I was invited to join Rabbi Abraham (Avi) Shafran to talk about recent comments by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the subsequent response by the Agudah. We discussed it on Facebook on Friday and I guess Zev or one of his producers saw the comment thread and decided to ask me onto the show. The format of the show was to be a moderated discussion between Rabbi Shafran and me.
Rabbi Shafran represented the Agudah position. I represented the non-Agudah position.
The gist of Rabbi Shafran’s argument was that Rabbi Sacks was criticizing a legitimate form of orthodox Judaism and was doing so from a place of ignorance as evidenced by his mention of the Siyum HaShas as an example of inward turning segregationism. Thus, the Agudah was standing up for themselves and the more insular communities who were criticized.
My opinion is that the Agudah over reacted. Rabbi Sacks was not even criticizing the insular communities as much as he was warning of a potential danger if the trend to the right continues. In his view, and in mine, there is a lot of value in a version of Judaism that sympathizes with orthodox Judaism. Orthodox Judaism should be careful not to eliminate this soft center between non-orthodox Judaism and orthodox Judaism. While the choice of the Siyum HaShas was unfortunate, I don’t think it accurately reflected his sentiments.
Regardless of what Rabbi Sacks meant, this is an important discussion and I invited Rabbi Shafran and the radio audience to have that discussion. While it is entertaining to argue about what Rabbi Sacks was trying to say, it is far less important than the substance his point.
Listen to the show below. I’ve cut the 2 hour show into 1:20 of just talking. So no ads or news will disturb your listening. The quality of the recording is pretty brutal but this was what I received from the producer.
Let me know what you think.