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You know you’re modern orthodox if

Most people in the heimishe, yeshivish, black hat or Chassidish world don’t really know much of modern orthodoxy, many of them lump all modern orthodox people together, my friends wife thinks modern orthodox people celebrate Christmas, my cousins think they aren’t learned, the list goes on and on.This is because when I was a kid if you were modern orthodox the list below probably applied to you, but it doesn’t apply so much anymore – at least not to all of modern orthodoxy. It is not uncommon to meet modern orthodox folks that keep all of halacha and have the look too, they cover their hair with sheitles and black hats that send their kids to non-coed camps and schools. So in tribute to the modern orthodoxy I grew up with during the 80’s and early 90’s I bring you:

You know you’re modern orthodox if:

You brush your teeth on shabbos

Married man: You wear a wedding ring

You celebrate yom haatzmaut

You commemorate yom hashoah

You wear one of those lampshade hats that cover half of your hair

You wear jeans to other places besides work

Female: You wear pants, shorts sleeves

Married Female: You dont cover your hair

Youre living room has a large home entrainment system

There is no assigned seat for the man of the house

You wear colored shirts on shabbos

You play ball on shabbos

You go mixed swimming

You dont dress up on chol hamoid

You look at your mail on shabbos

You dont use frum brands of products

There is only one bed in the master bedroom (I grew up with thinking this but I think that Manhattan modern orthodoxy is more like conservadoxy)

You have a TV

Your DVD collection is out in plain view

You get a newspaper other than the NY Post or Jewish papers

You do not wear a black velvet yarmulke ever

You tend to wear baseball caps if you dont have to wear a yarmulke

You dont wear a yarmulke to work

You eat Vegan out

You go to the beach

You have mixed seating at weddings, brisim, shalom zachors, etc

You have English names on your birth certificate

You eat vegetables

Lag Baomer isnt the only time you wear shorts

You sing things to the tune of Hatikva

Your shul has an Israeli and American flag in it

People pass babies over the mechitza in your shul

Even though your shul is orthodox – it is split amongst republicans and democrats (try finding a real frum person who is a democrat – that’s for another post)

Your shul sings more than just lecha dodi and yedid nefesh

You don’t know the joys of erev shabbos kugel

Your school has after school programs

Why are modern orthodox people in love with the song Acheinu?

Now for the serious part of the post:

So what really makes someone modern orthodox? You know – the philosophical reasons. I found this post that Rabbi Gil Student wrote way back in 2006 about modern orthodoxy. That’s kind of where my posts came from, he’s given me permission to reprint anything from his blog.

You know you’re modern orthodox if: See original post here

1. You approve of exploring some or much of general culture in order to find beauty and meaning in it (Torah im Derekh Eretz).
2. You believe that studying some or many areas of secular studies is valuable for more than just earning a living (Torah u-Madda type 1).
3. You see value in using some academic methods in the study of at least some areas of Torah (Torah u-Madda type 2).
4. You give the views of experts in any field serious consideration.
5. You believe that expertise requires serious training.
6. You encourage greater participation of women in the Jewish community.
7. Mingling of the genders, whether in educational or social contexts, is OK with you.
8. You dismiss the infallibility, omniscience and supernatural powers of rabbis.
9. You see the establishment of the State of Israel as a religiously meaningful event.
10. You think people should dress in the style of clothing they like rather than communal uniforms.

{ 115 comments… add one }
  • AMR March 22, 2010, 3:04 PM

    I would add that just because someone wears black or a hat or only white shirts, does not automatically make them in any way shape or form better then you or anyone else. Superiority is earned and is not an entitlement.

    • Heshy Fried March 22, 2010, 3:08 PM

      Well I wish that were the case – but in a large part of the frum community it does, even though everyone claims it doesn’t it still does.

    • Leead March 22, 2010, 5:48 PM

      superiority is earned?! superiority in what? i hope you’re not thinking Judaism. In Judaism no Jew is holier than another. The only superiority I can think of that ever existed was that Kohens had special benefits in the sacrificial ceremonies

      • Liz March 24, 2010, 1:30 PM

        While I agree Leead the orthodox community is based on the premise that they are better than all the other jewish sects. Not to mention they are always trying to be more frum than the next guy. He who has the largest yalmuka, and celebrates shabbos the longest wins.:)

  • Tova March 22, 2010, 3:08 PM

    ‘You eat vegetables.’

    Ahahahaha…Nice post, Hesh! Reminds me (somewhat) of my own MO upbringing.

    • Heshy Fried March 22, 2010, 3:09 PM

      I should have said you eat vegetables other than stuffed cabbage, potato kugel and bagged iceberg lettuce with cabbage shavings drenched in pfiefer French dressing.

      • Tova March 22, 2010, 4:06 PM

        In my house, potatoes aren’t a vegetable; they’re a starch. Whenever Mom cooked dinner, she would cook an entree, a starch and a GREEN vegetable. If the entree was starchy, we’d just have the entree with said vegetable.

        We eat green peas, broccoli, asparagus, green beans…

        • It's a joke... March 22, 2010, 4:40 PM

          >We eat green peas, broccoli, asparagus ….

          You mean you ate bugs. Bugs are not vegetables, unless they’re comatose.

    • MissShona March 22, 2010, 3:16 PM

      Yes – I also loved that one! 🙂

  • tesyaa March 22, 2010, 3:12 PM

    you have English names on your birth certificate

    I take issue with this. It’s the chassidishe & yeshivishe worlds where people are named Zelig and use Mike as their English name. Or Chaim uses Steve. Not to mention the ubiqutious Sam/Shlomos or Tzirel/Sylvias. The modern Orthodox have Hebrew names like Yafitte, Ayelet, and Tamir on their birth certificates.

    • Heshy Fried March 22, 2010, 3:16 PM

      Maybe that’s a new school Tzioni thing – but the modern people I know – throw real names on their birth certificates so that when they start rounding up the Jews in this country – they won’t be the first one’s to be shipped out.

      • former baltimorean March 22, 2010, 4:21 PM

        the goldstein or goldberg will give them away, even if it is after a steve or a britney!!!

      • Mark March 22, 2010, 6:41 PM

        MO folks between ages 15 and 45 generally have English names on their birth certificate, like “Mark” in my case, and Hebrew names for Jewish purposes (aliyah leTorah, etc). MO kids 15 and under generally have Hebrew names on their birth certificate. All my children have 2 Hebrew names, and those are the only names they use, and the only names on their birth certificate.

        • abandoning eden March 23, 2010, 7:44 AM

          I’m a 27 year old kid who grew up MO and I have only my hebrew name on my birth certificate (in fact I don’t have an english name). My 26 year old brother has a hebrew name IRL and an english name on his birth certificate. My 22 year old brother only has a hebrew name, both on his birth certificate and IRL.

          • abandoning eden March 23, 2010, 7:47 AM

            this reminds me of that song “I got a name, I got a lovely jewish name, my name is uncle moishy and (I forgot the rest of the lyrics”

            • Meir March 23, 2010, 10:40 AM

              It’s “I got a name, I got a lovely Jewish name, I hope that you will tell me yours and I will do the same

              (though maybe that is a different verse of the song)

              One of the few raised non-frum kids who nevertheless did listen to Uncle Moishy tapes on car rides.

              • Heshy Fried March 23, 2010, 2:08 PM

                Dude we watched TV on shabbos and listened to 613 torah ave and marvelous midos machine

                • Meir March 23, 2010, 8:29 PM

                  Never listened to those other two.

                  Let’s see, other than Uncle Moishy, we listened to many, many Shmuel Kunda tapes (I think he started possibly a bit after your time, you’ve got a few years on me); The Talking Coins, When Zaidy Was Young Parts 1 and 2, The Incredible Dreidel of Feitel Von Zeidel, Boruch Makes A Simcha, Magic Yarmulke [with the exception of Boruch Makes a Simcha, they’re as much Yiddishe history as anything]

                  and (remember, I was raised ‘observant Conservative’) Robyn Helzner’s Clap Your Hands and I Live In the City

                • Liz March 24, 2010, 1:26 PM

                  Ah the mitzvoh machine! I forgot all about that. Uncle Moishy too, I wonder if I would still like it at 32?

      • G*3 March 23, 2010, 2:03 PM

        > throw real names on their birth certificates

        That’s an odd way to put it. Names are just noises we use so we don’t have to call each other, “Hey you!” And many of the popular “English” names are biblical, which means that they’re mangled transliterations of Hebrew, Latin, or Greek.

  • feivelbenmishael March 22, 2010, 3:25 PM

    You formulate your own views and opinions and THEN see how you can spin the Torah to agree.

    • abandoning eden March 23, 2010, 7:52 AM

      ha cause every single denomination of judaism from reconstructionist to charedi/chassidic doesn’t do this?

      I don’t recall the part of the torah/talmud where they talk about water filters or indian hair or whatever fakakta chumras they have now.

      • feivelbenmishael March 23, 2010, 12:43 PM

        You arent aware of parts of Torah which deal with having benefit from Avoda Zara… or ingesting bugs???

  • Shlong March 22, 2010, 3:45 PM


    I could have shortened this to the one question version for you…
    If you take a flight to Israel on Yom Haatzmaut to see a Billy Joel concert… you’re Modern Orthodox.

    If however, you fly on Yom Haatzmaut From Israel to Aneheim in order to attend Ozzfest, then you’re most likely Reformed or plain unaffiliated.

    • Heshy Fried March 22, 2010, 4:17 PM

      Actually ozzie is a pretty yeshivish band – yeshivish kids love metal for some reason.

      • Mark March 22, 2010, 6:42 PM

        Probably because most metal artists are men and thus avoid kol isha 🙂

        • Phil March 22, 2010, 8:16 PM


          I think Rush and Jimmy page were borderline Kol Isha.

          • Mark March 22, 2010, 8:18 PM

            LOL 🙂

          • Tova March 22, 2010, 8:33 PM

            I think you mean Robert Plant, not Jimmy Page.

            And he only sounds like ‘kol isha’ on Led Zep’s most overplayed material.

            • Phil March 22, 2010, 8:58 PM


              I can’t believe I made that mistake, I was picturing Robert plant in whole lotta love, poofing his hair and batting his eyelashes (now you can accuse me of being gay again) 🙂

              Cracks me up whenever I watch Zep, Motley Crue with all their makeup, or old Van Halen with David lee Roth jumping around in pink leotards. We actually tought those guys were so cool.

              At least they knew how to rock, and they were the rosh yeshivas and your parents worst nightmare.

              • ghottistyx March 23, 2010, 11:59 PM

                And hey, Diamond Dave is a yid as well. I’m told that he currently moonlights as an EMT in the Bronx! Wow! And yes, we can all agree that–with all due respect to Sammy Hagar and his own career–Diamond Dave was the man!

                • Phil March 24, 2010, 7:54 AM

                  Good old Shimmy Hagar. He’s such a chosid, he brews his own mashke (Cabo).

                  • Yochanan March 24, 2010, 12:17 PM

                    Wouldn’t it be Shmuli?

                    • Phil March 24, 2010, 12:21 PM


                      Probably, I guess it could go either way.

          • ghottistyx March 22, 2010, 8:53 PM

            The Chevra….Now there’s Kol Isha.

            Geddy Lee is, Robert Plant isn’t. Sorry Tova, I do like Rush’s music (and they put on a great show), but Geddy Lee does sing like a eunuch.

            Freddie Mercury is borderline himself. But I still think he’s got the greatest pipes in rock history (him, Plant, and Orbison). But there’s that part in “Under Pressure” where he does sound like he just got kicked in the beitzim really hard.

            • Phil March 23, 2010, 10:26 AM


              Freddy was just a flaming fag, sounded and looked the part to. The band name “queen” didn’t help either. Not knocking the fact that he was a great songwriter and musician though.

              How about Michael Jackson? Definite kol ishah, looked like a transvestite too.

              • ghottistyx March 23, 2010, 11:53 PM

                Indeed. Michael Jackson: the story of how a poor black boy became a rich white woman.

          • TX Fan March 23, 2010, 1:38 AM

            My dorm councilor once accused me of listening to kol isha when I had rush playing

            • feivelbenmishael March 23, 2010, 12:45 PM

              You would claim Rush is Jewish music since Getty Lee is Jewish.

              • ghottistyx March 23, 2010, 11:56 PM

                Yes, Geddy Lee still is Jewish. Geddy is how his Litvak mother pronounced his English name (Gary). Nice guy also. The one Rush concert I went to went on past 11. Now union regulation has it that if a concert goes past that, the band must pay the workers at the venue out of its own pocket. But the concert was going so well, that Geddy decided to keep going–for the fans–and obligingly paid the extra gelt.

                And yes, I was one of those smart-asses who as a kid would consider The Beastie Boys, Billy Joel, and Pantera to be Jewish.

                • Phil March 24, 2010, 7:52 AM


                  What makes you think Pantera is Jewish, Dimebag’s beard?

  • Adam March 22, 2010, 3:50 PM

    While it may be true that there is a lot of overlap, particularly in the USA, between modern Orthodox and religious Zionist – they are NOT the same thing!

    This is especially true of dati leumi in Israel. Some dati leumi are modern and/or lenient in halacha. Others are just as strict as many Charedi / yeshivish people.

    My community is somewhere on the border between dati leumi and charedi dati leumi, or CharDal.

    -The Bnei Akiva is gender separate

    -the town pool and the town gym have gender separate hours only

    -I can only think of four married/divorced/widowed women that don’t cover their hair (and two of them are widows nearing 90 years old),

    -men come home from work and often go to a night seder and/or chevrusa

    -there are well attended shiurim throughout the week, on a wide range of topics, for both men and women (but again, separately)

    -the rav of our yishuv is asked questions within halacha, as well as advice on general life matters

    How an observant Jew views the status of the State of Israel, its religious significance, the mitzvah of yishuv eretz yisrael, the mitzvah of serving in the army, etc – have nothing to do with the other criteria that you list for being “modern”.

    So please stop conflating religious zionism and modern orthodoxy

    • Heshy Fried March 22, 2010, 4:18 PM

      Dude this was American – stop confusing America and Israel they are two very different animals – I don’t write about communities I don’t know about – so I rarely write on Israel.

  • Adam March 22, 2010, 4:22 PM

    I understand that – but even in the U.S., they aren’t the same thing. The dati leumi-leaning guys that I learned with in YU smicha are not modern. Those who stay in North America will most likely have congregants that are modern, but they are not. They are serious Torah minded frum Jews who have a practical understand of how to help increase Torah observance in a non-insular (read: yeshivish/chassidish) community.

    • Heshy Fried March 22, 2010, 4:43 PM

      Yes but if they don’t wear hats, watch movies and eat veggies they aren’t frum.

  • In summation March 22, 2010, 4:49 PM

    Building on and disagreeing with Rabbi Student, you could say that you are Modern Orthodox if all of your important religious/philosophical ideals were selected piece by piece from a hodgepodge of unconnected sources. Some Hirsch here, some Kook there, sprinkle a bit of Kant in the mix, etc. Kind of like a “religion cholent” or cocktail, as you will.

    So to move it into Foxworthy format,

    If “Mesorah” to you is just the name of a publishing company, you are probably modern orthodox.

    (Double meaning intended)

  • Adam March 22, 2010, 4:56 PM

    cute – but EVERYONE today is a mixture.

    Why in the world would a yeshivish guy not eat gebrokes on Pesach? Because one of his great grandfathers was chassidish.

    Churban Europe destroyed us so thoroughly, whoever was left didn’t start asking about yichus or hashkafos when they made shidduchim.

    Keep shabbos? kashrus (reading ingredients, pre-hechsher)? taharas mishpacha? Good enough.

    As a result, hardly anyone has a straight mesorah anymore.

    Not to defend the intentional picking and choosing that happens in some frum communities – but the unintentional mishmash among both yeshivish and chassidish is the reality today.

    • In summation March 22, 2010, 5:11 PM

      Agreed – almost everyone lacks mesorah. Plus, with all the “cross-marriage” between Chassidim, Litvaks, and everyone else, there’s more than enough reason why we’re all mixed up today. But that’s not to say everyone.

      I was just irked by Student’s branding of Hirsch as modern orthodoxy. MO didn’t grow from there, they latched onto it and sucked like hey. Kind of like if Ozzie would be claiming to be a follower of Elvis.

  • Phil March 22, 2010, 4:59 PM

    The Soloveitchiks and Breurs would be turning over in their graves, most of what you listed was out even according to them.

    And yes, Ozzy rules. I don’t know which idiot coined Elvis the king of rock, I think that title should have gone to Ozzy. I guess he settled for prince of darkness. Yeshiva bochurim loved Ozzy because he is an amazing performer, and back in the day, he stood for everything your rosh yeshiva despised.

    • Yochanan March 23, 2010, 3:44 PM

      Considering that it was originally a Black genre, how did a White guy get named “The King”?

  • David March 22, 2010, 5:07 PM

    “The Soloveitchiks and Breurs would be turning over in their graves, most of what you listed was out even according to them.”
    Yeah, I don’t understand when people say, “I go mixed swimming becuase I’m modern orthdox.” Or, “I eat un-hechshered cheese because I’m modern orthodox.” What “modern orthdox” rabbi says that these things are OK, and what are their halachic sources for such?

    • In summation March 22, 2010, 5:12 PM

      I understand it fine – what’s the point of being modern orthodox if you can’t go mixed swimming?

  • Adam March 22, 2010, 5:10 PM

    Check with Rabbi Avi Weiss. If he doesn’t allow it, no one frum does.

  • Adam March 22, 2010, 5:14 PM

    for some people, they only think of themselves as “modern” because they went to college and have an advanced degree which allows them to earn a nice salary at a particular profession.

    That’s the “point” of being “modern” (according to those people who would consider college and career modern)

  • A. Nuran March 22, 2010, 5:18 PM

    Heshy, if you keep writing thoughtful pieces like this you’ll stop being the class clown and grow up into a philosopher. Then you’ll be dangerous and probably achieve the cherem you jokingly aspired to a few weeks back.

    The Fool can tell truths which nobody else dares speak.

    • Heshy Fried March 23, 2010, 2:43 AM

      I always write thoughtful pieces – but thoughtful is relative – I thank you

  • ezra r March 22, 2010, 5:21 PM

    heshy you are such a retard 🙂

    • Heshy Fried March 23, 2010, 2:42 AM

      at least I know you’re being endearing – I take the compliment

  • Ilana-Davita March 22, 2010, 5:28 PM

    You prefer the Birnbaum siddur to the Artscroll and are glad Rabbi Sacks came up with something you can relate to.

    • Tova March 22, 2010, 5:51 PM

      Indeed! The KSS is a very cool publication; I reviewed it on my blog once.

      • Elizabeth Levinson March 22, 2010, 7:36 PM

        is the Ilana-Davita a reference to Chaim Potok’s “Davita’s Harp?” because I dig the ref, if so.

      • Ilana-Davita March 23, 2010, 1:56 AM

        I also reviewed it on my blog.

    • Sergey Kadinsky March 24, 2010, 11:52 AM

      If you still go by the Hertz Chumash instead of Artscroll, you may be an old-fashioned MO.

  • Adam March 22, 2010, 5:38 PM

    If “seder” is a word you only use around Pesach time….you might be modern Orthodox.

    • Avrumy March 23, 2010, 10:34 AM

      I HEART Modern Orthodoxy!

  • old fashioned modern ortho March 22, 2010, 5:51 PM

    You are thrilled when the Rabbi candidate for your shul wears a kipah sruga and goes by his English name. You love matza balls and matza brei on Pesach. BTW, Hesh you are not a retard, I truly enjoy these posts.

  • Eva March 22, 2010, 7:27 PM

    I guess I’m a 100% Modern Orthodox. Said yes to all things mentioned above 🙂

  • J. March 22, 2010, 7:59 PM

    Regarding Modern Orthodox Rabbis eating non-hechshered cheese:
    “In his Sefer MiPeninei HaRav (page 153), Rav Hershel Schachter, shlit”a writes that indeed the Rav, zt”l, privately permitted Gevinat Akum even though Sh. Aruch, Y. D. 115:2 states that Gevinat Akum is prohibited because it is produced using “ohr keivat neveilah” . And even if it were produced “BeAssabim” with vegetable products, it would still be prohibited. The Ramo writes that this is the prevalent custom and it should not be violated unless that particular locale had a custom to be lenient. The Rav permitted eating cheese that was produced using vegetable products. However, whenever the Rav was asked by a regular Ba’al HaBayit if this type of cheese was permitted, he would answer that it is prohibited. He felt that even though it might be permissible, it fell into the category of “Halacha Ve’ain Morin Kain LeRabim,” this permissive view should not be publicized. Only people who could appreciate the intricacies of the law were informed of the lenient view if they asked. This line of reasoning has its basis in the Gemara (Ta’anit 13a), where Rashi, d.h. KeShe’amru Assur, reports that something is permitted but concludes “Aval Ein Mefrasimin HaDavar” – the lenient ruling should not be publicized.”

    See here: http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v41/mj_v41i18.html#CDX

    • A. Nuran March 23, 2010, 9:06 AM

      I make my own cheese and know exactly what goes into it and what it goes into for that matter. And I observe a higher level of sanitation than the one CY cheese factory I toured. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were (treif) rat poops in theirs. There is no need to pay good money for some black hat’s seal of approval on my quark or gouda.

      • Yochanan March 23, 2010, 3:49 PM


        • flip out March 23, 2010, 3:51 PM

          Cholov Yisrael?

          • A. Nuran March 23, 2010, 10:25 PM


        • Adam March 23, 2010, 3:53 PM

          CY = Chalav Yisrael. Not sure if that term needs to be explained in this forum or not.

          There was a guy in a yeshiva who kept a package of string cheese in the yeshiva fridge. Guys were eating it. He thought, maybe they don’t realize that it’s private property – so he wrote his name on it. It kept getting eaten. He put a note on it – “do not touch”, but people kept eating it. Finally, he found a way to keep the bochurim away from his food. He wrote on it in big letters, “CHALAV STAM”.

          • Anonymous March 24, 2010, 12:55 PM

            Urban myth

  • Woodrow/Conservadox March 22, 2010, 10:12 PM

    I think the disagreements here illustrate that there’s really two types of modern orthodox people: frum-but-modern (more or less following halacha the way an O rabbi would, even if that rabbi is Avi Weiss) and easygoing Orthodox (going to an orthodox shul and maybe more observant than Conservative Jews, but not as observant as an MO rabbi). The former is closer to Gil Student’s conception of modern Orthodox, the latter is Conservadox with brand loyalty (to Orthodoxy that is).

    • SF2K1 March 23, 2010, 4:20 AM

      Yes because before Chabad started outreach, modern orthodox was the place where people who were not frum, but wanted a frum environment were gathered. They have been moved over to Chabad and this let modern orthodox clamp down on Halacha and therefore it “moved to the right.”

      I’m modern orthodox, on the Gil student side of things, but I believe simply that we need to keep the Halacha (orthodoxy) and if people need a leniency for specific cased, they need it, but not the blatant disregard for even basic Halacha (not just a minhag) that I see sometimes.

      • Mark March 23, 2010, 7:48 AM

        SF2K1 – but not the blatant disregard for even basic Halacha (not just a minhag) that I see sometimes.

        I’m trying to think of some examples of blatant disregard of basic halacha in the MO community and can’t think of any. Can you give some examples SF2K1?

    • Phil March 23, 2010, 9:19 AM


      Easygoing Orthodox ? Ha!

      How about”sinners-that-justify-their-lifestyle-by-calling-themselves-modern-orthodox”.

  • anon March 23, 2010, 1:51 AM

    the people pass babies thing is classic

  • Sam March 23, 2010, 1:57 AM

    Labels are for shirts.

    At this point you can’t sum anyone up with a label. Every person has their own views and feelings regardless of what neighborhood or community or sect they officially subscribe to.

    Its a free country and people do as they please.

    Having said that – I personally feel that all these variations and differences of opinions when it comes to how a Jew should act stem from one point:

    There is the law and then there is the “spirit” of the law.

    Sure maybe according to Halacha you can do such and such – but is that what a Jew does? – Just ‘cuz “its OK” or you can find a “Heter” – is that how a Jew should live?

    You can sign up for the package deal – from soup to nuts. OR you can pick and and choose – but if you pick and choose. Is it Judaism or is it your own religion with some nice parts of Judaism that you happen to like?

    Now because we are human beings and we have inner struggles and inner battles – what we do or don’t do is between you and your creator.

    Thats why you cant sum anyone with a label. G-d who knows the heart of man can Judge.

    YOU have to love everyone as they are. Accept them. Respect them. Care for them. Because after all is said and done – A Jew is a Jew.

    There is ONE G-d. ONE Torah. ONE People. We are all parts of one soul. Lets not beat ourselves up.

    Kosher and Happy Pesach!

  • David March 23, 2010, 9:57 AM

    “Im trying to think of some examples of blatant disregard of basic halacha in the MO community and cant think of any. Can you give some examples ”

    Not being shomer negia.
    Spouses sleeping in the same bed when nida; still touching when nida.
    Mixed swimming.
    Eating veggie out.
    Carrying without an eruv.
    Not washing for bread when it is not Shabbos or Yom Tov.
    I’m not saying ALL self-proclaimed modern people do this, but I have not people who do some or all of these.

    • Mark March 23, 2010, 11:37 AM

      First of all, MO doesn’t do any of these things leshita. Can you name MO Rabbis that matir these things?

      Second of all, plenty of non-MO (Charedi, Yeshivish, etc) do some of these same things (also not leshita).

      Finally, most of these are gederim, not basic halacha as you said earlier. Please explain what you mean by “basic” and exactly how “basic halacha” differs from “halacha”.

      Now to specifics, “Eating veggie out”? Are you kidding? That’s a CJ (Conservative Judaism) thing, not an MO thing. “Carrying without eruv”? Who does that? I am not aware of a single MO community in which people regularly carry without an eruv! Most eruvim are specifically designed to surround MO communities! And when the community expands, the eruv is expanded. And what in the heck does washing have to do with Shabbat and Yom Tov??? Washing has to do with Hamotzei, not the day of the week!

      This sounds like a lot of motzei shem ra about a whole community. And I have to wonder why you didn’t mention any real basic halachot, like lo tigzol (do steal), or the basic halacha not to diddle little children, or not to make a chillul hashem,etc. Instead you seem to be more worried about MO teenagers holding hands.

      • Phil March 23, 2010, 11:47 AM


        From a strictly shulchan aruch view point, you don’t need an eruv to carry if you’re on an island, which would imply that you could carry anywhere in Manhattan on Shabbos.

        Another example would be the allowance to use non kosher dishes for cold food. Totally permissible according to S.A if you were in a hotel and forgot to bring your own dishes.

        I know we don’t pasken like that, just pointing it out.

        Problem with calling yourseld M.O is that many of them pick and choose what they follow and what they don’t, most of which aren’t rooted in halacha at all. Then people tend to stereotype m.o.s as all transgressing the same type of things, kind of what like Hesh posted.

        • A. Nuran March 24, 2010, 5:23 AM

          Just how big can this island be? Greenland? A small continent?

          • Phil March 24, 2010, 8:06 AM


            Most people don’t hold that way anymore. According to the more lenient authorities, any place that has less then 600,000 people passing there every day doesn’t really need an Eruv, so Greenland should theoretically not need an Eiruv.

            Stricter authorites including Rambam don’t allow an Eiruv if any street is wider than 32 feet. This would invalidate most modern day city wide Eruvs. One of the Lubavitch Rebbeim (possibly the Tzemach Tzedek) forbade them to make an Eiruv in Lubavitch. His rational was that their main road led to another road which led to a highway which led to St Petersburg which was reshut harabim. Therefore, the entire Lubavitch became reshut harabim.

            I guess most poskim rule somewhere in between.

            • Avrumy March 25, 2010, 1:47 PM

              The whole “magic string” concept is ludicrous and one of halacha’s rare cases of making things easier for the Jews.

  • David March 23, 2010, 12:21 PM

    “Instead you seem to be more worried about MO teenagers holding hands.”

    How do you know what I am more or less worried about? Just because they could be doing something worse doesn’t mean that they aren’t breaking halacha.
    Teenagers of the opposite gender that are not married or close blood relatives holding hands is against halacha. This is per the Ramban and the Shulchan Aruch in Even Haezer. It doesn’t get waived because you say, “I’m modern orthdox.”
    As for all of the other things I’ve mentioned, I never said that whole communities do these things, but I have encountered all of these things at least once among people who call themselves MO and used their self-designation as MO as the justification for violating these halachas.
    Don’t ask me what washing has to do with Shabbat. I have encountered more than one MO person that eats bread on weekdays without washing, but they wash at the Shabbat seudah.
    I have also encountered MO people who will not carry if the eruv in their community happens to be down, but if they are on vacaction to a place with no eruv, they will carry.

    • Mark March 23, 2010, 2:23 PM

      David – How do you know what I am more or less worried about?

      Only based on what you choose to discuss.

      Borrowing from Phil:
      Problem with calling yourself Charedi is that many of them pick and choose what they follow and what they dont, most of which arent rooted in halacha at all, and are very often violations of basic halacha, even d’oreitas! Then people tend to stereotype Charedim as all transgressing the same type of things, kind of what like Hesh posted.

      Borrowing from David:
      As for all of the other things that have been mentioned, I never said that whole communities do these things, but I have encountered all of these things at least once among people who call themselves Charedi and used their self-designation as Charedi as the justification for violating these halachas. Examples include stealing to fund yeshiva education, passing non-kosher meat as kosher because being dressed as a Charedi renders you above suspicion, bribing prison officials to permit you to hold a simcha in the jail, justifying stealing from non-Jews as permissible, selling votes of an entire community, etc.

  • Phil March 23, 2010, 2:35 PM


    Nice try. Chareidim don’t advocate what they do wrong and say it’s OK, they usually do it in hiding. If others want to generalize or stereotype them because of a few creeps, there is nothing they can do to avois it.

    Many M.O’s however, will openly violate basic halachic laws regarding tzniut women in pants, uncovered hair, etc). Even keeping a single bed is “open”, as their kids and house guests will surely notice.

    I’m sure many do so because they never learned any better, but a decent proportion will find all kinds of arguments to justify their actions.

    • Yochanan March 23, 2010, 4:02 PM

      Why can’t they have a large single bed and then switch to separate beds (or a couch) when the Mrs. is in Nida?

    • Meir March 24, 2010, 12:29 AM

      Is women not wearing pants a basic halacha or is more of an “advanced” halacha?

      (Given that today, a woman wearing pants will in no way be seen as trying to impersonate a man)

      • DrumIntellect March 25, 2010, 5:07 PM

        Pants are more modest (provided they aren’t “tight”).

        There is no issue for beged ish. Women pants are made specifically for them. Even Orthodox rabbis agree.

  • flip out March 23, 2010, 3:29 PM

    Unfortunately, I think MO does get a bad rep for intentionally breaking some halachos they choose to when in fact it has more to do with ignorance or without the proper foundation of being raised to have emunas chachamim. Many MO old-timers will tell how even as recently as 50 years ago there was no such thing as tznius and shomer negiah – women even went to their husbands rabbinic ordinations sleeveless, there were rebbetzing who didnt cover their hair, and of course there were mixed seating and dancing at events. However, these times in America, people just werent as knowledgeable and just kept whatever they could, like Shabbos, kashrus, and taharas mishpocha. The people who did have the halachic knowledge thought it was best not to say anything because they figured that even if they would say it, no one would follow it anyway – therefore better sinning b’shogeg than b’mayzid. After the Holocaust, many European yeshiva scholarly luminaries immigrated to America and established more yeshivos across the country, and especially when Israeli yeshivos and seminaries were established for American post-high school students, there became a greater halachic awareness among the young adults, which caused a generation gap between the “right-wing” children and grandchildren from their “less frum” parents. The older generation feels threatened by the young and doesnt want to admit how they had been unintentionally/intentionally sinning all these years, so they create a defense mechanism of saying that what they are doing has been right all along and the young are a bunch of fanatics.

    Hashkafically speaking, I dont have a problem with the MO hashkafa, since I believe it is more intellectually honest and gives more opportunites for women’s learning. However, I think their derech halimud at times lacks the warmth, passion, and emotional/religious fervor that the yeshivish approach that Ive been exposed to has.

  • MalachHamovies March 23, 2010, 4:59 PM


    Don’t forget Mo people say God willing, not Im Yirtza Hashem. And before Yom Kippur they wish each other that they should have a meaningful fast.

    • Yochanan March 24, 2010, 12:24 PM

      A Charedi once told me that saying “Im Yirtza HaShem” demonstrates a lack of faith.

  • Phil March 23, 2010, 5:12 PM


    I say thank God instead of baruch Hashem. I used to think of myself as a modern lubab, after this post I think I’m switching. Can’t decide between semi Lubavitch or friend of Lubavitch.

    • Heshy Fried March 23, 2010, 11:17 PM

      I call myself a self deprecating Snag that way I’m still snag but I get on their good side by even knowing the word Snag.

      You don’t have to be frum to be lubavitch – I know plenty of non-frum lubbies.

  • MalachHamovies March 23, 2010, 5:41 PM

    There you go..

  • Zvika March 23, 2010, 9:52 PM

    set the VCR to tape the Yankees World Series game when it falls out on Rosh HaShanah, or you go to your goyishe neighbors house to watch it

  • Zvika March 23, 2010, 10:32 PM

    The chazan sings yigdal to the melody of a Beatles’s song on Simchas Torah … and the whole shul can sing along.

  • Liz March 24, 2010, 1:41 PM

    – You say the pledge of alliagance at school, the israeli or american one.
    – You respond to a question with anything other than “Boruch Hashem”
    -Your yalmuka measures less than 5 inches in circumference.
    – You don’t use at least 30% hebrew or yiddish words in every day conversation.
    -You would ever dare say christmas instead of xmas.
    -You aren’t terrified of anything you do or say being seen as “goyish”.
    – You celebrate thanksgiving or the fourth of july.
    -You are a girl and you don’t wear tights all year round (even in august) under your skirt.
    -You are a female and your skirt isn’t at least 3 inches longer than regulation dictates.
    -You are a male and you own or have ever owned a pair of jeans.
    -Strangers can tell if your 2 year old is male or female.
    There are too many other differences to list…

    • Liz March 24, 2010, 1:43 PM

      you haven’t asked a non-jewish neighbor to turn off a light for you on the shabbos.
      you don’t know what a blech is.

    • Isak March 24, 2010, 8:25 PM

      The Israeli Pledge of Allegiance??!

      • liz March 25, 2010, 2:06 PM

        the national anthem, excuse me. hatikva

  • Yochanan March 24, 2010, 2:19 PM

    Your peot are no longer than bedi’eved. You call them peot, not peyos.

    • Liz March 24, 2010, 2:42 PM

      you say kippa instead of yalmuka. shabbot instead of shabbos

      • Yochanan March 24, 2010, 5:24 PM

        Basically, you say Tav with and without a Dagesh as /t/.

      • Isak March 24, 2010, 8:27 PM

        “Shabbat shalom” instead of “Gut Shabbos”, “Chag sameach” instead of “Gut yontef”…

  • Yochanan March 25, 2010, 2:23 PM

    I’m not sure about this. But maybe you call 911 instead of Hatzala.

    • flip out March 25, 2010, 3:35 PM

      nope. i dont think thats true at all

  • Loyal Jew August 8, 2010, 5:54 AM

    Has anyone noticed that most of the criteria for whether you’re “modern orthodox” are outright aveiros?

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