Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Know Your Jewish Community: Modern Orthodox

If any of you actually read through yesterday's conversation, you would see that I defined Modern Orthodoxy as: "being modern, being religious, seeing the issue, and saying: Well, f**k."

Apparently I am a prime example of the "100th Monkey Syndrome" (brought to my attention by YoYenta!). According to XGH of Existential Angst "every blog" in the jblogosphere went over the question of "What is Modern Orthodoxy" a year ago. I am behind the curve. In the interests of creating new material, he focuses instead on what it means to be "Orthodox." Which is a short list.

XGH was responding to a recent post by Rabbi Gil Student of Hirhurim, on what it means to be Modern Orthodox (MO). While I don't really love his flippant "You might be Modern Orthodox if..." style, the points are unobjectionable, and describe me pretty well. Until the end, where he cautions his readers to "note that stringency and meticulousness in halakhah is not on this list." WHAT? I am unclear as to whether he is saying that MO does not include this practice, or if it goes without saying because the practices/beliefs are otherwise Orthodox.

No, drawing kippot on famous people never gets old.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac of the blog Voice from the Wilderness, in a post which he calls "remotely relevant" to the discussion on Hirhurim, gives three examples from a talk on Modern Orthodoxy of the problems that he sees with the ideology. They are: New ways of studying the Bible; the critical study of the history of halakhah; and new approaches to women's ritual roles.

In the blog post that started this debate Jshick of The Zionist Conspiracy asks a number of questions about how to classify Modern Orthodox people as Modern Orthodox. He says that "many who would be placed on the MO side of the divide are serious about Jewish observance and Torah study. Many on the charedi side have a positive view toward Israel and to secular knowledge and a negative view toward out-of-control daas Torah that leads to book bans and edicts regarding the Internet." He, in turn, is responding to Chananya Weissman's article in the Jewish Press on labelling observant Jews.

So, basically, the answer is: "Well, f**k."

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