Saturday, November 19, 2011

"If only you wouldn't be Chabad/Charedi/Non-Modern Orthodox, you would be fine"

After practically every post I have written, someone has commented that the problems that I am bringing up are charedi-specific and that I should just become Modern Orthodox. Such comments are not limited to the internet, however. I have heard plenty of offline comments of a similar nature.

For the last few months, I have been considering writing a post on why I did not simply become Modern Orthodox. I could definitely think of a few good reasons to list, including:

1. The fact that I would be just about as unacceptable to my husband for me to live an openly Modern-Orthodox lifestyle as a non-frum one. He would never be okay with me openly talking to the kids about Modern Orthodox hashkafos or dressing to Modern Orthodox standards.
2. I have issues with accepting the concept of Torah M'sinai without some kind of proof because some of the things that are written in Torah are quite unbelievable, and others are very difficult to live with. No, the Kuzari mass-revelation argument is flawed and does not qualify as proof.
3. Despite my current fence-sitting, I am a big believer in consistency. Despite all of its flaws, the one thing that Chareidism has going for it is that it is internally consistent, which is precisely what drew to me towards Chareidism in the first place. Chareidism has a consistent way of interpreting halacha, and is not afraid to stand for beliefs and practices that contradict modern sensibilities if they are more consistent with the most straightforward interpretation of the Torah and Rabbinical texts. 
 Modern Orthodoxy, however, seems to lack this consistency. They bend-over backwards to find loopholes for halachos that they don't like, yet insist on strict interpretations of less-objectionable ones. Anything that seems philosophically-objectionable is deemed non-literal while everything else is literal. Why couldn't God have just said what he meant?
However, on further reflection, there are aspects of Modern Orthodoxy that I like such as the emphasis on morality, the high-regard for tradition combined with an openness towards modernity, and the sense of community.

Therefore, I would like to give my Modern-Orthodox readers a chance. Please, tell me, why are you Modern Orthodox? What appeals to you out being Modern Orthodox over being not frum, or alternatively, Charedi? How do you deal with the "difficult" sections of Torah, including sections that are historically highly improbably, such as the mabul or things that are morally-concerning, such as the laws that are discriminatory towards women. How do you reconcile halachos that seem outdated with modernity? And, most importantly, why should I join you?

I look forward to reading your responses.


  1. Do you follow halachos on which shoe to put on first, when to wash your hands, what bracha to say over which food, when to ask a rabbi so many things? If you do this and you're comfortable, then you shouldn't look for anything different, you're hopelessly ensnared in nonsense and justifying man-made craziness as god's laws.

  2. Putting aside questions of belief and reconciliation, Modern Orthodoxy is simpy an easier lifestyle. Fewer restriction, less judgmentalism (although to be fair, there might be more financial pressure in that many MO communities are relatively affluent).

    In terms of questions of beliefs, most Modern Orthodox communities are quite comfortable with the idea that many members who basically keep halacha don't believe in Torah MiSinai. In other words, it is generally acceptable to be quietly Orthoprax and in some places, even outwardly so.

    Even breaches of halacha such as arriving home from work on Friday after shkia are tolerated, if done discreetly.

    Yes, it's inconsistent, but so what? It's more livable.

  3. Modern Orthodoxy, however, seems to lack this consistency. They bend-over backwards to find loopholes for halachos that they don't like, yet insist on strict interpretations of less-objectionable ones. Anything that seems philosophically-objectionable is deemed non-literal while everything else is literal. Why couldn't God have just said what he meant?

    The same criticism can be applied to chareidism. Isn't "an eye for an eye" interpreted nonliterally? Once you have to start using exegetical principles to explain why this is "obvious", you're inconsistent too. And many of today's chumras are not consistent with the way Judaism has been practiced in the holy past. Chareidi Judaism is not really more consistent than MO - just inconsistent about different things.

  4. If the question is "why be MO as opposed to being completely secular" - I have no answer to that. For many people, it is a compromise that will allow them to maintain their marriages and other family relationships. In your case, it seems that no compromise with your husband is possible. If to him being MO is like being completely secular, being MO has few advantages.

  5. This is a great post. I get asked this question all the time. Why don't I just become ____ and then all my problems will be gone. The problem is that I don't believe in TMS anymore and there's no branch of Orthodoxy that accepts that.

  6. I want to say outright that I have no interest in telling anyone—certainly any adult—what they should and shouldn't believe. People make their choices, and yours is more authentic and independent than almost anyone else's in the religious community. But you invited conversation and I'll take that offer in good faith. Conversation is something had between equals; moral prescription always comes from betters.

    You have an outsider's perspective on MO Judaism, both of the baaleibatim and the rabbanut. I can assure you the rabbanut is not inconsistent for the most part that much of modern orthodoxy despises the idea of bending the halachah to whatever someone wants, and that many could point out that as a chareidi woman, this conversation is particularly difficult to have because you can't comment on the halachah the way an educated modern orthodox woman could. In fact we'd have an equally hard time discussing how much the halachah actually can bend and how rigid it gets, how that depends on the sugya sometimes and other times should not bend. Does that seem like an incendiary statement? It isn't, really. Open up the relevant sources with someone who knows the sugyot and if you're comprehensive you'll see for yourself why modern orthodoxy went the way it did with respect to women learning torah. As for MO rabbis who do bend the halachah to what they want, well, I hate to say it but we should not be surprised that individuals here and there would try to manipulate halachah to their own ends. The whole of the MO rabbinic community doesn't go that way and generally resists it. At least our process is open enough for you to criticize one thing or another; in the chareidi community, again, this type of conversation is hindered because those processes and discussions are more opaque. One day some guy is pasuling modern-orthodox conversion left and right, the next day pashkvilim are going up demanding he leave town. Can any of us truly say what that story was really about, from start to finish?

    As for the baalei batim you can't judge us on that either. Some are inconsistent like you say, others are extremely yeshivish themselves. Some communities are lax or politically motivated in their Judaism; others have genuine good people, yor'ei shamaim.

  7. My own community had a huge number of baalei chesed and university professors. I have many many issues with the modern orthodox community, but I am generally happy with the place I call home, even if at time's I'm at odds with it, and they are consistent. Modern orthodoxy has a tradition of hashkafa, halachic authorities of its own, all disparaged and distorted in chareidi communities as, I assure you, they often disparage and distort chareidi communities themselves. The conversation you seem to be asking for here would be long enough to include semesters worth of material—rav kuk, the rambam, aspects of the ramban, the rav's machshava, his main talmidim, discussions of secular philosophy, discussions of brisker thinking and halachic sugyas themselves—it's enough to fill a college major. This is not a topic to be suitably covered in a response to a blog post, and asking us to prove modern orthodoxy al regel achat is, I suspect you already know, an unfair challenge to begin with. But I'll end with one thought of my own, not something I'm repeating from rabbeim or some sefer I learned. I hold to what some consider a very dangerous belief that there exists no amount of real emunah without an equal amount of doubt. Regardless of picking on crazy stories in tanach, what makes me religious more than anything else is the radical belief that the universe (read God) cares about people. It's a core element of my wolrdview that serves as a basis for much more, and I am proud to have that belief. Just so, I'm proud to have my skpeticism and belief in reason and science as well that puts my beliefs in anything intangible in doubt. I think I'm a better person for having both beliefs, aside from the fact that I also happen to believe in their specific truths. I think we have lost the ability to accept doubt as an integral element to the experience of faith. It should be normal for someone to go OTD—correction—it IS normal! The Rambam in his introduction to Shmonah Prakim talks about how the person who overcomes a real טעבה deserves more reward than the one who shows no interest in indulging, who claims he has no desire for it. It was incredible to me when I learned how controversial that rambam was to everyone else, because it sounded so normal. Our standards for the religious experience these days, though, seem anything but normal. I know I didn't defend modern orthodoxy with this post—God, is that really what I volunteered for—but I hope I clarified some issues and opened the door towards what could be further discussion. And Fence Sitter—don't take crap from people who claim to know better than you what you should believe. If you have to pinch yourself and remember it's only the Internet.

  8. Thank you Dr. Bucephalus for your response. It is definitely giving me a lot to think about.

  9. I won't add much to the previous posts which I genrall like but I'll suggest two (and a half things to consider (having lived in both the chareidi and MO worlds and choosing the latter):

    1. Paraphrasing R Y. Y. Weinberg - Modern Orthodoxy encompasses all of life, all of human endeavor, and has a place for all people with there individual strengths, weaknesses, talents, and faults.

    2. MO has plenty of people who join as a b'di'eved and sometimes it gives us a bad name. Nevertheless, we accept real people with all their doubts, inconsistencies, and flaws. We don't shun people for this, we don't blackball them, and we don't torpedo anyone's shidduch chances. And (unlike chabad/kiruv organizations) we regard you as an equal - as a real person who can have real opinions that may differ with what others may believe. Rather it is the communities' job to convince people that MO ideals are l'chatchila. Sometimes such an undertaking is successful and sometimes not. But we accept that people are people...

    Your husbands attitude is exactly what I found in the "my way or the highway," da'as Torah hareidi world. And the 'correct' path becomes narrower all the time with complete disregard to actual halacha or the possibility of multiple view points or even multiple types of yarmulkas, suit colors, etc.

  10. Why be MO vs Chareidi: well, you hate being Chareidi, maybe you won't hate this? It's a relatively wide tent, from the Yeshivish professional that tries to being extreme on both sides, to the socially Orthodox couple that at least publicly keeps Shabbat and are wonderful people... Those that aren't strictly observant won't generally invite people over for (non catered) Shabbat meals, but they are generally good standing parts of the community elsewhere.

    Why be MO/Traditional vs. Secular/Egalitarian: I'm VERY happy with a very strong-knit social community of which I have terrific friends that we share relaxing times (particularly Shabbat) with. My non-observant friends are always in awe by the wonderful and warm group of friends we have in our MO world. Anyone floating on the MO/Traditional side of the spectrum finds a wonderful and supportive community, something that is often lacking in upper middle class secular America. Facebook is wonderful for a window into their lives, mine is simply better.

    You don't believe, that takes you outside of the Orthodox true believer camp, so truth isn't determining your choice. Quality of life is. For our socio-economic group, the MO/Traditional camp (we're on the MO side in that we're actually Shomer Shabbat, not just quasi, but some of our friends are in all areas), life is better.

    As far as I can tell, most people in the MO "world" that are more in the traditional camp basically "work on Shabbat" via Blackberry/home office. I'm never feeling that I need to work more, but I'm able to support my family nicely without working weekends, some lack that luxury.

    There are plenty of American Jews (say, 95% of them) that are NOT Shomer Shabbat. If they show up in the MO world, they are quasi-welcome, at least not stoned, though over time they either become Shomer Shabbat or stay on the margins, I wouldn't judge Modern Orthodoxy as inconsistent because we aren't jerks to Jews that aren't frum but show up politely. Chabad does that extremely well, and nobody calls them "inauthentic," and when they do, it's NOT for their manners and inclusion.

  11. Personally, I find the MO community to be less judgmental than the charedi camp. And when they are judgmental, they tend to judge things that I find more important like behavior rather than rituals or clothing. I also place a separation between what I believe God demands vs. halachot that man came up with due to circumstances of time and place.

    If you ever have an opportunity, read about the early Jewish life in Italy and Venice. They really were the foundation of what we call "Modern Orthodox" and they did it well.

  12. Personally while I might be more inclined to fall into a MO crowd for cultural reasons, the belief system is just as problematic for me with MO as it is with Charedi/Chabad. Personally I wouldn't worry about choosing to join one sect over another if you don't share either sects beliefs. Just keep what you want to keep and don't keep what you don't want to keep. Think about what you value in Judaism and what yo don't and then follow your own path. I think this is better than to try fit yourself into a sect that shares the similar supersticious beliefs and irrational perspectives. Just my 2 cents.

  13. "What don't you just be Modern Orthodox" is often suggested by chareidim to disgruntled chareidim. I think it's out of the misguided belief that the receiver of this advice no longer wants to be religious because they don't want to keep certain societal standards or chumrot. They're really saying "modernish orthodox" and not so much "join the MO movement."

    I've never heard someone who actually IS MO suggest "just be MO."

    If you don't believe in TMS or other underpinnings of orthodoxy then the suggestion to join MO as a religious movement is ridiculous. The community might be more accepting of you if you aren't really a believer, but you still aren't MO even if you go to an MO shul.

    Based on what you've written I think you'd make a good reconstructionist if you want to be at all religious. Definitely not orthodox.

  14. I've posted my response on my blog:

    Thanks for inspiring me to post again!

  15. Anonymous 11:47:

    I often feel when I read Chareidi OTD blogs that all the reasons they are leaving the fold are things that as an MO Jew with limited exposure to Chareidim sound totally foreign to me. Not being allowed to go to college, going to yeshivot that make you learn Gemara all day and being shamed if you didn't enjoy it, being banned for writing about science, etc. I didn't encounter any of this in my co-ed high school, my hesder yeshiva, and certainly not in the modern orthodox communities I've lived in. So, naturally, my reaction to these blogs is, why don't they become MO?

  16. How do you refute Kuzari?

    MO is an intermediary stage between judaism and atheism, however of course if your an atheist then you don't want an intermediary stage.

  17. Mr. Philosopher? Can I ask you a question? Okay. Um... how is it that there are so many MO communities in so many places so full of people for decades now who were born raised and stayed modern orthodox their entire lives? I mean, if MO Judaism is just a truck-stop on the road to atheism, why are they still here, or at least filled with soon-to-be OTD chareidim? You can shout names like that makes them facts, but you can't dispute the fact that the communities are still here, right?

    Thanks in advance. Or don't bother, really. We're all atheists and atheists to be, so you'd have no reason to respond.

  18. In case anyone has been living in a cave for the last 60 years, modern orthodoxy has been in a steady decline.

  19. JP proving HH's point. it is more pleasant.

    if a pleasant existence is something you want


  20. Folks, you can't reason with JP. He gets off on your hate and arguing. Please ignore him.

  21. Meaning that you atheists don't really have any answers.

  22. Meaning you quoted yourself to back yourself up cited election results like it's demographic information, and you have a faulty sense of history. Religions don't always start in their most extreme forms. Sometimes people alter the historic traditions, taking things further than the tradition dictated. Look to the protestant evangelical movement in the nineteenth century, the Al Mohads, the Wahabis, the list goes on and into this century. Meaning you come up with your own definition for an opposing view instead of even looking once at what the opposition actually say for itself. You don't distinguish between scientific fact and ideological viewpoints. You don't know how to reason and you don't even know how to listen, both (respectively) important and the most important parts of being a good person.

    Did I mention I'm not an atheist? Many people in this thread probably believe in the ikarei emunah. To say otherwise has very real halachic consequences, but to say someone is "on the way" to becoming a kofer but not there yet is meaningless halachically. You are unaware that the First Aliyah (that's a specific historic term there) was made up of religious Jews, nor did you offer any readings of the traditional MO and religious zionist texts. It's all repeating the same insult like saying it over and over makes it a fact. Having Rav Moshe Lictenstein as your post's bannerhead only heightens your amaratzut. You know better than him? I've sat through his shiurim, and you sound less like him and more like a self-absorbed simple-minded fool. Respond if you like. I'm done talking about this. Goddamn Internet.

  23. "Meaning you quoted yourself to back yourself up cited election results like it's demographic information, and you have a faulty sense of history."

    Anyone not living in a cave realizes that orthodoxy has shifted far to the right since 1950. When the palestinians take back the west bank you'll go the way of the Karaites and the Samaritans.

    Reform Judaism, secular humanism, agnosticism, mainline Protestant churches and Messianic Judaism for that matter all are not independent, stable religions but are rather transitional, syncretic religions which will fade as members drift one way or the other.

  24. And your brand of extremism will chase away all the bright talented young people who will want more than the self-assured bile you'll offer them. You will alienate people who dare to think free in the most minimal ways because to you it would be compromise, and that's the road to atheism. You will not foster leaders and will expel many who have the potential. MO Judaism actually got quite a resurgence in the sixties and seventies, btw, but you wouldn't know about that I guess.

    I'll say it again, you're applying your own values derived from your own pseudo-thought in lieu of considering the halachah. Halachah says there's a difference between people who believe ikarei emunah and those who don't. You consistently make no distinction. You are not halachic Judaism. Wrap your mind around that, Mr. Philosopher sir.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. We're growing in leaps and by bounds while you phony half baked guys are dying out.

  27. No, you're talking to yourself like a crazy person now is what you're doing.

  28. "We're growing in leaps and by bounds"

    cults tend to do that, when encouraging no use of birth control.

    it'll die out eventually (not in our lifetime), its becoming more and more irelevant. all ancient religions eventally go the way of trash - becasue they are all based on man made false bullshit. no foundation, it all comes crashing down....eventually.


  29. "it'll die out eventually"

    That's been predicted for about 3,200 years. Lol.  

    "God is dead." Nietzsche 
    "Nietzsche is dead." God 

  30. If JP says MO is BAD, then it must be OK

  31. JP is also against Atheism, Christianity, Homosexuality and basically all of humainity who doesnt march in goose step with him

  32. And you think that humanity is generally making great choices? Do you ever read a newspaper or a history book?

  33. I just discovered your blog, and I like it very much. Maybe that's because I'm also sitting on the fence, sort of. I became frum over several years in my early 20's, after an interest in Islamic history induced me to read through much of the Koran, the Tanach, and the New Testemant, trying to figure out what the nature of these books was. I concluded, for various reasons, that the Torah is what it purports to me, namely, God's instructions to the Jewish people of how we are supposed to act. I did not particularly believe that everything in the Torah was literal, although I did believe it was binding. Over the years, I became more and more haredi, accepting most of the haredi hashkafa, and eventually spending 9 years in a completely haredi community in Israel. But as time went on, I became more and more dissatisfied with the strictures on free thought and expression in the haredi world. The ban on Rabbi Slifkin's books (not the books themselves), along with a long list of other issues, shook my trust in the haredi rabbinical leadership, which led me to investigate for myself the issues of science and Torah. I have tentatively concluded that much of the Torah must be either completely allegorical or false. I have not yet decided which, and I'm hoping additional reading will shed some light on the issue. In the meantime, and finally arriving at your challenge - I have not really adopted an alternative-to-haredi identity, although most people would identify me as dati leumi. I go to a dati leumi shul, a very open and accepting (and slightly eccentric) neighborhood shul. But I don't feel that I need to fit into any particular hashkafa at this point. I still believe in, and keep, the mitzvot, but I see no reason to adopt this, that, or the other world view, as I feel that to do so would only impede my ability to seek out the true nature of the Torah. Also, I feel that so much of what passes as hashkafa in all the different groups is really influenced by politics, group identity, and other such things, that to "join" any particular grouping like Modern Orthodox, or whatever, would just lead to further disillusionment. I guess I'm not really trying to convince you of anything, but maybe you will find my meandering thoughts in some way relevant!

  34. I've solved the whole Torah and science problem.

  35. Dear JP - thanks for the link! What you say about contradictions makes a lot of sense to me - in fact, I take the existince of such contradictions to be one of the arguments in favor of the divine origin of the Torah - if a person, or group of people, were smart enough to write a book that has stood the test of time and influenced the world the way the Torah has, surely they would have caught a mistake that any half rate or better proofreader would catch! And if they were going to write a book like that, why in the world would they include stories like Judah and Tamar, or David and Bathsheba? (Or human beings living over 900 years!) I've never heard a plausible motive suggested for writing a Torah that makes your own leaders, and, lets face it, in some places, your whole people, look like crass sinners.

    With regard to the scientific arguments/evidence, I would respond with tzarich iyun.

  36. Thanks. You might enjoy these too.

  37. You (and by you, I mean Fence Sitter not JP) value internal consistency more than I do. My view is that in religion or politics, too much consistency of any sort leads to madness, and if 100 percent of X is good, 50 percent is usually even better. I think that's why I prefer Conservative Judaism and the left edge of modern Orthodoxy to both the more stringent and more lenient forms of Judaism.

    Modern Orthodoxy and Conservative Judaism have different joys and downsides. What I like about Modern Orthodoxy:

    1. If you want to continue a life of religious observance, you can do so without having your intelligence insulted as much as in a haredi environment.

    2. Being in a more close-knit community than in more liberal forms of Judaism.

    3. Being on the winning team, given that Conservative Judaism seems to be in decline (though once you have already had your children I don't think this should matter as much as it would when you don't have or are starting to have children and want them to stay within the fold).

    4. I am (or should I say have become) observant enough that when in a Conservative shul I am usually the most frum guy in the room who isn't the rabbi.

    What I like about Conservative Judaism: I think I can approach Judaism with a little more intellectual honesty than in many (though not all) Orthodox environments. Although in an ideal world I would prefer a left-leaning Modern Orthodox shul that's really not an option in many neighborhoods.

    Also, I think I can be myself more in a Conservative environment. In Orthodox environments I feel like I have to conceal my "non-Orthodox side" (whether that means lapses in observance or my trips to Conservative synagogues!) more than I have to conceal my Orthodox side (so to speak) in Conservative environments.

  38. Fence -
    I am new to your blog, but I would question your assumption that charedi means consistency. I encourage you to read Rabbi Slifkin's blog - - to get some clear refutation of that. Or even Harry Maryles - with his focus on charedi protection of accused child molesters at the expense of their pre-bar mitzvah victims.

    What charedi is consistent about is having very little challenge to the most recent status quo, even if it means lying about what earlier statements/piskei tshuva.

    The biggest step you take in MO is taking responsibility for your own views and opinions and, yes, even your o servance

  39. How about the Maccabee revolt, which we commemorate in a few weeks.

    Sounds like they were pretty uncompromising in their rejection of the noble, civilized Greek culture of their day. Almost charedi.

    And plenty of Jewish traitors, like you, then as now sided with the oppressors. They eventually disappeared.

  40. Fence Sitter, as someone who has experienced quite a bit of both the Chareidi and Modern Orthodox systems, I'd can say that they are a lot more similar than you imagine. They value the same things. Walk into Rav Tzvi Kruschelevski's yeshiva in Har Nof or Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) and you'll see mcu h the same thing: Students poring over their Gemaras, studying the same texts, and using the same sources. To a turtle, other turtles look very different. To a person, they are all turtles.

    You try to frame the Chareidim as consistent and the Modern Orthodox as willing to cave in on principles when they feel the need, but the truth is that both have changed dramatically over their history. When did the Jewish people first start praying three times a day, when did Shemona Esrei first apear? When did Gemara become central to Jewish life, given the length of time by which Judaism (if we can call it that) preceded Talmud? When did black and white clothing become obligatory, when did Kollel become the proper path for every Jew?

    You'll find that throughout history, almost every Rabbi made an effort to be consistent to his source materials and the intent of those materials. However their understanding of biblical/rabbinic intent, and therefore their interpretations, varied depending on their perspectives. I'm confident that this was the case with Mendelssohn, with Geiger, Frankel and Hirsch, with Solomon Schechter. I'm certain that the same was true of Rabbis Feinstein, Soloveitchik, and Auerbach, and is true of Rabbis Lichtenstein, Elyashiv, Schachter, Yosef, Lamm, Shteinsaltz, Weiss and others. You only have to read their writings to witness their sincerity and fidelity to their understanding of halacha.

    As to the question of whether you should become Modern Orthodox: I don't think you can. You seem to far gone for that, and it has no answers that ultra-Orthodoxy lacks. I've considered a similar question for myself: I pretend to be Modern Orthodox, though in reality I gave up hope in creator over two years ago (and for years before was playing a game of exceedingly low probabilities for the hope of any payoff.) My parents certainly wouldn't like it, but I think they could live with the idea of my becoming Conservative, and (assuming I can find a nice Conservative girl) that doesn't seem to hard a commitment to keep to in order not to break my mother's heart. But I wouldn't BE Conservative, I'd be playing at it, as I play at being Modern Orthodox now. If you're an Atheist like me, I don't think you can be Modern Orthodox, or Conservative or even truly Reform (you can be Reconstructionist, if Mordechai Kaplan's philosophy interests you). Whether you should pretend to be depends on how well it will work out for you: Will you be less shunned from your community, more able to keep peace with your husband and educate your children, more comfortable living your life as a Modern Orthodox Jew. Tough questions, but if you think the answers are yes, then go for it.

    On the other hand, if you think that there may be a God, if you think that Modern Orthodoxy or Conservatism or Reform might have a view of Judaism that you can believe in (the latter two have come to terms with a non-God-given Torah) then I suggest you develop a relationship with Modern Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis, to see what they might have to teach you. Each sect has intelligent committed Rabbis, if you care to seek them out. But again, it depends on your question: Do you want to be Modern Orthodox, Conservative or Reform or simply act that way. In either case, I hope this response has helped you address these questions.

  41. "You'll find that throughout history, almost every Rabbi made an effort to be consistent to his source materials and the intent of those materials."

    I'm sure that Messianic Jews are also very sincere. Does that make them any less a syncretic bridge between two other religions?

    All this talk about charedi being a new sect is silly revisionism. Rashi, Maimonides and the Vilna Gaon all believed in the validity of the Talmud. And all would have rejected evolution and Zionism as insane and heretical.

  42. Never read this blog before, but in my own path I prefer Modern Orthodoxy because I can still accomplish as much as I need while maintaining an open mind about other ideas.

    Regarding what seems to be the big question of proof, I don't believe in proof. This is a distinction as Charedism believes it has proof, where as within the MO world I believe we can be more comfortable with having those questions, trying to solve them beyond quoting traditional interpretations, and maybe even solving them (but a lot of things need a time machine so that makes it harder).

    I don't think there is any proof for the Torah being absolutely true, but whether it is or not doesn't impact my life (Agnostic about Torah perhaps?). I like to believe it to be true, but either way I can live my life in a Jewish manner regardless developing my conception of Judaism without being worried about what people think.

  43. Being Modern Orthodox means that you live your life on both sides of the fence and I think that is a good thing. It's not about loopholes. When I ask my Rabbi a shilah or I make a decision based on information I have gathered I am not looking for a way around halacha. There are perfectly halchic ways to wear pants and run a women's tefilla service.

    I live my life firmly on both sides. There are many thing that are beautiful and good on the secular side. Music, art, movies, the internet, a college degree and a career in something that you love to name a few. Not everything is good but a lot of it is.

    The religious side has lots of things I also love. The community, Shabbat, Chagim, Halacha, real values, MO kids who know all about the world but are still quite a few steps behind the secular kids in certain matters of the world.

    In the MO community there is room for doubt, room to change your mind about things and do things the way that you are ABLE to. There is a huge range of the way that things are done and people tend to be OK with that.

    I have MO friends who eat dairy out (and they are quite aware of the fact that it is problematic)and I have friends who cover their hair, wear only skirts and wear sleeves past their elbows. They all consider themselves to be Modern Orthodox.

    I like that on a Thursday night my husband and I can go to a concert and that on Friday night it is Shabbat.I love that my almost 12 year old daughter sings Taylor Swift songs with the same enthusiasm she has when she is practicing leining for her Bat Mitzvah. I am soooo happy that my 15 year old son's way of "rebelling" is not to wear a Kippah when he is out with his friends and that he is finally beginning to enjoy learning Gemora!

    Is everything perfect? No, but for me it's a good balance.