Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The End of Modern Orthodoxy

I believe that Mordern Orthodoxy is the ideal.

However, I'm not sure it is viable anymore.

The world we live in is no longer the modern world of the 19th -mid 20th century: it's a post modern world, and it is hard for an orthodox Jew to interact with it.

When I was growing up my secular friends wanted to debate and I was eager to take part in that debate. Students were active and took Jewish and social issues seriously. I was able to go to parties and not worry about drugs, drunkenness and lewdness. Even television was innocent.

In general people seemed to care much more and were prepared to do something about causes that they considered to be worthy.

However, today it feels that people don't care anymore and that they are not interested in debate. All they want to do is party, and that party is not a place I actually have any desire to be. I have found that I have become somewhat a hermit from the post modrn world.

Can modern orthodox Jews interact with the world when the world just doesn't seem to be interested in any intellectual interaction and when it is actually quite a foul place to be?


  1. Come on...the world has always been a foul place, with plenty of people who have no interest in intellectual interaction. Perhaps this is reflected more today in the culture - but do you really think that there are not serious people thinking/talking about ideas? All you have to do is find them.

  2. Daniel Goldmintz's article in the recent YU Commentator takes a very different approach to, ostensibly the same issue. Very well written, too.

  3. I think the *term* modern orthodoxy is irrelevant more than the ideals, which are and have been so diversely held, even by those we might consider to be our 'forebearers' from which we claim to have a "mesorah" of a 'modern' perspective. I don't think there have ever been 'modern orthodox', let alone Haredim, etc, in part because I can't help but think - due to exposure to R. Alan Yuter - that what Halacha permits by silence is permitted, and what it forbids is forbidden. Those are about the only functioning labels. Halacha has the veto. There are of course policy concerns that have a vote, but since Ravina Rav Ashi and the Rambam (again, under influence of R. Yuter), it would seem the strength of these policy concerns is bound to the domain of communal authorities - who cannot mandate for all Israel.