Saturday, November 28, 2015

What is Orthodox?

  When the auspicious announcement went out the other day that announced that women can never be accepted as an orthodox Jewish rabbi I was unmoved. I guess this is because I have zero desire to be a rabbi.
     What bothered me more is the discussion of blogs and what is orthodox Judaism and what is not. I hate when people like to say that modern orthodoxy is almost conservative Judaism. It is not. Even in the stone age when I was a kid conservative Jews did not keep shabbos at all. Perhaps they kept kosher to some degree , but that's about it. A conservative shul  may have had more traditional service but they also  used a microphone on shabbos. It was a lot closer to reform Judaism. I do not think that much has changed except for the fact that conservative Jews have shifted more to the left and have become less observant. One could say that many orthodox Jews have shifted to the left and have created open orthodoxy or partnership minyans because the conservative Jewish movement is way too far to the left for them and they want to be more liberal than orthodox Judaism. Just because someone may be far to the left as far as being an orthodox Jew that does not mean they are interested in open orthodoxy or partnership minyanim. Then again, there are those who are not so strict as an orthodox Jew but not as lax as a conservative Jew . I think that open orthodoxy is filling that gap. A lot of it is about semantics. No on likes their brand of observance to be insulted, but in the end people will remain in the denomination they feel comfortable in and won't care much about what others think anyway.

1 comment:

Garnel Ironheart said...

There are two reasons people thing left wing MO is like Conservative
1) Ignorance and prejudice
2) In its heyday the Conservatives were a decent movement. The JTS had an impressive Talmudic faculty headed by a genuine authority (Rabbi Saul Lieberman), its graduates were well-educated in Judaism, and its rituals were virtually indistinguishable from Modern Orthodoxy except for the mixed seating. What happened? Democracy. Instead of having leading authorities who decide on the movement's position on Jewish legal issues they have votes in their so-called Rabbinical Assembly. They also adopted the position that what secular liberal society likes must be good and therefore Jewish practice must be altered to be in sync with it. As a result today we have a movement that is almost indistinguishable from Reform except it takes its ritual stuff a little more seriously.
What does that have to do with Open Orthodoxy? Well other than the mechitzah you have a movement that looks a lot like Conservatism did just as it starting veering off the road. The fear is that it is run by rabbis who will be forced to choose between holding by Torah ethics while saying "no" to their congregants on issues like homosexual marriage or twisting Torah values beyong recognition to say "yes" to their congregants and that they will choose the latter while still insisting they are Orthodox just like the Conservatives who insisted they were traditional as they ordained women rabbis and allowed driving on Shabbos.