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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Modern Orthodoxy’

Modernizing Modern Orthodoxy

Monday, February 24th, 2014

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.

Will Modern Orthodoxy Survive?

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

DovBear has an interesting guest post that generated a lot of responses (260 comments as of this writing). I admit I haven’t read the comments. But I do have some thoughts on the very legitimate question posed: Modern Orthodoxy: Are we witnessing its death throes?

The truth is that I have already given my opinion on this matter. Many Times. To review I predict that Charedim will win. But only in the form of moderate Charedism. Which is sociologically very closely aligned with the right wing of Modern Orthodoxy (RWMO). Integrated communities of moderate Charedim and RWMO already exist and are growing. The Haskafos are somewhat different but the values and lifestyles are very similar.

The problem for RWMOs is that there is a dearth of RWMO day schools and high schools. So that in most cases, RWMO parents will send their children to a moderate Charedi day school and high school that has a good secular studies department. That is far more preferable to a RWMO than would be a LWMO day school that for example allows its female students to wear Tefillin during Davening

Because of that, I’m not sure how the Centrist Hashkafos of RWMO will survive in any great numbers. The only saving grace is Yeshiva University (YU). They actually espouse the values of Modern Orthodoxy. But unless a RWMO family is very strong in espousing and living its values and is able to transmit it to their children, this Hashkafa will be buried in the Charedi schools their children attend. And those children will not be likely to attend YU – choosing a moderate Charedi school like Ner Israel for example.

YU will be left to those to left of RWMO. And those on the far left will opt for a place like YCT …or no post high school religious education at all – preferring to pursue their education in a secular university that will advance their chosen careers.

How all this will play out in numbers per Orthodox segment remains to be seen. It is really too complex to predict.

First let us define what MO really is and what it encompasses. Put in simple terms, to be MO is to live and accept the modern world and to see it in a positive light. This doesn’t mean that everything that exists in the modern world is good. But for those things which do not contradict Halacha, MO allows it and in some cases even embraces it.

This is in fact the Hashkafa of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch called Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE). It is a mistake not consider TIDE part of Modern Orthodox Hashkafa. Rav Hirsch embraced all elements in secular culture that enhanced Torah. Which is why he made his famous speech extolling German historian, dramatist, and poet, Friedrich von Schiller. He saw Jewish values in Schiller. This is a Modern Orthodox perspective; not a Charedi one that would not even consider looking at a word Schiller ever said, much less praise him.

TIDE is of course not the sum and substance of MO. There is a wide spectrum of Hashkafos that is in included in the broad tent of MO. Included are RWMO, LWMO, and what I call MO Lite – which I define as those who focus more on a modern lifestyle thanthey do on a religious ideology. Unfortunately this is how most Charedim see all of MO.

But MO does not equal MO Lite. TIDE is certainly a part of MO. And it is certainly not a part of a Charedi world that rejects all of modernity and uses only those parts of it that they find absolutely necessary for their lives. Although there are many – probably the majority of – Charedim that do enjoy some of secular culture, they generally do so with a sense of guilt. MO has no guilt in partaking of that part of the culture which is permissible under Halacha.

‘You Murder the Children’: Rav Soloveitchik on Abortion

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

When one thinks of Modern Orthodoxy, Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l soon comes to mind for his leadership thereof. In our time, however, Modern Orthodoxy has become a vague term with problematic tendencies. As Rabbi Steven Pruzansky–who has numerous shiurim on Yeshiva University’s Torah website–recently wrote, “Too often, one finds in the Modern Orthodox world grievances of one sort or another against this or that aspect of Torah, as if Jews get to sit in judgment of God and His Torah.”

No issue might better crystallize the dissonance between Rav Soloveitchik’s Modern Orthodoxy and today’s than abortion. Let us consider the great man’s views.

During a shiur on Parashat Bo in 1975, Rav Soloveitchik stated that “to me it is something vulgar, this clamor of the liberals that abortion be permitted,” adding:

“I consider the society of today as insane…I read from the press that in Eretz Yisrael they permit abortions now! Sapir [probably Pinchas Sapir] comes to the US and asks that 60,000 boys and girls should leave the US and settle in Eretz Yisrael. When a child is born, it’s also immigration to Eretz Yisrael, and yet you murder the children.”

Rav Soloveitchik then predicted:

“And if you kill the fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed…The mother will get frightened after the baby will be born…and the doctor will say her life depends upon the murder of the baby. And you have a word, mental hygiene, whatever you want you can subsume under mental hygiene…And there is now a tendency for rabbis in the US to march along with society, otherwise they’ll be looked upon as reactionaries.”

Similar remarks appear in Reflections of the Rav:

“If the dominant principle governing the logos ["thinking capacity"] is that abortion is morally permissible because only a mother has a right to decide whether she wishes to be a mother, then infants may similarly have their lives terminated after birth. What if the child interferes with the promising brilliant career of the mother?”

These words might be jarring for those who view Rav Soloveitchik as the mild-mannered author of philosophically oriented books like The Lonely Man of Faith. Equally if not more jarring might be Rav Soloveitchik’s statements on sexual morality, which I discussed a few months ago.

Specific to abortion, one might counter that Rav Soloveitchik permitted an unborn child with Tay-Sachs disease to be aborted through the sixth month, but this proves just the opposite, namely: 1) What does this narrow, tragic case indicate about Rav Soloveitchik’s general view of abortion? 2) What does it indicate about Rav Soloveitchik’s view of abortion after the sixth month even in the case of Tay-Sachs? And vis-à-vis those who claim a woman’s absolute right to “terminate a pregnancy” at any point, I doubt such an attempt to (mis)represent Rav Soloveitchik as a “moderate” on abortion would be received agreeably. In this regard, one of Rav Soloveitchik’s sons-in-law, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, shlita, has observed in the context of abortion:

“Even if we were to accept that indeed it is the woman’s own body, we totally reject the conception that she then can do with it as she pleases. This is a completely anti-halakhic perception [emphasis added]. It rests on a secular assumption that, as it were, ‘My Nile is my own; I made it for myself’ (Yechezkel 29:3), as if we are the source of our own existence and therefore the masters of our own being. This is assuredly not the case.”

Rav Lichtenstein summarizes the worldview of that anti-halakhic perception as follows:

“The essence of modern secular culture is the notion of human sovereignty; individual man is master over himself, and collective man is master over his collective… From a religious point of view, of course, eilu va-eilu divrei avoda zara—both approaches are idolatrous. Here one establishes individual man as an idol, and the one idolizes, in humanistic terms, humanity as a whole. The basis of any religious perception of human existence is the sense that man is not a master: neither a master over the world around him, nor a master over himself.”

Yes, Rav Soloveitchik earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Berlin (as likewise Rav Lichtenstein earned a Ph.D. in English literature from Harvard). Yes, Rav Soloveitchik enjoyed classical music (especially Bach). And first and foremost, Rav Soloveitchik was a Torah Jew for whom Halachah was not some intellectual game or cultural style, rather an all-encompassing conviction with profound social implications. Thus his denunciations of abortion, which derived from the same worldview as these remarks in 1953:

Modern Orthodoxy’s Welcome Alternative

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

In the last number of years there has been great media and literary attention paid to the phenomenon of members of the Haredi community who choose to leave their lifestyle and neighborhoods – in some painful instances even becoming estranged from their families, as they move into mainstream secular society.

Books, investigative essays, interviews and websites have highlighted various elements of this phenomenon, while organizations have been formed to offer support to such individuals.

Particularly striking is the swing from one extreme to another, as many who once were intensely Haredi end up living an extremely secular lifestyle, detached from halachic observance of any kind or affiliation with any Jewish community.

To the best of my knowledge, there have not been systematic peer-reviewed studies of the extent of this phenomenon and whether the cases highlighted in the media are representative. Nevertheless, it is increasingly obvious to those who keep a close watch on the situation that a good percentage of those who leave the Haredi community end up rejecting halachic observance.

And that is a real tragedy, because so much of what these individuals wish for in their public comments – to study secular subjects on a high level, to participate in and enjoy the cultural and leisure activities of mainstream society, to find themselves in educational settings where rigorous questions and inquiry can be pursued, to encounter a less restrictive atmosphere surrounding male-female interaction – is available to them in the various shades and sub-communities of Modern Orthodoxy.

Many of these talented and motivated individuals, if they investigated and sought out Modern Orthodox settings, could find their niche as well as many of their most profound human, psychological and spiritual needs addressed in a community of committed Jews who engage fully with the modern world while remaining committed to their core religious values.

In addition, many of these individuals could contribute in positive ways to the Modern Orthodox community, bringing with them their life experiences, their feelings and struggles, and, in many cases, a deep knowledge of classical rabbinic literature.

Many of those who grow up in an intensely insular environment internalize a “black and whilte” view of the world. In this context the message one has imbibed is that if one does not fully embrace the cultural norms and religious assumptions of the community, one must therefore totally reject any connection to the values, practices and core beliefs of that community, along with its peripheral trappings and sociologically based norms. One leaves the community one was brought up in and passes “go” without stopping to consider alternatives and options.

This is reminiscent of the stories of Eastern European immigrants at the turn of the previous century who, upon realizing it was not socially acceptable to wear a kippah at their place of work, simply gave up the entire enterprise of living a Jewish life.

Or to take another example, one reads Bialik’s classic poem “Hamatmid” today with a certain wistfulness of missed opportunities. In the poem, Bialik expresses his longing and appreciation of what the traditional bet midrash had given him and the Jewish people. Yet he feels he can no longer remain in that place, given his desire to experience the world and all its knowledge. For Bialik, as for so many young men and women of the late 1800s and early 1900s, religion and modernity could not co-exist under one roof. They felt they had to make stark choices, and no middle ground was available.

I still recall reading the poem close to thirty years ago as a junior at Yeshiva College and thinking, What would Bialik have done if a thriving Yeshiva College had existed back then and been supported by the traditional religious establishment? Or what would Bialik have done if the “acceptable” choices in Eastern Europe for a rabbinical education were not only Volozhin and Slabodka but also the equivalent of a Yeshiva University/RIETS or a Yeshivat Har Eztion or a Beit Morasha or a Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School?

Had the ethos and openness of a Modern Orthodox education been more readily adopted by the rabbinic elite and communities in those days, how many of our greatest minds and spirits would have developed without rupturing their entire connection to traditional observance and creativity?

It is time to reach out loudly and clearly to all those in the Haredi community who are struggling to find their niche in the Jewish world and declare: Come and be part of this thriving fellowship of Modern Orthodoxy. Of course we also have problems and challenges and disappointments and unfinished business to address, but we have strong, motivated people who are trying to find their way through their daily challenges in a spirit of integrating Torah and life, in all its majesty and grandeur.

We are committed to Torah and Jewish observance coupled with an openness to God’s wonderful world – to appreciating the value of all human beings, to being ennobled by the best of general culture, to supporting the state of Israel, and to helping foster Jewish nationhood. You don’t have to write yourself out of that grand Jewish story, and you have so much to add and contribute. Welcome, and let us grow together.

The Conundrum of Dealing with Sexual Abuse

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

One of the reasons that the sex abuse issue is so difficult to overcome is that abusers are often great people in every other way. I know that is a contradiction in terms. You can’t be a sex abuser and a great person. But bear with me.

The case of Rabbi Motti Elon is one such case, currently on trial for sexually harassing two 17 year old students when he was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Elon is a Religious Zionist Rabbi who was respected even beyond his own religious Zionist community. I recall the reaction of one young Charedi Rav in Israel who practically worshiped the ground he walked on. When he first heard about the accusations, he was incredulous. This was a man who mentored him. A man he confided in. A wise and gentle man who truly cared about his students. A man you could turn to in times of crisis. The idea that such a man could be accused of such a heinous crime was simply unthinkable… impossible!

This was not only the view of this Charedi individual; it was the view of just about everyone who came in contact with him. With the exception of course of the two people who have accused him of sexual molestation.

Although Rabbi Elon still maintained his innocence (which he still does), the young Charedi Rav believed it, and felt betrayed.It has been 2 years since this story broke. The evidence of sexual harassment was so strong that he was removed from his position at the Yeshiva and from having any contact with young people. Takana, the organization that investigated this case, determined the veracity of the accusations, and made the decision to remove him from his position consisted of some of the biggest rabbinic names in Israel – including Rav Aharon Lichtenstein.

Here is what Rav Lichtenstein said at the time:

In an emotional lecture to his students, often breaking into tears, R’ Aharon Lichtenstein announced that he has received death threats by a student of R’ Motti Elon in retaliation for his participating in the Takana forum which labeled R’ Motti as a “dangerous person.” For his courage in making this condemnation, Rav Lichtenstein was threatened with violence!

Which brings me to the current article in the Times of Israel. It appears that one of the two students who were sexually harassed is not going to testify. According to the subheadline of this article, he was pressured not to do it. Which means that prosecutors will have to drop half their charges.

I suspect that’s probably what happened. If Rav Lichtenstein can be threatened with violence, it should be no surprise that a victim can be threatened into not testifying in the same way.

I suspect that the reason Rabbi Elon gets this kind of support from his ‘fans’ is the same reason that someone like Weberman gets support from his fans; and Charedi magazines like Ami. They know these people by their reputations. Reputations they earned by actaully doing good deeds and being good people in every other way. They work hard at building their name. They do a lot kindnesses for many people. I’m sure that’s true for both Weberman and Elon.

But their abnormal desires are kept hidden from their public. They may even try and fight those desires. But as Woody Alan once said about his adopted daughter that he later married, “The heart wants what it wants.”

When your sex drive is normal the heart can be satisfied in socially acceptable ways. But when those desires are abnormal one must do so clandestinely. The libido is a very strong force that is very hard to overcome. Certainly on a constant basis. Eventually such an individual will find a way to satisfy those abnormal urges.

They might actually believe that they are doing nothing more than expressing love to their victims – so self deluded are they. They will merely say that society does not really understand. This is what they tell their victims while they sexually abuse them. They tell their victims not to tell anyone of the great “love” they are showing to them because people will not understand. Sometimes I think that these people actually believe that. At least at first.

The Future of Judaism

Monday, January 7th, 2013

From time to time, my views are challenged by both those to my right and those to my left. That happened recently in discussions about going ‘Off the Derech’(OTD).

The right constantly challenges me about why I do not discuss what they perceive to be a much larger instance of Going OTD among Modern Orthodox Jews. I am not prepared to concede the point. As many people have pointed out, there have been no studies (at least that I am aware of) that breaks the OTD phenomenon into percentages or numbers of individual groups. But I will concede that it is very possible that the MO community is the one that goes OTD is the larger of the two, at least in terms of percentages.

The Left keeps challenging my contention that I see Charedim to be the wave of the future. Again there are no studies that I am aware of that speaks to this issue.

In answer to the first question, I speak about Charedim because I believe them to be the wave of the future. Their current large numbers and exponential growth over the years would seem to confirm that belief. Lakewood Yeshiva has grown from a few hundred students in the 60s when I was in high school to over 6000 today with plans to accommodate an increase in growth to over 10,000 students.

That Charedi Mechanchim out-number MO Mechanchim is a simple fact of life which is bolstered by the fact that Charedim tend to go into Chinuch a lot more than MO Jews do. Some MO schools hire Charedi teachers in fact for lack of finding enough teachers that are MO.

Charedi family size is clearly larger on the average than that of MO Jews since they are encouraged to have as many children as they can. Nine or ten children per family is not an unusual number for Charedim. Not so for MO. The Charedi rate of growth will no doubt continue along those lines and increase exponentially with every new generation.

The only real question in my mind is what form Charedism will take.

I have expressed my views on this many times –views which were first noted by Rabbi Berl Wein. I firmly believe that Charedim will increasingly take the form of moderate Charedism. That means that Charedim will employ (and in many cases already have employed) many of the modalities of Modern Orthodoxy. Like having professional careers requiring university educations for example. That’s why places like Touro exist and flourish.

I can’t understand why anyone would deny this reality. Is there anyone who thinks that Charedim will suddenly reject the values they have been indoctrinated with and suddenly become adherents of Torah U’Mada?

That Modern Orthodox Jews have a sizable number is also true. But their rate of growth is a fraction of the Charedi rate of growth. The very nature of a more open society that is a hallmark of Modern Orthodoxy creates an environment that is more conducive to assimilation.

Those without a firm grounding in the values of observant Judaism can easily abandon it in college where the pressure to conform to the campus social life is very strong. Especially in those schools with little or no Jewish presence.

Who among MO will fall prey to these negative influences?

I believe that many MO Jews (those who I call MO-Lite of which I think there are a great many) do not provide their children with the kind of grounding that can withstand the pressures of campus life. By opting for the best university they may sacrifice a strong Jewish presence other schools might have – and hope for the best.

On the other hand committed MO Jews on either the right or the left will survive and so will their children. They will opt for YU, Touro, or a university like Penn with a strong Jewish presence.

In the Charedi world where observance and fear of outside influences infecting their Hashkafos is always the primary concern – they do not fall prey as much to assimilation because they fight it tooth and nail… preferring isolation over any exposure at all.

True, Charedim have other problems much of which is caused by that very isolationism. But even if you even leave out the attrition rate of both MO and Charedim, the exponential growth rate of Chareidim over that of Modern Orthodox Jews definitely points to their numbers increasing and comprising the lion’s share of Orthodoxy.

The Uniqueness Of Modern Orthodoxy (Part III)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Question: What is unique about Modern Orthodoxy?

Answer: We established that Torah is the distinctive characteristic of the Jewish people. This suggests that the uniqueness of Modern Orthodoxy must lie in the character of its Torah. We suggested that Modern Orthodoxy, as opposed to other Orthodox groups, may be more inclined to side with the Aruch HaShulchan over the Mishnah Berurah.

* * * * *

It is interesting to note that our sages did not generally assume that poskim should rule stringently.

There is one instance that we do rule stringently. That instance is hekesh. The Talmud, for example, discusses how we know that women are biblically obligated to recite kiddush on Friday night. It notes that regarding Shabbat, the Chumash states “zachor – remember” and “shamor – guard.” The former refers to kiddush and the latter refers to the Shabbat prohibitions. The Talmud (Berachot 20b) rules that “whoever is included in the command to ‘guard Shabbat’ is also included in the command ‘to remember Shabbat.’ ” Therefore, since women are obliged to observe all the Shabbat prohibitions, they are also obliged to recite kiddush (even though kiddush is a time-bound mitzvah, which women are generally exempt from).

Of course the Gemara could have used the exact opposite line of reasoning. It could have stated that whoever is not obliged to ‘remember Shabbat’ is not obliged to ‘observe Shabbat.’ And since women are exempt from kiddush due it being a time-bound mitzvah, they are also exempt from Shabbat prohibitions.

The commentaries state that the Gemara did not reason in this fashion because there is a general rule that when it comes to a relationship between biblical verses – a hekesh – we interpret the relationship stringently. Rav Akiva Eiger explained that this is a rule based on mesorah and not because we are just being cautious (based on the dictum that safek d’oraisa l’chumra).

In any event, what emerges from this discussion is that the only tradition to be stringent relates to a relationship between biblical verses (a hekesh). In general, though, one may be lenient.

And yet, only Modern Orthodox poskim seem to generally rule leniently. Chassidic and yeshivish poskim do not. It should be noted, however, that sephardic poskim, especially HaRav Ovadya Yosef, also traditionally rule leniently.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, has authored eight books on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.

The Uniqueness Of Modern Orthodoxy (Part II)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Question: What is unique about Modern Orthodoxy?

Answer: Last week we established that Torah is the distinctive characteristic of the Jewish people. Not, prayer, not chessed, but Torah. This suggests that the uniqueness of Modern Orthodoxy must lie in the character of its Torah. Somehow it is different from the Torah of the yeshiva or chassidic world. How so?

* * * * *

Several years ago, Rabbi Shalom Klass, z”l, publisher of The Jewish Press, sent me a copy of a ruling of Rav Henkin, z”l, a major posek for American Jewry. Rav Henkin ruled that whenever the Mishnah Berurah and Aruch HaShulchan differ with one another, one should follow the Aruch HaShulchan. Why? Because the Mishnah Berurah, better known as the Chofetz Chaim, was the tzaddik of his generation and the tzaddik of a generation should not be the decider of halacha since such a person will have a proclivity to be stringent.

So true! In Europe, the rav who decided halacha for the community at large was generally lenient while people in chassidic and yeshiva spheres were generally stringent.

Anyone learning the Mishnah Berurah will note how he generally suggests a compromise solution that favors stringency. His argument generally is: Why involve oneself in a doubtful situation? Be stringent and act in accordance with all (the major) halachic opinions.

The Aruch HaShulchan, in contrast, deals with questions on the basis of what is realistic. He generally does not suggest compromises just to be safe.

Being lenient does not mean violating halachic standards. It’s rather a matter of orientation when dealing with the community at large. Halachic decision-making should not entail a Pavlovian urge to be strict.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, has authored eight books on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/the-uniqueness-of-modern-orthodoxy-part-ii/2012/10/17/

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