / etc. or that if women are in medical school why cant they be in Gemroa school, or various silly excuses along those lines. Questions are never indicative of a person's hashkofo - everyone can have a question about anything.

taon Posted - 03 November 2004 21:15

the truth, is I've been having worries and doubts about Modern Orthodoxy, now im sure of it. how can I become more religious?

MODERATOR Posted - 03 November 2004 21:21

With that sentiment, taon, you have become more religious.

And the way to continue becoming more religious is to follow the same formula as you did that gave you this revelation: Gedola limud, she'halimud mavi lidei maaseh. The more you learn, the more religious you become.

As far as what to learn, all Torah is effective. But, as I mentioned many times on the site, just as someone going into business needs to learn business law and someone getting married needs to know the laws of taharas hamishpacha, someone who wants to get more yiras shamayim has to learn seforim that address that topic directly. Please see the "Moderator's suggested curriculum" elsewhere on this site.

rfvtgb Posted - 14 March 2005 22:21
Which rabbis started modern orthodoxy?

MODERATOR Posted - 14 March 2005 22:31
None. Modern Orthodoxy did not start like Chasidus by the Baal Shem Tov or the Mussar movement by Rav Yisroel Salanter. It was started by people who simply wanted to accept the values of modern society, including but not limited to secular education, nationalism (Zionism), mixing of the sexes and etc.

They will tell you that Rav SR Hirsh was in favor of secular studies, but when you tell them Rav Hirsh was vehemently anti-Zionist they’ll say yeah we follow Rav Kook for that; then you’ll tell them Rav Kook had standards of Tznius that rival today’s most strict Chasidic communities and they’ll try to find other "shitos" (Not that Rav Hirsh's version of secular studies has anything to do with that of MO anyway).

Please see elsewhere on the site where I explained how secular studies began in RIETS. It wasn’t the rabbis' idea.

miriam1393 Posted - 25 January 2006 7:52

Benny, that's absolutely the most ludicrous statement I’ve heard in a long time. R' Hirsch was a staunch fighter for authentic Judaism.

You have no right to associate his name with modern orthodoxy just because R'Hirsch's "Torah im Derech Eretz" might seem, in YOUR eyes, somewhat similar to MO's secular orientation. One of the discrepancies that exist between the two is that R' Hirsch saw Derech Eretz as part of one's general fulfillment of torah.

Whatever it is that you do-it follows/is derived from Torah. Whereas MO deem secularism and torah on the same wavelength. P.S. In the Torah, where is association with the secular world seen as a positive thing? Didn't Yosef tell his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds, so that they should be able to live in isolation and not associate with the Mitzrim?

MODERATOR Posted - 25 January 2006 7:59

Wow. That conversation with Benny took place 5 years ago. It's become pretty clear since then that there is no connection whatsoever between Modern Orthodoxy and Torah Im Derech Eretz.

If Rav Hirsch ZTL were here today he would be one of the foremost opponents of MO, just as he opposed assimilationist values into Judaism then. His policy of austritt was a prerequisite to his policy of TIDE. You can see this explained bluntly and clearly by Rav Shimon Schwab ZTL, who of course was the heir to Rav Hirsh as Rav of the TIDE Kehilla, in his book, Selected Essays.

zachor Posted - 24 October 2006 16:24

I would just like to make a point:

although I did not get the opportunity to read every page of this length (but fascinating) forum, I would like to add, as a 'more modern' perhaps Jew, that in my opinion, such things as coed schooling and camps are not at all part of modern orthodoxy's original theology, but that the movement (for want of a better term) has evolved to accommodate those looking for loopholes in Yahadus.

These newer aspects of MO are not only quite disturbing to me as an individual, but are not the fundamentals of MO.

MODERATOR Posted - 24 October 2006 16:40

There was no modern orthodox "original theology". Nobody made a theology of MO the way lets say the Baal Shem Tov did for chasidus or Rav Yisroel Salanter did for Mussar. it just was the result of people on the street doing what they were doing.

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