Talk:Ultra-Orthodox Judaism/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Within their particular culture, a certain amount of rhetorical hyperbole is used to describe things. I can certainly see where this would result in cultural dissonance. For example, when discussing violations of the Sabbath, an ultra-Orthodox Jew will commonly say that it is an issur sekila, i.e., a violation of a prohibition whose warranted punishment is death by stoning. This is sometimes even contrasted with the violation of a holiday, which is only issur karet, i.e., a violation of a prohibition whose warranted punishment is death by the hand of God. These are both common phrases even today, even though the death penalty in Judaism was essentially worked out of existence in Second Temple times (2,000 years ago)? see, for instance Tractate Sanhedrin on the requirements for imposing a death penalty. While to the untrained ear, the statement sounds harsh: smoking on the Sabbath is unquestionably an issur sekila, but NO ONE in the ultra-Orthodox community means that the person should be stoned (no matter what they smoke). It is simply a term used to describe the severity of the violation. They are not lying when they say they don't mean "stone him," but they are also not lying when they say it is an issur sekila. It is merely an expression, based on (pseudo)-halachic implications of an act. Similarly, the expressions used for describing philosophies that result in non-observance according to their halachic standards will sound equally harsh, though that is not what the community means.

The most correct statement you make is "they won't accept non-Orthodox views of halakha or theology as valid at all." The reasons for this are purely halachic. According to the most lenient medieval authority (Rabbi Joseph Albo), the three principles of Jewish religious belief are: a) One God; b) Torah (written and oral) handed down at Sinai, and c) reward and punishment. (The better-known 13 Principles of Maimonides are a lot stricter). In halachah, denying one is denying the validity of the Jewish religion. For example, "Jews for Jesus" are perceived as non-Jewish (but not non-Jews) because they deny a) One God (overly simplified, but a Jewish response to the Trinity that I believe you would accept). Similarly, like it or not, denial of the other two are also perceived as non-Jewish by the ultra-Orthodox community. It is not a question of pluralism. They have a right to do whatever they want and believe whatever they want. To the Orthodox, the problem lies with calling such beliefs Judaism. Ironically, and I may be wrong, you seem to want to expect them to accept such beliefs as an authentic Judaism. Please realize, though, that doing this would be, for them, a rejection of their entire belief system. Danny


My point was intended to be that we should put in how they disagree rather than just saying they disagree. As for numbers, there are several million, with important centers in the US, Israel, Canada, London, and Belgium. In Israel they control about 22 of the 120 seats in Parliament, making them the balance of power. Their numbers have increased meteorically in the past few decades: they have have played kingmakers between Israel's right and left for the past 25 years. In other words, they can call the shots over what concessions are made to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, much of the Israeli ultra-Orthodox leadership is relatively moderate regarding the peace process, even though most of their adherents lean heavily to the right. Of course, this also has an impact on the statements they make. Rabbi Ovadiah Yoseph, an important leader in Israel, was instrumental in toppling both Netanyahu and Barak. In contrast, much of the Modern Orthodox leadership in Israel is alligned with the right. This should all be included in an article. I will try and work on it over the weekend. Danny


So put in the article that they're just nuts about each other, but they love dissing each other! I just don't understand this stuff about they don't mean what they say or say what they mean. That is entirely too "meta" for me. Just speculating, but aren't there also "tensions" between Reformed, Conservative, and "regular" Orthodox? People don't set up different groups because they agree with each other. Why not state in one sentence why they differ and then put that in the article? It isn't a very good article if it doesn't say something about how they differ from everyone else. It doesn't have to say they also differ with everybody else. By the way, how many people are in this movement? Any outside the US? Ortolan88 <http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/user:Ortolan88>

I definitely agree. I probably wasn't clear in my discussion with RK. My point was intended to be that we should put in how they disagree rather than just saying they disagree. As for numbers, there are several million, with important centers in the US, Israel, Canada, London, and Belgium. In Israel they control about 22 of the 120 seats in Parliament, making them the balance of power. Their numbers have increased meteorically in the past few decades: they have have played kingmakers between Israel's right and left for the past 25 years. In other words, they can call the shots over what concessions are made to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, much of the Israeli ultra-Orthodox leadership is relatively moderate regarding the peace process, even though most of their adherents lean heavily to the right. Of course, this also has an impact on the statements they make. Rabbi Ovadiah Yoseph, an important leader in Israel, was instrumental in toppling both Netanyahu and Barak. In contrast, much of the Modern Orthodox leadership in Israel is alligned with the right. This should all be included in an article. I will try and work on it over the weekend. Danny <http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/user:Danny>

A suggestion: In crafting the text for any entry on a religion, we need to avoid detailed inter-denominational apologetics to justify a group's beliefs or actions. For example, Reform Judaism's acceptance of driving on Shabbat is a sin according to Orthodoxy, but it can and should be stated in the Wikipedia article on Reform Judaism. After all, its a big issue. But just because the Orthodox disagree with this practice doesn't mean that an encyclopaedia description of it is an attack on Reform. The text of the entry is only a NPOV (neutral pointof view) description. Similarly, a description of ultra-Orthodoxy's rejection of Reform and Conservative (and sometimes Modern Orthodox) Judaism might be seen as a gross insult, or religious error, by Reform and Conservative Jews. But just because R and C Jews disagree with this belief doesn't mean that encyclopaedia description is an attack on ultra-Orthodoxy. Rather, it is a mere NPOV description of it. In regards to this article, I don't see how a description of ultra-Orthodoxy's own beliefs can be seen as anti-Orthodox. It sounds to me like you are very uncomfortable with their beliefs, and thus feel a need to rewrite them to make them sound more western and tolerant. RK



I just read Danny's latest additions, "The Ultra-Orthodox in America today", and "The UO in Israel today", and they are terrific pieces. Again, I am in agreement with everything he has written in these latest sections. The information therein concurs with everything I have read previously on this topic, and is written better than I could have done so. One thing I was surprised to read (a topic I am ignorant on) was about how Israel's status quo was a major factor that has prevented Israel from enacting a written constitution. I wonder how much this situation might also be due to Israel's British legal influence; that is, Israel is in some ways still influenced by the British legal system, which also does not have a formal constitution> But that is a subject for the entry on Israel's government. RK

Thanks RK, I'm glad we're finally finding the common ground. As for the constitution, attempts have been made since 1948 to write a constitution, however, too much is undetermined yet. For example: what is a "Jewish state," who is a Jew, or the borders of the state and its capital. So far, virtually every effort to write and enact a constitution has been blocked by the religious parties on these grounds. Eventually, I will get around to Israeli government. By the way, looking at the initial differences between us, I think I may have pinned the conflict. I read you as saying that the ultra-Orthodox hate the Modern Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. My argument is that the comments, no matter how repugnant they may seem, are essentially manifestations of fear. What is your take on that? Danny

---

Also, the debate is not one of Orthodox vs. Conservative and Reform. It is halachic Judaism vs. non-halachic Judaism. Reform rejects halachah. Conservative reinterprets halachah in a way that runs counter to traditional Jewish understanding. Danny

Conservative Jewish scholars and rabbis hold that it is the opposite way around. They hold that it is only (relatively!) recently that Judaism has fossilized (and thus changed) the halakhic process. Conservative Jews claim that one must look to the flexible and liberal way that halakha was developed in the time of the Mishnah, Talmud and for a few centuries afterwardss. This kind of adherence to halakha with a willingness to use rabbinical authority to modify the laws, has almost died out in almost all of Orthodoxy for the past 200 years, and for much of Judaism altogether since the 1600s. This unfortunate fossilization is one of the things that both the Hasidic Jews and the Reformers rebelled against. Those rabbis who reject fossilization and Reform became known as Modern Orthodox or Conservative. The difference between them wasn't about really about halakha; it was about the validity (or heresy!) of biblical scholarship, such as the documentary hypothesis, and the use of historical research into the development of rabbinic Jewish law. In practice, Modern Orthodox Judaism as a force in Judaism has almost allowed itself to die off in the past 50 years; Modern Orthodox has nearly totally surrendered to the right-wing. It is sad for me to read essay after essay by Modern Orthodox rabbiw saying "And this is how the law should be, but I am too much of an gnat to overrule the giant sages. But in future years I am sure that rabbis will make such changes...." Time after time, Modern Orthodox rabbis admit on issue after issue that certain things can and should change, but they almost never have the courage to make such changes themselves. They always look over their shoulder, terrified of condemnation from the right-wing. That is one of the reasons why so many formerly Modern Orthodox Jews became Conservative Jews, including leaders in both the American and Israeli Conservative Jewish legal bodies. Basically the situation can almost be boiled down to this: Conservative rabbis do in practice what many Modern Orthodox rabbis admit is possible, but who they say should only be done by a future great posek. (A future great posek that never seems to arrive.) RK

This page should be integrated with the one on orthodox Judaism, as all of orthodox Judaism considers all of the "Ultra"-Orthodox Jews valid, even when there are serious disagreements. Ezra Wax

That's true, but not relevant. If you work that way, you'd have to delete 6 or 7 pages related to Orthodoxy, and jam them into one monster page. It would be too large to be convenient, and would totally miss the point of having a hyperlinked encyclopaedia to begin with. Wikipedia is about finding a new paradigm for information representation and relationships. We generally have a main article on a subject, and then when discussions of a point get large, they are spun off through hyper links into their own article. These new articles, of course, should have links back to the main article from which they first originated. Each sub-article then becomes a main article of its own. RK

I don't take issue with the idea behind Wikipedia, I take issue with how the articles have been subdivided. I would integrate the articles and then factor them in a different way. I perceive the bias against ultra-orthodoxy to be inherent in the subdivision of the articles. Ezra Wax

Ezra, the article is about a belief system, not a group of people. Charedi is a Hebrew term not in common usage in English. Ultra-Orthodox is the term that they are known by in the English-speaking world (and yet, Haredi would be my preference too). We are working in an English language environment. BTW, properly, the transliteration should be Haredi. It is a chet not a khaf. Yes, ultra-Orthodox Jews don'tt distinguish between the two letters, even though it says in the Mishna Brurah that they cannot be a chazzanim if they don't. Hey, whoever said that they follow halachah when it isn't convenient? As for non-Haredi historian, you already said that they believe differently. The world is not divided between Haredi historians and non-Haredi historians, despite your beliefs to the contrary. Danny


The way the articles are being edited, ironically, reflects the division amongst the various factions of Judaism. *sigh* If only you fellows could get along.

A suggestion: your work will go faster if, rather than reverting each other's changes, you copy any "offending" passage to Talk and discuss it first. Try to find a way of phrasing each addition that none of the others would want to revert.

Phrases like According to... & Some advocates say... & Rabbi Eli Shoemaker said X but Rabbi Shlomo Tentmaker said Y can be a big help. --Ed Poor


The fifth (last) paragraph of "origins" seems to repeat concepts (at the very least, phrases) already included in previous paragraphs. Am I misreading this? Was there a mistake in editing? DanKeshet

Apart from some typos and grammar, I removed some additions that were either factually incorrect (Reform Jews did not coin the term Orthodox--SR Hirsch did), and POV (many minhagim [customs] are very new and new ones are being created all the time). Also, I took out the chain of rabbinic authority since it is highly debatable as well as inaccurate. Danny

P.S. Also took out the part about anti-Semitism. Not everything in Jewish life revolves around anti-Semitism. Not every time the dominant culture disagrees with the Jewish culture living within it is it a case of anti-Semitism either. Cultures can disagree, argue, even clash without invoking charges of racism! Danny

I am thinking of reverting the latest changes. While there is some useful content, it also betrarys a non-NPOV bias that I am uncomfortable with. RK 02:47 1 Jul 2003 (UTC)


This is a much better article than the average Wikipedia article. Only one thing made me cringe a little:

Suppressed anti-Semitism among large sectors of the Christian population exploded with a fury against all Jews, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.

This proposes a particular causal model for the Holocaust that can be argued for, but I think such arguments should be in the Holocaust article and not here. I don't like "Christian population" (few leading Nazis were Christians, anyway the complex connections between Christian antisemitism and the Holocaust deserve more than a quip in passing), nor do I like "exploded with a fury" (it was more like calm and calculated, which is even more horrifying). -- zero

"few leading Nazis were Christians" ??? what were they? one might say Germanic Pagan...but that would ignore their "return" to the Catholic and Lutheran Churches after the war. Do we know that they failed to regularly attend Mass during the Holocaust? We do know that the Catholic Church chose not to excommunicate any (strong word, any, needs checking for each of the millions of Nazis), rather any significant Nazi leader. OneVoice 00:57, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)



This article makes no sense. Which group of people is being defined as Ultra-Orthodox? Are you talking about Chassidim such as Satmar or Vizhnitz? About Lubavitch? Neturei Karta? Litvishe yeshivos such as Lakewood and Mir? Where do you get that the most basic belief of the ultra-Orthodox community is that it is the latest link in a chain of Jewish continuity extending back to the giving of the Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai. Ezra Wax

All of the above. As for a source, משה קיבל תורה מסיני ומסרה ליהושע ויהושע לזקנים וזקנים לנביאים ונביאים מסרוה לאנשי כנסת הגדולה. Any number of contemporary sources, from the histories of Beryl Wein to the shiurim of Rav Hutner will tell you that this is the standard belief. אובר איך בין א מודערנישע ייד. Danny 00:54, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I don't deny that we are part of the mesora, but that is the defining belief? That is what defines these groups above all else? Ezra Wax

Yes, Ezra, Torah mi-Sinai is a defining belief. Being makpid on chumros does not (actually, as a rabbi I once knew liked to say: chumra melashon chamor. If I were to go into a POV rant, I would add the mitzvah of bal tosif, and add that to be accepted to the Sanhedrin, you had to find 70 ways to be metaher a sheretz. Neither has very much to do with chumros. Danny 01:12, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)

A defining belief perhaps, bu the defining belief? Ezra Wax

Would you care to provide an alternative? Danny 01:18, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)

The one I put in. That they are careful to do more than the letter of the law. Ezra Wax

That does not constitute ultra-Orthodoxy. Are you talking chumros? Then you should be specific about what chumros you are talking about. Not eating gebroks does not an ultra-Orthodox make, while glatt is in the shulchan aruch, and it is the Rama that says you don't need to eat it. See some of my comments on chumros above. It is far more than the continuation of the mishna I quoted there, עשו סייג לתורה' because that is incumbent on everyone. Danny 01:33, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)

That is what I mean. עשו סיג לתורה. It is incumbent on everyone, but it is only the charedim that are really makpid. Ezra Wax

That's silly. So much of what we do today is siyag that is not limited to charedim. What thety are doing is a siyag on a siyag on a siyag. Danny 02:33, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)


I won't start an edit war over this. Most leading nazis were not Christians at all -- they were germanic occultist (some were even satanist). Also, the complex connections between Christian (mostly catholic) religious intolerance and Nazi racist antisemitism are discussed elsewhere.

That may be true. However this is not true of the vast majority of the inidividuals that carried out the orders. Without the cooperation of these Chrisitian individuals, the Holocaust would not have been possible. OneVoice 15:39, 22 Dec 2003 (UTC)

An excellent, well balanced article and one of the best on the topic and in Wikipedia in general. Ineuw 01:46, 2004-Jan-31 (UTC)


I find the 'compare to Quaker' at the beginning a little strange, since Quakers tend to be passionately anti-othordox. I think the language comparison is an interesting one though, might it be better placed somewhere later in the article? I worry that in the introductory paragraphs it risks implying more similarities between the groups than just the linguisitic one. My feeling, although I'm sure this is too hot-topic to be worth the edit war, is that a more revealing comparison is to militant groups of other religions. Camipco 23:06, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

Uh, maybe we should reconsider some phrasing

A brief thought. Coming straight after a section on the Holocaust, perhaps Zionism shouldn't be defined as 'Jewish nationalist socialism'?

A casual reader could read that as Jewish national socialism...probably NOT what's intended. Penta 23:30, 2 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I agree, I shuffled the isms to fix this problem. Camipco 16:09, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)