Talk:Modern Orthodox Judaism

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Request for more info[edit]

Hey! where'd u get all this 411? Can u write more? I really need it! -Desparate

If you have requests for additional topics, please suggest them here. RK

Contrast between Modern Orthodox and Orthodox/Haredi[edit]

An example to illustrate dthe ifference between modern orthodox and orthodox, from the orthodox point of view, is the young modern orthodox man who described the tremendous progress his community was making to a Chasidic Rosh Yeshiva. They had put up an eruv around the tennis court. The Rosh Yeshiva was stunned.

For the Rosh Yeshiva, the young man had not a clue what Shabbos is about. And that seems to illustrate main point of contention.

Mcnelson 23:46, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Um. Is this supposed to be some kind of joke? I'm Modern Orthodox and I definitely know what Shabbos is all about. Someone who makes a "comical" error and happens to consider himself Modern Orthodox does not speak for all of Modern Orthodoxy. This is an encyclopedia, not a compilation of anecdotes. Kolindigo 23:57, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Controversy about rabbis[edit]

It should be noted that while many of the Modern Orthodox rabbis mentioned in the article are controversial in the Orthodox world, Rabbis Hirsch and Hildesheimer are much more accepted. There are Orthodox Jews who would not consider themselves Modern Orthodox who consider the above Rabbis authoritative. Ezra Wax

Huh? Who defined a Modern Orthodox Jew as someone that non-Modern Orthodox Jews would automatically reject? Ezra, you are rebutting claims that this article does not make! RK 02:33 1 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I take issue with the following line:

Two of the founders of Modern Orthodoxy are rabbis Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) and Azriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899).

If you define Modern Orthodoxy as distinct from regular orthodoxy, then you are saying that the Modern Orthodox have beliefs and practices that are not accepted by the rest of Orthodoxy. This is certainly the case. As a result, many of the rabbis who are mentioned as being Modern Orthodox are controversial among the Orthodox. It is therefore misleading to consider non-controversial figures to be the founders of a controversial section of Judaism. The founders are most definitely somebody else, however much those others claim justification from these non-controversial rabbis.

Ezra, you are repeating well-worn ultra-orthodox religious polemics. Other than Ultra-Orthodox apologists, no one defines Modern Orthodox Judaism as totally different than the rest of Orthodox Judaism. Similarly, no one defines Hasidic Judaism as as totally different than the rest of Orthodox Judaism. Your entire argument is flawed. Just because two groups are not identical does not mean that they are totally opposed. The fact that many different groups exist within Orthodox Judaism is not controversial; the fact that these two rabbis are universally recognized as Modern Orthodox is also not controverisal. You can't change this accepted fact with apologetics. Your personal dislike of Mondern Orthodox Judaism is clouding your judgement. Please desist. RK 00:23 2 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I just want to know why anyone would say that Hirsch wasn't controversial?USER:PhatJew

Ezra Wax feels that Modern Orthodox Jews are not really Orthodox Jews. In his opinion, they violate certain theological and legal tenets of Judaism. Yet he happens to believe that Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, who effectively is the founding father of Modern Orthodoxy, is legitimate. Ezra cannot conceive of a rabbi he respects (Hirsch) being part of a movement he considers dangerously misleading (Modern Orthodoxy); he unfortunately tries to deal with this contradiction by denying that Hirsch was Modern Orthodox. It's a classic case of cognative dissonance. RK
As you point out, Hirsch certainly is controversial in some quarters, as he accepted many positions that many fundamentalist Jews even today still feel is heretical. (e.g. his advocacy of studying secular subjects, including non-Jewish philosophy.) RK 21:09 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Why try to salvage any of them. Modern Orthodoxy is in the dustbin of Jewish history. Even Yeshiva University is fleeing from it. And, Hirsch tried the best of his time with his abilities. The attempts to make him some sort of Moshe she'b'doro is strange in the least. As you point out, he made mistakes. That doesn't make him a rasha, and it certainly does nothing to vindicate Modern Orthodoxy. [[User:PhatJew|PhatJew]
Um, I never claimed he was a rasha (evil person). Who told you I made such a claim? And I did not point out that he made mistakes. I never even hinted at this. I don't think he made any. And I am not interested in your angry polemics aimed at all Jews who are less fundamentalist than you, nor am I interested in defending that Jewish denomination. Your opinions are your own. Attacking a mainstream religois branch of Judaism as being in "the dustbin of Jewish history" is so mean that I am just am at a loss as how to respond. RK
Calm down. How is Modern Orthodoxy a mainstream branch? Who are the leaders of "Modern Orthodoxy"? Who goes around claiming that they are "Modern Orthodox"? It has no shape, no definition, no leadership. Just look at the "advocacy groups" list in this article. The OU does NOT call itself "Modern Orthodox." You can call it mean if you want, but the fact IS that modern Orthodoxy is fading. I have heard many self-proclaimed Modern Orthodox self-proclaimed Rabbis bemoaning its demise. See, for example,
i don't know what to say. This is a real movement within Orthodox Judaism, and it does have leaders and organizations. Oh, and by the leaders of the the Union of Orthodox Congregations do refer to themselves as Modern Orthodox Jews. The fact that you quote from a right-wing Orthodox group does not wipe out the existence of Modern Orthodox Jews. You can't make people disappear, even if their beliefs differ from yours. RK 20:00, Apr 15, 2005 (UTC)

RK, you did a great job with this page. Kudos. I made a tiny update. All the Rabbis listed at the bottom of the page were not indicated with their titles, so inserted the word Rabbi. I think it is really important that we show respect for our teachers and their titles. This is absolutely a high-calliber list of people with first-rate minds. ( I had the privilege to grow up in the community of Rabbi Blech.) Great job.

Several of the rabbis listed at the bottom of the page seem to be there as self promotion or becuase one person placed them there. Others of the names are important as public figures in the news but are not important as Rabbis (such as Daniel Lapin- he is important for his politics not as a Rabbi).

Is Daniel Lapin considered to be modern orthodox? isn't he yeshivish?

I agree with the prior two comments and removed Lapin. A few others should also be removed.

Rabbi Hirsch and Modern Orthodoxy[edit]

I have made a few minor but essential changes to put Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's position into perspective. I appreciate that Modern Orthodoxy derives much inspiration from his works, and views his Torah im Derech Eretz as echoing ideals on the synthesis of Judaism and general culture. However, most of the things that Modern Orthodoxy believes in (according to the article) are not part of his ideology. For example, a "relaxed stance" in halakha is about the last thing that he advocated. For the sake of simple honesty, I have put his influence on M.O. into perspective. JFW | T@lk 14:54, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)

PS Interesting discussion above whether RSRH is controversial. He is certainly not controversial in most "ultra-orthodox" circles; his work led to the formation of Agudath Israel and was praised effusively by Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzenski and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Spektor, as well as the Gerer Rebbe. JFW | T@lk 14:54, 14 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Considering that the phrase Torah im derech eretz is based on a Mishnah in Pirkei Avot: Derekh eretz kadma la-Torah, interpretting derekh eretz as "ways of the (surrounding Gentile) world" is just plain wrong. Danny 11:54, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Danny, you're missing the point. The entire premise of Torah im derech eretz, is that to distinguish between Jewish and gentile lifestyles in this manner, is meaningless. For someone like Rav Hirsch, either something is intrinsically immoral or idolatrous (do not follow the ways of the Amorites, etc.), or it is a perfectly legitimate aspect of human civilization. For Rav Hirsch, there is no arbitrary standard of Jewish versus gentile, irrespective of moral or religious considerations.

It would be most perverse and criminal of us to seek to instill in our children a contempt, based on ignorance and untruth, for everything that is not specifically Jewish, for all other human arts and sciences, in the belief that by inculcating our children with such a negative attitude ... we could safeguard them from contacts with the scholarly and scientific endeavors of the rest of mankind... You will then see that your simple-minded calculations were just as criminal as they were perverse. Criminal, because they enlisted the help of untruth supposedly in order to protect the truth, and because you have thus departed from the path upon which your own Sages have preceded you and beckoned you to follow them. Perverse, because by so doing you have achieved precisely the opposite of what you wanted to accomplish... Your child will consequently begin to doubt all of Judaism which (so, at least, it must seem to him from your behavior) can exist only in the night and darkness of ignorance and which must close its eyes and the minds of its adherents to the light of all knowledge if it is not to perish" (Collected Writings vol 7 pp. 415-6, quoted in "Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch—Torah Leadership for Our Times", by Rabbi Dr. Yehudah (Leo) Levi,


The more, indeed, Judaism comprises the whole of man and extends its declared mission to the salvation of the whole of mankind, the less it is possible to confine its outlook to the four cubits of a synagogue and the four walls of a study. The more the Jew is a Jew, the more universalist will his views and aspirations be, the less aloof... will he be from anything that is noble and good, true and upright, in art or science, in culture or education; the more joyfully will he applaud whenever he sees truth and justice and peace and the ennoblement of man prevail and become dominant in human society: the more joyfully will he seize every opportunity to give proof of his mission as a Jew, the task of his Judaism, on new and untrodden ground; the more joyfully will he devote himself to all true progress in civilisation and culture--provided, that is, provided, that is, that he will not only not have to sacrifice his Judaism but will also be able to bring it to more perfect fulfilment. He will ever desire progress, but only in alliance with religion. He will not want to accomplish anything that he cannot accomplish as a Jew. Any step which takes him away from Judaism is not for him... Read More a step forward, is not progress. He exercises this self-control without a pang, for he does not wish to accomplish his own will on earth but labours in the service of God. He knows that wherever the Ark of his God does not march ahead of him he is not accompanied by the pillar of the fire of His light or the pillar of the cloud of His grace. ("Religion Allied to Progress", excerpted at, and found complete in Judaism Eternal (London: Soncino) and Collected Writings (New York/Jerusalem: Feldheim).)


Hence the Jew will not frown on any art, any science, any culture provided that it is found to be true and edifying, and really to promote the welfare of mankind. He has to taste everything by the unimpeachable touchstone of his divine law; whatever does not stand this test for him does not exist. But the more firmly he takes his stand on the rock of his Judaism, the more ready will he be to accept and gratefully appropriate whatever is true and good in other sources according to Jewish standards [in his commentary to the Pentateuch, Rabbi Hirsch sees special significance in the fact that Rabbi Saadia Gaon of 10th century Iraq, in his landmark work of Jewish philosophy, Emunot v'Deot, Kitab al-Amanat wal-l'tikadat, in the section on the metaphysics of monotheism, in large part relied on the the Kalam and Mutakallim]; in whatever mind it originated, from whose-ever mouth it issued, he will always be ready to say, as the Sages say, l'kabel ha'emet mimi she'amrah to receive the truth from him who spoke it. Nowhere will he ever sacrifice a single thread of his Judaism or trim his Judaism to the needs of the time. Wherever the age offers him anything which is consonant with his Judaism he will willingly adopt it. He will in every period regard it as his duty to pay due appreciation to the age and its conditions from the standpoint of his Judaism, and to make use of the new means provided by any period in order that in the conditions of that period he may be able to make the old Jewish spirit expand in new beauty and may perform his duty to it with ever-renewed vigour and loyalty.(Judaism Up to Date" / "The Jew and His Time", in Judaism Eternal pp. 213-223, and in Collected Writings)

Thus, according to Rabbi Shelomo Danziger, a prominent Hirschian, (Rav S. R. Hirsch – His תורה עם דרך ארץ Ideology”, in מורשת צבי The Living Hirschian Legacy. New York/Jerusalem: Feldheim, 1988.

So, to the point. What is the מקור, the source, for תועד”א [Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's Torah im Derech Eretz]? Our simple, "lomdische" תירוץ is : There is no such source! And do you know why? Because the basis of תועד”א is axiomatic, self-evident, and therefore no source is necessary! The first, the most primary fact of our existence is not that we are Jews, who have been given the Torah. The first, the most primary fact of our existence is that we have been given life, and have been placed in this world, in this century, in this living generation of fellow human beings who compromise the society, culture and civilization of our allotted time on earth. This is fact number one, chronologically and logically. Fact number two is that ה'א gave us the Torah to teach us how to live in this world, in this century, in this living generation of fellow human beings to comprise the society culture and civilization of our allotted time on earth. These are the do's and don'ts of the Torah, the מצוה עשה and מצוה לא תעשה and the השקפות (the outlooks), which guide us in the use of the physical, social and cultural raw material which comprises the world in which we live. First there is life – חיים – the physical, social and cultural raw material – that is the great give! - And then there is the Torah – תורת חיים – which shapes this given life, this physical, social and cultural raw material, and tells us what to use of it and how, and what to reject. In the process, the raw material of life becomes “Toraized” (to coin a word) – it becomes Torah. [Cf. Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, “The Torah takes the derekh erets that already exists in the world, and builds upon it a second level. This second level is the level of holiness, purity, the unique Torah teachings on relationships among human beings.”] But there must be a raw material for the Torah to work on. The Torah is not the raw material. The raw material is supplied by the life around us, into which we were born.

No man understood Rav Hirsch better than רב יעקב יחיא'[ל ווינברג]ש [ – Rabbi Yehiel Yaakov] Weinberg, the Lithuanian ראש ישיבה, פוסק, גאון and academic scholar, the מחבר of שו"ת שרידי אש. Let me quote from an article he wrote in the Hebrew anthology, הרב ש.ר. הירש משנתו ושיטתו: התורה היא איפוא לדעת רשר"ה הכוח תצר צורה, והצורה אזל אריסטו פירושה: מהותו אין דרך ארץ אלא החומר אשר עליו פועלת התורה. “The Torah, then, is according to Rav Hirsch, the force that gives form; and form, in the Aristotelian sense, means: the essential nature of a thing (as distinguished from the matter in which it is embodied). דרך ארץ is simply the matter on which the Torah works.”


[Rabbi Danziger earlier raised the question of the propriety of “supplementing the holy Torah with mundane secular pursuits. How could one have תורה עם דרך ארץ? Is it not demeaning to the Torah to suggest that it requires such a “supplemenation”? Based on what he has said, Rabbi Danziger now answers this objection: Thus t]here is no supplementation! There is only raw material, which the Torah does not supply, but which it molds and transforms into Torah. Not supplementation, but “Toraization” - of the given raw material!

If we still insist on some מקור, the closest would be the מאמר חז"ל: כ"ו דורות קדמה ד"א את התורה. The raw material of דרך ארץ precedes the Torah, chronologically and logically. It is the given raw material which the Torah must shape, mold, “Toraize” - transform into Torah into שכינה - nearness.

In like vein, Rabbi Shimon Schwab writes (“Elu v'Elu – These and Those”, New York: Feldheim, 1966., Accessed February 22, 2009.) that Rav Hirsch's philosophy

...starts out from the premise that the Torah must rule over all manifestations of human life. The earth and the fullness thereof are created for man, and the ideal man at this his highest potential is what Rabbi S. R. Hirsch זצ"ל calls “Mensch – Yisroel,” or as the Sages formulated it: אתה קרואים אדם. [atem kerui'm adam - "You are called man". At this point, let me note that this fantastically removes any traces of racism from that מאמר חז"ל: not that Jews alone (as opposed to gentiles) are called “Adam” [and thus, that only Jews are truly human], but rather, that even Jews are called “Adam”, that being a “Jew” does not preclude being an “Adam”. We continue...]

The divine task handed to Adam, namely to control the earth according to the will of the Creator [i.e. פרו ורבו ומלאו את הארץ וכבשה Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it], applies to all men in general, but first and foremost[!!] to Yisroel. We were chosen and separated from the nations of the world to become G-d's “first-born son”, whose historic function shall be to lead all the other “children” to their Heavenly Father. The ultimate goal of Judaism: לעשות רצון אבינו שבשים therefore will become the ideal of all mankind in G-d's own time. To this end Yisroel was constituted – not into a sect or a brotherhood, but into a nation established in its own land and endowed with all the manifestations of statehood.

There exists nothing truly human anywhere outside the scope of the Divine Teaching. All is contained within the Torah and subject to its application. Nothing which the Creator has fashioned could escape the attention and the concern of the revealed Will of the Divine Lawgiver. The “four squares of Halacha” encompass the whole wide world, as the Sages formulated it: אין לו להקב"ה בעולמו אלא ד' אמות של הלכה בלבד.

This nation with all its material endeavor, and all of its intellectual strivings, is to become ממלכת כהנים ודגוי קדוש, a Divinely controlled organism – unlike all other political, cultural and economical entities, and subject only to the sovereign rule of the Torah. The Torah nation is to blaze the trail for all other nations to follow towards the universal messianic goal of free man's total submission to the absolute Will of the Almighty.

And just so we realize that this is not only Rav Hirsch's opinion, let us see that Rabbi Benzion Uziel agrees with Rav Hirsch (Hegyonei Uziel, Jerusalem 5714 vol. 2, p. 127, quoted in "Loving Truth and Peace: The Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion Uziel by Rabbi Marc D. Angel" by Dr. Zvi Zohar (book review), in The Edah Journal, Volume 1:2,

Each country and each nation which respects itself does not and cannot be satisfied with its narrow boundaries and limited domains; rather, they desire to bring in all that is good and beautiful, that is helpful and glorious, to their national [cultural] treasure. And they wish to give the maximum flow of their own blessings to the [cultural] treasury of humanity as a whole, and to establish a link of love and friendship among all nations, for the enrichment of the human storehouse of intellectual and ethical ideas and for the uncovering of the secrets of nature. Happy is the country and happy is the nation that can give itself an accounting of what it has taken in from others; and more importantly, of what it has given of its own to the repository of all humanity. Woe unto that country and that nation that encloses itself in its own four cubits and limits itself to its own narrow boundaries, lacking anything of its own to contribute [to humanity] and lacking the tools to receive [cultural contributions] from others.

Sevendust62 (talk) 15:42, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

What does Derekh Eretz mean?[edit]

Now that JFW and Danny bring this up, this is worth getting into. The more right-wing of Hirsch's supporters agree with Danny's translation and JFW's views. However, I do not understand why. The Mishna was written nearly 2,000 years ago. Hirsch wrote only 200 years ago, in a totally diffeerent historical situation and society. In any case, people who support this POV hold that Rabbi Hirsch only wanted Jews to combine observant Jewish lifestyle (including lifelong Torah learning) with learning the surrounding gentile society's language, history, science, etc., so that a religious Jew could earn a living in the surrounding gentile society. In this Orthodox view, learning of these "gentile" subjects is not considered problematic, since it doesn't encroach on gentile philosophy, music, art, literature or ethics. RK

However, many other of Hirsch's supporters say that this understanding of Hirsch's philosophy is misguided; they have even gone so far as to call the bad historical revisionism. This issue has been discussed in articles in Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought, published by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). In this Orthodox view, Rabbi Hirsch wanted more than just the study of the surrounding gentile society's language, history, science. He also thought that it was permissible, and even productive, for Jews to learn gentile philosophy, music, art, literature or ethics. Hirsch himself studied gentile philosophy, and so did many of his later adherents, including Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and many other rabbis in the RCA. However, this view is considered forbidden by many Orthodox Jews; they generally refuse to study such subjects. As this is an important issue of discussion in the Orthodox Jewish community even today, both sides should be represented in this article. RK

On this subject, see Revisionism and the Rav: The Struggle for the Soul of Modern Orthodoxy, published in Judaism, Summer, 1999, by Lawrence Kaplan.

THERE IS A MAJOR STRUGGLE CURRENTLY TAKING PLACE within the modern Orthodox community, a struggle over the correct understanding of the person and teachings of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, ztz"l, better known simply as the Rav. The Rav, one of the towering rabbinic scholars and thinkers of our era, was, as is well known, the teacher, guide, and, above all, the supreme halakhic and hashkafic authority of the modern Orthodox community for over fifty years. The struggle, then, is not just scholarly, but ideological as well. Indeed, in the deepest sense, it is a struggle over the direction and future course of the modern Orthodox community, a struggle over its very soul.
This type of struggle is not new to the modern Orthodox community. If we look at other rabbinic heroes of modern Orthodoxy, for example, Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), founder of enlightened German neo-Orthodoxy, rabbinic scholar, Biblical commentator, and communal leader, or Rav Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), the first Chief Rabbi of mandatory Palestine, talmudist, kabbalist, poet, communal leader, and Orthodox herald of the Jewish national renewal, we find that their persons and teachings as well have been and, indeed, still are the subjects of intense, often heated debate. Nor should this be surprising. Rav Hirsch, Rav Kook, and the Rav were, in different ways, very rich, complex figures: major rabbinic scholars who at the same time seriously engaged modernity intellectually; individuals whose teachings and persons blended together, in striking ways, conservatism and innovation, strict traditionalism and intellectual daring. It is intrinsically difficult to paint nuanced intellectual portraits that will do justice to the richness of their religious legacies. Moreover, different elements of the modern Orthodox community focus on those aspects in the teachings of these figures that they find intellectually or religiously congenial and gloss over those aspects they find uncongenial. Thus, the more modern, "left wing" elements of the modern Orthodox community tend to focus on the more innovative, humanistic, and universalist aspects of the legacies of these three giants, and minimize the more conservative, authoritarian, and particularist aspects of their legacies, while that community's more traditional, "right wing" elements simply reverse the order of priority.

The author of this article notes that some promimnent rabbis warn that there is a tendency for those on the right-wing of Orthodox to rewrite modern Orthodox thinkers, such as Hirsch and Soloveitchik. In the attempted revisionism, the person is presented as being less modern and more Haredi. For example

Shortly after the Rav's passing, Rabbi Norman Lamm, President of Yeshiva University, in a eulogy for the Ray delivered on April 25, 1993, urged his auditors to "guard...against any revisionism, any attempts to misinterpret the Ray's work in both worlds [the world of Torah and the world of Madda]. The Ray was not a lamdan who happened to have and use a smattering of general culture, and he was certainly not a philosopher who happened to be a talmid hakham, a Torah scholar.... We must accept him on his terms, as a highly complicated, profound, and broad-minded personality.... Certain burgeoning revisionisms may well attempt to disguise and distort the Rav's uniqueness by trivializing one or the other aspect of his rich personality and work, but they must be confronted at once." [3]
(3.) Norman Lamm, "A Eulogy for the Rav," Tradition 28.1 (1993): 13. R. Lamm's reference to those who seek to "trivializ[e]] one or the other aspect of [the Rav's] rich personality" implies that "burgeoning revisionisms" can come from either the "left" or the "right" In fact, however, by far the most significant revisionism has come from the right, certainly in print, and it is this form of revisionism, particularly in its latest and most extreme manifestation, that deserves our scrutiny. At the same time, there have also been attempts at revisionism from the left, though these attempts have been made orally and, to the best of my knowledge, are not to be found in writing; I will therefore also examine a revealing example of this brand of revisionism.

Recent deletions[edit]

I removed "Shma.Com". It is not an Orthodox group. Rather, is a Jewish journal which engages in inter-denomination dialogue.

From the "Modern Orthodox advocacy groups" sections I removed the National Council of Young Israel. Back in the 1920s and 30s this was Modern Orthodoxy. However, by the 1950s it had moved to the right, and today it is essentially merged with Agudath Yisroel. NCYI rabbis no longer participate in RCA functions, they reject RCA positions as too liberal. NCYI rabbis will participate in Adudath Yisroel functions, but not with the RCA.

You mantain that YI is no longer Modern Orthodox. The sole proof you provide is that YI rejects the RCA as too liberal. This may be true, however it is your own personal opinion that rejection of the RCA removes one from Modern Orthodoxy. (talk)

Modest reforms within Jewish practice[edit]

With all due respect to everyone, the paragraph titled "Modest reforms within Jewish practice" seems 1)irrelevant and 2)incorrect. What is it's purpose here?--Josiah 00:46, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)

Oh, RK entered that stuff. He tried to make all articles related to Judaism advance the thesis that Conservative Judaism (his movement) and Modern Orthodoxy were in agreement on most things, and generally compatible. Jayjg 03:10, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I tried to put this into perspective with an addition here - they might have been reforms but they were not a break with halakha - hope that I've retained a NPOV in so doing --Fintor 08:16, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Josiah, what specifically do you believe is incorrect? RK

JayJG, we have been working together quite well. On dozens of articles I have supported almost every one of your edits. In fact, over dozens of articles I must have suppported thousands of your edits. So I am disappointed by your comments. Let me get right to the point: Any encyclopedia article must compare and contrast religious movements, if it is to have any context. Why does Modern Orthodox Judaism exist at all, if it is identical to Haredi Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism? Well, it is not identical. Well, then why is it considered a form of Judaism at all, if it has no similarities with either of them? But it does have similarities! Thus, I cannot fathom why you get mad each time you find this mentioned. RK

You're responding to four month old comments, and I have not in any event asserted that Modern Orthodoxy is identical to Haredi Orthodox or the Conservative movement. And please do not make comments regarding your beliefs about my emotional state. Jayjg (talk) 18:45, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
JayJG, please relax. You always go off on people like this, and missing the point. No one is attacking you as emotionally unbalanced. As to the point, you misread my statement. I said that one should not believe that Modern Orthodoxy is totally different from Haredi or Conservative Judaism. I am merely noting that it has many similarities to movements both on its left and on its right. (It has to, unless one is asserting that it is some new religion.) RK
RK, please avoid making these kinds of personal comments. Your statement that "I get mad each time I find this mentioned" is a comment about my emotional state, as is your statement that I "always go off on people like this". You are treading perilously close to a personal attack, which would be an extremely bad idea. Jayjg (talk) 20:10, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

You repeatedly imply that any mention of such similarlities is a disingenuous attempt on my behalf to further my own religious agenda. Please stop making this false charge. Modern Orthodox Judaism is not some brand-new faith that has no relation with other forms of Judaism to its theological left or to its theological right. What is incorrect about your statement is that I have gone into detail, in a number of articles, describing the differences between Conservative Judaism and Modern Orthodoxy. RK

I have done no such thing; please do not make strawman arguments. Jayjg (talk) 18:45, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Fintor, I would say that whether or not something is a break with halakha is apparently a matter of opinion; it is not a fact that one can "prove", at least not absolutely. Orthodox rabbis themselves have been disagreeing on many points for years. We can say that many Orthodox rabbis viewed all these modest reforms as against the halakha. Many still do. In contrast, many agreed that they are not against the halakha. (And Reform Judaism views them as necessary, but halakhically irrelevant, since they no longer view halakha as normative.) So to follow our mandatory NPOV policy, we attribute a position to a group. (Group A believes that is Ok, while Groups B and C do not, etc.) RK 23:55, Apr 13, 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure that it's always true that whether "something is a break with halakha is apparently a matter of opinion" - there are some clear-cut reforms which are definite breaks with halakha...
That aside, it seems to me that the quote from R. Hirsch is now out of context. Previously the article stated "In early 1800s Europe, all of Judaism that differed from the strictest forms present at the time was called "Reform"..." without much in the way of context. This did seem, to me, to intend to imply "that Conservative Judaism and Modern Orthodoxy were in agreement on most things" as posited by Jayjg above. Thus I inserted the R. Hirsch quote to illustrate that the reforms of Neo-orthodoxy were explicitly within the bounds of halakha (at least as understood by Hirsch, granted RK) whereas R. Hirsch - and therefore everyone to his right - agreed that the reforms of Reform were a break with halakha. I thus propose a partial revert...
Fintor 01:05, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It depends what the scale of comparison is. Compared to the beliefs and practices of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or Atheists, Modern Orthodox and Conservative Jews do agree on most things! Compared to those from other religions, the differences between MO and CJ are minor, and to some, not even noticeable! If you read from Rabbi Isaac Klein's A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, you will find thousands of halakhot and minhagim...that are identical between the two. The halakhot that differ are far less than one percent. Of course, to some within Modern Orthodoxy they usually notice the differences, but not the similarity. For those differences (women as rabbis, women as cantors, driving to synagogue on Shabbat for the purpose of worship), I agree that the differences are stark and significant. For those firmly committed to a traditional Orthodox worldview, these differences are firm dividing lines that are unacceptable. So which is it: Is MO nearly the same as CJ, or are they very different? The answer depends on the scale of the question. On an absolute scale (compared to totally non-Jewish faiths) they are really very similar! And compared to each other, we find significant differences in both theology and halakha! RK 01:33, Apr 14, 2005 (UTC)
The same thing happens in discussions about Catholic Christianity and Orthodox Christianity. Those outside these faiths see their beliefs and practices as nearly identical. Those within those faiths, however, concentrate only on the differences. I have met Catholics who really disliked Orthodox Chrisitians, and vice-versa, which is odd since from my (non-Christian) point-of-view, they are mostly the same. The same is true of any two Jewish denominations that are next to each other on the left-to-right theological spectrum. If you have any disagreement with this analysis, please specifically let me know what the disagreement is. RK

Improbable claims?[edit]

JayJG, the following changes in behaviour among Orthodox Jews are well-established facts. Why did you remove them from the article, and say that they are "improbable claims?"

  • Reading secular newspapers
  • Accepting gelatin as a kosher ingredient in food. (Today many Israeli Orthodox Jews view gelatin as kosher.)
  • Allowing women to be the president of a synagogue

All of these changes occured in Orthodoxy from 1800 to 1900, the time period in which Modern Orthodoxy developed. Some Orthodox Jews opposed these changes, others found them acceptable. What specifically do you hold to be incorrect? The point about gelatin itself is a very well known dispute! The result of that dispute was that in Israel, many Orthodox Jews view it as kosher. In America, only a minority of Orthodox Jews view it as kosher. I can get you references. RK 01:54, Apr 14, 2005 (UTC)

The gelatin thing is a minor quibble, and does not define the difference between Modern and Traditional Orthodoxy. So too with reading secular newspapers. Jayjg (talk) 17:59, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
First you claim that it is only a minor quibble. But below you hold that it is a difference between MO and CJ, and you also hold that they are very different. Which is it? You keep changing your position. Nonetheles, the issue of kosher gelatin should be a minor quibble. I suppose it was, until the 1950s, when the Conservative movement came out with a responsa by Isaac Klein accepting all gelatin as kosher. From that time on most of American Orthodoxy viewed gelatin as treif. Interestingly, In Israel where the Conservative movement was relatively unknown at the time, Orthodox Jews tended to accept it as kosher, or at least as an acceptable option for others, if not for themselves. The reading of secular newspapers was a bigger issue, however. Even today some Haredim view them as forbidden. RK 19:29, Apr 14, 2005 (UTC)
Jacob J. Schacter, Facing the Truths of History, in Torah u-Madda Journal 8 (1998-1999): 200-276
Please stop changing the meaning of your comments after I have already responded to them, otherwise my responses make no sense. Your first response was that you agreed it was a minor quibble, then a day later you changed it to some other quibble. In any event, the differences between MO and CJ are not based on the gelatin issue either, so I haven't changed any position. Jayjg (talk) 20:23, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)


To begin with, there is no indication that the differences vis a vis gelatin were a major theological break between Modern Orthodoxy and Traditional Orthodoxy. Indeed, you claim some Modern Orthodox accept it, and others do not, so it is clearly an issue within Mordern Orthodoxy itself, and in any event is a recent (not historical) issue; the only reason you emphasize it is because, as usual, it shows an area in which you think some Modern Orthodox Jews agree with the Conservative position. Second, there is no indication that reading secular newspapers was a major historical theological break between Modern Orthodoxy and Traditional Orthdoxy; rather, it appears that all kinds of Orthodox Jews read secular newspapers until fairly recently, when some Haredim began a push to avoid all secular influences. Jayjg (talk) 16:18, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

You misunderstand. I am not claiming this. I totally agree with you that the differences vis a vis gelatin were not a major theological break between Modern Orthodoxy and Traditional Orthodoxy. Rather, it is a break in how some Orthodox Jews understood a halakhic issue. This was a significant halakhic change that some Orthodox Jews feel is valid, while many other Orthodox Jews feel is invalid and anti-halakhic. I cannot imagine why you believe that "the only reason you emphasize it is because, as usual, it shows an area in which you think some Modern Orthodox Jews agree with the Conservative position." in point of fact this is a matter of dispute in the Orthodox community, and they discuss it all the time. Please stop making this into a Conservative versus Orthodox issue. Look, for instance, at the actions of Orthodox rabbis in the State of Israel, who dealt with this issue outside the framework of the OCR debate. RK
There are disputes over halakha all the time in Orthodox Judaism; some Rabbis say this or that is permitted, others say it is not. This is neither surpising nor new. The gelatin issue is no better an example of this than any other, and in any event has nothing to do with the differences between Modern and Traditional Orthodox Jews. Jayjg (talk) 20:01, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)
JayJG, you are mistaking your own personal opinion for fact. There are many Haredi Orthodox Jews who totally disagree with you. Also, Modern Orthodox Jews take great offense when you label Haredi Jews as "traditional"; they view it as an attack on them as being non-traditional. Finally, this was a reform within Jewish law that only some Jewish movements accepted, which is what this section of the article is all about. RK 20:09, Apr 15, 2005 (UTC)
What are you talking about? Which Haredi Jews disagree with me about what? And why was the issue about the kashruth of gelatin a "reform" within Jewish law, rather than just a simple dispute about kashruth? Jayjg (talk) 20:15, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)
(A) Some Haredi Jews totally disagree with you that the kashrut of gelatin is not a difference between MO and Haredi Judaism. Not all; I am sure that many agree with you. The complication is that they don't all feel the same way. (B) I do not disagree with you that one may view the kashruth of gelatin as a simple dispute about kashruth. I think you are correct. But that is our view. Some on Judaism's theological left and right believe otherwise. Some see this as a reformist view that violates halakha. RK 20:20, Apr 15, 2005 (UTC)
(A) Provide sources for you claims. (B) Provide sources for your claims. Jayjg (talk) 20:27, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Kashrut of gelatin is not a Conservative versus Orthodox issue[edit]

Hi, I just wanted to include here what I wrote which I feel is important (but Jayjg deleted it) [1]: "Accepting some forms of processed and de-natured gelatin as a kosher ingredient in food. (Note: Authoritative Orthodox legal decisors, known as poskim, have deep disagreements if a re-processed food retains its original identity as a "natural" "food-stuff", or if it must still be treated as completely un-kosher. The Modern Orthodox-affiliated Orthodox Union ["OU"] only accepts gelatin derived from fish bones as kosher.)" IZAK 06:07, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It's not important to note that, since the whole gelatin thing is really about pushing the Conservative view, rather than noting the historic breaks between Modern and Tradtional Orthodoxy. As such, the gelatin issue does not belong here at all.Jayjg (talk) 16:18, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)
JayJG, as you well know, a great many Orthodox Jews - including many Israeli Haredi ("ultra-Orthodox") Jews, view gelatin as kosher. This issue has nothing to do with Conservative Judaism. As you well know, in much of the Orthodox Jewish community calling a religious Jew "Conservative" is an ad homenim attack: They use this term as an attack on someone's religious beliefs and practices. Please stop making any discussion of the issue of modest reforms into a Conservative versus Orthodox issue. It is not. This article must describe the kinds of reforms that existed within the Jewish community in the 1800s, and how Orthodox Judaism reacted to these reforms. Some of these reforms were accepted within many segments of Orthodoxy, while most of these reforms were rejected by many other segments of Orthodoxy. There is no way we can honestly and accurately discuss the origins of Haredi, Modern Orthodox, Conservative or Reform Judaism without directly addressing this issue. RK
Secondly, this article is not attempting to prove that MO and CJ are basically the same. That is a straw-man argument. I don't believe this, nor has any edit I made to this article ever claimed it. RK
Thirdly, even the Orthodox rabbis I know agree with the following statement: This issue depends what the scale of comparison is. Compared to the beliefs and practices of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or Atheists, Modern Orthodox and Conservative Jews do agree on most things! Compared to those from other religions, the differences between MO and CJ are minor, and to some, not even noticeable! If you read from Rabbi Isaac Klein's A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, you will find thousands of halakhot and minhagim...that are identical between the two movements. The halakhot that differ are far less than one percent. Of course, to some within Modern Orthodoxy they usually notice the differences, but not the similarity. For those differences (women as rabbis, women as cantors, driving to synagogue on Shabbat for the purpose of worship), I agree that the differences are stark and significant. And I also agree with JayJG that for those firmly committed to a traditional Orthodox worldview, these differences are firm dividing lines that are unacceptable. So which is it: Is MO nearly the same as CJ, or are they very different? The answer depends on the scale of the question. On an absolute scale (compared to totally non-Jewish faiths) they are really very similar! And compared to each other, we find significant differences in both theology and halakha. Are you seriously denying this? If so, then please specifically note what you disagree with, and why. (In any case, this point isn't even being made in the article. Why rail against a claim that the article is not even making?) RK
Modern Orthodox Jews believe in God, and they believe that Jews should fast on Yom Kippur. Should we also delete these ideas from the article because they show similarity between Conservative Jews and Modern Orthodox Jews? JayJG, it is a simple fact that there literally thousands of areas where Modern Orthodox and Conservative Jews agree. Stop deleting every belief and halakha from the article when they happen to be the same. RK 19:36, Apr 15, 2005 (UTC)
Um, ok. Anyway, "Conservative" is not an attack, it is a description of a Jewish denomination. More relevantly, as I pointed out above, there are disputes over halakha all the time in Orthodox Judaism; some Rabbis say this or that is permitted, others say it is not. This is neither surpising nor new. The gelatin issue is no better an example of this than any other, and in any event has nothing to do with the differences between Modern and Traditional Orthodox Jews. The only thing unique about this particular issue is that it happens to be a case where some Modern Orthodox Jews allegedly side with Conservative Judaism. Jayjg (talk) 20:04, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)
JayJG, that is factually wrong in three ways. (1) It is not "alleged". It is a fact that many Modern Orthodox and Conservative Jews agree on this issue. Please do not imply or claim otherwise. (2) The Modern Orthodox Jews did not "side" with the Conservative Jews. Each came to their decision independently. (3) I agree with you that "are disputes over halakha all the time in Orthodox Judaism". In fact, that is what I have been saying all along. However, during the 1800s this issue became important because of the Enlightenment, the Haskalah, and the splitting of Judaism into modern Jewish denominations. RK 20:12, Apr 15, 2005 (UTC)
First, please provide evidence that Haredi Jews in Israel consider all gelatin to be kosher. Second, provide evidence that "during the 1800s" the debate over the kashruth of gelatin "became important because of the Enlightenment, the Haskalah, and the splitting of Judaism into modern Jewish denominations" Jayjg (talk) 20:18, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

JayJG, you are still refusing to answer my above question. Are you seriously denying the above analysis. (They are similar in one sense, compated to other religions, and different in another sense, when compared to each other.) If you agree, then fine. If not, then please specifically note what you disagree with, and why. (In any case, this point isn't even being made in the article. Why rail against a claim that the article is not even making?) RK

I fail to see how your argument is relevant to the article, so I have not responded to it. I have not "railed" against anything. Jayjg (talk) 20:19, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)
But this is the entire point of the section on reforms in Judaism! There is an entire section of the article on this. Unless you object to the analysis, I plan on including it in the article, or in the article on modern Jewish denominations. Both of these articles already discuss this issue, (Development of modern denominations in response to the Enlightenment) but many people reading it miss the point. Many Wikipedia readers are puzzled at the way that Jews see each other's movements as so different, while many of us Jews don't see how they can see all these movements as the same. The solution is to simply say something like "Well, they are similar on issues A, B, C and D when compared on this wide scale... but on the narrow scale of one denomination compared to another, the differences are A1, B1, C1 and D1, which adherents of each denomination finds significant." (I have no set text in mind.)
Shabbat Shalom. RK
Original research is forbidden in Wikipedia articles; please do not try to include any. Jayjg (talk) 20:29, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Jayjg requested that I weigh in. Frankly, the discussion started about fish vs. mammal gelatin, and rapidly diverted to the whole nature of Modern Orthodoxy. Not all Haredim in Israel accept the perceived leniency of the Rabbanut (state-recognised rabbinical framework) that mammal gelatin (often from India) is kosher. However, the Haredi base supporting the leniency is wider than in Europe and the USA.

As for Jewish observance, there certainly is a continuum, in which Modern Orthodoxy occupies a place somewhere between the Haredim and Conservative. But all of these three movements have wings - there are left-wing Conservatives who are akin to Reform, and right-wing ones who are close to the left-wing Modern Orthodox. Similarly, some right-wing Modern Orthodox Jews may be holding views and keeping stringencies that are unheard of in left-leaning Haredim. In the USA and England there are groups of Haredim who do consider themselves Haredi yet rely on kulot (leniencies) whenever possible. It is extremely hard to define where one movement stops and the other begins, especially as many don't actually have representative bodies (Agudath Yisrael and the RCA cannot claim to represent all of Haredi resp. Modern Orthodox Jews).

I do not think the fish gelatin matter is an adequate representation of the schisms between various groups. In that sense, Jayjg is right that it should be left out. JFW | T@lk 20:57, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Neo Orthodoxy[edit]

is there a distiction between modern orthodox judaism and neo-orthodox judaism? Gringo300 19:49, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Depends whom you ask. In my view: yes. JFW | T@lk 06:44, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Agreed. They do differ: see Neo-Orthodoxy: The "Breuer" Communities. Given this line of thinking, I think I should expand the Comparison with other movements section. Fintor 08:52, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Growing up in a religious jewish community, it was never clear to me who was an adherent to a particular variant modern, neo, or otherwise. It wasn't specifically something that people said. Institutions, like schools and synagogues, seem to have particular movements with which they associate, but people tend not to be so firm. I wonder, then, whether we are justified in calling particular people and communities neo or modern orthodox. Perhaps it should be made clear that when we use this nomination we are referring to their institutions? Flamholz 11:21, 2 Apr 2006 (UTC)

Flamholz, I find your comment interesting and refreshing. Interesting, because it would seem to imply that you grew up in a relatively small jewish community. Refreshing, because how alot of us wish that relations between the various groups would indeed be so cordial that one never noticed friction. However, it seems that a large number of jews do identify themselves with a particular movement, and in my opinion not only to their detriment. After all, would we really want people to make religious life decisions and choices of vast spiritual importance without investigating and deciding what Judaism truly means ? Shykee 03:24, 4 April 2006 (UTC)Shykee
I didn't really mean to imply any degree of cordiality or smallness. In fact I grew up in Teaneck, NJ, anything but a small and cordial Jewish community. My point was merely that many people who live in modern orthodox (or thereabouts) communities are not so clear on what their personal affiliations are. People will go to orthodox schools and conservative synagogues (or vice versa) all the while unsure which of the two they prefer or to which they belong. The same can be said of people who go to modern orthodox schools and synagogues that are further to the right (the reverse of this situation doesn't seem to happen all that much). Flamholz 5:18, 7 Apr 2006 (UTC)

To answer the difference between modern orthodoxy and neo-orthodoxy that started this section, Neo-orthodox are Yeki (german) heradim, and modern orthodox are modern orthodox. The similarities are only in external appearence and that is due to the fact that the Neo-Orthodox hold firmly to more modern clothes because that it the German minhag. To give a practical difference in how Torah imDerekh Eretz would differ from Torah Umaada in practical terms. A neo-Orthodox who attended university and came across the Theory of Evolution would dismiss it as not compatable with the TOrah view of creation, but hold on to the practical elements of his biology class; a Modern Orthodox would more likely then not try to interpret the TOrah allagorically to comply with modern science. They are nearly opposites. 13:50, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi! Do you have a source for this information? Best, --Shirahadasha 04:49, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

COmpare the writings of Hirsch and Schwab to SOloveitchik. 12:50, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Assuming your analysis of Neo-Orthodoxy is true (which it may very well be; I am not an expert in contemporary theology and politics of KAJ), one will be hard-pressed to find a precedent in Rav Hirsch's own writings. Rabbi Joseph Elias wrote an article declaring Rav Hirsch would opposed evolution, but see Dr. Elliot Bondi (at Nisson Wolpin.doc) and Rabbi Natan Slifkin ( dispute Rabbi Elias's claim. The contention centers around a critical essay of Rabbi Hirsch's in his Collected Writings, in which Rabbi Hirsch says,

Even if this notion [viz. evolution] were ever to gain complete acceptance by the scientific world, Jewish thought, unlike the reasoning of the high priest of that nation [viz. Darwin], would nonetheless never summon us to revere a still extant representative of this primal form (an ape—N.S.) as the supposed ancestor of us all. Rather, Judaism in that case would call upon its adherents to give even greater reverence than ever before to the one, sole God Who, in His boundless creative wisdom and eternal omnipotence, needed to bring into existence no more than one single, amorphous nucleus, and one single law of “adaptation and heredity” in order to bring forth, from what seemed chaos but was in fact a very definite order, the infinite variety of species we know today, each with its unique characteristics that sets it apart from all other creatures.

To summarize their respective arguments:
1) Dr. Bondi argues, on technical grounds against Rabbi Elias's claim that Rav Hirsch did not really mean these words, that they were meant merely to placate the gentiles. Further, Rabbi Elias claimed that even if Rav Hirsch did once believe these words, he retracted them later; Dr. Bondi disputes this as well.
2) Rabbi Slifkin argues exegetically against misinterpretation of these words. First, contra Rabbi Elias, one must distinguish between the fact of evolution, and its mechanism; biologists today universally accept the fact, even if there is much controversy on the mechanism. Second, whereas Rabbi Elias said,

Even though it may appear from parts of his essay that he might accept the general idea of evolution from a simple form of life, it is quite obvious that this accommodation is clearly predicated on two conditions that Rabbi Hirsch repeatedly stresses in his essay – one, the theory provides for the role of the Divine Creator, and two, it can be incontrovertibly demonstrated as true.

Rav Hirsch rather said "Even if this notion were ever to gain complete acceptance by the scientific world...Rather, Judaism in that case would..."; the critical factor is whether the scientific world accepts evolution to be true, not whether it is proven to be true (and certainly, the religious world has no authority in this matter!) Rabbi Slifkin explains that truly, whether or not evolution is actually true is irrelevant; Rabbi Slifkin notes,

"Rav Hirsch was not a scientist, and what matters is not whether he would see evolution as scientifically valid, but instead whether he saw it as necessarily standing in conflict with the Torah. ... And evolution does not need to be incontrovertibly demonstrated as true in order not to conflict with Jewish theology; either the concept of evolution does conflict with Torah, or it doesn’t! (Incidentally, rather than speak of evolution being “incontrovertibly demonstrated as true," Rav Hirsch spoke instead of it achieving "complete acceptance by the scientific world...)

. Also, Rav Hirsch did not say (like Rabbi Elias) that the scientific world must mandate a place or provide a role for G-d in evolution, but rather (contra Rabbi Elias), Rabbi Hirsch said "Judaism in that case would call upon its adherents"; Judaism will mandate a place for G-d in evolution, even if science does not. Third, based on the sentence, "would nonetheless never summon us to revere a still extant representative of this primal form", Rabbi Elias wishes to say that even if Judaism were to accept evolution, it would never accept that man is descended from apes. Rabbi Slifkin points that out in truth, this sentence is only saying that Judaism would not, on account of evolution revere the ape, but rather, it would revere G-d who could create man (in the image of G-d) from an ape; Rabbi Hirsch is not denying that man could be descended from the ape, but rather, he is denying that this fact (of man's being descended from the ape) should properly lead man to revere the ape. In Rabbi Slifkin's words,

Here we see that Rav Hirsch’s point was that, if evolution were to gain complete acceptance by the scientific world, we would nevertheless not adjust our attitude towards apes, but instead increase our reverence for God having ingeniously enabled a single nucleus to produce all living things. Rav Hirsch is not rejecting man’s common ancestry with apes; he is rejecting the idea that this would cause us to see ourselves as nothing more than animals, and stressing that instead it would cause us to praise God for His ingenious method of creating life.

Rabbi Slifkin clinches his argument by noting that Rabbi David Zvi Hoffmann approvingly quoted the following words of Rav Hirsch,

Judaism is not frightened even by the hundreds of thousands and millions of years which the geological theory of the earth’s development bandies about so freely... Our Rabbis, the Sages of Judaism, discuss (Midrash Rabbah 9; Talmud Chagigah 16a) the possibility that earlier worlds were brought into existence and subsequently destroyed by the Creator before He made our own earth in its present form and order. However, the Rabbis have never made the acceptance or rejection of this and similar possibilities an article of faith binding on all Jews. They were willing to live with any theory that did not reject the basic truth that "every beginning is from God." (p. 265 in Collected Writings vol. VII)

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Sevendust62 (talkcontribs) 12:59, 16 March 2009 (UTC) I forgot to sign my contribution: Sevendust62 (talk) 13:02, 16 March 2009 (UTC)


  • I have removed the "Origins" sections to be replaced with a "History" section. I Propose writing about early history in W Europe, History in US, History in Israel, History in Western World. My concern is that this will entail a "double count" with the Philosophy section.
  • I also intend to remove the textual criticism section - it no longer fits - any suggestions for its new home?

Fintor 12:40, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Centrist Orthodox[edit]

To define Centrist Orthodoxy as being equivalent to Torah Umadda is imo VERY pov. Many people both to the right and the left of YU would claim to be centrist Orthodox.

(Definition of Centrist: me. Leftist: anything to the left of me. Right wing: anything to the right of me.)


about centrist orthodoxy: isn't centrist orthodoxy seperate from modern orthodoxy; i thought that YU hashkafa is pretty much modern orthodoxy And rav Aharon (shlita) is pretty much the only centrist orthodox jew in the world. In other words modern orthodoxy is associated with Rav Samson Rafael Hirsh, The Rav, The roshei yeshivah at YU (Rav Schachter, Rav Twersky etc.) while centrist orthodoxy is associated with Rav Aharon. I always thought the two we're somewhat similar but definently not the same thing. Messengeroftruth 21:29, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

The origins of the term centrist orthodoxy begin because Rabbis who associated themselves with modern orthodox communities and hashkafa decided that becasue of the popular idiom that modern orthodox means not so orthodox. Therefore they coined a new term which they felt better suited their views, this term was frequently promulgated by HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein Shlita. (EDM) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:22, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

"Roots of Modern Orthodoxy" ?[edit]

This is a request for comments and help on a re-write of "Roots of Modern Orthodoxy".

It seems that the current article implies that Modern Orthodoxy traces it's generation to R' Hirsch and R' Hildesheimer, and is a descendent of the Hirscian movement. It would be interesting to hear other opinions, but it seems that few, if any, leaders or Rabbis in current or early Modern Orthodoxy trace their religious roots and ideas to 1800's Germany. A more correct approach would be to say that Modern Orthodoxy, although not springing in any way from German Jewry, notices some similarities between it's ideas and those of German Jewry.

If this is true, perhaps someone out there could suggest a re-write to reflect this and to explain the generation of Modern Orthodoxy in it's proper context.


COrrect me if I am wrong, but SOloveitchik was the originator of Modern Orthodoxy. He was a break off of the Brisk dynesty with no connection to German Orthodoxy. Meanwhile the Frankfurt people of Washington Heights refer to Yeshivah University, SOloveitchik's yeshivah, as , "The church on the hill." 12:52, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Category: Orthodox Judaism[edit]

Restored category Orthodox Judaism removed by IZAK. Modern Orthodox Judaism is a form of Orthodox Judaism, and removing all Modern Orthodox topics -- even Modern Orthodox Judaism itself -- from the Orthodox Judaism category tends to convey an impression that Modern Orthodox Judaism is not a form of Orthodox Judaism. Such a viewpoint is distinctly non-mainstream. --Shirahadasha 16:41, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Modern Orthodox Judaism is a subcategory. There is no need to include it in the parent category as well, please see Wikipedia:Category. JFW | T@lk 01:10, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Why does it matter if something is "mainstream"? And how do you define that? Yehoishophot Oliver 13:58, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't regularly comment here, but I would like to point out that historicaly modern orthodoxy is well rooted in tradition, and can trace its earliest exponents and liniange to such people as nachmanadies and ibin ezra, as well as many, many other rabbanim. Tanya mentiones that it is praiseworthy to study secular wisdomes in order to earn a living or in order to better ones observance of torah. The vilna goan states that one who lacks secular knowledge lacks torah knowledge a hundred fold. The talmud requires one to teach ones children a trade, which is quite traditional, and only in recent times has it been rejected. Ibin ezra, ramban, Rambam, and many other roshonim spent thousands or tens of thousands of hours reconciling torah with then modern modes of thought, and accomodating current practices. Any brief persual of his writings will prove this point conclusively. Additionaly normative halacha states that "one who observes stringancies he need not observe, is an ignorant person" (see hilchos sukkos about eating in it in the rain.) this is related constantly in earlier sources of halacha (pre chasam sofer). Similarly there is a traditional quote that "one who tries to fulfil every opinion only succeeds in loosing his mind." It astounds me how so many people are ignorant of the very real and deep running roots modern orthodoxy has, such that it is far less of an aberation from traditional judaism as related in piskei halacha and shailos and teshuvos litturature than cheredi judaism. There are, for instance, a multitute of shailos and teshuvos from the 15th century that permitted unmarried women to go to mikvah in order to sleep with boysfriends because the rabbis of the time feared that if they did not the women would engage in real sins instead of simply communal faux pas.

This, it seems to me is completely contradictory to cheredi hashkafot, dispite its venerable status in jewish law and litturature; however it is most compatible with modern orthodox approach.

(and no I haven't used this and don't plan to edit, this is only for someone else to mull over and make changes.)yoni 18:20, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits, in Knowledge of the World, Knowledge of G-d (in Essential Essays on Judaism, Shalem Press, ed. Hazony), points out (following Rambam, Kuzari, and Hovot haLevavot), that the epistemological path is well paved for us to see secular learning as another of the truths which G-d has planted in this world; no real great effort is required to utilize this perspective nowadays. It has been said that Rabbi Hirsch's Torah im Derech Eretz is really just a recreation of what was true in Muslim Spain. Berkovits (ibid.) also points out, likely from the influence of his teacher (R' Akiva Glasner)'s father (R' Moshe Shmuel Glasner), who in turn followed the Hatam Sofer (from whom Glasner was descended), that at least in Eretz Yisrael, it is untenable to claim that Jewry can survive without technical knowledge and ability; G-d commanded us to have a state, and concomitantly this demands the requisite knowledge and technical skill. Cf. the elder Glasner's haTzionut b'Ohr haEmuna/Zionism in the Light of Faith. As for halachic leniency, the Sefardi world has even until today been known for what would be called Modern Orthodox-style leniency. See, for example, Professor Zvi Zohar's review of Rabbi Marc D. Angel's Loving Truth and Peace: The Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion Uziel, at In particular, Zohar notes that Sefardim never adopted the Hatam Sofer's infamous adage, hadash assur min haTorah (anything new is forbidden by the Torah). In conversation, Rabbi Angel has remarked to me that Rabbi Uziel's student, Rabbi Hayim David Halevi, was not a "Modern Orthodox" rabbi, but that he was simple a traditional Sefardi rabbi with his head on straight, leading him to adopt many of the same sorts of opinions that Modern Orthodoxy would espouse. In a recent issue of Rabbi Angel's magazine, Conversations, vol. 3 (Winter 2009/5769), Professor Marc B. Shapiro writes ("The Moroccan Rabbinic Conferences", regarding a measure that was to be passed by the Moroccan chief rabbinate, to equalize unmarried women in matters of inheritance under Jewish law, to make them equal to sons, contrary to Biblical and Talmudic law; this measure was aborted by the mass Moroccan aliyah to the State of Israel in 1956, but all signs indicate the conferences would have resulted in the measure's being passed), similarly to Zohar, that the Sefardim never adopted the Hatam Sofer's adage. Shapiro continues, "The Sephardic world never had to contend with non-Orthodox religious movements, and thus it was able to develop in a much more natural - one might say organic - fashion." Note the following quotation which Shapiro brings, from a traditional not "Modern Orthodox" Moroccan rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Malka, Mikveh ha-Mayim, vol. 1 no. 54:

I am convinced that the times require adjustments and a revitalization of the structure of Jewish religious life, but one must approach this with great care and seriousness. We must esteem the modern outlook to the extent that it doesn't conflict with the Torah and tradition.

Sevendust62 (talk) 13:18, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Hi! Just want to mention that, as User:Jfdwolff pointed out above, Category:Modern Orthodox Judaism is a subcategory of Category:Orthodox Judaism. The category system uses a "tree" structure. Once you add a leaf to a branch, it's already connected to the trunk and there's no need to add it to the trunk separately. Best, --Shirahadasha 22:22, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Difficulties inherent[edit]

Changed section title to "Sociological Objections" (more NPOV) --Shirahadasha 23:31, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree. --DLandTALK 03:12, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Religious Zionism[edit]

Can we discuss whether Religious Zionism is a separate but overlapping Derech, or whether it is a variation, or whether MO encompasses RZ?

I acknowledge that given the article's definition “a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize traditional observance and values with the secular modern world" RZ may not fit the bill, however, I think that the recent rewrites have gone too far in taking the first view. (In fact, I think that the current re-write is just plain wrong: it implies that RZ is not a derech but rather an attitude towards the State of Israel - if that's true then there's no such thing as MO either, just an attitude to Modernity and secular education...)

Perhaps we could aim for a rewrite that stresses that there are differences in underlying philosophy but mentions that there are similarities in practice, i.e. that acknowledges that although they come from fairly different places, they do manifest very similarly in many cases - and that the only differences really emerge where it's Right of RZ vs Left of MO...

Some examples:

  • At almost any Diaspora MO shul, the RZs will be indistinguishable from everyone else, and similarly, in Israel (even in the Shtachim) the MOs will also be indistinguishable.
  • I have often seen articles referring to the RZ community in Israel as MO eg [2].
  • The MO community is RZ in belief (what percentage of MO shuls don't refer to the Medinah as "Reishit tzemichat geulateinu"?). Maybe not to the extent of the Yishuvniks, but RZ all the same…
  • Similarly, secular education is well integrated into the RZ system (most Hesder Yeshivot now offer degrees, and many (most?) RZs will study something secular). Maybe not for religious, but rather practical reasons, and maybe not achieving YU style synthesis, but integrated all the same… (in fact, many do undertake secular studies for religious reasons = strengthening the State. Fintor 06:18, 21 June 2006 (UTC))
--Fintor 16:38, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

We can of course discuss. :)
What makes a Religious Zioniost a Religious Zionist is one specific aspect of his Haskafa ( Philosophy ), particualary the view of the current state of israel, it is not a merging of modern secular ideas into the belief system. The fact that Zionism is a modern secular belief is a coicidence. Ones view of the state of israel does not change his whole derech, like the article says, there are jews from every different walk that would fall into RZ.
Most of the statements you made are reffering to RZ in israel who happen to be also MO.
  • Many RZ would be very distiguisable from everyone else in a Diaspora MO shul.
  • Articles that refer to the MO comunity in israel as RZ are not using the term correctly.
  • If all MO are RZ that DOES NOT mean that all RZ are MO.
  • There are many RZ who do not have a secular eduction and there are many Non Zionist Charadim in Israel who do have a secular education. There are many RZ who are Anti-secular education as well.
Your view of RZ is verry limited. Yes there is a MO comunity in Israel, and yes most of them tend to be RZ, but those are not the only or even the majority of Religious Zionists here.
--yisraeldov 19:23, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Fair comment as regards MO vs RZ, I will do a bit of a rewrite if you don't mind... But please comment on your use of the Term: "Religious Zionism".
I agree that, broadly and literally, the term refers to any Orthodox Jew who believes in some form of political Zionism; but I would say that in its "narrow" -- and usual -- sense, the term refers to those who, per the RZ article, are within the "faction within the Zionist movement which justifies Zionist efforts to build a Jewish state in the land of Israel on the basis of Judaism..." and where "the ideolog[y] of religious Zionism [is based mainly on] Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook" .
In other words, when used without qualification "Religious Zionism" refers to a specific type, with a specific belief system - as opposed to the current wording: "a large spectrum of Judaism including Jews to the left of modern orthodox, Hasidic Jews, and Haredi (Ultra Otrhodox) [sic] Jews... [where the] only thing that differentiates a Religious Zionist from any other Orthodox Jew is his view of the modern State of Israel."
Thus I propose to rewrite here too...
One other point: does not "Chardal" sometimes refer to non-charedi RZ adherents, who have very limited space for modernity and secularity?
--Fintor 06:03, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
Maybe we should leave the statement vague and leave the article about RZ to define RZ ... Some thing simple like ... Most MO are RZ but RZ does not imply MO, and then they can look at the RZ article .... ( we can define what RZ is there )
The term CHARDL means Charadi, if someone were to use it refereing to "non-charedi", then they would be using the term wrong.

--yisraeldov 16:29, 22 June 2006 (UTC)


A source is needed for the claim that most Modern Orthodox Jews believe that JOFA advocates Conservative ideology. A simple citation to the criticism section of the Conservative Judaism article isn't adequate. What people think about Conservative Judaism provides no evidence about what critics think about JOFA.

Take the ordination of women. The decision to ordain women was made not by halachic scholars but by a commission composed largely of laypeople. from the article on Conservative Judaism--yisraeldov 05:37, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

JOFA states that it supports Orthodox halachic scholarship and decision-making processes, not Conservative ones. You need to supply a source if you wish to claim otherwise. You also need to supply a source for claims about what "most Modern Orthodox Jews" believe. See the Wikipedia policies WP:OR and WP:V. --Shirahadasha 21:52, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

""Statements such as [JOFA President Blu Greenberg's] 'When there's a rabbinic will, there's a halakhic way,' imply a complete disregard for halakhic boundaries," alleged one Rosh Yeshiva." [3]--yisraeldov 05:37, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Also I didn't make the original comment , but I figured it would be something easily verifiable, I agree that it is hard to define what "most Modern Orthodox Jews" believe, maybe change it to something like "the traditionally accepted Ortodox opionion"--yisraeldov 05:37, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Also I did not say that JOFA was (or was not) conservative. I was impliying that the Orthodx opinions of the conservative movement may also be applicable to this orginization via the fact that Orthodoxy is, generaly opposed to femisit movements, Take the ordination of women.--yisraeldov 05:54, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to resolve this disagreement by leaving the comment as stating that JOFA is a "controversial" r "Far-left" organization within Modern Orthodox Judaism. You're welcome to provide detailed criticism of JOFA, but it would make much more sense to put it directly in the article on the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance itself. There's plenty of room for it there. The comment accompanying the link in the MO article is supposed to be only a sentence. If you add criticism of JOFA to the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance article, suggest adding a "Criticism" section to the article and putting it there. Also, suggest using direct quotes of published criticism, specifically and clearly about JOFA. WP:OR does not permit quoting criticism of one subject and representing it as being about another subject on the basis of a personal opinion that it may be applicable. And there should be no need to. If direct critism is easily verifiable, finding it shouldn't be much trouble. Shabbat Shalom. --Shirahadasha 23:45, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
That is fine with me ( Like I said I didn't make the original comment ) as for the sources go, the more orthodox a source is the less likely it will be easily found on the internet. Also, what I showed was a direct criticisim of the orginization by a Leader of the MO community. Any way I'm fine with marking it Controvesial but we should see what the original author says. ... --yisraeldov 20:02, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
The YU Commentator article you cited above is an appropriate source and you are welcome to put this criticism into the JOFA article. There is some other criticism and critical references and "Further Reading" articles that have been added to some other articles, such as the Jewish feminism, Partnership minyan and Shira Hadasha articles, that you might find relevant. Shavuah Tov. --Shirahadasha 02:45, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Link to Mark Einhorn's blog[edit]

A link was recently added to, a personal blog critical of the Open Orthodox philosophy and Avi Weiss as and associated organizations operated by one Mark Einhorn. I removed it immediately from the Avi Weiss article due to the heightened criteria for WP:Reliable sources for material critical of living individuals, but I am leaving it here for now to make sure there is agreement that personal blogs by non-notable individuals not meeting any exceptions don't meet WP:RS criteria. Users are welcome to find critical views from reliable sources. Best, --Shirahadasha 01:39, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

There are at least 3 dozen blogs that cover the MO world. Many of the others have many readers and hundreds of comments. There is no reason to include Einhorn's very personal blog. His tone is more original argument than reporting on facts or opinions of others. --Jayrav 14:36, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Torah im Derekh Eretz/Neo-Orthodox comparison[edit]

The three distinctions are not adequate. There is not a sliver of difference between what was described as the Hirschian ideology and the "Torah uMadda" ideology of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and, one suspects, Rav Soloveitchik. At least regarding the former, one can discern this quite easily by reading his definitive article on the subject. Thus, the distinctions are not credible —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Please sign your posts. There are many documented differences between Hirsch, Modern Orthodoxy and Soloveitchik. The goal is to record as an Encyclopedia and to describe the past not to do original research. If you think that the article needs a paragraph about Lichtenstein, then please add a paragraph explaining his posiiton and how it is similar to Hirsch. But it should not be your own ideas or Original Research. See the Wikipedia policies WP:OR Find documents by or about Lichtenstein and add his posiiton. --Jayrav 18:13, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

One doesn't have to do "original research". All you have to do is actually read the material published by Rav Lichtenstein and Rav Soloveitchik about this very topic. To make it more concrete, I have a simple request: please document or point to documentation which details the evidence for the assertion that the following two points are true for Rav Hirsch and not for Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Lichtenstein: "The role of secular life and culture: In the Hirschian view, interaction with the secular - and the requisite acquisition of culture and knowledge - is encouraged, insofar as it facilitates the application of Torah to wordly matters" "Priority of Torah versus Secular knowledge: In the Hirschian view, Torah is the "sole barometer of truth" by which to judge secular disciplines, as "there is only one truth, and only one body of knowledge that can serve as the standard... Compared to it, all the other sciences are valid only provisionally." (Hirsch, commentary to Leviticus 18:4-5)." If you cannot find such documentation, then the paragraph does not belong in an Encyclopedia. Unless of course you note that the following three differences do not apply to Torah uMadda as envisioned by its two prime exemplars and expositors.--unsigned

DLand and others- In dealing with this WP:OR Those paragraphs are based on the writings of Belkin and Lamm. If you delete the reference to Centrism in the leader to the paragraph, then it stands as it is and is footnoted. If our proudly unsigned wants to add a paragraph about how Lichtenstein is closer to Hirsch then lamm and please let him do it by citing documents.--Jayrav 16:47, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

If the unsigned editor is researching the writings of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Lichtenstein and claiming from his personal research that there is no difference, but a reliable source claims that there is a difference, then the opinion of the reliable source must be used over the editor's personal research, since original research cannot be used. The editor is welcome to find a different reliable source which makes a claim supporting the editor's point of view, but the editor cannot use his or her own personal research as support. As the WP:OR policy explains, Wikipedia editors are simply not in a position to evaluate the merits of editor research or claims derived from such research. Best, --Shirahadasha 18:39, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

I hope that I am allowed to quote from Rav Lichtenstein's writings themselves, without it qualifying as "original research". (Or maybe he doesn't have the right to speak for himself without documentation that isn't original.)

Rav Hirsch: "In the Hirschian view, Torah is the 'sole barometer of truth' by which to judge secular disciplines, as 'there is only one truth, and only one body of knowledge that can serve as the standard... Compared to it, all the other sciences are valid only provisionally.'"

Compare with Rav Lichtenstein: "The primacy of Torah is also logical, however. We recognize it as the basis upon which all human culture, all arts and sciences, must stand. This recognition is two-fold. First, on the objective level, we see the Torah as the logical groundwork of all truth. Its principles constitute the premises to which everything else is related; and they provide a philosophic framework within which all knowledge attains meaning...Torah constitutes the objective foundation of all truth: istakkel be-oraita, bara alma. Second, Torah must be the subjective basis from which, as students, we judge all else. From a religious point of view, secular studies-- especially the social sciences and the humanities, should derive not only their value but their meaning from a religious source. For us, Torah is at once the criterion of truth and the touchstone of value. Whatever the ben torah reads, he will read through its eyes; whatever he studies, he must judge by its standards."

As to the other "distinction" I singled out: Rav Hirsch: "In the Hirschian view, the acquisition of secular culture and knowledge is regarded as valid, but only when in support of one's religious life."

Compare with Rav Lichtenstein: "How is [a Torah attitude to general studies] to be formulated? I think it must rest upon three fundamental premises. The first must be a clear and unwavering recognition of the primacy of a Torah way of life. This we posit as the supreme value-- in a sense, as the only value. Fulfilling our spiritual destinies, furthering in ourselves and in others the development of Torah, strengthening and deepening our consciousness and experience of God, stimulating our love, fear, and knowledge of him-- this is the alpha and the omega, our first, last, ever-present goal. Religion demands an axiological monopoly; yihud Hashem means simply that religion alone has absoloute and comprehensive value. Everything else, no matter how socially or intellectually desirable, has only relative or secondary importance. Its worth is derived solely from the extent to which it contributes, however remotely, to the fulfillment of the divine will. On this point there can be no compromise and should be no misunderstanding. A man's religion means everything or it means nothing."

The quotes from Rav Lichtenstein are from a piece entitled "A Consideration of General Studies from a Torah Point of View", which has been printed in Yeshiva University's student newspaper twice (in the 60's and again this year), and which was the headlining article in the "Torah u-Madda Reader" put together by Rabbi Shalom Carmy.-- "Proudly" Unsigned

Similair modifications have been made to the Torah Umadda article - propose that this talk page now covers both... Fintor 08:01, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't believe that quoting R' Lichtenstein suffices in editing out these differences. R' Licht. is to the right wing of Modern Orthodoxy and as such his views cannot be considered representative of all of MO. The article quoted from other leaders, such as lamm and belkin, who said diametrically opposite things. Actually, even a superficial reading of "lonely man of faith" disagrees with R' Licht. Also, the "proudly unsigned" editor misunderstands R' Hirsch's view on secular culture. It was not merely utilized "in support" of religion, but as an actual religious duty- to apply the torah outlook to all facets of G-d's creation. To mold the form and shape of this world and its culture into a torah true and torah dominated reality. This was the very heart of Hirschian philosophy, and confusing it with torah ummada is incorrect. Mentsch 06:37, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

1. As I indicated before, the essay that I quoted from has been printed in the Yeshiva University student newspaper twice, and was the headlining article in "A Torah u-Madda Reader." If any other piece is considered to be more definitive and programmatic than this one, you are welcome to suggest them. Either way, this section would certainly require a far more nuanced treatment.

2. Actually, even a superficial reading of "lonely man of faith" does not in any plausible way contradict R. Lichtenstein. This is obviously a total misunderstanding of LMOF. But that's another story.

3. The citation of the Hirschian view came from the section I replaced in the Torah uMadda article. --unsigned

There are two objections to "unsigned's" edits. Firstly, he/she would like to represent R' Lich. as the sole voice of Modern Orthodoxy. This is simply not true. The article, as it was before the "unsigned" edits, had quoted directly from Belkin and Lamm, who are certainly representative of normative Modern Orthodox philosophy. Secondly, at the very heart of the issue is why engage in secular disciplines at all? Is it as R' Hirsch holds- the Torah demands a complete dominance over all human endeavor; or is it as Belkin, Lamm, and R' Solov. would have it- there are two separate realms, that of Torah (Adam Alef), and that of the secular (Adam Bet). I am reverting the article to its previous state. Additionally, a direct source for these differences can be found in Joseph Elias' introduction to The Nineteen Letters. 03:56, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

I am reverting the article to it's edited state. The objections raised by UTC are not adequate: 1. I never claimed that Rav Lichtenstein is the sole voice of Modern Orthodoxy. Yet, without getting into the relative weight of Rav Lichtenstein's voice vs. Rabbi Lamm's or Dr. Belkin's, any article which purports to accurately portray the view of Modern Orthodoxy MUST relate to Rav Lichtenstein's very explicit words. If one wants to present multiple philosophies under the rubric of MO, then fine-- but you cannot simply ignore someone who is at the very least one of the greatest proponents of this philosophy. As I pointed out, Rav Lichtenstein's essay has been printed and reprinted by Yeshiva University.

2. You completely misunderstand Lonely Man of Faith-- if that is your evidence to R. Soloveitchick's view, then you are just plain wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:55, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Sociological objections[edit]

I placed an POV concern template here. It reads to me as if WP is arguing that MO is an oxymoron. I know this isn't an attempt at original research, but the POV needs be described neutrally and really coming from some notable people/sources. All quotes need to be attributed. Also, shouldn't Heilman or other sociologists be brought into play, given the heading? Also, the ref's make me think that the "objections" are part of internal soul-searching and critique, so not objections to the movement per se. (The preceding sections should also clarify if the critique is internal reflection.) Thanks. HG | Talk 16:58, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Conservative Judaism[edit]

I believe that all criticisms of Conservative Judaism in this section should be sourced to notable Modern Orthodox figures and I would caution against editors attempting to write their own statements about what Conservative Judaism is, does, and believes. So long as the article simply reports statements by notable Modern Orthodox figures, it is on solid ground with respect to core Wikipedia policies like WP:NPOV and WP:V. Once the article goes outside reporting statements and attempts to make its own claims about Conservative Judaism, great difficulties are likely to arise. I would urge simply reporting what Avi Weiss and similar figures said. Best, --Shirahadasha 21:14, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

I moved the references to Weiss bacvk to the end of Weiss' argument. I believe it essential to identify what Weiss said putting the cite at the end of his statement distinguishes what he said from what others said. The section currently has some problems with original research and proper attribution is essential to reduce these problems. I don't believe Wikipedia should be making its own original comparison of Modern Orthodox Judaism with Conservative Judaism but should rely on sources who have made such a comparison themselves. Weiss has done this, so it's important to distinguish his argument from other, possibly original ones which may need to be deleted. Best, --Shirahadasha 14:41, 3 October 2007 (UTC)


As far as I know, there have been no modern orthodox teshuvot in support of same sex commitment ceremonies or the sanctification of same sex relationships from modern Orthodox rabbis/communities - with the singular exception of Steve Greenberg. That seems like a significant divergence from the Conservative movement, not really less significant than their differences on egalitarianism. I would be interested to hear other's thoughts about adding that back in, and/or more about Lisa's understanding of how MO is really like conservative Judaism with regards to homosexuality. Thanks! TaraIngrid (talk) 16:58, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Definition of Modern Orthodoxy[edit]

I dont think that MO is defined by Torah U'madda is universally accepted. I think the exact applications of Torah U'madda are also hard to define. Even the yeshivishe Briskers who are into the rambam see his somewhat extensive knowledge of astronomy in paskening about kiddush hakhodesh, and presumably aren't against that. So torah u'madda also needs clarification. Messengeroftruth 21:34, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Modern Orthodoxy under attack[edit]

In recent years Modern Orthodox Jews have seen a resurgence of attacks against the legitimacy of Modern Orthodoxy from Haredi rabbis. For decades many Haredi rabbis have derided Modern Orthodox Jews merely for the "sin" of receiving a secular education as well as a Jewish education. For instance, here is one of the older criticisms against all of Modern Orthodoxy as being inauthentic:

  • Those who receive a secular education cannot express authentic Torah views, from p.25 of Cosmopolitans and Parochials", Samuel C. Heilman, Steven Martin Cohen

What is notable is that this trend to deligitimize Modern Orthodox has greatly accelerated in the last few decade, with literally worldwide consequences. In Israel Haredim have tried to deligitimize the conversions made by Modern Orthodox rabbis in the USA, thus deligitimizing the rabbis themselves! For instance:

  • "The latest, most public, such salvo was issued by Rabbi Elya Svei, a prominent member of Agudat Israel's Mo'etzet Gedolei HaTorah. In a speech before several thousand listeners at Agudat Israel's annual convention, Rav Svei called {modern Orthodox} Rabbi Norman Lamm "an enemy of God." He later refused to retract his charge.
Modern Orthodoxy in America: Possibilities for a Movement under Siege, William B. Helmreich and Reuel Shinnar
'Modern Orthodoxy in America: Possibilities for a Movement under Siege'

It is not just this issue. The past decade has seen a growing number of attacks against any form of Orthodoxy that isn't seen as Haredi, and this needs to be more fully written about.

However, this is not to say that this is true of all of Haredi Orthodoxy. But it is true of a "big enough" segment. This subject needs to be more fully addressed in this article. Caution: Wikipedia editors to take careful note of editorial standards: We don't censor articles reporting on racism in America, for fear of being unpatriotic. Why not? (A) Wikipedia isn't a pro-American, anti-everyone-else publication. It is an NPOV encyclopedia. It is the job of encyclopedia editors to describe reality, not to hide it. (B) SImply because some percentage of Americans do bad things doesn't mean that all, or even most, are bad. The same is true for Jews in general, and Haredi Jews in specific. Just because our article describes the extent of the Haredi attacks on the legitimacy of Modern Orthodoxy, it doesn't mean that all or most Haredim attack all or most MO Jews.

I certainly say or believe no such thing, and I would take offense at anyone who does such a thing. Someone who tries to edit this article to make such a point that that is not only mean, but also they would be factually incorrect. I would, in fact, take both pride and pleasure in defending the legitimacy of Haredi Judaism as an authentic form of rabbinic Judaism, and would edit out comments which state that Haredi Jews should in general be suspected of being not-nice deligitimizers, or violent.

Sadly the problem we historically see in Wikipedia articles is that some editors take a "They are all bad stance", and try to make everyone in a given group (Haredim, Democrats, atheists, lawyers) look like bad people, or at least idiots. These editors are then rebutted by the "No, everyone in this group is great, and really their opponents are bad and idiots!" comments. Neither said turns out to be factually correct, and they resort to statements which violate our NPOV policy. Just as bad, edit wars erupt in which self-appointed "protectors" of the article censor the articles by editing out everything they disagree with. (Which is my Citizendium is so much better.) Thus, I want to remind editors of these problems so we can avoid the ahead of time. In fact, as a sign of good faith, I will resist the temptation to write anything at all about this topic, for the time being, and let other Wikipedians study these sources (and others they come across on their own) and write more in this article. RK (talk)

  • Modern Orthodoxy Under Attack: Noah Feldman's intimate critique in the Times seen as raising the question of how to deal with Jews who marry out, Gary Rosenblatt, The Jewish Week, 7/27/97
  • Orthodoxy is under attack by what the authors refer to as "Yeshiva Orthodoxy", p.259
Accounting for Fundamentalisms Martin E. Marty, R. Scott Appleby, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • Haredi Jews in Israel have beaten up religious Jews merely because they didn't dress like Haredim.
'Haredi, religious residents clash in Beit Shemesh - Three religious teen girls beaten up by ultra-Orthodox mob while passing through haredi neighborhood. Religious residents report escalating violence on haredim's behalf, latter cite promiscuity as trigger for clashes..later in the article Haredi rabbis state that they approve of these attacks against non-Haredi Orthodox Jews:
...meanwhile the members of the Haredi Community stream in Beit Shemesh present a different version for the state of affairs in town. Moshe, a haredi resident, said that young religious boys and girls often pass through the haredi neighborhood together, and that on occasion yeshiva students have to "drive them away by force." "Boys and girls laughing together is forbidden. This shouldn't happen in a secular neighborhood, let alone an ultra-Orthodox one," Moshe stated...
Haredi, religious residents clash in Beit Shemesh, Kobi Nahshoni 12.21.08, YNet Jewish World,
Haredi, religious residents clash in Beit Shemesh

  • Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy, Samuel C. Heilman,

—Preceding unsigned comment added by RK (talkcontribs)

There is nothing new about the discussion about the legitimacy of Modern Orthodoxy. This has been going on for decades. Leaving aside the one incident where there seems to have been physical violence, there is no history of large-scale clashes between the two movements. Indeed, it is extremely common (especially in the USA) for parts of one family to belong to different camps. In the UK certainly there is no iron curtain between the Modern Orthodox and Haredi communities, although there is a degree of separation which is completely mutual and not instigated by the Haredim.
I think you overstate the depth of the rift. Haredi authorities do indeed have problems with some of the halachic leniences approved by MO rabbis. Again, this has been going on for a very long time and it would be somewhat nonsensical to say that MO is "under attack" any more than it has been in the past, and it is equally nonsensical to say that there is no opposition to Haredim by MO spokespeople. JFW | T@lk 21:42, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Proposed restructuring[edit]

Hi All. I propose combining "Right and left" with the introductory material from "Philosophy" - thereby creating a new first section which is more broad than the rest. This section would then lead in to the "Philosophy" and "Comparison with other movements" sections. Perhaps it could be titled, simply, "Modern Orthodoxy". Any comments? Thanks. Fintor (talk) 11:07, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

My proposal is as below: Fintor (talk) 08:50, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
I take it that I may proceed . Fintor (talk) 07:43, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Am proceeding. Thanks. Fintor (talk) 07:24, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

Modern Orthodoxy

Modern Orthodoxy comprises a fairly broad spectrum of movements each drawing on several distinct, though related, philosophies, which in some combination provide the basis for all variations of the movement today; these are discussed below.

In general, Modern Orthodoxy holds that Jewish law is normative and binding, while simultaneously attaching a positive value to interaction with the modern world. In this view, Orthodox Judaism can “be enriched” by its intersection with modernity; further, “modern society creates opportunities to be productive citizens engaged in the Divine work of transforming the world to benefit humanity”. At the same time, in order to preserve the integrity of halakha, any area of “powerful inconsistency and conflict” between Torah and modern culture must be filtered out. [1].

Additional to this, Modern Orthodoxy assigns a central role to the "People of Israel" [2]. Here two characteristics are manifest: in general, Modern Orthodoxy places a high national, as well as religious, significance on the State of Israel, and institutions and individuals are, typically, Zionist in orientation; relatedly, involvement with non-orthodox Jews will extend beyond "outreach" to include institutional relations and cooperation; see further under Torah Umadda.

The specific expression of Modern Orthodoxy, however, takes many forms, and in fact, particularly over the past 30 - 40 years, describes a political spectrum. [3] Among the issues have been the extent to which Modern Orthodoxy should cooperate with the more liberal denominations, support secular academic pursuits combined with religious learning, and embrace efforts to give women a larger role in Jewish learning and worship [4]; the acceptability of modern textual criticism as a tool for Torah study is also debated. See also Diversity within Orthodox Judaism under Orthodox Judaism.

To the ideological right, the line between Haredi and Modern Orthodox has blurred in recent years (some have referred to this trend as "haredization" [5]). In addition to increasing stringency in adherence to Halakha, many Modern Orthodox Jews express a growing sense of alienation from the larger, secular culture [5]. Here “the balance has tipped heavily in favor of Torah over madda (secular studies)… [and many] have redefined "madda" as support for making one's livelihood in the secular world, not culturally or intellectually engaging with it” [5]. See Joseph B. Soloveitchik: Debate over world view; Torah im Derech Eretz: Interpretation.

Adherents on the ideological left have begun to develop new institutions that aim to be outward looking whilst maintaining a discourse between modernity and halakhah. The resultant Open Orthodoxy seeks to re-engage with secular studies, Jews of all denominations and global issues. Some within this movement have experimented with orthodox egalitarianism where gender equality solutions are found through halakhah. This has led to women taking on more leadership roles. Others in this movement are increasingly re-engaging with social justice issues from a halakhic point of view [6]. See Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Shalom Hartman Institute, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Partnership minyan, Shira Hadasha, MigdalOr.

It is also noted [7][8] that, in fact, many Modern Orthodox are “behaviorally modern” as opposed to "ideologically modern", and, in truth, fall outside of "Modern" Orthodoxy, at least in the philosophical sense. The distinction is as follows: The ideologically modern are “meticulously observant of Halakha” [7], and their interaction with the secular comprises a tangible expression of their ideology, wherever it may lie on the spectrum described. The “behaviorally modern”, on the other hand, define themselves as "Modern Orthodox" only in the sense that they are neither Haredi ("Ultra-Orthodox") nor Conservative: these, in other words, are “not deeply concerned with philosophical ideas” [7], and, often, may not be as careful in their observance.

Given the above, it is clear that various, highly differing views (or non views) - ranging from traditionalist to revisionist -are offered under the banner of "Modern Orthodoxy". The boundaries here, with respect to Haredi and Conservative Judaism have therefore become increasingly indistinct. Some elements of Haredi Judaism appear to be more receptive to messages that have traditionally been part of the Modern-Orthodox agenda. Similarly, at Modern Orthodoxy’s left wing, many appear to align with more traditional elements of Conservative Judaism. In discussing "Modern Orthodoxy" it is thus also important to clarify its position with reference to other movements in Judaism: see Comparison with other movements below.

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History section?[edit]

How is there not a history section in this article? john k (talk) 03:07, 22 December 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^ Rabbi Norman Lamm: Some Comments on Centrist Orthodoxy
  3. ^ [4]
  4. ^ j. - Yeshiva U. confronts fault lines of modern Orthodoxy
  5. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference autogenerated1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ BBC - Religion & Ethics - Modern Orthodoxy: World views
  7. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference autogenerated5 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Modern orthodoxy in Israel | Judaism | Find Articles at