First I take strong exception to being called haughty. Or mean spirited as others have referred to me. My views do not come from any sense of superiority or arrogance. They come from a sense of what I perceive to be right and wrong. Which are based on the teachings of my primary mentor, R’ Ahron Soloveichik.
And I am certainly not alone in such thinking. The RCA – which is the rabbinic body that represents Modern Orthodox rabbis (… and of which Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer is an executive member) feels pretty much the same way. They have refused to recognize YCT Semicha and the ordination of women. The RCA rejects the direction that Rabbi Weiss and company are going. Which is why they resigned from the RCA.
Having attended a Conservative Hebrew high school, and wanting more than they offered, David is exactly the kind of individual that is losing out by the exit of the Left into this new movement. The kind of Left Rabbi Avi Weiss used to be a leader of. Rabbi Weiss has chosen to move on. And now by his own admission has departed from his mentor, Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik’s path. He now follows the path of social change to the hearty approval of his laity.
David made a point about religious practice in Judaism being its essence. “Judaism is a religion of ‘deed’ not ‘creed’”- something he learned from an Orthodox teacher at his high school. By deed I assume that teacher meant performing the Mitzvos of the Torah. It is true that more than any other religion Judaism is a religion of deed. God judges what we do. Not what we think.
But God not judging what we think has an obvious exception. There is one commandment that is entirely based on what we think. It is believing in God and that the events recorded in the Torah actually happened. When God says in the very first of the Ten Commandments, ‘I am the Lord, your God who took you out of Egypt’, He wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t telling us to believe in something that never took place. That would be absurd. This is a fundamental belief without which Judaism is a non starter. Even if you observe every other commandment in the Torah as meticulously as possible.
But even without the heresy – the radical changes Open Orthodoxy has adopted, that – may – technically be within the parameters of Halacha will never be accepted by the mainstream. The more departures from normative Judaism Open Orthodoxy makes, the greater the chance of its ultimate demise in my view. This isn’t haughtiness. It is an analysis based on what is happening to the Conservative Movement 100 years after its founding. A movement that had similar noble intentions.
If I understand him correctly the thrust of David’s argument is that I do not have the right to determine what is or isn’t a Orthodox Judaism. I actually agree with him. But I never made that claim – nor would I. It is decided primarily by the parameters I mentioned earlier. It is most certainly NOT decided by me or the will of a laity based on the spirit of the times. A spirit that their rabbinic leaders decide to follow. Even if there are 850 families that desire it. Judaism is not dependent upon how well time tested tradition is received by the synagogue laity. If it were, Mechitzos would have been abandoned a long time ago. Nor does it depend on how desirous that same laity is of incorporating new traditions into it.