Saturday, May 10, 2008

Two Speakers

I listened to two speakers this Shabbos. One was Dr. Marc Shapiro and the other was Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beis Din of the CRC. Perhaps coincidentally, both men touched on related themes. Dr. Shapiro was speaking on subjectivity in Halacha, and Rav Schwartz was speaking on the qualities of a Posek.

In the course of their talks, both men brought up many stories and examples from halachic literature and history - Dr Shapiro as more of a polemical aid for his arguments, R Schwartz more in a conversational way and as I was listening to them, I found myself gaining a very strong appreciation of the concern and responsibility that the various poskim had for their communities throughout the centuries. For some reason, it seems to me that as the Jewish community became less autonomous, the boundary between the kehilla and the wider gentile world became more porous, that sense of relating to their community as human beings versus abstract cases of law became more diluted.

Perhaps the one case that is an exception is rabbis in the state of Israel. In some sense, the giant bureaucracy of the Rabbanut is corrupt and stifling, yet it seems like that many rabbis, including R Goren and R Yosef had regained a sense of being responsible for guiding and governing the lifestyle of the entire Jewish nation.

10 Comments:

Blogger The Candy Man said...

The Rabbanut has totally lost its way. Their stances on conversion are an embarrassment. They have no stance on Biblical Criticism. It's like the middle ages.

Honestly, the backwardsness of the Rabbanut is one of the main reasons I just can't blindly join the "Support Israel!" Facebook club. I just can't. You gotta think about this stuff.

May 10, 2008 8:31 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

The Rabbanut has totally lost its way. Their stances on conversion are an embarrassment. They have no stance on Biblical Criticism. It's like the middle ages.

Actually, it is nothing like the middle ages where there was quite a bit of autonomy and creative halachic rulings.

It is stagnant and corrupt - much more akin to the socialist bureaucracies in places like the former USSR, India, China, etc...

May 10, 2008 9:01 PM  
Blogger FedUp said...

You make a good point. With all these OJ Rabbis from all walks of life and the globalization of the free world, the Rabbis are losing their sway over their communities. One can find a kula from someone or just make it up. Not like anyone can tell you otherwise.

This, I think is what has ead to a near complete free for all (pretty much what MO is now) on the one hand, and highly oppressive, closed communities (pretty much what lakewood, boro park, and meah shearim is now.)

MO will go completely Conservadox, then Conservaprax and finnally no longer a distinct sect, over the next several generations. The black hatters will become more reclusive and exclusive and will become a spectacle of tourism like the Amish. Unless of course, Mashiach comes and then all hell will break loose and the planet will become engulfed in a nuclear Armageddon.

That's enough cynicism for one day.

May 11, 2008 6:46 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

FedUp, I think you are correct in the sense that MO will probably split with the majority joining the Conservadox and the minority joining the frum. I think this is just because really the MO was formed as a response to Modernity and really has not been an effective response in the long run.

However, I think it will be much longer than a few generations, unless something drastic forces this split. Many people are comfortable enough being MO that there will not be a strong impetus to change from inside.

May 11, 2008 6:58 AM  
Blogger FedUp said...

I'm interested to see how the International Rabbinic Fellowship with Marc Angel will go. I think that this is another start in the split. Torah and Science, Banning concerts, and now the conversion crisis. How many more blows can Orthodoxy take before it goes its seperate ways?

May 11, 2008 8:03 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I am curious what you're calling the "conversion crisis"? I assume you mean the R Druckman issue?

Why do you think this is such a crisis for MO?

May 11, 2008 8:28 AM  
Blogger The Candy Man said...

Fedup,
I'm interested to see how the International Rabbinic Fellowship with Marc Angel will go.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. As someone who does not actually live in the MO world anymore, I don't get all the memos.

Avi Weiss + Marc Angel = interesting.

MO will go completely Conservadox, then Conservaprax and finnally no longer a distinct sect, over the next several generations.

Yeah, MO is slowly reinventing the Conservative wheel. That's why I left. I want to be part of a group that's pushing the envelope, not a group that's just trying to catch up.

May 11, 2008 9:52 AM  
Blogger FedUp said...

Candy Man, no problem. What group would you consider yourself a part of?

E,
I was referring to the R, Druckman issue. It's not directly connected to Modern Orthodoxy but it is indirectly because Modern Orthodoxy is still Orthodox. It's somewhat connected to what Marc Angel is working on.

Anyhow, these are just my observations.

May 11, 2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

"I am curious what you're calling the "conversion crisis"? I assume you mean the R Druckman issue?

Why do you think this is such a crisis for MO?"

I can answer why this is a problem.

It's because MO is bit like Bill Clinton and the charedi reactionaries like Hillary Clinton. MO's tie is choked tightly around the neck and held like a leash.

The ruling included a ruling that those who were converted and not covered under the mass annulment, were also open to be ruled invalid if they could be shown to no longer be practicing halacha.

There's been much commentary in the conversion world in Israel for a while how the more Orthodox you get, the more likely any given rabbi is to try not to do a conversion because of doubts that the convert will follow all 613 mitzvot (we're talking about beyond the standard turning away three times thing) or because their family isn't converting too, or is from the wrong family, or married to a non-converting spouse, etc.).

I think that's a patently absurd notion, that those who have come and are willing to die at the side of other Jews, standing with them through thick and thin for life, should be tossed aside because they might not be perfect. I'm unhappy NOT because I am a convert in-process (never did this to be recognized in Israel) but because of where this is headed.

Also, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements are already derisively considered not true Jews as it is in the usual quarters.

Okay, mix those things together and you can see where that goes. Not just to slamming the door on converts, but a civil war within the faith over who is considered a Jew based on something tantamount to a loyalty oath right out of a police state. "Have you now or ever been in violation of Shabbos?! SPEAK!!!"

As the candy man said, they have lost their way.

May 12, 2008 4:39 PM  
Blogger The Candy Man said...

Candy Man, no problem. What group would you consider yourself a part of?

Geez, that's a toughie. I definitely have humanist values. I'm a liberal. I like Jewish groups like the Progressive Jewish Alliance and stuff like that.

Spiritually, religiously, I think of myself as a "new Jew." I don't affiliate with any particular group. Still seeking a decent shul, a decent rabbi, a ritual that sends chills down my spine, a speaker who says stuff I can nod my head to.

May 13, 2008 12:18 AM  

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