Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Know Your Jewish Community: Flexidoxy

I really didn't want to address this, but both RH Host, and the Roommate pointed this article out to me.

Jay Michaelson on Flexidoxy. Basically he says that there are Orthodox people who don't really fit the label of Orthodox due to their practice and ideology. I have some issues with his examples and definitions, but as I mentioned in an earlier post David Kelsey says it better. And he isn't the only one who takes issue with the label. Avi BenJakob at Jewdot says, in response to Esther Kustanowitz's claim that Flexidox is actually Conservadox, that Flexidox is actually just "lazy Orthodox." On the other side of the debate Jake at Mima'amakim embraces the article because it shows that there are "people out there thinking the same thoughts, going through the same processes" as he is.

As for me? I think that Jay Michaelson is conflating two different things. As much as I am loathe to add more new labels to Judaism, he is in fact observing a trend. Or two trends. I will illustrate with a personal anecdote. While in college I made it clear that I was looking to date someone "Modern Orthodox" and asked RH Host about the gabbai of my school's Orthodox minyan. His response was "He is neither modern enough, nor Orthodox enough for you." Yet most people would classify this young man as Modern Orthodox. Why? Because he touches girls. Many people define Modern Orthodoxy as those who go to an Orthodox shul, like the mechitza, but don't necessarily keep strictly kosher, or touch people of the opposite gender. I would not call this Modern Orthodox. I would call it "permissive" Orthodox, or were I to be in a cranky and judgemental mood "lazy" Orthodox.

Modern Orthodoxy, on the other hand, is the attempt to reconcile the halakha with modern practices, using the standard halakhic method. It is the belief that halakha can be updated, and changed, so that it is permissable for a woman to wear pants, not just because she wants to, but because it is neither considered beged eish (men's clothing) nor immodest.

8 comments:

harley said...

Your use of "Modern Orthodox" sounds disconcertingly similar to JTS's definition of Conservative Judaism. Fascinating.

AnnieGetYour said...

Harley- You are misinterpreting "reconcile." The Conservative movement is looking for a middle ground between tradition and modernity, Modern Orthodoxy wants the halakha to continue evolving to keep up with modernity.

This difference can most clearly be seen in their treatment of the ordination of women. The left of Modern Orthodoxy has created positions for women as poskim (called yoetzet halakha), or in the case of KOE Rosh HaKehillah, but not as rabbi. This is in contrast to JTS which has a tshuva that basically states: women should be rabbis because they should be.

Smeliana said...

What keeps these people from being Reform Jews who like halacha? That's my Big Problem with Orthodoxy.

BZ said...

I would not call this Modern Orthodox. I would call it "permissive" Orthodox, or were I to be in a cranky and judgemental mood "lazy" Orthodox.

While we're complaining about this type of inappropriate terminology, let's add in people who say "ultra-Reform" or "very Reform" to mean "secular". Since Reform stands (on paper) for informed autonomy, an ultra-Reform Jew would be one who is very informed and very autonomous. Those who aren't (i.e. most Reform Jews) are half-assed Reform Jews, just as there are half-assed Orthodox Jews.

BZ said...

What keeps these people from being Reform Jews who like halacha?

Even as they abandon other elements of Orthodox practice, they don't abandon their disdain for Reform.

Benjamin J. Cooper said...

Anyone who has seen capri pants knows that some pants are sure as heck not men's clothing.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

And all of these comments indicate that our labels, if constantly being qualified with "but I don't"s and "but I do"s, actually mean nothing.

Z said...

10-4 Esther!