web analytics
July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Losing Rational Orthodoxy


There is a growing crisis in the international Jewish community that I believe must be acknowledged if we are to survive intact and preserve our children’s future. The crisis is related to, but goes well beyond, the fact that we are in general too indulgent and tolerant as parents; it goes beyond the fact that we have acquired a level of wealth and comfort that we take too much for granted – even if we are not all wealthy nor all that comfortable; and it goes beyond any individual’s intensity ascribed to religious custom and tradition.

It is more about our willingness to abandon the balance of faith and reality that has helped us endure for centuries. This is not a crisis of abiding religious faith or observant practice per se, but rather a calamity of application and interpretation. And it has the potential to be a disaster of significant proportion.

In a lecture addressing the ability of science to progress, the late Carl Sagan pointed out that there needs to be “an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs…if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.”

This point applies to all human belief systems. If you do not question yourself or ask of others, you cannot grow. In contradistinction to the exquisite balance we have attempted to achieve between the insularity of inflexible orthodoxy and necessary engagement with the world at large, our children are increasingly encouraged to disengage. There is a growing rejection of the Talmudic dictum “yesh chochmah bagoyim.”

Perhaps the most obvious aspect of Orthodox Jewish life where disengagement occurs, and the best portal by which to enter this discussion, is the matter of shidduchim.

The process of finding a spouse has undergone such a major overhaul in the past two decades that it is virtually indistinguishable from anything that occurred before that. True, there have always been shadchanim (matchmakers) whose job was to find proper matches between families of reasonably equal social or intellectual status. But the current focus on irrelevant externals that are supposed to act as a surrogate for truly knowing someone – size of hat brim, style of dress, type of shoe, color of tablecloth – tells us nothing about personality, compatibility or mutual interests.

Some would argue that these questions are not part of the normal matchmaking process. Both clinical and personal experience prove otherwise. And to question why these superficial externals have become a major component of the dating process is to be immediately labeled a member of the B-List – someone not worthy of a better marriage mate.

This increasingly ubiquitous approach to finding a spouse is meaningless unless one seeks only to disengage from the world and find a mate who will comply with that desire. It is little more than lashon hora (speaking evil of others), and it sends the message to individuals of marriageable age that they are unable to form opinions of their own. Are they old enough to get married but not to select whom to marry or even to end a dating arrangement with someone they may not be compatible with? Someone else seems to always be making the decision for the dating partners.

This is not to say parents should have no interest in their children’s dating, only that their interest should take the form of being a teacher, coach and supporter – not, except in the most extreme cases – the ultimate decision maker. And the shadchan, an outsider, surely should not be the final intercessor.

There is significant fallout from the shidduch scene that trickles down to other aspects of Jewish life and causes some of us to question where rationality has gone.

Most young women are seeking “learners” or perhaps “learner earners.” They are instructed to seek men who will spend their lives either fully or primarily involved in learning. Similarly, young men are instructed to believe that if they seek a professional career instead of learning they will be seen as second class, lower status and less likely to attract the “finer” A-list women as spouses. This mindset is mentally, socially and financially incapacitating to the entire Jewish community.

About the Author: Dr. Michael J. Salamon is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the author of numerous articles and books, most recently “Abuse in the Jewish Community” (Urim Publications).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Losing Rational Orthodoxy”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Dore Gold.
Foreign Ministry Calls Sunni Arab Nations ‘Israel’s Allies’
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Yaakov Spivak

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Talks between Iran and the P5+1 were likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

More Articles from Dr. Michael J. Salamon
Dr. Michael J. Salamon

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

Salamon-042415

Iran has at its core the same ideology as that of ISIS but, inaccurately, is thought a lesser threat

A message can be manipulated for and targeted to an audience without the awareness of the listener

Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/losing-rational-orthodoxy/2008/02/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: