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FACTIONS-----modern orthodox / the bottom line

(revised 12/7/08)

trying2shteig Posted - 28 August 2008 9:51

I was reading the thread LINK and it just got really long and too tough to follow.

So I didn't really see if there is a "definition" of modern orthodox. could the mod give a simple yet encompassing definition of Modern? I’m curious to see if it's the same as mine....

MODERATOR Posted - 28 August 2008 10:07

There is no definition. It means anything anyone wants it to.

As an observer of those who call themselves modern orthodox, the common denominator is that they incorporate into their system of values – good / bad right / wrong worthwhile / worthless - those things that the goyim value, as opposed to regular orthodox Jews who only value what the Torah says is valuable.

We use the torah's value system as opposed to non-Jewish value systems.

trying2shteig Posted - 09 September 2008 15:55

that's a very good definition actually...

Bas Melech 225 Posted - 16 November 2008 9:39

But only culturally.

Generally, they keep halacha (w/ certain kullos) as much as your typical litvish yid. (I'm not trying to defend them, but my fam is MO, so this is just what I see).

Like they'll go to museums, movies, concerts, but they're shomer shabbos, kashrus, daven, etc.

MODERATOR Posted - 18 November 2008 20:45

Not correct at all.

Their valuing of non-Jewish ideals has led them to violate the Torah in frightful ways.

They have incorporated into their normative behavior various strains of mingling of the genders - everything from plain friendships to mixed swimming or dancing - depending on how "modern" orthodox they are; heretical and idolatrous ideas such as Zionism is endemic in their communities; recently, several modern orthodox rabbis have come out stating that they believe in evolution, and/or at the very least, that one may believe in it; the belief that certain statements of chazal are false; and those movies, by the way, are prohibited as well per the law of moshav leitzim; and the whole secular-education-not-only-for-parnasah-but-as-a-means-unto-itself is against an open halacha as well. there is more.

In other words, they will, as a community, trample on the halochos that modern society doesn’t like: "fundamentalist" beliefs, separation of the genders, and discriminating (sic) against women (such as their teaching Gemora to girls, another open violation of halachah).

In places where the Torah does not conflict with the values of modern society, such as how much moror to eat on pesach or how many times to daven each day, they will, as a rule, not bother to rebel.

And its not just kulos. they have made-up chumras as well, where being machmir is demanded by their goyishe value system. for example - those rabbis who will tell you everyone is obligated to move to eretz yisroel - which is a result of nationalistic ideals, not torah ones - or when a "scientific" breakthrough supposedly enlightens us to new discoveries that our grandfathers were unaware of - there you will find the modern orthodox jumping at a chance to be machmir ... as in techeiles.

Their religious behavior is driven by goyish values mixed with religion, and results in a grotesque hybrid of illegitimate leniencies and baseless chumras - and which extreme positions they will take on both ends of the spectrum are as predictable as the sun: where goyishe values of ideals enter, that’s where you’ll find their halachic "opinions."

They'll cherry pick, out of context if need be, what they want from whom they want, once again, not based on torah principles but on goyishe values. so they’ll say they Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch believed one should have secular knowledge (they distort his position terribly), but when you tell them the same Rav Hirsch considered Zionism to be heresy they’ll point you to Rav Kook; yet when you tell them that Rav Kook believed women shouldn’t have public position - and they shouldn’t even be given the right to vote - they’ll say they don’t follow him on that.

There were no "modern orthodox" leaders that created their movement the way l'havdil the Baal Shem Tov started chasidus or Rav yisroel Salanter the musser movement. instead, modern orthodoxy is just a bunch of ppl who like what the goyim think and do, and to one extent or another, morph Judaism to fit in, and then they spend their time putting major effort into figuring out what modern orthodox means.

Mikewind Dale Posted - 02 December 2008 17:20


I could reply to a number of your points, but I'll confine myself to one. You speak of cherry-picking, but I'll ask you: since when do we have an obligation to follow one authority across the board?

For example, Rav Kook indeed paskened against women’s' suffrage, but Rabbi Benzion Uziel's pesak was accepted to a much greater degree than Rav Kook's, and by no means was Rabbi Uziel anything less than a gadol.

Now, true, Rav Hirsch paskened against Zionism, but we have no obligation to follow Rav Hirsch on everything he said. Check Rabbi Bernard Drachman's translation of 19 Letters: in his introduction, which is VERY warm and endearing towards Rav Hirsch, he notes that a very few of Rav Hirsch's hashkafot were a bit too much, even though everything else Rav Hirsch said was gold. Also, Rabbi Yehiel Yaakov Weinberg, whom Rabbi Shelomo Danziger refers to as the greatest expert in Rav Hirsch ever, was certainly NOT a Zionist, and yet he also personally held by Torah im Derech Eretz.

(It is worth noting that Rav Hirsch's followers, including Rav Weinberg, all interpret Torah im Derech Eretz as giving intrinsic positive value to any secular studies, provided these studies in any way contribute to an observant lifestyle. So if learning chemistry, for example, helps one create new medicines and "l'taken olam b'malchut shad-ai (it is worth noting that Rav Hirsch himself explicitly interprets tikkun olam as a practical temporal endeavor), then chemistry is kosher, even if there is no parnassah involved at all.)

Part of the Modern Orthodox belief is that one is not beholden to any one particular rabbi. So if Rav Hirsch spoke against Zionism, that doesn't mean I have to follow him. I am Zionist, but I don't have to believe Christianity is avodah zara just because Rav Tzvi Yehuda says it is (I'll rather go with Rav Hirsch, Rav Kook, Rav Herzog, Rav Henkin, Rav Weinberg, Rav Hayim David Halevy - a veritable poster board of gedolei hador - and follow Meiri as halacha l'maaseh).

I just saw a book of hespedim for Rav Soloveitchik - one hesped noted that only a few follow Rav Soloveitchik's hashkafot, but he said that many others follow Rav Soloveitchik's method - thinking for oneself and deciding his own hashkafot from the traditional sources. The maspid noted that in doing so, i.e. in thinking for oneself and deciding one's own hashkafot from the traditional sources, one is following Rav Soloveitchik more than if one simply believed what the Rav believed.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 December 2008 17:44

So we're in agreement then? Because you just admitted MO does pick and choose. It's normal to have more than one posek who you listen to. But choosing which answers you like and then moving onto someone else when you don't, where's the basis or logic in that?

MODERATOR Posted - 02 December 2008 20:51


First, there is no such thing as "modern orthodox belief". For MO has no manifesto, no formula to figure out what to do, no rebbe to rely on, nothing - it is just a bunch of arbitrary people with arbitrary beliefs, not at all uniform or even compatible, but with the common denominator that they wish to follow goyishe society, accept goyishe values as their own, and believe goyishe beliefs. Be it out of embarrassment to be different, lack of Emunah, ignorance, or just the influence of the society we live in, or some other reason, it matters not. Modern Orthodoxy is not a shitah. It is simply a perikas ole.

Second, the point was not whether you follow one rabbi o five. The point was why you choose those particular rabbis specifically in those particular cases, as well as those particular interpretations. The reason is because first you choose to follow, accept and believe whatever the goyim do, and then see if someone somewhere in Judaism happens to match that belief. So the question is WHY do you follow Rav kook when it comes to Zionism and not women’s rights, especially when without a doubt, his position on women in leadership roles is so much well founded than his garbled teachings on nationalism that even the modern orthodox admit were at the very least highly influenced, and very likely just taken, from non-Jewish nationalist philosophers? The answer is because what the Torah says is not what’s driving your beliefs - its goyishe society - the second step is to try to find a similar belief somewhere from some shitah by some rav, whether or not it is well founded and whether or not it makes sense from a torah perspective to follow that opinion.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 December 2008 21:12

As far as Rav Hirsch, you do not understand his shitah nor the interpretation of his Talmidim you quote. Parnasa or chesed - nobody has a problem with that - curing sick people is as good as parnasah. And that does NOT give nay intrinsic value to secular studies - it gives value to curing people of cancer. Which nobody argues with.

The thing about Rav Hirsch is, as is explained at length elsewhere on the site, is that it is no coincidence that his Torah Im Derech Eretz shitah appeared in the exact time and place that was the hotbed of haskalah. Either he was addressing it or was (also somewhat) influenced by it - depends who you ask - although that having been said everyone in the world agrees he was a total Tzadik and meant whatever he said leshem shamayim and to be mekarev the people of Germany in his time and he did an amazing job saving German Jewry from Haskalah.

And were he here today, he'd be trying to save American Jewry form Modern Orthodoxy, because whatever TIDE means, he clearly conditioned it on the principle of austritt, meaning separating yourself intellectually from all anti-torah elements of society, which is the mother's milk of Modern Orthodoxy. Thus, the more maskilish elements of German orthodoxy used to call Rav Hirsch - this is a quote - "separatist" - which is the exact same description - and exact same criticism people like rabbi jb soloveitchik used when referring to the yeshiva world.

And Zionism? There was NO bigger opponent of Zionism than Rav Hirsch - and for the same reasons as the other Gedolim like Satmar Rebbe and Brisker Rav - the Oaths, the anti-Semitism it creates and the moral obligation Jews have to be loyal citizens of their countries - not to some foreign power. Yet the Modern Orthodox, who believe in Rav Hirsch so much that they will take his TIDE philosophy much further than even he did, completely ignore the fact that he would consider them all the worst of sinners and rodfim of Klall Yisroel.

That’s not following the torah - that’s creating your own religious beliefs and then trying to find excuses for them somewhere.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 December 2008 2:37

The Moderators are both correct, Milkwind. It's Modern Orthodoxy's "right" to choose positions by different poskim in different cases that is against the Torah, but (a) their methodology of doing so and (b) whether they do so altogether when bereft of any shitoh to choose from. They do not "pasken" like this shitah or that using any Halachic or Hashkafic due process. Rather, they first decide what they would like to believe or do - primarily based on what is convenient, societal, more acceptable to our non-Jewish neighbors' behavior and ways of thinking - and then attempting to find some opinion somewhere that agrees. That is not "following more than one rabbi" - that is following the values of the Goyim and then, as was said above, finding an excuse for doing so.

And yes, that goes for the "chumros" too. It's less of a problem for them to tell people that they must live in Eretz Yisroel nowadays than they should keep Shabbos until 72; it is less of a problem to tell people to wear techeiles than it is that boys and girls shouldn't mix - there is no Halachic logic in that, and the answer is, whatever is more "modern" - in the first case, nationalism; in the second, the idea that we nowadays "discover" things that our grandparents were ignorant of (and it doesn’t hurt that its colors happen to math those of the Israeli flag); in the third, well, segregation of the genders is sooooooo middle-ages (not to mention what is modern life if you can't go to the movies with your female friend?).

And the excuses are usually more invented than discovered. The forced interpretations, the integration of non-Jewish thinking and philosophy into Jewish theology, and the backwards thinking that comes out as "halachah" and "hashkafa" - that is the hallmark of Modern Orthodoxy.

And the results of playing footloose with the Torah? You have things like Rabbi Hershel Schechter's psak that it is Halachicly valid to have Jewish children killed in wars for the sake of Israel - note: not to save Jewish lives, but for land, because - get this! - the loss of the nation-state (sic) is a vital blow to the survival of a nation and so we can cut off some branches to save the tree. In other words, to be a nation, we need a nation-state (totally lifted from nationalist thinking, no basis in Judaism at all - on the contrary, the Jewish nation is a nation based on torah not having a country, which is why we were still am yisroel in golus), therefore we can allow our children to die in order to save the State, the same way individuals are sacrificed to save the whole.

And really, that's not modern at all - civilization stopped sacrificing their children's lives for their idolatrous beliefs eons ago.

And the mixing of the genders? They still haven’t found a shitah to twist into permitting that, (though a certain one of their rabbis in Eretz yisroel, is trying his best to do so.)

The difference between Torah Orthodoxy and Modern Orthodoxy is this: Modern Orthodoxy allows the values (sic) of the current goyishe society to drive their religious beliefs and behaviors. Torah Jews limit their religious beliefs and behaviors to what their own religion says to do.

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