Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A "Modern Orthodox" Manifesto

Would that its was so!

In a previous posting to this blog, I pointed to the mystical, irrational, revisionist, and dangerous tendencies growing in orthodox Judaism.

Once upon a time, there was a movement called "Modern Orthodoxy", that tried to create a religious Judaism that could live in, and with, the modern world of science and rational inquiry, while being true to Halakha - Jewish Law - and fully accepting, and not metaphorically, Ol Malhut Shamayim - the yoke of heaven.

For a while, this movement seemed to be in ascendancy in the orthodox Jewish world. But it has been eclipsed, world wide, by a combination of mystical nationalist Religious Zionism and by Haredut - ultra-Orthodoxy - of both the Hasidic and Litvakish schools. Indeed, the extremist Religious Zionists, the Hasidism, and the Mitnagdim, have, for the most part, blended: each adopting elements of the other's basic world views, and all based on ultra conservative, non rational, and anti-modern positions.

But now my old friend and childhood classmate, Martin Lockshin, has published a spirited, if in my view overly optimistic defense of "Modern Orthodoxy". It is well worth reading, click here.

Marty, I wish it where so, and that your vision wins out in the halakhic world. Not that I think it will (sadly). And not that I agree with it. But it is a position that liberal Jews can actually have dialogue with, and whose values and methods are not anathema. It is a view point that is not actually detrimental to the welfare of the Jewish people and of Judaism, but rather promises some positive and adaptive development. It is a vision of Orthodoxy that honestly tries to deal with modernity, and which allows the possibility of a true klal yisrael - community of Israel. In short, it is a position that I and other liberal Jews can live with and even admire. All things, which the rising anti-rational ultra-Orthodox trend in Judaism is not.

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