web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Modernizing Modern Orthodoxy

Modernizing Modern Orthodoxy

After reading recent articles about the state of Modern Orthodoxy, some of my own experiences started bubbling back to the surface.

For most of my school-age years I attended public schools. But as I had already begun to grow in observance, following in my two older brothers’ footsteps, I decided to attend Yeshiva University in the fall of 1997.

At that time, I took everything at face value. So when I was told about Torah Umadda (Torah and natural sciences), I thought that the letter “vav” (and) joining these two words together indicated that these two extremes were somehow reconciled. But seeing that the secular subjects had little or nothing to do with the Jewish ones, not being able to reconcile the two, my fervor and excitement for Jewish observance began to wane.

Only years later, after much more searching, did I discover what was missing. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh begins his classic treatise entitled “TheTorahAcademy” with the following gematria: Torah (תורה = 611) = art ( אמנות = 497) and science ( מדע = 114) combined.

Since “art” is the one word that isn’t presently included as part of the Torah Umadda paradigm, I thought to bring some stories from my time at Y.U. related to the importance of encouraging artistic expression according to the Torah.

Pi The Movie

Pi The Movie

Not long into my freshman year, during November 1997, a friend of mine would excitedly tell of the happenings that were taking place during the filming of a local independent film. In addition to the director being Jewish, the actual topic of the film brought themes from the Kabbalah. Additionally, as it was a small project, anyone could walk up, say hello to the crew, watch, and even participate in the filming. This is what my friend did.

For those who aren’t familiar with secular movies, that film was Pi, the director Darren Aronofsky, and the budget $60,000 (financed from $100 donations from friends and family according to Wikipedia).

I brought this story not because the film grossed over 3 million dollars, or the fact that he is now one of the most well-known directors in Hollywood. This is a difficult thing to say, but as we are all able to “rewind the clock” through teshuvah (repentance), there is still time for all of us to gain from “what if” scenarios.

While researching the movie, although Darren apparently didn’t grow up orthodox, what if he had studied in-depth what Kabbalah had to say about the number Pi? For instance, while a book could easily be written on the subject, Rabbi Ginsburgh has a two part series on the number Pi according to Torah mathematics (one, two). As it is readily available on the internet, if Darren were to begin researching for the sequel of his debut movie, he would likely come across these two articles.

Why did I bring this story? Because throughout the years, I have met many creative, ambitious souls, who didn’t understand what was new or modern about the Torah. While these creative souls may include the Torah as part of story–as in our Pi example or Darren’s upcoming Noah* movie–the “modern” or inspiration comes from the secularization of these themes.

What does it mean to modernize Modern Orthodoxy? To first take the most creative and modern-minded adherents, and make sure they have a place for their creative ambitions. Then once they are included, many more will be inspired to follow.

So as not to appear like someone speaking from the distance, my wife was once in that world. But seeing from firsthand experience that Hollywood was empty, she declined an offer to audition in the starring role of a feature movie in favor of her decision to increase her observance.

There are many more examples, including many well-known talents that either I or fellow students of Rabbi Ginsburgh have corresponded with over the years. These are highly creative individuals who have the ability to inspire millions, but are searching for something true and lasting to inspire themselves with.

For information about the painting by Tuvia Katz at the top, visit: http://www.torahscience.org/torah_art.html


* Darren’s attraction to the story of Noah further indicates his love of mathematics. In addition to the symmetrical nature of Noah’s name, as in the verse: “And Noah (נֹחַ) found favor (חֵן) in God’s eyes,” according to Rabbi Ginsburgh’s book “
LecturesonTorahandModernPhysics,” he was also the first to teach us about the concept of symmetry.

About the Author: Yonatan Gordon is a student of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and writes on his personal blog at CommunityofReaders.org.


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 “Modernizing Modern Orthodoxy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Posted to Twitter in Ferguson, MO by St. Louis County Police: "Bricks thrown at police, 2 police cars burned, gun seized by police. Tonight was disappointing."  Their motto is, "To protect and serve."
Prosecutor in Ferguson Case: ‘Witnesses Lied Under Oath’
Latest Indepth Stories
The annual  Chabad menorah lighting in Sydney has been called off this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Greiff-112814-Men

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism; Thank G-d for heroic actions of the Maccabees!

More Articles from Yonatan Gordon
Dancing Hareidim

You can be into modern things and learn Chassidus–this is most encouraged and welcomed.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, dean of the Yitzhar Yeshivah

Rav Ginsburgh, dean of Od Yosef Chai, has come out publicly against any form of price tag vandalism

All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

As we Jews returned to the Holy Land and prayed at our holy sites, forces fighting holiness came too

For the Jewish people to move forward we must not despair, rather we must instill hope and optimism.

What the world calls confessional writing, we call teshuvah (returning to God and His Torah).

“God guides our every step in this world. Let’s make the most of these steps.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/modernizing-modern-orthodoxy/2014/02/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: