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Is modern orthodoxy like communism?

My roommate moved out and left me without an internet connection- right now I’m mooching off my blogger buddy Jacob Da Jew but I will not be able to blog like a rabid maniac- due to no internet and no job.

Its a simple question, although I doubt the answer would be as simple. It seems that modern orthodoxy is like communism, in that it is great in theory but it never went according to plan. Modern orthodoxy is moving way to the right, becoming yeshivish by nature and leaving all of those true to the word of modern orthodoxy behind. Then of course you have many who consider themselves modern orthodox- who are in fact more like conservatives who want to be orthodox.

Then again many people consider themselves something that others would not. Case in point, when I grew up we always considered our selves orthodox, but we watched TV on shabbos, and ate out in non kosher restaurants. Violating the two basic tenets of orthodoxy.

Most people when asking the question “are they religious?” mean to say, do they keep kosher and shabbos. Of course kasharus and shabbos isn’t so easy. Does keeping shabbos mean that they are extremely strict on the lesser known melocho’s which while psychologically ok on shabbos are just as bad as cooking and carrying. Does keeping kosher mean 100% kosher or is eating out salads and sushi ok?

So even if modern orthodoxy was like communism, what would be the right way to be orthodox? I mean who knows what modern orthodoxy really is anyway. It has changed over the years to mean many different things, according to many different people.

In the more ultra orthodox realms it may come to mean someone who does not devote his life to Torah, or maybe it means that someone reads secular books and magazines. While some consider those women who do not cover their hair and wear pants to be modern- regardless of what other laws they may keep. Modern orthodox for many means to engage in secular society, yet lead a life devoted to keeping the torah and mitzvos.

I guess I have a two questions:

What does modern orthodox mean to you?

Is modern orthodoxy like communism?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • heimish in bp

    Hesh, good job on Thursday. Sorry about your job.

    As to what does MO mean to me, well I don’t really know what they stand for, but I will just list a bunch of things, and being from the judgmental kind, it’s is these attributes which mean you are MO. What I will enumerate have NOTHING to do with Halacha or yidishkiet, just if you sport any of them, I think of you as MO.
    1. Not wearing a hat Friday Night to Shul
    2. A married man wearing a wedding band
    3. wearing a colored shirt on shabbos
    4. wearing brown shoes on shabbos
    5. making your son’s bar mitzvah at the kotel
    6. Married women don’t cover their hair
    7. women wearing pants
    8. married women covering their hair, but not their elbows
    9. eating bakery goods at non-kosher places, cause “what could be not kosher in it”
    10. eating OU products on Pesach (except Coke)
    11. sending your kids to regular College, (not Touro, Brooklyn or Queens College)
    12. go mixed swimming in front of other frum people
    13. hold hands or show affection in public
    14. the young boys have huge mushroom haircuts
    15. men wear shorts in the city (not just at the Sunday baseball game in the “country”)
    16. Big Zionist

    At the moment cant think of more.

    Is it Communism?

    The problem is, in my view, that since JB, there was no Godel who can appeal to the MO masses and still have some Orthodox street cred. So the MO don’t really have anyone to “show them the way.” Just my opinion

  • Heterim are for Hippies

    When Torah left the shtetle and entered the cities, Klal Yisroel was faced with two options. Either compromise on Torah to live in the “real world” or ignore the world in order not to compromise Torah. Without naming names, it’s pretty clear that many have chosen one or the other option. But these hashkafos are based on the assumption that the world is a contradiction to Torah.

    The Torah teaches, instead, that the world was created lshaim Torah and to mkayim ratzon haelyon. This is why I love the Chabad approach. It teaches us to bring the world up to Torah’s standards, rather than compromising at all on even hidur shel mitzvah. This means keeping Shulchan Aruch is the bare minimum, and never to ch’v compromise on that. Yet being involved with, and bringing up the world to your level.

    I know I sort of ignored your question. But I also answered it, albeit indirectly.

  • “Then again many people consider themselves something that others would not. Case in point, when I grew up we always considered our selves orthodox, but we watched TV on shabbos, and ate out in non kosher restaurants. Violating the two basic tenets of orthodoxy.”

    A large part of the “decline” in Orthodoxy’s demographics comes from the hardening of the definition of Orthodox. In the past there was a large segment of people who associated with Orthodox Judaism but were not fully halachically observant to one degree or another, the so-called “nominally Orthodox.” These people drifted away from Orthodoxy as Orthodoxy shifted to the right and, with its growing confidence, became more insistent on observance. Whereas in the past a student in an Orthodox yeshiva had many classmates from less frum homes, that is no longer the case. Modern Orthodoxy was the biggest loser in this demographic shift, as the lost demographic (having been more affiliated with MO than RW Orthodox segments) hit them the hardest.

  • Hesh, you can use the internet for free at most public libraries. Here is one near you:
    Suffern Free Library
    210 Lafayette Ave., Suffern, NY 10901
    (845) 357-1237
    Monday – Thursday 10AM-9PM
    Friday – Saturday 10AM-5PM
    Sunday 12-5PM

    From the North and West
    Take the NYS Thruway (I-287) south to Exit 14B (Airmont Rd.). Turn right onto Airmont Rd. At the second light, make a right onto Route 59W (which becomes Lafayette Ave.). Proceed 1.2 miles and you will see Good Samaritan Hospital on the left and the library on the right. There is a stone wall surrounding the library.

    Nanuet Public Library
    149 Church Street
    Nanuet, NY 10954
    845.623.4281
    10am-9pm; library has wifi

    Nyack Public Library
    59 South Broadway,
    Nyack, NY 10960
    (845) 358-3370

    Sloatsburg Public Library
    1 Liberty Rock Road
    Sloatsburg, NY 10974
    United States
    County Rockland
    Phone: 845-753-2001

  • I’m sorry; Heimish; I know you don’t mean James Brown.

    Please clue me in: “The problem is, in my view, that since JB, there was no Godel who can appeal to the MO masses…”

    When I think MO and big rav, I think Soloveitchik, Kook, who’s JB, please?

  • heimish in bp

    Soloveitchik’s first name was “Yoshe Ber” which gave him the nickname JB.

  • Yumma

    1: MO is an approach to the world, a way in which to engage that world without fear, with not need for falls to keep us in. Certainly MO has boundaries, but, rather than deny everything and call everybody and anybody a kofer who is a bit curious and underwhelmed and whose interests lay beyond the four corners of the UO world, the MO community would seek to provide the tools and necessary analysis to engage and interact with all that the world really is, while putting aside any cognitive dissonance resulting from being both university educated and a believer.

    If the above sounds nothing like the MO community as we know it, well, it mostly doesn’t and therein lies part of the problem.

    2. I like the communism angle, except that, unlike like communism which was utopian in general and barbaric and tyrannical in particular, MO really did not have a chance to flourish, at least in comparison to UO. Sure, MO was the dominant style of Orthodoxy pre-war and for a time post-war, but, by basically ceding the argument all assumptions to UO, it was never given a chance to see if that model could succeed in establishing generations of Jews committed both to Judaism, non-orthodox pursuits, and how to reconcile belief with modernity.

  • okay; I thought it was him, somehow. I thought I was the only one who turns Kook’s first names into stuff like AJ. lol

  • I suppose Kook is more Zionist than modern. I like a lot of things a lot of people write … and then I don’t like other things they write. It keeps it interesting.

  • I hate those labels. I think that Conservative is more like communism. It’s failing, while MO is growing. That’s what I saw in Great Neck a few weeks ago, while my old Bayside Conservative shul, OJC, is pretty dead.
    Communism is dead, too.

  • Olie

    For the most part, leading a halachic life (or at least striving to) without cutting yourself from society unnecesarily.

    Over here (England) when most people say they’re orthodox what they mean is that they are members of an orthodox shul.
    Gets on my nerve a little bit but would I rather they belong to a non-orthodox shul? Probably not.

    In the Sephardi world you notice the divisions less, there’s people all across the orthodox spectrum. Communities/shuls are based on regions rather than political/religious ideology.

  • Hope Less

    My parents told me that I was Modern Orthodox. I always believed what they told me, because I didn’t know any better.

    So, when I signed up for an Internet dating site, I put down Modern Orthodox. Now I know my parents were wrong. We are ultra orthodox.

  • Ex-wife of BT

    Question: If I have 5 non-Jewish close friends that I would invite to my family Simcha, yet not marry them, what category does that put me?

  • I kid, I kid

    “If I have 5 non-Jewish close friends that I would invite to my family Simcha, yet not marry them, what category does that put me?”

    Slut?

  • that was totally uncalled for, not even funny in any way – you can’t kid about calling someone a slut. how dare you??!!

  • utubefan

    Heimish, you are so funny. Colored shirts. Mixed swimming in front of other frum people. Because you Brooklyn people just swim together when nobody “Heimish” is looking. I love it. Makes me think back to my high school days.
    Hesh, wiki has a pretty good def of MO.

  • utubefan

    By your definition, Heim, the kid who crashed his car in the country this week, drunk on Shabbos while listening to Jewish music was…Yeshivish! And the funny thing is we had guys crashing cars on Shabbos in the country over 20 years ago and all of them needed Modern Orthodoxy. May it rest in peace.

  • heimish in bp

    Utubefan, That was one crazy story, and the fact that he was listening to jewish music, on shabbos, in the THREE WEEKS!!!! GEVALD!!!! What a great story.

    The craziest part of the story is as follows, don’t know how accurate, but this is how it goes:

    About four years ago, a kid tried to change a DVD/video, when the screen fell on the 4 year old girl and killed her.

    When the car rammed into the bungalow, there was a crib in that room, it threw the crib across the room, hit the apposite wall, which had a screen on a shelf, and sent the screen crashing down, and missed the baby by an inch.

    It was the same family.

  • heimish in bp

    why isnt my comment going through??????

  • heimish in bp

    That was one crazy story, and the fact that he was listening to jewish music, on shabbos, in the THREE WEEKS!!!! GEVALD!!!! What a great story.

    The craziest part of the story is as follows, don’t know how accurate, but this is how it goes:

    About four years ago, a kid tried to change a DVD/video, when the screen fell on the 4 year old girl and killed her.

    When the car rammed into the bungalow, there was a crib in that room, it threw the crib across the room, hit the apposite wall, which had a screen on a shelf, and sent the screen crashing down, and missed the baby by an inch.

    It was the same family.

  • ’cause you’re not modern enough (I’m kidding. Sometimes slashes and colons and hyphens, as well as the greater than and less than symbols, cause comments to go to moderation. If that’s not what’s happening, I have no idea.)

  • Oh, man!! IN bed with a creepy demon, then Fatimas realises the man is married to is the stuttering guy down here, and her fake husband dies, hebrew men contact demoncallers, and so on, read on!!!

  • the aliens are here and they love christ!!! plus: ‘Conversation with Jesus!! search ‘aliens’, ‘jesus’

  • Benny

    Our friends in Houston consider themselves orthodox (Meerland Minyan) yet they eat FISH out. Our daughter will not eat meat in our home unless the cow was killed in Postville. Of the 5 million in the USA perhaps 500,000 are observant. Do you guys think the rest of them are chopped liver. For crying out loud they don’t celebrate festivus!

  • heimish in bp

    sheesh, scroll up, now it posted it twice.

  • if that’s not a sign not to let babies have screens in their rooms, I don’t know what is. Wow (insert Yiddish terms of choice here; I am thinking of a few).

  • Rabbi Avi Weiss is often described as Modern Orthodox. I describe myself as modern Orthodox. You see the difference?

    For some Jews, being Orthodox meant going to an Orthodox shul, but still failing the test when it came to personal kashrut and Shabbos. Today, being Orthodox means keeping as many commandments as possible.

  • Mark

    I try to keep as many mitzvot as possible. I keep kosher (only eat at kosher resaurants). I’m shomer shabbat. I wear my kippah and my tzitzit on a daily basis. Does that make me Orthodox?

    Or is it believing in Torah MiSinai, and that the world is 5768 years old? Is it believing that a woman can actually distract you from being able to daven if she is sitting next to you?

  • Cheech voice: Reb Avi, he’s not modern orthodox … man. He’s more like, modern actidox.

    What do you mean, man?

    I mean he’s, like, goin’ out and protesting and caring about stuff, man. He’s not just sitting around in some pulpit, counting the strings on his tzitzis, man. He’s loud, and he’s doing stuff.

    —-

    You may not agree with his politics, but he’s not one for extended siestas. I was fortunate enough to have Reb Avi as a positive influence during my early teen years. (just a disclaimer for anyone who wants to take issue with me having Cheech and Chong discuss him. it’s late. I hope it’s still funny in the morning.)

  • utubefan

    It was, sb. Heim, that is an odd story.

  • Shevers

    Mark, read the later post on distractions during davening. If your laundry can distract I am sure a woman sitting next to you during davening can distract you.

    Seriously, I don’t understand the “big dichotomy”. I think thats where modern orthodoxy went wrong. The world and Torah true Judaism are not incompatible. All of the “Orthodox” Jews I know are modern. What is modern anyways? They all use cellphones and drive cars….

    When you decide that either you have to hide from the world OR give up mitzvos thats when the issues start.

  • Hey Shevers I have answered shadchuns with “what makes you modern?”

    With what do you mean? I use electricity and drive a care.

  • LearningTorah

    I get distracted at home with my wife and baby in the room, I prefer to Daven at shul where theres a separation between men and women. Although ours isn’t very good, we have plants going across the room so you can still kinda see through it. I does serve its purpose I guess. I don’t know, is it just me? I cant stop myself from looking at pretty girls, and I can hardly keep focus as it is.

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