Many are deeply disturbed by the trend in Israel of haredi men refusing to work so they can spend all day in kollel, an idea that has no foundation in our tradition, as well as the general devaluing of secular education among haredim that has left a large chunk of that community unable to make a living in the modern world.
And much as we should certainly accord special importance to our past sages, many of us are nevertheless disturbed by the way in which they are sometimes deified, and their opinions, some of which were clearly temporal, are applied today in our modern world as part of a seemingly endless obscurantist campaign to add more and more stringencies, regardless of their provenience, foundation, or prudence, to religious life.
The Judaism of the Ages you reference in your editorial was one that was responsive to the times, valued the need for people to earn a living, viewed worldly knowledge as part and parcel of Torah learning, and engaged difficult intellectual challenges rather than side-stepping them by hiding behind the classical sages who doubtless made decisions appropriate to their milieus, not all of which were meant to bind future generations of Jews.
These values seem less important to many of the sages who attended the Siyum. Those of us outside their increasingly insular community – including many of us who identify as Modern Orthodox – do not ask simply whether they are the Jewish future. We ask whether that future is the future Judaism deserves.
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