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


Lisa Posted - 26 July 2000 15:27

Listen, this thing about me not being a BY girl. Stop it please. It's such bogus.

I say if you're going to be religious then be religious all the way, the excuses my friends in coed schools make for themselves that "not everyone is cut out" to be BY girl is such *****. If it's right, then it's right. If not, then it's a waste of time.

NOBODY is BY because they think it’s more fun than hanging out with guys. They do it cuz they think it’s the right way. The whole Modern Orthodox thing I don't get. There was discussions on other posts about it, but I don't get it.

If they want to be religious why don’t they be religious all the way? How did this whole thing start anyway? In the olden days everyone was the same (no MO vs. yeshivish), so why did it change?

GaryG Posted - 26 July 2000 17:28

Modern Orthodox believe in going out into the world and making a living, interacting with society.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 17:35

So a Satmar Chosid computer programmer is Modern Orthodox?

Is Rabbi Abraham Twersky MD, Modern Orthodox?

GaryG Posted - 26 July 2000 17:37

No, because they make a living out of necessity. MO believes that going out into the world, being part of secular culture and society is valuable and helps you become a better Jew. They don't believe it helps you be a better Jew, it just makes you money.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 17:43

Please explain how studying anthropology, for instance, makes you a better Jew. And clarify please, are you saying that if you have 2 Jews, one learns all day and the other learns part of the day and the rest of the day studies anthropology, that, all else being equal, the anthropologist is the better Jew?

GaryG Posted - 26 July 2000 17:46

Not every part of secular culture helps you be a good Jew, just some parts.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 17:47

For instance?

GaryG Posted - 26 July 2000 17:53

Democracy, art, music, and culture in general. We are not scared of secular society in general. We do not hide behind walls. We integrate the good parts of secular society into our Jewish life.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 18:04

If it says in the Torah that these things are good, then even non-Modern-Orthodox Jews agree. If it does not, then how do you determine what is a "good" part of culture and what is not? Perhaps socialism is superior to democracy?

Outside of the Torah, what is your gauge of values?

And if I am in favor of democracy, think Salvador Dali made nice paintings, and of the opinion that Kitaro's "Silk Road" is a nice tune, then I am modern orthodox?

And why are these factors sufficient to create a new "branch" of orthodoxy?

Efraim Posted - 26 July 2000 18:21

Gary it’s interesting - you're getting into the real Hashkafa of what it means to be
modern orthodox. Would you say "YU" - Yeshiva University is the archetype of MO?

Lisa said If it's right, then it's right. If not, then it's a waste of time. Where the "if it's not" refers to her friends in co-ed schools. Well if we were to go with this ideology lets say good bye to hundreds of thousands of frum Jews who aren't Yeshiva type and don't want to be?

There is a distinction (maybe you've already heard) between a modern orthodox family that is not so careful in certain areas, understands that everything in the Torah should be kept but just see themselves as 'not perfect', or, they simply weren't brought up to keep everything - and a family that says "This part of the Torah makes no sense & so is not for us - In our modern age this doesn't apply etc."

The first family is how I define modern orthodoxy. To alienate them is strictly 'Sinas Chinam' Hashem is O.K. with it - you're not?? The second way is to argue with the validity of the Torah and then it has to be shown that this way is unacceptable. Of course when you get down to a particular situation a Rav needs to be consulted not to push someone further away.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 18:37

Efraim, you're defining MO as being imperfect. Obviously, ultra-Orthodox Jews are also imperfect, and striving to be better. So what is the difference between them, that one is called "modern" Orthodox?

GaryG Posted - 26 July 2000 19:03

Put it this way -- Modern orthodoxy means different things to different people.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 19:22

Gary, that only works to explain what MO MEANS to someone, but it doesn't explain what it IS. So let me rephrase the question: How do you know that you are Modern Orthodox? Perhaps I am Modern Orthodox, or perhaps the Bluzhever Rebbe is?

You see, if MO is defined differently by different people each according to what it means to him individually, then you have a term that has no objective definition at all. But is rather a random label that anyone in the world can use.

So: How does one know if one is Modern Orthodox?

akiv44 Posted - 27 July 2000 12:03

Modern orthodoxy is hard to define. You can say it's a belief in the concepts of torah u'mda and torah v'avodah. Modern orthodoxy means that your living a life where you mix torah with the secular world. Not solely because you have to but because you want to. Also I think a big part of modern orthodoxy is just being meikil. We in the modern community don't see why the torah has to be strict and hard on people. So we don't take on so many chumrot.
The mixture of living a life of torah u'mada and being meikil, I think a is definition of modern orthodoxy
Since we are looking for the definition of modern orthodoxy it's only fair that we define something else. What is yeshivish? Is it totally secluding oneself from the secular world?

MODERATOR Posted - 27 July 2000 15:17

"Yeshivish" is meaningless. It's not a movement, not an ideology. It's merely a nickname, or a colloquialism. Not everyone has to belong to a movement. But Modern Orthodoxy considers itself a movement, and therefore it must have a mission, a definition.

You say MO means you do "Torah v'avodah' because you want to. Why? What's the reason to want to? Wasn't going to work a curse for Adam? And, as I asked before, does this mean that someone who learns half the day and goes to college or works the other half, is superior to someone who learns Torah the whole day? If mada or avodah are pursued because you WANT them, and this becomes part of your philosophy of Orthodoxy, then that should be the preferable situation, right?

Also, does this mean that someone who learns in Kollel cannot be Modern Orthodox?

Regarding the leniencies. There are relatively strict and lenient people within all segments of Orthodoxy. Some married women shave their heads, some wear shaitlach but prohibit human hair, some permit even that. Some people keep a 72 minute Motzoi Shabbos and some are Maikel and keep 45 or 50, even though it is an issue of sofek chilul shabbos.

Yet these leniencies would not qualify one as Modern Orthodox. So the question is, how much does one have to be lenient in order to enter the realm of "Modern Orthodoxy"?

And since Rabbi J.B. Soloveichik was the preeminent authority for Modern orthodox Jewry, does that mean he, too was lenient? In what? He was makpid on Cholov Yisroel, for instance. Does this make those who follow Rav Moshe's heter more Modern Orthodox than Rabbi Soloveichik?

Benny Posted - 27 July 2000 15:25

Modern Orthodoxy follows the teachings of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsh.

MODERATOR Posted - 27 July 2000 16:00

Torah Im Derech Eretz and Modern Orthodoxy are identical? I agree that Rav Hirsh would incorporate the element of secular studies, but is that all Modern orthodoxy is? What is the correlation between Rav Hirsh and coeducational Yeshivas and camps, teaching Talmud to girls, and other such exclusively Modern Orthodox practices?

If Modern orthodoxy is Rav Hirsh’s teachings, then would you consider the members of Khal Adas Yshurun, Rav Hirsh’s kehilla transplanted to America, all Modern Orthodox?

Would not Rav Hirsh’s own Kehilla of German descended- Jews – then be supporters of Modern Orthodoxy is this were true? But the reality is not so, the following is a quote from Rav Shimon Schwab ZTL, Rav of Khal Adas Yeshurun, Rav Hirsh’s Kehilla in America:

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

This, from the Rav of the Torah Im Derech Eretz people, in the official newsletter of the Kehilla.

You may agree of disagree with Rav Schwab, but clearly supporting Rav Hirsh’s philosophy does not preclude being vehemently against Modern Orthodoxy.

Do you really believe that the Modern Orthodox movement sat down one day and said “We want to be students of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsh”? When did this happen? Who decided this?

Clearly, although it is true that Rav Hirsh had something in common with Modern Orthodoxy – the element of secular education – they are two very different movements.

Posted - 28 July 2000 18:05

OK rav hirsh post,
Im really not yet sure about the deal with the rav or modern orthodoxy in general teaching Gemora to girls. I will try to find out.

Ok I am really not sure of the percentage of KAJ that were descendents of those in Frankford. Whatever the case the community is not at all like the community of Rav Hirsch.

just like their are differences about the Rav and his philosophy their are major differences regarding what Rav Hisrch held. this is a point of contention between the yeshivish and Modern.

And by the way I am pretty sure that what Rav Schwab was referring to (and I knew his cousin in Israel) was some of the Modern Rabbis (maybe the OU im not sure) who joined in that board with the conservatives. Those who attacked those who joined said it gave that board of rabbis legitimacy, those who joined made their position clear that they did not agree with the reform or conservative but felt they could better serve the community by joining.

Anyways Rav Soloveitchik as I understand was against them joining with the conservatives in this matter. Rav Soloveitchik made the psak long ago that one cant daven in a conservative minyan (no mechitza) even on rosh hashana.

It is possible Rav Hirsch if he lived today would disagree with some practices among the MO, but in general his approach was much more similar to that of the modern, and join in with the world rather than those of the yeshivish who largely isolate themselves.

those in Washington heights are not the only heir ( I duno how to spell that) to the thrown (or rav hirsh) so to speak.

MODERATOR Posted - 28 July 2000 18:22

Rav Schwab's statement had nothing to do with joining non-Orthodox groups. He was talking about mainstream Modern Orthodoxy. It was written after an article by Rabbi Hershel Shachter of YU regarding Land for Peace. Rav Schwab was harassed with derogatory leaflets and prank calls after he wrote the article (which was reprinted in Selected Writings, "He Who Loves Does Not Hate", where he added a statement at the end of the article telling of the harassment he endured).

I personally asked Rav Schwab if he was referring to Rabbi Schachter in his article, and he said "No. Not him specifically. I meant people like him."

Again, one either agrees or disagrees with Rav Schwab, but let's not misunderstand what we are agreeing or disagreeing with.

The Khal Adas Yeshurun are indeed primarily those whose parents and grandparents were followers of Rav Hirsh in Germany. To so thoroughly discredit their interpretation of Rav Hirsch's weltanschauung is absurd unless you have serious proof that they are so wrongheaded. You have not an iota of that.

And this is not a debate, it is a discussion. In a debate, people first take positions, then debate the validity of those positions. In a discussion, the position emerges AFTER the give-and-take. We are here to ask questions and get answers, NOT to defend ANY pre-determined position or positions. The idea is not to debate "Modern Orthodoxy" but to explore it, and answer Lisa's question. She did not ask what Modern Orthodoxy's opinion is about itself but rather what it means and where it comes from. please contribute to that. Also, being a discussion and not a debate, you are not obligated to defend your point of view. If you have no defense, it is not necessary to say "Well, I cannot defend this but maybe someone else can." Nobody is giving you the responsibility of defending anything. Defense is not the point. Exploration is.

I would like to hear what you have to say about what MO is, so: You said that MO is based on the Rambam. Can you explain please?

GaryG Posted - 28 July 2000 18:34

Even MO agrees that it is better to learn a whole day, of course. Otherwise we would have to tell the Rav [Soloveichik]to go become and not be a rosh yeshiva. I think what MO means is that you need to be in touch with what's going on in the world, that you can't isolate yourself and not affect the world. When I was in school they spoke about "conquest" of America through understanding the world, meaning to have an influence in the world. You can't have an influence if you don’t know anything about the world or you are not part of it.

Another thing MO believes is that is the secular world has a good idea, meaning one that makes sense according to the Torah, we can adopt it, but the Ultra orthodox hold that whatever the secular world does is treif.

MODERATOR Posted - 31 July 2000 14:01


I am not allowing on these boards any such messages as "you only know one side". How do you know such a thing? Nor is it appropriate or meaningful to anyone else whether you "see any justification" for Rav Schwab to write what he did.

If you say something is unjustified, say why. That is a discussion. Otherwise, it is merely a statement of opinion without any reasoning, which has no place in a forum dedicated to reason.

eli Posted - 01 August 2000 13:37

First of all MO is not a movement but a collection of many people with various beliefs. I wish to stress that there is nothing in MO about being lenient in halacha. The fact that some people do mixed dancing not part of the philosophy of MO. People in all parts of Judaism have their sins and should work on improving themselves.

Some of the beliefs are

1. That the nonTorah world has something to offer and that for many people it is preferable to work part of the day and not in sit in kollel all day. I highly recommend an article by Rabbi Carmell at
on TIDE (Torah im Derech Eretz).

A major stress in MO is that different approaches are valid for different people. Some can sit all day and become roshei yeshiva while others are more beneficial if they devote much of the day to other activities. There is also a wonderful volume
in the Orthodox Forum published by Aronson on the value of secular studies through the ages from the early authorities (rishonim) through the German era through modern era.

2. A second tenet of MO is a belief in the importance of the modern state of Israel. This belief is expressed in different ways from Rav Soloveitchik is his kol dodi dofek with his stress on the opportunities that we have available and that G-d let us have a magic moment. To Rav Kook and his followers who follow a more messianic vision.
All groups recognize that the present government is far from perfect and do not justify much of what happens there. Both Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Kook and their followers have condemned many activities in Israel.
Nevertheless they both viewpoint the modern state as positive and encourage active participation in its activities including the Israeli army.

I again conclude that there are many strains within MO and it is far from monolithic just as there are differences between the Chassidic and Lithuanian approaches

MODERATOR Posted - 01 August 2000 13:44

So basically, MO is simply Zionism combined with the belief that not everyone has to learn in Kollel, and that the secular world has something to offer (that something includes, it seems, secular studies).

Who disagrees with any of this??

Nobody believes that everyone has to always learn in Kollel.

Nobody believes that the secular world has nothing to offer.

So we still have no answer to the question, "How do you know who is MO?"

And if this is all MO is, why are coed Yeshivos found exclusively and without exception, among MO Torah institutions?

And how much "secular studies" is necessary to be MO? College? High school? Post grad? Continuing education?

artzanu Posted - 01 August 2000 13:51

Dear Moderator, First I wish to apologize if I made any rude comments towards you. You have to understand that much of what you said hurt me deeply inside. I have been following daas torah and here you go and basically say that its wrong. So if I was upset at you, please forgive me and please try to understand. I have no problem with u attacking what certain people do as wrong, people who go mixed swimming etc are not following any daas torah. but to attack people who follow in the ways of their Gedolim be it rav shach or rav solveitchik or rav kook I ask you to respect that.

Anyways I really wrote a lot of important stuff in those # of posts. I really wish you would post them u can take out that part which u found offensive.

and in response to me backing up what I say, I guess I felt it did no need backing up and was clear, but I will try in the future. keep in mind that I am a college student very much struggling with learning problems etc so the more work the harder. but I will try. you do not have to post this, but I would appreciate some response and at least you posting my previous responses. otherwise it is really not a fair discussion.

I really think we need to work at making peace with each other, coming closer - as is happening in Israel, not going further apart. we need to have more ahavat chinam. the fighting tears my heart wide open. enough said.
Kol Tov

MODERATOR Posted - 01 August 2000 14:09

You need not apologize, I do not take offense.

Everyone claims they are following the Torah -- Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Jews for Jesus. Calling it "Daas Torah" and calling yourself "Orthodox" does not prove that you are indeed following the Torah more than anyone else. these are just words, and anyone can use them.

So yes, we need not to fight, but we need to know the truth. What is "Daas Torah" and what is not? Maybe nobody. Maybe everybody. Maybe only one opinion. The people on these boards are asking just that. When you have no answers, it is a healthy thing to seek the truth, whatever it is.

If someone says "I am just a kid I can't back up what I believe" then how do you know what you believe is right? How do you know who to follow? The fact that a movement calls itself "Orthodox" does not mean it is legitimate, and nobody disagrees with that. How, then do you know what qualifies a movement as legitimate?

If every Orthodox movement is legitimate, then you are in for a logical paradox, because there are Orthodox movements that call MO "illegitimate". So is it a legitimate to say that Mo is illegitimate?

The reason for my omitting posts has nothing to do with them being offensive, but rather posts that basically say "Hey! You can't say that something is wrong because you're offending those that do it!" contribute nothing to the discussion topic, which is, is said something right or wrong.

Everyone has an obligation in this world to find the truth. If someone or many someone’s insist on following a path that is not in accordance with Torah and then call it Torah, and then demand respect for following the Torah, they are causing fights.

And if people cannot even explain WHY they believe they are following the Torah ("Orthodox" labels do not qualify as a reason), they must worry that perhaps they are causing fights in the above manner.

So please continue to post. But we need reasoning, not protests.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 August 2000 14:15


Just for the record, your information in incorrect. Rav Aharon ZTL may have spoken at the RCA (I believe you) for whatever reason, but he was clearly, decidedly, unequivocally, vehemently, against Modern Orthodoxy. Please see Mishnas Rav Aharon (Hesped on Brisker Rav) where he explicitly compares them to the Conservative movement, for both of them make compromises based on what they feel is “needed” for the better of Judaism. He spent his life fighting against the secular education attitude, and commented about a very, very prominent and revered leader and Halachic authority of Modern Orthodoxy (who shall remain unidentified here) that he is responsible for “most of the tumah in America”.

Even his son, Rav Schneur ZTL, who was known for his kindly and humble manner, refused to walk in to the building of Yeshiva University. At the funeral of a close friend of his that was taking place there, he had his driver circle the building until the procession came outside, at which point he joined.

I could go on, with the other rabbis you mentioned as well, but this is enough for now. Suffice it to say that you are wrong, that Modern Orthodoxy is far from universally accepted as legitimate. Meaning, it was wrong to create it in the first place.

If you would like to disagree with Rav Aharon ZTL and the rest, that’s one thing. But please do not falsify their views.

The problem is that you speak in terms like what is “with Torah Judaism” or “affiliations” or being “close with”. All this is not the point. Obviously, nobody is saying that it is prohibited to walk into a YI or YU. Rav Schneur ZTL, as the Rosh Yeshiva of the largest Yeshiva in the world, was merely underscoring his opposition to it, as opposed to making a Halachic ruling.

There are levels of unacceptability, and to say that well, MO was not treated like Conservatism is true, but irrelevant. We do not consider Islam idolatry, as we do Christianity. But that does not mean that we accept it. The fact that there are worse movements does not mean that MO is accepted. And the fact that “associations” sometimes exist does not change that, any more than the fact that Rabbi Sherer of the Agudah was “close” with Cardinal O’Conner. (That was merely a demonstration that affiliations and closeness do not imply approval; it was not a comparison to Christianity).

But let’s be fair, here’s a quote:

“The ani maamin . . . rejects a further theory, that separation from the world is the only way to observe Torah. In other words those who uphold this theory of complete isolation admit by their silence the position of the reformers that within the modern cultural, historical constellation the observance of Mitzvoth and the study of Torah are almost impossible”.

- Rabbi Joseph B. Soloviehcik, Five Addresses, p.175

There is a great gap between Modern Orthodox and non-Modern Orthodox. A very great gap. Does this mean, according to anyone, that MO is considered idolatry? No. Does it mean that we cannot include them in a Minyan? Of course not! But does it mean they are misguided, that the movement is wrongheaded, and Hashem would have been happier if the movement never would have started to begin with? And that for every Jew who joins it, instead of the traditional Orthodoxy (for lack of a better term), Hashem is unhappy?

Yes, it does. And according to Modern Orthodoxy, as espoused by their leading theologian, the same thing applies to at least some of their opponents’ (I am not sure exactly who fits the above description) philosophy as well.

So you may be right, or you may be wrong. Or you may be a little right and a little wrong. But you should find out, because yes, it DOES matter. A lot.

As far as questioning the “Yeshivish” (sic) world, you can ask any question you want here. We have discussed the Bais Yaakov policy of talking to boys and other such non-Modern Orthodox policies. If you have any questions on ANY topic of Judaism, please ask.

artzanu Posted - 02 August 2000 14:17

I remember someone recently made some comment regarding teaching Gemora tow woman. this is not against halacha. alexis point on that was very interesting.

I will quote you from Rav Menkins site

the answer is certainly not from a modern viewpoint but it acknowledges it.

"Can women study Talmud? Yes, women _can_ study Talmud.
Generally, however, Judaism recognizes certain differences in men and women. To ignore these differences is to ignore biology -- our brains are physically and chemically different, and our needs are different. When it comes to reasoning, men are more likely to pursue theoretical constructs, while women are more pragmatic. Women want to know the law, while men are willing to argue about the property issues involved when my ox gores your cow. For this reason, teaching Talmud to a class of women is generally frowned upon, although some modern Orthodox schools do this today.

Women most certainly have an obligation to study Torah in order to know what to do, and are encouraged to study the Torah itself, the Prophets, law, and countless other works."

I do not know the exact reasons the rav felt it was important in our times to teach girls Gemora. But as alexis implied when sarah shreiner went to start the BY movement, the whole concept of girls studying any torah on such levels were unacceptable and many righteous Jews went kicking and creaming so to speak against it. The Chofetz Chaim I believe help put a rest to that. of course one can also say "how cold the chafets chayim allow that" just as one can ask how the rav (solveitchik) allowed this.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 August 2000 14:40

The Halachah is that it is prohibited to teach Gemora to girls. This is stated clearly in the Shulchan Aruch, Laws of Talmud Torah, with no opposing opinion on record at all.

There is an opinion (Drisha) that a woman may learn on her own, but she may not be taught by others. This is based on the fact that in those days, the very desire to pursue such a study demonstrated on the part of a woman an exceptional personality. If she can do it, let her. This probably would not even apply today now that modern society professes that men and women should be "treated" more equal than they were in the past. Hence, a desire to learn Gemora today does not prove any exceptional spiritual, religious, or even intellectual qualities. As proof, look at the Conservative women who learn Gemora. Certainly, the Drisha was not talking about them. So if nowadays the desire to learn Gemora proves nothing in and of itself, the Drisha is no longer a corroborating source.

However, that can be debated (although I believe it is correct). What cannot be debated is that it is prohibited by Torah law to teach women Gemora in classes.

What that website said ("it is frowned upon") is incorrect. The correct Halachah is that it is prohibited. So says the Shulchan Aruch, following the Gemora.

We know that Modern Orthodox schools (some) permit this, the question is if they are justified. The fact that you found a website which, with no sources cited and no Halachic reasoning submitted, says one way or another does not contribute to a discussion. It merely backs up what some people do with what some other person said. Doesn’t add or subtract from what we knew before.

If you can find some Halachic justification for teaching girls Gemora, please submit it. Otherwise, please do not protest when the rulings of Gemora and Shulchan Aruch are posted here.

The comparison between what Bais Yaakov did and what these schools do is a mistake. Although many topics now taught in Bais Yaakov was not previously in the girls' curriculum, it was never prohibited by Torah Law. Gemora is.

And incidentally, those who disagreed with the Chofetz Chaim, still do not teach the Bais Yaakov studies in their schools.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 August 2000 14:40

The Halachah is that it is prohibited to teach Gemora to girls. This is stated clearly in the Shulchan Aruch, Laws of Talmud Torah, with no opposing opinion on record at all.

There is an opinion (Drisha) that a woman may learn on her own, but she may not be taught by others. This is based on the fact that in those days, the very desire to pursue such a study demonstrated on the part of a woman an exceptional personality. If she can do it, let her. This probably would not even apply today now that modern society professes that men and women should be "treated" more equal than they were in the past. Hence, a desire to learn Gemora today does not prove any exceptional spiritual, religious, or even intellectual qualities. As proof, look at the Conservative women who learn Gemora. Certainly, the Drisha was not talking about them. So if nowadays the desire to learn Gemora proves nothing in and of itself, the Drisha is no longer a corroborating source.

However, that can be debated (although I believe it is correct). What cannot be debated is that it is prohibited by Torah law to teach women Gemora in classes.

What that website said ("it is frowned upon") is incorrect. The correct Halachah is that it is prohibited. So says the Shulchan Aruch, following the Gemora.

We know that Modern Orthodox schools (some) permit this, the question is if they are justified. The fact that you found a website which, with no sources cited and no Halachic reasoning submitted, says one way or another does not contribute to a discussion. It merely backs up what some people do with what some other person said. Doesn’t add or subtract from what we knew before.

If you can find some Halachic justification for teaching girls Gemora, please submit it. Otherwise, please do not protest when the rulings of Gemora and Shulchan Aruch are posted here.

The comparison between what Bais Yaakov did and what these schools do is a mistake. Although many topics now taught in Bais Yaakov was not previously in the girls' curriculum, it was never prohibited by Torah Law. Gemora is.

And incidentally, those who disagreed with the Chofetz Chaim, still do not teach the Bais Yaakov studies in their schools.

Punims Posted - 02 August 2000 14:46

moderator, is what alexis said, the right answer to the diff btwn MO and O? I was also wondering if there is any right answer, or how can a person call themselves MO or just plain orthodox?

MODERATOR Posted - 02 August 2000 15:01

There is an answer, Punims, or rather, for someone that knows the history of how Modern orthodoxy developed, it's not really even a difficult question. I will get there. But in the interest of fairness, I would like, first, for those who consider themselves modern Orthodox to explain simply what that means.

So far we have many different, even dissenting opinions. And question still remain unanswered. Such as:

Question: How much secular knowledge does one need to fulfill the requirements of MO? Elementary school? Post graduate school?

Do I have to know computers? Programming? How many languages? Where do I begin and where do I stop?

Question: If secular studies make you a better "person" do they make you a better Jew? Doesn't mussar seforim also make you a better person? So why would I choose to study anthropology more than Rav Yisroel Salanter? In my quest to be a better person, am I not abandoning the better path for the less effective?

Question: Even if we concede that there is some value to secular knowledge, what about priorities? Isn’t there more value in Torah? There is value in pennies but more value in dollars, so which should I pursue? There is only 120 years in a lifetime, in which I cannot even finish Torah! So why should I spend time that could be providing me with Torah, on anthropology?

Question: Is ALL secular knowledge in this category? Knowledge of sports? The latest developments in the UNIX platform? The different approaches to mass transportation in different cities? The sleeping habits of duckbilled platypuses? The latest developments in pornography? What is and what isn’t? If going to college means spending required time on non-productive knowledge as well, is it worth it?

And what does any of this have to do with the coed yeshivos, Zionism, or many other exclusively MO practices?

We will get there, Punims. All in due time.

eli Posted - 03 August 2000 16:13

To answer our moderator:

First, I suggest you come to Israel where most rabbis insist that EVERY male sit in kollel and learn his whole life and never get a job. They certainly object to any secular learning. Many boys finishing high school have no idea what a triangle is forget about world geography.

As far as the level of secular learning

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein would certainly recommend an advanced level to enhance ones total learning. Many students of Rav Soloveitchik went for a PhD and he encouraged his students to fully participate in all levels. Of course, no one claims it is a mitzva to get an advance degree and each person does what is best for him. Someone who feels best at a high school degree and becomes a plumber is also 100% correct.

This importance of learning applies to both men and women. In my home town there is a program called MATAN that offers advanced learning for women with the approval of many rabbis and is contributing immensely to the spirit of Yiddishkeit.

Yes, Zionism is an important part of MO which most charedim do not agree with.

Finally, I was confused by the final comment.

I don't understand why we have to find differences between the haredi and MO movements and label everyone. Many people accept some of the MO ideas and don't accept others. People are not monolithic and don't have to be labeled.
In old Germany the kehilla believed in secular studies as an ideal but was not Zionistic. In Israel the followers of Rav Kook in merkaz haRav believe in Zionism and usually do not study secular studies. Each person lives their own outlook without people calling names and heretics.

Entering into the 9 days we have to learn to be more loving of our fellow Jews and not introduce camps and labels.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 August 2000 16:37

You are right about the situation in Israel, but it hasn’t anything to do with our discussion.

The Rabbonim in Israel felt that in order to combat the Zionist / Secularist influence, a strong line of demarcation needs to be made between “us and them” and therefore no secular studies – or secular activities, such as soccer – be allowed. Call it a “hora’as shaah” if you like. Or better, "hora'a's makom."

For instance, Rav Shach shlita permitted a school in Israel that has secular studies on the HS level for American immigrant families only. The resistance to secularism in Israel is a declaration that Eretz Yisroel’s social milieu demands unique and unorthodox methods to combat it; it is not a interpretation of Orthodox principle in general.

If no one claims it is a Mitzva to get an advanced degree, then fine – HOW MUCH secular studies IS a Mitzvah (or: how much is “important”) according to MO? And when you say everyone does what is “best” for him, you are not answering the question, because what is “best” for me depends on what my goals are. The higher a goal I can reach the “better” it is for me.

But the question is, what is the higher goal? How do we define our goals? If I can learn all day or become a professor, how am I supposed to know what’s best for me? Without MO, it’s obvious. Becoming a professor is not the first choice. We know the criteria there. What is the criteria according to MO?

And if obtaining an advanced degree is not a Mitzvah, why are the MO rabbis encouraging it instead of encouraging more learning, which is a Mitzvah? If people who only have HS education are “also 100% correct’ then why would rabbis recommend forgoing Torah learning for more advanced degrees if I am already 100% correct?

I don't understand why we have to find differences between the haredi and MO movements and label everyone.

We don’t. But the Modern Orthodox do label themselves, and we are just asking those who DO label themselves MO what exactly they mean by it.

Please refer to the next post, a copy of an article by the President of the OU called “Defining MO”. I am with you. It really means nothing. We don’t need labels. But there are those, many many of them, leaders as well, who look at MO as a movement, and a philosophy. We are asking them to define that philosophy. l’shitasam. It’s a valid question.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 August 2000 16:38

Defining Modern Orthodoxy
June 2, 1999
By Mandell I. Ganchrow, M.D., President of the Orthodox Union
Appeared in June 4, 1999 Edition of the Jewish Week

The question of who or what is a modern Orthodox Jew is a new one.
All of my life I believed that I was a typical "modern Orthodox Jew." As a Yeshiva College graduate, physician, combat surgeon in Vietnam, chief of surgery in a Catholic hospital, I am fiercely committed to integrating my Torah values with my secular pursuits. When I met President Reagan and each subsequent president at the White House, I proudly wore a knitted kippah.

My children and their spouses, who are all college graduates, have careers that plant them firmly in the secular worlds of medicine, law, speech pathology, accounting and social work.

As President of the Orthodox Union, the largest mainstream Orthodox synagogue body, I am proud to represent an organization whose lay leadership is comprised of physicians, lawyers, accountants and business people all of whom are committed and deeply passionate Jews. The Union's leaders are productive and outstanding members of the secular world who love the theater, movies and sporting events, but who have an even higher love for prayer and the study of Torah, and who believe firmly in the centrality of Medinat Yisrael to their lives.

But these days, the modern Orthodoxy of my peers and myself is under suspicion. In screaming headlines and news articles, we are told that a new modern Orthodoxy is setting out to provide "closer ties between Orthodoxy and the outside world" and to encourage its adherents to have "the courage to be modern and Orthodox". When I wore a kippah to my medical office or made rounds with a five o'clock shadow while wearing sneakers on Tisha B'Av, wasn't I exhibiting that courage? Isn't that courage already exhibited by the thousands of religiously committed professionals who align themselves with the Orthodox Union? I have always been proud of being a "centrist" Jew; but of late, I find myself being stripped of my identity.

What I fail to understand is the need for yet another break away group within Orthodoxy. This new group claims that modern Orthodox institutions such as the Orthodox Union, the RCA and Yeshiva University have shifted too far to the right and lack the will to develop a modern Orthodox agenda for the next generation.

But precisely how are the established modern Orthodox organizations not meeting their obligations? Dedicated to addressing the needs of our broad-based constituency, the Union spearheaded a veritable revolution in outreach with our remarkably successful NCSY movement with 40,000 teenagers throughout the United States and Canada as well our ongoing educational programs such as the Pardes Project, which boasts nearly 15,000 participants worldwide. The Union is represented at the table of every possible organization that deals with Jewish life, including the Memorial Foundation, Soviet Jewry, AIPAC, NJRAC, Presidents Conference, World Jewish Conference and the Jewish Agency.

We frequently work together with non-Jewish groups and individuals to forge coalitions on behalf of civil rights, religious tolerance, democracy, school vouchers, support for the rule of law. The resolutions that are passed at out bi-annual convention do not omit a single social or political issue from gas mileage standards to Alaskan oil drillings. We have invested heavily in modern telecommunications to help meet the needs of all Jews via the internet, CD ROM, a video department and Torah tapes.

I believe all Orthodox Jews understand that certain laws can never be changed. Those who refuse to acknowledge halachic realities and boundaries have the option to join another stream. However, women's concerns are at the forefront of the Union's agenda and, to that end, we are responding by providing women with unprecedented opportunities for high-level learning and ongoing seminars. At our recent convention, and in our critically acclaimed publication, Jewish Action, we continue to highlight issues facing contemporary Jewish women and we are prepared to confront these issues honestly, but always within a framework of halacha.

We provide comprehensive programming and try to address the needs of all our constituents.

Moreover, the Union is a democratically run organization. Our leadership openly discusses and analyzes issues pertaining to Jewish life.

The implications of starting a new movement are far greater than shades of differences on a few specific issues. To become successful, any new movement would have to create a youth division, solicit synagogue membership and maintain ongoing programs and activities. It has taken the Union 100 years to build an organization that reaches 40,000 young boys and girls through NCSY, close to 1,000 developmentally disabled in Yachad and deaf in Our Way, a political internship program in Washington, D.C., numerous publications and other programs and initiatives in addition to being the pre-eminent kashrut certification agency.

Those who seek to start their own movement must realize that even if it is not their intention, they will weaken the Orthodox community by splintering us even more through internecine fighting, thereby diminishing many of the gains we have achieved in the past century. That is a great burden to bear.

A few clichés, a bi-annual conference and full-page ads in newspapers do not a movement make. There are legitimate issues within our camp that require our attention and discussion and we are thankful when individuals force us, when necessary, to face them squarely and intellectually. But starting a new organization is not the answer. We cannot survive such fragmentation. The forum in which to discuss the issues is the mainstream one. I hold out my hand to those who wish to strengthen our movement.

Posted - 04 August 2000 12:53

Rav Kotler, Rav Wasserman and numerous others did not go into YU. On the other hand YU has its own set of very learned rabbeim who are well aware of these positions and chose to teach there and many of them have college and advanced degrees.

Rav Moshe Feinstein, to best of my knowledge, never entered YU but his son-in-law and also a close talmid were/are rebbeim there. He obviously did not through them out for that.

The attitudes towards secular studies has been controversial for over 1000 years and we will not solve in this forum. Because some famous rabbonim felt we should burn the Rambam's books does not mean that everyone felt that way.

Similarly, the rabbis that advocate women's learning advanced Jewish studies are well aware of the Shulchan Arukh. As many of said it is ridiculous to allow a woman doctor or lawyer etc and forbid them to learn talmud.

The world today has changed and so should we.

As Rav Herschel Schacter says the question is which part of shulchan Arukh is relevant to any particular question. One cannot quote a paragraph without seeing the whole. Thus, as before these are controversial areas and I don't understand how the moderator can decide between these approaches. My teachers have stressed the importance of women's higher education and that is what counts for me.

If the moderator merely wishes to label them that is his problem.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 August 2000 14:16

We have received, within the past 48 hours, dozens of posts from various people on this topic. Since they all basically make the same points, I shall summarize them, for the sake of brevity:

1) The Rambam was Modern Orthodox because he was a physician

2) People go off the derech because they cannot learn 24 hours a day and therefore MO is saving these people

3) Many great sages had secular knowledge.

That’s about it.

So please, let’s clarify some things:

1) Secular knowledge is not the issue. Who is against it? The issue is not if secular knowledge has value – obviously some does (math for example) and some doesn’t (Hollywood scandal trivia, for example), and there is much in-between. Nobody questions this. With very few exceptions, every Yeshiva in America today incorporates secular studies, at least through the HS level. Clearly they are not all considered MO. The question therefore is, How much of my life need I devote to secular studies in order to be considered MO? Or, if I want to be MO, how do I do it? The point of the question is not to denigrate anyone – it is a valid, legitimate question – rather, it is to define what MO is.

That is why the Rambam is irrelevant. Please check out Hilchos Talmud Torah, where multiple opinions are quoted in the RAMA regarding the permissibility of spending time making a living vs. learning all day. See the SHACH ad loc, who discusses the Rambam, and you will see that the Rambam proves only that if you can become both a Torah scholar of the Rambam’s stature, AND a doctor, you can then spend time pursuing “other” studies. But this does not address the issue of ME, TODAY.

2) Nobody is questioning the fact that there are people who would be willing to be MO or not religious at all. So what? The issue is, What is MO and is it the preferable mode of Judaism? The fact that it is, to some, the only version, or the maximum, that they are willing to accept does not address the issue at hand. Unless of course, you will say it doesn’t matter if MO is really the Will of G-d or not, because today, only a partial will of G-d is the best we can do. Is that what you are saying? Because that is an answer that can be discussed. Please clarify.

3) Please see #1.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 August 2000 14:24


The point of my pointing out the Rabbonim that would not walk into YU was because someone had said that YO is accepted by those rabbis. My point was, it is not. Your post does not impact on that.

The issue is not secular knowledge. It is not the Rambam. Please see previous post.

The fact that the rabbis who allow women to be taught Gemora are "aware" of the Shulchan Aruch does not answer the question: Why do they allow it if the Halachah prohibits it?

Your reasoning, if it is really the reason, underscores the type of reasoning that is invalid and unacceptable in Halachah.

If the Halachah allows women to learn medicine but not Gemora then why is it ridiculous to allow them to go be doctors but not learn Gemora?

If on the other hand, the Halachah also prohibits learning medicine, then why is it indeed allowed?

You see, this logic does NOT change the Halachah. And neither does Rabbi Shachter's generality, which is of course true, but what does it have to do with what we are discussing?

But you are right. I am very happy, that we are beginning to see the differences between MO and non-MO Judaism. The different attitudes towards HOW we approach Halachah are beginning to emerge. Your statement about why we allow girls to learn Gemora is very enlightening. it underscores the differences between the "Orthodoxies".

Now we are getting somewhere.

Tzedek Posted - 04 August 2000 14:57

But let's be honest, I wrote that the Rambam would be considered Modern Orthodox not only because he was a doctor, but because he wrote Moreh Nevuchim. He was a thinking person. The difference between a MO and a non-MO is not secular knowledge, but that MO's ask questions, we come closer to Hashem because we are able to achieve "B'chol drachecha daeu".

Non-MO's do not think, they follow their Rabbeim, and are robots. (Many teens are rebelling precisely because any questions they ask, the answers are "sha still, that's the way it is." ) Read R' Chaim Soloveitchik's article that I mentioned in my previous post. I believe that the GR"A z"tl would be amazed that we have adopted the Chassidic approach in Misnagdic circles, and have emulated their Rebbe relationship.

As the GR"A warned us this is not Yahadus. The most famous line I hear continually is "niskatnu hadoros" and no one can be such a Gadol as the past so we have to stop Yahudus where it is. Throughout the centuries Rabbanim have created takanot for their generation, most famously Rabbenu Gershom. Since the petira of Rav Moshe z"tl we are bereft of leadership that has been able to be moreh derech.

I believe there is one other important point, many non-MO's have no respect for the government. It is OK to cheat the government, "dina d'malchusa dina" doesn't apply to goyim. The number of prominent cases of Chillul Hashem has grown astronomically.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 August 2000 15:48


So you are saying that Modern Orthodox follow the GRA and non-Modern Orthodox follow the Chassidic rebbe-Chasid tradition? Meaning, that non-Orthodox do not "think", but act like robots.

If non-MO just follow their Rebbeim and don't think, do their rebbeim think? If not, who are they following? Who is the ultimate leader? And if the Rebbeim do think, does that make them Modern Orthodox?

And can you tell me an area where you think that "thinking" would change the perspective of non-Modern orthodox Jewry, please. Does "thinking" and "not thinking" lead to the same conclusions? If so, there is no purpose in thinking. If not, please show me where you believe non-MO have adopted a policy that is due to their "not thinking", and please show how "thinking" would have led to a different policy.

There are no opinions that say "dina d'malchusa" does not apply to a goy.

Looking forward to your response.

artzanu Posted - 07 August 2000 0:36

In terms of Dinay Malchusa Dina, nobody agrees that it is allowed but many do it, but this is not a problem of yeshivish derech rather people in the yeshivish world, or some of them, their attitude. their rabbis do not allow it. similar to things like mixed swimming aming some of the modern. BUT in Israel many people claim exactly the opposite of what someone mentioned, that since its a Jewish Govt in Israel why are we obliged to follow. so In Israel there probably are rabbis who will say you can cheat on your taxes.

Posted - 07 August 2000 0:37

Regarding your question #2) Modern orthodoxy accepts that not everyone is a big learner, and that not everyone has to become a big talmid chacham. This is how it was through the generations. Kollels and advanced yeshivas were for the best. not something that everyone was supposed to do. It is only in the last few years that the yshivish are starting to understand (at leas on a more wide scale basis) that not everyone is a learner and different people have different needs.

so in your response to the other question about what is the exact amount of secular studies and what is the goal. the question itself is based using the logic of yeshivish thinking. There is no universal goal for everyone. Everyone is different. We should strive for a solid torah foundation and a solid secular education. But thee are no exact figures. Some people are destined to learn more, some less, some are destined to study more secular knowledge, some less. to Does that help or are you still going to ask, "but how much?"

Eli was saying that you have to take everything in context, I don’t know the shulchan aruch regarding woman’s talmud learning so I cant answer that, but Rav Shachter is a big talmid Chacham, and needless to say so was the Rav, so Moderator, why don’t u ask Rabbi Shachter what his basis for that is? or at least a talmid of his.

Tzedek Posted - 07 August 2000 0:40

In reply to your question, I have not seen any new chidushim in halacha or hashkafa from non-Mo rabbeim. I believe that they are repeating the Torah they heard from their Rabbeim, without any chidushim of their own. As I said, "niskatnu hadorot," we are not worthy of adding anything. The beauty of Pirkei Avos, is that each Rav who was m'kabel Torah from their Rebbee was able to add his own Torah wisdom. I believe that we have not seen a major sefer in this generation of Rabbanim that is not a compendium of previous Torah. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Therefore I believe non-MO Rabbeim that are being followed are not individual thinkers but carriers of a tradition, which as I said before emulates the Chassidic model.

In terms of one example of thinking vs. non-thinking is the area of Agunos. We have reached a crisis that in any other dor, would have resulted in either a takanah to correct the situation or a community policy of cherem for any man refusing a wife a get, no aliyas to the Torah, no one does business with him, etc. It could work, but none of the great non-MO rabbeim have solved clearly one of the greatest problems of our generation. Instead the modern Orthodox have come up with a solution which has been widely ridiculed and considered invalid, yet despite that many women are flocking to these Rabbanim, because of their desperation.

We are called Am Yisrael, after Yisrael, who is given that name, because he wrestled with G-d. Through Torah study and secular study we are able to wrestle with Hashem, and grow closer to him. In non-MO circles we have removed the struggle, its blind faith, and that is anti-thetical to Yahadus. In my community, the non-MO yeshivas tell their 6th graders not to focus on secular studies, and they listen to their Rabbeim. They treat it like a joke. The result is that they clearly they can not know Hashem, "bchol dracheiu." There is practically no study of Nach or hashkafa, only musar and Talmud.

I am glad to hear you say that dina d'malchusa doesn't apply to a goy, I have heard too many non-MOs repeat that to me. I have watched too many cases of cheating on taxes, money laundering all because of that philosophy, another area that non-MOs have failed in.

I think that Modern Orthodoxy has a legitimate claim to be included in the Torah true community, and yet your attempts to dismiss it, is a great disservice to the teenagers who may come to this site.

artzanu Posted - 07 August 2000 13:02

Geshmak, You are 100% right about the Rav.

What you are wrong about is classifying today’s modern orthodox against the Rav. I have stated before there are 2 divisions or types of modern orthodox. some are just types that when conservative went to far they became MO, some are just those who are not so committed to all the Halachos but wish to observe shabbat and kashrut etc. - its wrong but its also commendable for those people on their level - BUT YOU are wrong because this does not describe most of the True modern orthodox, the ones who are very committed, idealistic, and do follow the rav and halacha properly, they are the ones not using Mo as an excuse but using it in its true form for its ideals.

Your implication regarding Edah Is wrong. Countless MO Ravs have come out strongly against Edah. your opinions regarding Modern orthodoxy today are just as incomplete as If I would say All yeshivish people believe its proper to thrown stones. Clearly most yeshivish are against that and realize its a chilul hashem. a famous yeshivish Gadol once said "rocks are for building not throwing" I will never attack the yeshivish community because they so that.

You have to realize that most of the Mo are fully committed to torah. there is a large minority that is more lax, but at least they are somewhere and not nowhere and it is hoped they will grow and do Teshuva.

Think about this before you go saying general statements about modern orthodoxy, like we are all Edah.

MODERATOR Posted - 07 August 2000 14:00


The issue is not so much Dina D”Malchusa, but Hafka’as Halvaah. In Eretz yisroel, it is the Ran’s position that since it belongs to all Jews, it does not belong to any government and therefore Dina D”Malchusa does not apply.


Artz, please refer to the other posts. The problem we are discussing with the mixed swimming is not the sin itself but rather the institutionalizing of it, using it to represent your mode of Orthodoxy, as in “Modern Orthodox Type Bungalow Colony”, which they explained to mean that that have mixed swimming. It matters not what the rabbonim permit, it matters that those people are creating for themselves a group of official Revolutionaries against G-d. It would be comparable to a Shul called “Cong. Anshei Embezzlers”. That’s the difference. And the institutionalization of sins is found only among the Modern Orthodox, not all, not the Rabbonim, but the misrepresentation of Torah itself is something that, where it does appear, should not be tolerated by anyone.


It was never for “the best” learners but rather for anyone who WANTED the honor of learning in Kollel, as the Rambam describes those who WANT to join Shevet Levi. He does not condition their membership in the Kollel community as having to be the best, but rather having the desire. The idea that only the “best’ should learn in Kollel is a baseless falsehood and it is against the Halchah as expressed by the Rambam which states that anyone who so chooses may learn in Kollel. See also YD Laws of Talmud Torah 246:21 and Shach ad loc.


If there is no universal goal for secular knowledge then there is no Modern Orthodox philosophy, movement, or policy, because then every Chassidishe kid who learns a bit of math or English can say MO philosophy because he is learning the amount of secular studies that is “right for him”. You have reduced MO from a movement and a philosophy to nothingness. According to you, is everyone who learns English Modern orthodox? Anyone who learn secular studies in elementary school? High school? If not, then there must be a required measure of secular studies. If so, then just about everyone in the world is Modern Orthodox.

And I thank you, because we are almost ready to bring this exercise to a close. The point is to demonstrate the confusion and lack of definition among those who would refer to themselves as Modern Orthodox. You are a member of a movement of a philosophy, believe in it, espouse it, and you have no idea what it is.


Shulchan Aruch is in Yorah Deah 246:6. See also Shiurei brachah ad loc in the name of Talmud Yerushalmi and Medrash Rabbah.

I have sought the answer to this problem from numerous MO rabbis. Their answers are not much different, and no more enlightening or well founded, than those posted on these boards. Feel free to explore further, but don’t hold your breath. You will not find a legitimate Halachic reason for allowing teaching of Gemora in a classroom to any women who decides to take a “Gemora” course.

So if there is no well-founded Halachic reason, why do Modern Orthodox institutions do it?
That is the question. There is a reason, but have patience, please. One step at a time. First we need to establish what the question is, then you can look for an answer. At least now, you and I both, and everyone here, knows the question.


You asked to be corrected if you are wrong. You are. I have no idea where you got this idea that there are no Chidushei Torah being generated in the Yeshivish world? Huh?

You are correct that there are no new religions being produced, and no new “versions” of religion being produced in the Torah world, which is as it should be. Can you please clarify what you mean?


The reason those solutions have been dismissed as invalid is because they are. The fact that women “flock” to them makes them popular and enticing, but it does not speak at all of their validity. But please note your position here. It is useful. You are saying that it is a positive thing when “solutions” are found that are popular, and it is a negative thing to dismiss popular solutions as invalid. Please think about what you are saying.


Ah, no. He wrestled with the Angel of Esav. Are you saying that you like Modern orthodoxy because it “wrestles with Hashem”?


I didn’t label anyone Modern Orthodox – the Modern Orthodox did! Clearly they consider themselves a “category”. Look at the article posted by Dr. Ganchrow. But MO leaders, lay and rabbinic both, do understand MO to be in its own “category’ or Orthodoxy. On the contrary, I am questioning why that is so.

As far as judge, jury and executioner, first, I have not executed anyone. And why do you have more of a right to judge my words by saying I have no right to say them? So it’s fine to judge, as long as you are not the one being judged.

And would you agree that you cannot declare Conservative Judaism inauthentic? Reform? Jews for Jesus? Neo-Nazism? Please tell me how you decided where and who we have a right to judge and where and whom we cannot

mevaseret Posted - 08 August 2000 13:27

moderator- you would disagree, but I'll say it anyhow. Ben Azzai said it was required that a father teach his daughter Torah (vs. Rav Eliezer;Sotah), and it says in the Talmud "Torah", Not "Talmud."

furthermore, in history, women have even published works on the Talmud (the non-halachic parts) -"Myaneket Rivka" written by Rivka Tichtener in the 16th century
in Poland that included talmud and mishna.

teaching women- one MO rabbi said women as well as men were present at har sinai, there is no reason not to teach them Torah (which includes Torah she-be-al-peh), for without the Torah She-be-al-peh, Torah is obscure (we are not kaarites).

according to you moderator some women can teach Talmud(such as Leah Horowitz, daughter of eighteenth century Bolichev rabbi). If so, why can't they be taught?

MO says if women can study computer science, they can study Talmud (they have the acumen to do so).

Anyhow, according to Hirsch's MO, halacha would never be subservient to modernity. Hildsheimer(sp?) with his Mizrachi movement incorporated Zionism into modern orthodoxy.

what is modern orthodoxy? It is Torah with Derech Eretz (Hirsch). It is Torah im Avodah. It is "Eretz Israel Leam Israel al pi torat israel." It is learning Torah (all of it in the broader sense), but making a living/having a profession. It is knowing halacha and Jewish philosophy, as well as Western Civilization and trends in its philosophy. It is recognizing the need to be educated in multiple fields of study. Recognizing that one can sanctify the mundane.

Being modern orthodox sometimes means coed education. It means keeping total Shabbat, as well as kashrut inside and outside the home, but not eating only "cholov yisrael"(because USA milk is from cows and many poskim have rendered it chalav israel). It means that there is no stigma in talking to someone of the opposite gender, and women can deliver speeches before mixed audiences. MO dissents from the Chatam Sofer "kol chadash assur" dogma.

Being modern orthodox is being a Jew who tries to excel in life in general.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 August 2000 14:16


Thank you for your contribution. It is enlightening, indeed, as to what Mo is.

The MO rabbi that said women were at har Sinai and therefore we can teach them gemora is declaring against the opinion in the Gemora that says you may not teach them Torah (didn't the Gemora know, too, that women were at Har Sinai?) and against the Halachah in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch that rules you may not.

So this rabbi in his reasoning is declaring that his reasoning is better than Chazal and the halachah, and that puts him in a category no different from the Conservative or reform that believe their reasoning can over ride Chazal and Halachah as well.

The idea that if women can study computer science they can study Gemora as well, also declares against the Halachah and the Chazal that says you may not teach women Gemora, even though there is no prohibition of teaching them computer science. The assumption that the prohibition is based on "mental acumen" is baseless, and the result of non-Jewish feminist perceptions projected on Chazal.

If MO is eating cholov Yisroel, then I guess Rav Soloveichik was not Modern Orthodox since he ate Cholov Yisroel only.

Regarding coed institutions and "talking" to someone of the opposite gender, if you mean friendships again you violate the Halachah of lo sikravu l'galos ervah. If the woman of the opposite gender is married, even plain friendly talk without a friendship-relationship violates Chazal's dictum "al tarbeh suchah im haishah".

So I hope you are wrong, because if you are correct, what it means is that Mo is the right to create your own religion against Chazal and Halachah and call it Orthodoxy.

As far as the Gemora about "teaching your daughter Torah", there is also an opinion in the Gemora that Moshiach no longer exists (Rabi Hillel). Not every opinion recorded in the Gemora is Halachah. The Halachah, as recorded in Rambam, Shulchan Aruch and everywhere else, states that you may not teach your daughter Gemora.

artzanu Posted - 11 August 2000 12:47

Just as we do see modern orthodox as a hashkafa yeshivish orthodox is also its own hashkafa, and of course within yeshivish their are various Hashkafos just as within modern.

I don’t know who started originally the labeling but it is used now to show a derech which a person identifies with, i.e. do u identify with a more yeshivish derech or do u identify with a more modern derech. I don’t see anything wrong with identifying ourselves with modern orthodoxy anymore than you with yeshivish orthodoxy or

Im very sorry moderator but just because certain people call themselves modern orthodox and have mixed swimming does not mean they represent MO and is not a
valid attack on MO. If similar to your example Certain Yeshivish Bungalow colonies would advertise as helping you cheat in taxes, would that invalidate all of the yeshivish?

You have to realize as you yourself admit we are talking about individuals , mostly business owners who wish to make money so they advertise their bungalow that way.
you cant judge a derech and hashkafa by some of its practitioners, and this is just like what you have said a famous rav said "don’t judge Judaism by its practitioners"

and finally it is very similar to what you yourself said about yeshivish going to movies, and that famous rav saying that he does not want to clamp down on it
because people wont listen or it will turn them off. Its the same situation here.

You can use a fancy word institutionalized, but its no different, we have 2 cases of groups doing things that are wrong. in both cases the rabbis are for the most part not speaking up.

Institutionalized would imply that its an organization funded or headed by the founders of modern orthodoxy or the rabbis, - but we are talking about groups of
people doing wrong, no different then the case with the movies.

as for Kollel, fine it is for anyone who wanted, but is that the situation today? today it is basically everyone is being told that they should do kollel not just the people who have reached a level of desire that they wish on their own to do kollel. –actually Kollel is being institutionalized!

I agree 100% that everyone who wants to learn in a kollel should be allowed.

Ok this business with secular education is bothering me the most. What we have been saying is that it is important to have a general understanding of secular knowledge, in order to be a better Jew and understand the torah better. clearly
the Rambam benefited by learning secular. and so did many others.

your constant comparisons to a yeshivish kid who learns computers is completely missing the point, It is the difference in attitude as someone I think maybe alexis
explained. We are not doing it just because it is for parnassa. We feel it is important to get a decent knowledge of the sciences and a well rounded education
in order to be a better torah Jew.

This is not an issue of how much time spend learning secular vs. torah. Why must this Hashkafa involve exact amounts of time?

the basics is that you try to learn a few years secular in college while at the same time keeping up your torah studies.

Torah must continue through out life. Secular studies need not, though some things that change you may want to keep updated.

The concept of Talmud Torah Kineged Kulam is clear -But does that make everything else in that bracha meaningless? since torah is kineged kulam shoud u never do kibud av? should u never do anything else with your life? Must we learn torah every second we r not sleeping.

The reason Talmud Torah is Kineged Kulam is because through the learning of torah you will have a clearer guide of how to approach all the other things, without torah you wont know. but in this generation the whole idea is being misunderstood.

and Torah U Mada is only one of the aspects of the MO Hashkafa.

I do not consider myself MO. I fit in a lot more with the Rav Kook Hashkafa.

Im not so sure they hold so much from Torah U Made to the Extent that YU Does.

basically you are modern orthodox not if you learn english, but if u believe in the ideals and principals of modern orthodox, no different then you are yeshivish if u wear a black hat and hold from the ideals of the yeshivish community.

I don’t see why this is so hard to understand.

Lisa uses a tactic u have used many times before. Briefly, As I explained above Talmud Torah Keneged Kulam does not invalidate every other Mitzva!

Also Lisa as I have said, It is not a question of PHD, Masters, Bachelors or whatever. - it has nothing to do with taking an anthropology course. Its the idea of a well rounded knowledge in secular studies that helps you to become a better learned and better Jew more in touch with his world. as opposed to those who tend to
close themselves off with the world. by the way Im not an expert on this but things like math and science are considered more important than things like anthropology, the secular knowledge we wish to learn are things that will help us learn more about learning and about being a better Jew.

The funny thing is that the yeshivish world is progressing too, just they are about 50 or so yrs behind anyone else but if you think the ideals of the yeshivish world haven’t changed, and if u think there is no chadash there u r wrong.

and by the way the whole idea if chadush being assur from the chatam sofer was something that had to be understood in the contexts of his day when reform Jews were sneakily changing things and trying to convince others to go along.

The Chatam Sofer was against the translation of the sidder into German, but only because of the implications behind it and because once they change that then they would change more and more.

There was a man in the chatam sofers bet midrash who had a german sidder and the chatam sofer asked him, is that a translation from moses mendelson. and he said No. not only did the C.S. have no problem with that man using a german sidder he invited him to his house just to show him.

You need to understand his words in context of the time he lived.

Moshe Rabenu did not wear a black hat or a stremiel. 20-50 yrs ago yeshivish were much more isolated in their own communities, now that you are changing you
think a claim that just because a satmar learns computers means that either everyone or no one is modern orthodox?

The Chafets Chayim even writes "In Our Times people are nohagin to wear a hat"

but people today use that as a halacha.

all you need to know is that yes talmud torah keneged kulam and we should learn more torah than secular studies.

this is the ideal at YU,

but asking me to define it in hours and how much of each misunderstands the whole hashkafa.

Torah U Mada is just one of the Hashkafos in the Mo world, I think I stated above that people such as rav kooks followers aren’t so big on it.

Even if torah U mada concept was totally wrong, that would not imply that MO is wrong. That is only one of the concepts of MO, MO stands for so much more than
just torah U Mada.

I have explained before the differences between rav solvietchiks views on torah Zionism and the haredim rejecting Zionism as a secular thing. there’s so much more. but that was never posted.

I Don’t know why the rav taught gemora to woman But I rest sure in his gadlus that he knew what he was doing. Im sure its explains somewhere in one of his

As for Agunot, an unhalachically based solution doesn’t do any good for an Agunah, but if we can find a halachic solution, and it is approved by many choshuv
rabbis why are others running to attack it? more than that I am not familiar with the whole case. this was not something I brought up, nor did I bring up the other issues so I wont be addressing them.

In terms of what that rabbi said, - well I didn’t hear it and im not defending it but It is clear that rav Moshe went against poskim from many years before his time, if he disagreed with the chafets chayim or I believe even much earlier works, maybe even the shulchan aruch he said it. If he can do that why cant this rabbi do the same thing with gemora? this I may be wrong about. I am not too familiar with this issue.

Cholov Yisroel is not a litmus test for modern orthodoxy.

I don’t know of the rav would have considered himself modern orthodox or not but he did break away from agudah. but the main difference is he felt it as a chumra and he did not impose it on his talmidim.

there’s no set amount, like I set the idea is to gain a general knowledge about the sciences etc. and to give u a broad worldly knowledge so you can learn torah with an open mind.

wishing everyone an easy and meaningful fast

MODERATOR Posted - 11 August 2000 15:18


We are now getting somewhere. Even for a Mitzvah we do not stop learning unless (a) there is no other person to do the Mitzvah and (b) the Mitzvah is obligatory, such as Krias Shema. For other pursuits, even those of value, we would not close our Seforim.

Even within the realm of Torah learning, we have priorities. Most of our day is spent learning Gemora over Tanach and Midrash. Halachah L'maaseh gets priority over all other topics. the Halachah is, is someone has only a few hours a day to learn, he must learn Halachah.

Why is being well-rounded more important than being more learned? You can't do everything, you know.

And who's to say that the Yeshiva guys who don’t go to college are not well rounded enough? I know you can't quantify this but that means you have a problem, because yes, our lives do count, and if someone is considering going to college or learning he does need to know which is the better choice.

My point is that nobody, nowadays, is "behind walls", and that therefore the only difference between MO and ultra in the secular knowledge department is quantitative. But if you can't quantify a quantitative difference, you are left with nothing.

Now artz, there ARE answers to these questions. IY"H, give me a few days to catch up on my work, and I shall provide you with the MO viewpoint, what is was, how it developed, and what it is today. But we need to understand that what has been provided to us thus far on these boards simply will not do.

Yerachmiel Posted - 04 September 2000 17:02

Hi. This is my first posting. One thing that troubles me is the desire to so clearly define MO, which is yet another label created out of our need to conform and/or be part of a group. Many people just wouldn't feel right if they couldn't call themselves "Orthodox" or "Yeshivish" or "Modern." Isn't that the problem? Why are we trying so hard to divide Judaism?

From all the postings I read, it's clear that MO does not have an official definition because it is not an official philosophy or way of life. Same with "Ultra Orthodox" and all the others. And that's because the Torah itself does not give such labels. They're simply words created by our fragile human nature to define ourselves.

As we see with the Shvatim, the Torah talks about different types of Jews in terms of their role in society, not their level of observance or how they view the secular world.

Regardless of when and why certain branches of Yiddishkeit started, I feel the answer to this issue is to drop the labels. We are all Yidden, all family. And we are all different.

The objective is to follow the Torah and be the best Jew possible, but we see the obstacles to that as we get further and further from Har Sinai. To those who learn all day- great. To those who work and learn- great. I feel the real question boils down to this, which everyone has to ask themselves: Am I trying as hard as I can to be the best Jew possible?

Some people are better off working than learning, so they need to ask themselves: Am I working as honestly as possible and making a kiddush Hashem? Am I giving meiser? Those who learn all day need to ask: Am I being productive and not wasting time around the coffee machine?

I feel these questions are the only proper ones to define us and our ways/levels of observance. To say MO, Orthodox, Ultra, etc. only adds to our problems.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 September 2000 17:05

You’re right. The problem is, the name Modern Orthodoxy was created by those who consider themselves Modern Orthodox, as a movement, with specific goals, philosophies, and mind-sets. If they can't define it, then what's it's purpose?

MODERATOR Posted - 05 September 2000 14:20

As we see with the Shvatim, the Torah talks about different types of Jews in terms of their role in society, not their level of observance

This is not true. The Torah speaks about Tzadikim and Reshaim, which is a level of observance.

or how they view the secular world.

There is a right and wrong way to view it according to the Torah. Depending on your particular wrong view, viewing secular society the wrong way can be kefirah.

Some people are better off working than learning

You mean some people are not zocheh to be the ones learning. It is a big zechus to be able to learn, as the Rambam writes about today's Shevet Levi. To say otherwise is declaring against the Torah.

ShevachviShira Posted - 07 September 2000 14:48

There is a right way and a wrong way, but your missing just one thing.

there are different opinions regarding what the right way (and wrong way) is among Gedolim.

MODERATOR Posted - 07 September 2000 17:12

There is a common misconception about this.

Can you please tell me what you are referring to when you say there are different "Gedolim" that believed different things about the secular world? Who are they? What are the beliefs, and most importantly, what are they based on?

You will be surprised.

ShevachviShira Posted - 08 September 2000 3:05

I don't think I will have anything to be so surprised about, there were Gedolim such as Rav Kook zt”l and as other people here are mentioning rabbi solveitchik zt”l

please note I wrote "there are different opinions regarding what the right way (and wrong way) is among Gedolim."

I did not say "there are different "Gedolim" that believed different things about the secular world?"

that may or may not be true but please do not misquote.

Both Rav Kook and Rav Solveitchik had some different opinion's from some of the other Gedolim (mainly those who went along with agudah) there are many others who are not as famous, the Srida Aish for instance allowed mixed schools, not because it was the best situation but because it was the best situation for the times. there are many others, but please moderator I am waiting for your surprise.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 September 2000 3:32

I said:

or how they view the secular world.
There is a right and wrong way to view it according to the Torah

You responded:

There is a right way and a wrong way, but your missing just one thing. there are different opinions regarding what the right way (and wrong way) is among Gedolim.

We were talking about viewing the secular world. I did not misquote.

And please don't just drop names. I asked you to tell me what they said, and what their opinion is based on.

You have not done that.

But you did say something about the Seridei Aish. You said:

the Srida Aish allowed mixed schools, not because it was the best situation but because it was the best situation for the times

For your first surprise, you should know that even though this is taught in many circles, it is a lie. The Seridei Aish never allowed mixed schools.

And certainly not "for the times."

You can find it in Seridei Aish, II:8.

He was talking about a certain youth organization, Yeshurun it was called, that had coed Shabbos groups and field trips and the like.

He said that first, normative halachah and practice frown upon such things, and therefore Klall Yisroel has never condoned such practices. And they generally should not.

An exception, however, may be made in France - and ONLY in France, he says - because of the great assimilation rate and defection rate there among the youth, where emergency methods are needed, as there is no other choice. He says that - again, ONLY in France, this is true - because otherwise the Torah would be forgotten. (He compares it to "ais la'asos", though only as an analogy, since, as he writes, only Chazal can actually invoke the heter of ais la'asos.)

However, he adds, he will only allow it, even in France, and even under these circumstances, if standards of Tznius are instituted and enforced, provided:

1) The boys and girls cannot sit together on the same benches,

2) The boys and girls may not sleep in the same building ever,

3) The boys and girls may not attend mixed classes

4) The Counselors are all Yarei Shamayim who will be personally responsible to enforce these standards, and make sure the boys and girls do not inappropriately mix.

He also emphasizes that this is certainly not the preferred way of doing things, and that many poskim would disapprove.

He certainly did not allow this among mainstream Orthodox youth, and he did not allow it anywhere except France, and even there, he said it is not what we should strive for. If we could change it, we certainly would.

Unfortunately, this Teshuva of the Seridei Aish is taught in many places as a justification for the idea that today, Orthodox co-ed schools are a "legitimate Orthodox alternative" for Orthodox youth". Ouch!

Of course, this is a complete forgery and lie. Hotza'as shem rah against the Seridei Aish.

That's surprise number one.

Now if you continue telling me more about other "Gedolim", you will have more surprises.

And remember, we are talking about their attitude toward the "secular world" here. I said there is a right way and a wrong way to view it.

Yerachmiel Posted - 08 September 2000 10:24

If they can't define it, then what's it's purpose? I don't know about its origins, but I think the purpose today of using the term "modern" is a way for people to feel 100% frum without putting in the full effort (though not abandoning the basics of the Torah the way Reform and Conservative did).

I'm not saying this is a negative intention, though surely some people have fallen into the trap of living up to the label. Based on upbringing, environment and education, some people simply lack halachic knowledge and/or never developed proper "habits" such as going to shul 3x a day and learning regularly. Yet they fully respect the Torah, keep Shabbos, eat kosher, etc.

The label of "modern" groups together these people and thus makes them feel part of something, part of the mainstream and, in some cases, eases their guilt.

The problem comes back to our need to be labeled and grouped. It's a shame that a sincere, frum person who doesn't have the knowledge of a yeshiva bochur and who wears khakis is looked at oddly when he walks into a chareidi shul for davening.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 September 2000 10:39

You are basically correct, Yerachmiel, that it can be used as a way to be not as frum as you can, but "alleviate your guilt", or, just a little variation, convince yourself that you are as frum as those who do try harder.

This is, more than anything else, the difference between the imperfections of someone who is simply not trying hard enough, versus the imperfection of someone who is not trying hard enough and creates a label, meaning a movement of Orthodoxy, that stands for not trying harder.

The Chazon Ish said it succinctly. He refused to grant audience to those of the Mizrachi movement. When asked why the Mizrachi are different than anyone else, since all are imperfect, some more, some less, he replied, "Yes, these are bainonim (imperfect, or: average people) and those are bainonim. But these (the Mizrachi) are bainonim b'shitah!" (as a policy).

Meaning, that if you are imperfect, that is altogether human, but if you make a policy out of being imperfect, that is altogether unacceptable.

We need to strive for the highest level we can. If we do not, perhaps we are lazy, or weak, or whatever.

But now, it is attributed not to laziness or weakness or whatever, but rather to your "version of Orthodoxy."

To be weak is one thing, but to make it your policy is another.

Call it "Institutionalized Imperfection". Once you do this, you have put your weakness into a whole different category.

The policy of imperfection is a much graver sin than the imperfection itself, since it changes the goals and views of the Torah as to what we need to strive for, and what we are expected to try to do.

So you are right, we should drop the labels, because that would lessen the sins greatly.

But don't forget, it is the Modern Orthodox who label themselves. They consider themselves a movement. "Ultra" Orthodoxy is not a movement, neither is "chareidi". They have no "origin", no policies (except to keep the Torah), and the entire name is only there to distinguish themselves from the members of various movements.

Modern Orthodoxy created its own label, and you are correct, since it does make people "feel good about themselves" despite their weaknesses, I do not believe that they will ever relinquish their label.

GaryG Posted - 08 September 2000 14:06

I think I am beginning to understand what you’re saying. You're saying that the problem with Modern Orthodoxy is not what they do but rather that they do it in the name of Modern Orthodoxy?

Yerachmiel Posted - 08 September 2000 17:53

Thank you, Moderator, for the clarifications.

As for The Torah speaks about Tzadikim and Reshaim, which is a level of observance I mean we need to drop the labels within these realms. The extremes are clear- Tzadikim and Reshaim- but it's impossible and not our duty to say what actions constitute the many levels in between.

Besides labeling and dividing us, terms like "Modern" and "Ultra" also try to qualify our observance- like Modern is 80% frum, Yeshivish is 90% and Ultra is 99%. That's the impression. And it's wrong.

I think we should take it upon ourselves to stop using such labels. Consider it the next awareness program in the community. Instead of focusing on levels and yichus and all that, let's return to what the Torah considers important- midos. (Again, within the realm of a person sincerely trying to be the best Jew possible, whether in learning, work, etc.)

MODERATOR Posted - 08 September 2000 18:08

Of course you are right Yerachmiel about the labels, when the labels don't really have a definitive meaning (as opposed to "chassidim" or "Torah im derech eretz" for instance). At best, it just serves to confuse those who belong to the label-groups as to what exactly it is they stand for (because they must stand for SOMETHING if they have a label, but when they can't define it ...), and at worst, it serves as a party-line for imperfections, which merely intensifies the severity of those imperfections, as per the Chazon Ish.

Therefore, this "awareness" needs to be learned by the label-groups themselves, because they are the ones who have created the labels, whether they stand for anything or not.

But I am not sure what you mean that it is "impossible" and not our job to say what actions constitute the many levels in between Tzadik and Rasha.

It is not so clear to everyone what is a Tzadik and Rasha. There are people who are considered tzadikim and Gedolim by some, yet worse than Reshaim by others (i.e. apikorsim).

As far as the "levels", the issue is not the Jew, but Judaism itself. You are correct that these terms do not represent different levels of Jews; but they may represent different versions of Judaism. For instance, you can have a Conservative Jew who does wear Tzitzis, and an Orthodox Jew who does not (he is a sinner); but there is still a clear distinction in the levels of Orthodox Judaism versus Conservative Judaism.

So labels may represent ideologies. If so, it behooves us to know what those ideologies are, and ideologies are not all of the same legitimacy.

ShevachviShira Posted - 08 September 2000 22:00

Yerachmiel Wrote:

Besides labeling and dividing us, terms like "Modern" and "Ultra" also try to qualify our observance- like Modern is 80% frum, Yeshivish is 90% and Ultra is 99%. That's the impression. And it's wrong.

Your 100% right but yet in a previous post you wrote that identifying yourself with modern orthodox is used to ease the guilt of not doing everything right.

this is a major contradiction the only answer is that there are some modern orthodox like that. But there are also many who may be more religious then yeshivish or ultra. those who follow the real shittas of MO are not any less religious and do daven 3 x a day. so your post saying that we cant judge modern as 80 and yeshivsh and 90 is right normally and especially when it comes to sincere modern orthodox.

and your other post of having a way to fit in and ease their guilt would only apply to those modern orthodox who do not observe everything, but keep shabbat, kosher etc. there is a difference.

moderator you did not post my last post, so I am waiting for you to post it and the surprises.
I also have more info regarding the seriday aish.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 September 2000 22:12


About your last post, I owe you an apology. I was "postfirming" it (web language for post-confirm, and I lost it in the shuffle. Please resend and it will be posted.

But I must tell you that you have to stick to the issue. I asked for people who had different views about the secular world - NOT whether we should or shouldn’t' join with non-religious - that is not a view on the secular world, since no matter what you think of the secular world, the question is still a question.

The issue is: Nothing in this world has intrinsic value except Torah. Nothing. Any value anything else has in the world is only insofar as it is useful to our Torah accomplishments. That include sticks, stones, and secular knowledge. The idea that secular world's values have some intrinsic value beyond their utility function to assist us in Torah, in a Modern one with no basis.

The right way to look at the secular world is that it is, at best, valueless intrinsically; the wrong way is that it has value intrinsically.

Therefore, the only conceivable reason to integrate into the outside world is only to the extent and degree that it has some Torah value. But to do so because of some value it has in and of itself, is plain kefirah.

This includes secular knowledge, studies, money, power, and anything the whole wide world has to offer. There is no intrinsic value.

Therefore, any encouragement of acquiring secular knowledge or pursuing secular values beyond what you need to perform Mitzvos or learn Torah better, is against the Torah.

This does not mean nothing in the world makes us feel good, but nothing in the world is valuable. There is a big difference.

So I would like you to tell me if anyone disagreed with that, who they are, and - this is a requirement - WHY.

There are no two legitimate ways to look at the secular world.

Bochur11 Posted - 09 September 2000 0:03

Very interesting boards. How come I never heard of them before? Extremely enlightening.

I read the quotes from R. Soloveitchik in the other forum, and it seems pretty obvious that he admitted that Modern Orthodoxy is really a compromise in standards but he felt that because of technology and all that glitters in America that would be the only version of Orthodoxy that can survive. I'm more than a little disappointed in the fact that he didn't give anybody the right to disagree with him - that quote about the others "not having the courage to admit their mistake" is scary.

But clearly, the whole idea was a mistake, Yeshivas are flourishing in America today, and technology did not eat us up. So in other words, according to Rav Soloveichik's own words, Modern Orthodoxy was formulated based on an understanding of the future that clearly has proven to be a mistake. So therefore, we should reject Modern Orthodoxy as wrong.

Bochur11 Posted - 09 September 2000 0:03

I read Rabbi Soloveichik's "Five Addresses".

It should be noted that his reasoning for supporting Modern Orthodoxy is not based on any Torah sources or Halachic reasoning, but rather on his own personal independent social prediction of what will happen in America if we G-d forbid do not follow his way.

It seems to me that the reason this problem is not considered a legitimate disagreement amongst Talmidei Chachamim is that first of all, Rabbi Sloveitchik says clearly that his position is not one that has the backing of any Mesorah of Klall Yisroel. He says he broke off of his family's tradition, and he does not offer any alternative tradition, such as Chasidus, Rav Hirsh, etc. His position was based against Torah tradition on the foundation of his perception of the future, As he says, "Divine Providence" told him he is right. He admitted that his was an emergency position against ALL Torah traditions because we have no choice but to follow his way. Or else we will not survive.

Today, however, it is clear that he wasn't right. Torah has survived in the traditional fashion, contrary to what he predicted. Even though there are people who are attracted only to MO, I imagine, still, his basis was that Yeshivish Torah cannot survive here, and that is why - and only that is why - we are permitted to be MO.

Since his opinion is not based on any Torah tradition, nor on any Halachic or Hashkafic process, not derived from any Torah sources, but rather from his own personal social views independent of any Torah sources, it is therefore treated differently than the other disagreements that are based on Torah reasoning.

That is why it is treated in the Torah world differently from the Neturei Karta position, or the Yekkishe position, for instance. Those were based on Torah sources and tradition and not independent social feelings.

ShemaYisrael Posted - 11 September 2000 6:10

those of you who think you know the Rav so well these two quotes from Rav AbbaBronspiegel and the second from Rav Aharon Solveitchik)

"The Rav Believed in studying all wisdom...(and in) being a highly educated person. He did not however make an ideology out of it, and certainly was not a follower of T.U'M

(Abba Bronspiegel "The Rav and Torah U Mada") Algemeiner Journal (August 20 1993) T.U'M refers to Torah U Mada)

"Rav Ahron Soloveitchik in an open letter he wrote "in defense" of his brother shortly after the latter's passing

...the Rav had a positive attitude toward worldly wisdom is beyond question...However there is a great divergence between having a positive attitude and being committed to mada. Being committed to mada implies a belief that mada is an ikar in life. My brother did not consider mada an ikar in yiddishkeit. As a matter of fact my brother in his lectures never mentioned Torah Umadda.7

7)Ahron Solveitchik "In defense of my brother Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveitchik". Algemeiner Journal (July 23 1993),B4

what the moderator was saying above is consistent with the Rav's views according to his brother and many others. Secular Knowledge was used only as an enhancement to torah, not as an intrinsic value by itself.

MODERATOR Posted - 11 September 2000 6:33


I don't understand what your post has to do with our discussion. Attitude toward secular world was mentioned without reference to Rabbi Soloveitchik. So what's the point that he believed one way or the other? It does not bear on our discussion.

But please explain what you wrote. What does "a positive attitude toward worldly wisdom" mean? That is so ambiguous. What is positive about worldly wisdom? And is it ALL worldly wisdom?

What does "Believed in studying all wisdom...(and in) being a highly educated person" mean?

Why? Is it a Mitzvah? How highly educated must a person be? How many years of possible Torah learning, how many Mesechtos should a person give up to learn .... what? Anthropology? Or are we talking about only certain subjects?

What happened to the gold coins that we have only a few hours to collect? Why should we spend our time on stuff that will not merit for us Olam Habbah? Why are we allowed to? And even if we are allowed to, why should we bother, when we can spend out time earning Olam Habah?

Of course, I mean only to ask you to clarify what these ambiguous statements mean, and to explain the reasoning behind them.

GaryG Posted - 26 September 2000 13:50

I think what shema means is that learning secular studies enhances your Torah knowledge. You're able to understand Torah better.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 September 2000 13:57

Can you tell me, for instance, what Mesechta you're learning in Yeshiva and how secular studies helps you understand it?

Number two, this does not justify hours and hours spent in college, post graduate classes, liberal arts, and many other chunks of time spent in secular classrooms. it's quite obvious that before a modern orthodox college student chooses his courses they are not limited only to those which will help him in his learning. Please come up with something realistic.

And third, that's not the reason for modern orthodoxy anyway -- Rabbi Soloveitchik stated clearly that it is "better for the soul" to learn all day, but in America the only way Torah can survive is through integration into secular society.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 September 2000 18:27

The Chazon Ish refused to grant audience to members of the Mizrachi movement. When asked, why he singles out these people for rejection as opposed to other imperfect people, he answered:

“Yes, these are bainonim (“imperfect”) and those are bainonim. But these are bainonim as a matter of policy!”

The compromises of the Kiruv organization “Yeshurun” have been submitted above as a justification of the compromises of Modern Orthodoxy. Just as Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg ZT”L permitted Yeshurun, he would also permit Modern Orthodoxy, it has been implied.

The problem is, Modern Orthodoxy is not a Kiruv organization. If instead of creating a new type of Orthodoxy, the proponents of MO would have said, “You know, perhaps it’s a good Kiruv idea to create an organization to be Mekarev those Jews who unfortunately integrate themselves into secular society, and instead of the normal demands we make on our youth to be full-fledged Bnei Torah, we will make allowances for these youths and work with them on their terms as much as possible”, the issue could be discussed.

But instead, they created a new version of Orthodoxy. Just imagine, if the Yeshurun people decided to mainstream their Kiruv organization, and create “Yeshurun Orthodoxy.” (“Torah V’Taaruvos” it could be called). All the time and place-specific heterim that were given for Yeshurun in France would now become the default mode of Orthodox living. Not only those who are in danger of assimilating, but all Orthodox youth will now be able to go on field trips with girls, and all the compromises that were made for the unfortunate Jewish youths in France becomes part of typical Orthodox living.

“Rav Weinberg permitted yeshurun, so we have Gedolim who agree with us, too,” they would say. “There are some Jews that will surely be attracted to Judaism now that we have girls and boys mixing. Bravo for Yeshurun Orthodoxy.”

“Hey!” people will tell them. “Slow down. Rav Weinberg said it’s OK for a Kiruv organization to do this, which is an emergency situation. He didn’t say that’s what Orthodoxy is supposed to be!”

An extremely important distinction needs to be made between an emergency situation for individuals versus mainstream expectations of normative orthodoxy. Although we make allowances in order to be mekarev people who need it, and sometimes, in the case of an individual ready to do an aveirah, we would even HELP HIM SIN, in order to prevent him from doing a greater sin on his own (for instance, if someone is going to eat a treif hamburger, we are permitted and even encouraged to give him a better-tasting hamburger of, say, chicken and cheese – prohibited only m’drabonon – to prevent him from doing the worse sin).

However. However, when we make an exception it must remain the exception and never become the rule. We never, ever are allowed to permit the emergency tactics to become mainstream. This is because although people are imperfect, religion is perfect. And once you have allowed the exception to become the rule, you have made religion imperfect. This principle is found in a number of places.

The most classic place to look is Akeidas Yitzchok, Vayiera. He had a situation where there was an epidemic of adulterous relationships in his community. A solution was proposed where, for the sake of obvious “kiruv” reasons, they would allow concubines in the community, which is much less of a sin than married women.

“What would you rather have,” people said, “Mamzerim? Married women having affairs? Or concubines?”

“Not everyone is on the level to be monogamous! We have to deal with those people or we will lose them”, they could say.

The Akeidas Yitzchok said it is better to have the Mamzerim and married affairs than to allow the concubines. Because Kiruv practices such as this is justified ONLY on an individual level, NOT on a mainstream one. You can make such permits for an individual, or perhaps for a group of individuals, but you cannot make such official permits for the public.

I always suspected that the Akeidas Yitzchok’s reasoning was based on the Yam Shel Shlomo in Bava Kamma which states that you may not misrepresent the Torah’s policies even under penalty of death. I figured that that would explain why don’t have the same flexibility when dealing at large that we do when dealing with individuals for Kiruv purposes. Because by creating new public permits you are misrepresenting the Torah, since you are taking an exception and making it look as if it is the rule. I once asked Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a if my interpretation is true, and he concurred.

The reason Modern Orthodoxy was accepted by those who accepted it, was not because they believed it is superior or even equal to traditional Orthodoxy, but because they believed then that Modern Orthodoxy was the only type of Orthodoxy that could survive in America. Quote:

“There is secular culture, great and powerful technology creating wonders and changing the foundations of our life . . .this secular culture entails destructive elements, many negative and perverse aspects; it may be a blessing and a curse simultaneously, and thus AS LONG AS ONE CAN LIVE WITHOUT IT SO MUCH THE BETTER FOR THE SPIRIT – [but] finally we will have to relate to it. The confrontation will . . . take place . . .in a new and alien land where the tempo of life is greatly accelerated and fundamental changes occur daily. G-d’s decree: “your seed will be strangers in a land not their own” will be fulfilled sooner or later. In a “land not their own”, I fear, we will not be able to maintain a separation between us and the surroundings. . . . Our intellectual forces will completely assimilate. On the other hand, if we think for the future, we can plan for . . . a new economic and social order.” (Rabbi JB Soloveitchik, Five Addresses, p.28. For more detailed references, see “Modern Orthodoxy; It’s Purpose and History” in this forum).

Clearly, Modern Orthodoxy itself believes (or believed once upon a time) that they are compromising. The problem is that these compromises, instead of an individualized emergency treatment plan, like Yeshurun, was introduced as a new public version of Orthodoxy. As a “Bais Shamai” to Ultra Orthodoxy’s “Bais Hillel”. That cannot be allowed.

Of course, that is one reason why, as Rabbi Soloveitchik admits, he stood basically alone against the Torah world in this idea. He compares this to Yoseph HaTzadik who stood alone against his brothers. “However”, he adds, “to our great sorrow, while the tribes of G-d thousands of years ago finally admitted Joseph’s righteousness, and begged his forgiveness . . . today a segment among our brethren still LACK THE CAPACITY TO SEE REALITY AS IT IS AND THE COURAGE TO ADMIT THEIR ERROR.” (ibid p.33)

The “reality” that the Torah leaders “lack[ed] the capacity to see” (sic) of course, is the fact that America is different than perhaps all the other lands we were ever in. That here, Torah, the way it has always been practiced, will not survive. This was the second reason that Modern Orthodoxy was rejected. It was based on the notion that “America is different.” That the Torah that survived 2,000 years of Golus could not survive America without these compromises. Quote:

Providence demands of us now, PERHAPS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN JEWISH HISTORY, to meet the outside world . . . “ (ibid p.154).

The Torah leaders (i.e. the “brothers” of Joseph) refused to believe that the glitter of America can outshine the Ohr HaTorah. True, RIETS failed in its attempts to retain a Torah-only curriculum, but that doesn’t mean others will not succeed. Yet it is that assumption – that nobody will or can succeed – that MO was based on.

So never mind whether it COULD HAVE BEEN possible, theoretically, that an “emergency integration into America culture” was necessary. The fact is that the traditional mode of Orthodoxy did survive, and is flourishing today. So then why today do we need to implement the compromises of MO?

Even if one were to claim that MO is necessary to attract certain weaker elements of American Jewry who are not yet ready for traditional Orthodoxy – ala Yeshurun – that would not justify a new mode of Orthodoxy, but a Kiruv organization. This is why it is so hard to define MO (just see the posts above). To be sure, it was once definable, and quantifiable: an integration into American culture and society because and to the extent that is necessary for us to survive in America. But now that survival is no longer the issue, where does that leave MO?

Like soldiers still fighting a war that is long over, some redefine their movement, saying that the b’dieved is a l’chatchilah – that accepting American culture, values and lifestyle “within the framework of Halachah” (sic) is what Moshe Rabbeinu would have really wanted – or at least, what he MAY have wanted, possibly. Yet this is silly, seeing as MO clearly involves a lowering of standards from that of traditional Orthodoxy – as Rabbi Soloveichik himself has stated. And the fact that such an attitude is able to evolve was precisely the reason that emergency measures are unacceptable in an Orthodoxy-at-large framework. The standards of what the Torah wants from us has, in MO circles, changed. It used to be, everyone wanted to be Bnei Torah, in the traditional Orthodox mode. Today, there are those who believe the Torah gives equal merit to the standards of MO. It’s the “Torah V’Taaruvos – Yeshurun Orthodoxy” syndrome.

And if someone would come from “Yeshurun Orthodoxy” with the claim that, “What do you want from us? So we mingle boys and girls. You’re not perfect either. You speak loshon horah, you have illegal basement apartments, and who are you anyway to judge anyone else?” Of course we would tell them, “Yes, but we are no weaving our imperfections into a form of Orthodoxy.”

Or, as the Chazon Ish put it:

“Both groups are bainonim – but those are bainonim as a matter of policy!”

MosheF Posted - 26 September 2000 23:21

In answer to the Moderator:

(1) Rabbi YB Soloveitchik (RYBS) did not advocate integration of Torah with secular culture & study as a mere compromise. The quote from Chamesh Drashot notwithstanding, I do not believe that RYBS viewed integration as b'dieved--resulting from the external challenges that would be faced by someone who would not integrate. I would view the quote as being analogous to discussion of nisyonos: we pray "v'al t'vi'einee lo lidai nisayon..." OTOH we realize that only through nisoyonos do we grow (see Michtav Me'eliyahu). Hashem has planned, in the 20th & 21st centuries that religious Jews come in contact with secular culture. We can do our best to escape this nisayon. But ultimately, overcoming this nisayon (embracing some, but far from all, of secular culture) will be for our good.

The context is NOT secular studies, but Zionism. The Rav indeed felt
that he had diverged from those whom he most cared about (i.e. R. Velvele
et al). In the time that I knew him he had no such feelings about secular
studies. To the contrary, he believed that it is an advantage to
understand the world and everything in it. He compared the "right" to
people who are afraid to use an airplane to get where they have to go: if
someone is really afraid of the plane crashing, he shouldn't fly; but that
doesn't mean that being a coward is a virtue.

You also might want to check the context of this quote. My recollection is that the context is NOT secular studies, but Zionism. RYBS indeed felt that he had diverged from those whom he most cared about (i.e. R. Velvele et al). From what I studied under the talmidim of RYBS, I understand that he had no such feelings about secular
studies. To the contrary, he believed that it is an advantage to understand the world and everything in it. He compared the "right" to people who are afraid to use an airplane to get where they have to go: if
someone is really afraid of the plane crashing, he shouldn't fly; but that
doesn't mean that being a coward is a virtue.

(2) "Of course, that is one reason why, as Rabbi Soloveitchik admits, he stood basically alone against the Torah world in this idea." I disagree with this. Rav Kook, various heads of the Hildesheimer Seminary, Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg and others agreed, each in his own way. And of course, this connects to the (famous) discussion of why Gedolim are anointed only by the Right-wing, not by Centrist Orthodox.

(3) I note that the Moderator does not consider Rav Weinberg to have been Modern Orthodox. Only RYBS is viewed as beyond the pale. I note that my cousin, whose brother is a major ultra-Orthodox dayan in England, who grew up in France and whose father was a talmid of Rav Dessler, told me that the ultra-Orthodox community in France & England did not consider Rav Weinberg to be one of theirs precisely because of his tshuva re Yeshurun. She was upset a year and a half ago when the Israeli Yated Neeman published a long piece about Rav Weinberg "rehabilitating" him.

(4) Regarding the institutionalization of MO vs Yeshurun being a temporary measure (hora'as sha'a): Why not view MO as standing for the proposition that each era has its challenges (placed in front of us by Hashem) and that our response in one era is not necessarily our response in another era? In some eras (such as prior to the sexual revolution), we embrace outside society more than in other eras (such as currently, when the problem on college campuses isn't kefirah but tznius). MO is not a single perpetual compromise but the attitude that we have to reevaluate our situation rather than give a one-size-fits-all (pre-WWI) answer to our problems.

In fairness to Ultra-O, they too believe in meeting the challenges of the times. I believe that the difference between MO and Ultra-O is often one of degree.

And of course, I'm talking here about ideological MO represented by RYBS, Rav Lichtentein, and others. RYBS did not endorse sociological MO, known by some as MO-lite, where non serious people look for "the easiest way out" in order to accommodate their lifestyles.

MODERATOR Posted - 27 September 2000 0:12


1) The quote on p.28 of Five Addresses is referring to secular culture, and Zionism both, but that paragraph specifically to secular culture, not only in context but explicitly. It begins: "there is secular culture, great and powerful technology creating wonders and changing our lives..."

Also, a bit later: "But Joseph stood fast; he was not at all secure regarding the political and economic status-quo ... "

I am fully aware that there are major disagreements among Rabbi Soloveitchik's students as to what he stood for, in many different areas. Be that as it may, these are his own words, not opinions or impressions of students.

Nobody disagrees that it is an advantage to know everything about everything. The issue is that there is a bigger advantage to knowing Torah than there is anthropology, for instance, and most of everything as well. And therefore we have to prioritize our life and learn Torah.

It is a mistake to think that traditional Orthodoxy is "afraid" of knowledge. Although this is the MO party-line, and is taught in many MO schools, it is simply a misrepresentation of the facts. The issue isn't that anyone is scared. The issue is we have only a certain amount of time on this world and learning Torah is the biggest Mitzvah there is, more valuable than physics, the "advantages" of knowing about quantum non-locality notwithstanding. And there is always the fact that the Halachah prefers those who do nothing but learn all day, which sets a goal for all those who are capable of doing it.

2) Rabbi Soloveichik did stand alone in this. None of those others have anything to do with the idea that secular culture will be too powerful to overcome and that therefore everyone must integrate into secular culture to preserve Torah. That was a new idea, unique to MO. Please see the above posts.

Rav Weinberg was creating a Kiruv organization, not a new mode of Orthodoxy. He limited his heter for those who needed it, and stated clearly that it is a compromise, suitable only in emergency situations. Please show me where you derived Modern Orthodox philosophy in any of the writings of those you mentioned. He states clearly that his Teshuva does not reflect on Orthodoxy in general but rather on specific individuals. Modern Orthodoxy took similar ideas and made them into a mode of Orthodoxy. Therein lies the objections.

Furthermore, Rav Weinberg writes clearly that others will legitimately disagree with his position, and therefore, if someone prohibits his heter even in an individual situation, they should not be criticized. Modern Orthodoxy, on the other hand, has declared their way to be the only possible way to survive in America, and attributed the resistance of the majority to their “lack of courage to admit their mistake.”

What Rav Weinberg was doing – dealing with an individual case – and what MO did – refurbished Orthodoxy at large, are two totally different things. One is acceptable the other is not.

3) The phrase “beyond the pale” was not used by me, nor do I have any idea what it means. This, too, has been used by MO (many times, even on these boards, see above) as a defense mechanism. “If you say we are wrong that means you are saying we are ‘beyond the pale’”. Well, no, nobody ever said that, whatever it means.

There were objections to Rav Weinberg’s heter, as he said there would be, and they were legitimate, as he said they were. But whatever wrong they felt Rav Weinberg was doing, nobody accused him of changing Orthodoxy. People can make wrong, even dangerous Halachic rulings to individuals – and Rav Weinberg was thought by some to have done that. But his version of Orthodoxy was the same as that of his opponents. It was his Halachic ruling regarding how far we may go for individuals that was debated. Not his interpretation of what best-case scenario Orthodoxy means. MO, on the other hand, changed the definition of Orthodoxy as a whole. That is unacceptable.

There is no reason to believe that Rav Weinberg would do anything but fight tooth and nail, side by side with his opponents then, against any extensions to Orthodoxy at-large of the compromises that he permitted for individuals.

4) The reason why it would be a mistake to view MO as merely responding to the times as opposed to making compromises, is because when a response involves lowering standards it becomes, by definition, a compromise.

The difference between traditional Orthodoxy and MO in regard to meeting the times is NOT a difference of quantity. It is the difference between keeping exceptional cases as exceptions versus making them into the rule. It also involves accepting the Torah's values - which puts learning first and foremost - and prioritizing your life based on those values.

ShemaYisrael Posted - 27 September 2000 4:33

regarding teaching girls gemora.

According to the PERISHA (exact daf will be provided upon request) there is a difference between a "bat Tzaira" - "Sheain Liovia Lilamda torah shebal pe, to a "Isha Mibugeret, that chooses to learn torah she baal pe in a proper manner. and The Torah Temima also says according to Akev on perek Yud Aleph Pasuk Yud Tet sif (something unclear) Mem Chet in the name of the sefer Main Ganim. I know this is unclear it was clearer to me when I first when over this with my father, but basically it seems there are I guess achronim who permit teaching gemora to woman in a proper manner.

MODERATOR Posted - 27 September 2000 4:42

Sorry, shema, there are no such achronim.

The Prisha only permits women to learn on their own, not to teach them in a classroom setting. (It is also debatable if this Perisha would apply today, since his basis is that a woman who wants to learn Gemora is obviously doing it for proper reasons. That may have been true then, but nowadays that it has become a feminist style to learn Gemora, it really proves nothing. Even Conservative and Reform women learn Gemora too, right? So it really proves nothing about the religious commitment or the sincerity of the girl.)

But in any case, the Perisha states clearly that he is only permitting women learning on their own, not teaching them.

The Torah Temimah quoting the Maayn Ganim is in Devarim 11:19, and he does not make a halachic ruling permitting woman to learn Gemora. His interpretation of "k'ilu melamda tiflus" is presented by him as "ulai" -- "maybe this is what it means."

So the only poskim that have issued a sure ruling are those who have prohibited teaching Gemora to women in class.

Again, there is no heter for such a practice, which is against the Gemora and Shulchan Aruch. To do so is wrong and against Halachah.

GaryG Posted - 27 September 2000 4:57

So what's the diff between MO and Torah Im Derech Eretz?

MODERATOR Posted - 27 September 2000 5:16

Well, for that question we will let the answer come from Rav Shimon Schwab ZT"L, the Rav of Rav Hirsch's congregation in Washington Heights, one of the last students of Rav Breuer, Rav Hirsh's son-in-law, and formerly rabbi in Frankfurt.


“However, in addition to the legitimate shitos we have discussed, there is yet another, more modern version in vogue called “Torah Umaada”. Apparently this is identical with Torah Im Derech Eretz, especially since both claim a belief in the priority of Torah over maada. Both seems exactly alike, but like two left gloves which cannot be worn together, they don’t fit! . . .

“Rav Hirsch ZTL has inscribed two emblems on his banner. One is Torah in derech eretz and the other is the so-called “Austritt”, which means severance, or total and non-recognition of any type of institutionalized heresy, “minus” or apikorsus. This is also a resolution not to contribute, participate in, or support any cause which accords validity to the disbelief in Hashem or to the denial of the authenticity of Torah shebiksav or Torah shebaal peh. In other words, “Austritt” states that the Torah is our sovereign ruler, and it makes us independent of all those who deny its Divine origin…

“To summarize, Torah im derech eretz without Austritt is considered treif l’chol hadeios! Even if you call it Torah Umaada.

(Selected Essays pp.160-162)

“Let me single out two examples where silence is not permitted . . .

“The first item is Modern Orthodoxy . . .most of it has become stale, stagnant, and fossilized, and we could not call it modern anymore.

“In the meantime, the contemporary generation has advanced and risen to higher standards, Boruch Hashem. We are witnessing the rise of a new type of American Orthodoxy. This is the Yeshiva and Bais Yaakov generation . . . This is the new generation of bnei Torah and baalei batim who do not intend to stand still and remain satisfied with a tiny yarlmuka or a teaspoonful of Jewish knowledge…They are marching on! And so we are zocheh, Baruch Hashem, to prestigious yeshivos gedolos in America and American-born Roshei Yeshiva , rabbanim, and poskim.

“Today, our youth in America is the real Modern Orthodox, if you must use this expression, and they are marching forward. Whether they belong to chassidishe, yeshivishe, or Torah im derech eretz variety, they are marching forward, step by step, to a more wakeful form of avodas hashem. . . Their greatest pride and joy and nachas consists of children who are talmidei chachamim, bnei torah and bnos Torah.”

(ibid p.89)

“Shameful are the ways of the glorified am haaretz who . . . condones the aberrations which Hirsch condemned, such as religious nationalism, Orthodox-Reform collaboration and neutral Judaism. Foolish are those who sympathize with the “Department Store Academy”, where Brisk and Slobodka are offered on the first floor and Graetz and Dubnow on the second. When such a person takes Rav Hirsch’s name in vain, wielding Torah im derech eretz like a weapon against recognized Torah schools, he becomes somewhat ridiculous!

“What a travesty! Rav Hirsch, who was the warrior without compromise against those who hated the Torah, has to let his memory be invoked today against those who love the Torah. . .

(ibid p. 151)

Benny Posted - 27 September 2000 14:47

I understand perfectly what you are saying about MO, but in the bottom line, isn't the difference only one of Hashkafa? Since MO is loyal to Halachah, why consider them inferior if they have a different opinion (Hashkafa)? As long as someone keeps the Halachah you shouldn't put him down if he has a different hashkafa, since everyone looks at things differently.

MODERATOR Posted - 27 September 2000 16:05


You have brought up a good topic for clarification. I know that this ("Western culture but loyalty to Halachah"), too, is the party line of MO and is taught in many MO schools. But here, too, is an other fallacy, baseless and against the Torah. Because it is such an important and broad issue, I am starting a new topic called "Hashkafa". We will continue this thread there.

tobrr111 Posted - 02 October 2000 13:40

The Gra as quoted by his Talmid R. Yisrael of Shklov in the Hakdoma to Pas Hashulchan writes that to the degree one is lacking in secular knowledge he will lack in Torah knowledge.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 October 2000 15:15


Please explain what relevance you believe that statement of the GRA has on our discussion. Surely you do not mean to say that Modern Orthodoxy advocates liberal arts and post graduate studies solely because it may help the students in their learning. The GRA was first of all referring to objective wisdom, such as math, as opposed to Law School, for instance, where you basically learn non-Torah legal opinions in order to become a lawyer and use those opinions, and if you are lucky, do not violate any Halochos doing so.

Don’t forget, this is the same GRA who declared in his commentary on Laws of Avodah Zarah that even the Rambam has had certain of his Torah positions corrupted due to the influence of his secular studies in philosophy.

Are you saying that before a Modern orthodox Jew chooses his curriculum he considers only the question of "What will help me understand Mesechta Zevochim better"? I don't think so.

Second, although the GRA believed that a lack of knowledge of math and objective science will allow a gap in your Torah understanding, he also believed, certainly, that a lack of knowledge of all the Torah will create an even greater gap. It is true: The GRA used science and math to understand Torah. But that was on a level way beyond the basics, and even the advanced levels.

So if we're talking about a 17 year old HS graduate, or a 70 year old Torah scholar today, the question is, what will best serve his needs of knowing Torah: To like, finish shas perhaps, and Shulchan Aruch in depth, Tanach, Medrash, Sifrei Mussar, or...

..should he learn liberal arts and science in college?

Please. If you are the GRA, then such a statement is relevant. But if you still don't know Shas and Shulchan Aruch cold, then you have higher priorities than anthropology to spend your time on.

Can you please tell me what Meshechta you are presently learning and how your college or post graduate curriculum were necessary to understand it. Please. it's such a scam to invoke statements like the GRA's in such a context.

And the problem with Modern orthodoxy is not merely the value it puts college as opposed to learning Torah, but the entire lifestyle, the "integration" into secular "culture". The assimilated values of American society, the desire for "maximum integration into secular society", "within the framework of Halachah".

It's the value on "maximum integration" that's a problem. The ultra-orthodox goal is different. It is "maximum growth in Torah". There is a big difference. And although not everyone can reach the "maximum growth in Torah", nevertheless, to teach anything less as an ideal is unacceptable.

the reason MO leaders started this movement was because they figured that anyway nobody will be interested or successful learning all day so if we're going to unfortunately integrate anyway, we may as well "prepare for it" by creating a system of Torah education for the integrators.

That could have been a decent Kiruv organization. but the mistake was that the integrators will be "everybody", and therefore we ALL MUST join in this lowering of standards in order to survive in America.

Of course, this was all a mistake. Yeshivas are B"H flourishing. And MO is enveloped in an identity crisis and struggling for its own survival.

GaryG Posted - 04 October 2000 6:00

Secular studies is valuable to learn Eruvin (math) or chulin (biology of animals). Other mesechtos as well.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 October 2000 6:30


Are you saying that the MO policy of integrating into American culture and lifestyle means only to the extent that it will help your havanah in learning?

Sorry. MO's integration into American culture and lifestyle does not limit itself to what you need for learning. Nor does it limit itself to only academics.

The idea that Modern Orthodoxy has anything to do with statements such as that of the GRA or others explaining that certain secular knowledge helps us in our learning is simply false. Nobody is questioning the necessity to learn the arithmetic necessary to learn Eruvin (or buy a calculator), or the measure of cow biology to learn chulin. Or to consult a doctor when ruling medical questions, or a judge when ruling on dina d'malchusa, or an engineer when ruling on electrical questions for shabbos . . . And of course the GRA is not a chidush that if we would know all of this on our own it would help us. But no aspiring Talmid Chacham in his right mind would spend his life - that's what it would take - collecting PhD's in all the fields of peripherally helpful professional knowledge, though it theoretically would be helpful if somehow he would know everything about everything in the world.

But none of this has anything to do with Modern Orthodoxy.

Nowhere in the prolific explanations of Rabbi Soloveitchik about why he believed we must integrate into American society is there any hint of any such GRA-like reasoning. Such reasoning applied in this context would be absurd, as I explained. Rather, economic and cultural integration is described clearly as the only way to survive the great and powerful secular forces of America, despite it being intrinsically not the best for the soul. In America, either we integrate into society and become Modern Orthodox, or we die a spiritual death. For Rav Soloveichik, there was no third choice.

Obviously, this whole notion was wrongheaded, so much so that today, Ultra-Orthodoxy is criticized more for its "spirit of triumphalism" instead of its supposed inability to survive.

Nor was the modern Orthodox idea that we MUST ALL integrate or be crushed by the glitter of America shared by any philosophy in Orthodox Jewish history. Not Rav Hirsh, not Rav Weinberg, nobody. The idea that circumstances in America demand that only through economic and cultural integration - through Modern Orthodoxy - will we survive a technologically advanced society was a completely new concept. “Providence demands of us now, perhaps for the first time in Jewish history, to meet the outside world . . . “ (Five Addresses, p.154).

to be continued….


ידל said...

So where is the continuation of this?

I'd like it if the moderator could respond to some of the attempts to use HRAY'H Kook Zt'l to back up MO.

This is inacurate... I'm sure that the moderator knows that, but please do something to correct this bizayon to torah.

Anonymous said...

"And since Rabbi J.B. Soloveichik was the preeminent authority for Modern orthodox Jewry, does that mean he, too was lenient? In what? He was makpid on Cholov Yisroel, for instance. Does this make those who follow Rav Moshe's heter more Modern Orthodox than Rabbi Soloveichik?"

Rav Soloveitchik was meikil by cholov yisroel.
For proof, see and go to the halocho section and read the article about cholov yisroel, this is clearly an error on the mod shlita's part.