Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The New Face of the LWMO

Rav Pruzansky's blog recent carried a long piece on the new LWMO organization, the International Rabbinical FellowshipHonestlyFrum has already carried an excellent and in-depth review of the piece so I will not attempt to rehash it here.  However, I think a lot of what's concerning to those in the MO community who are worried about the IRF's agenda can be summarized quite succintly. 
There is a split coming to the Modern Orthodox community.  On one side will be the YU community and those in its sphere of influence.  On the other will be the YCT community and its followers.  There will be a simple difference between the two that may finally lead to some form of crystalization, at least for the YU form of Modern Orthodoxy.  Put simply:
1) The YU community's approach to Torah U'Maddah will be: I am frum first, my values are determined by the Torah and what secular society thinks is irrelevant to that.  I will incorporate those parts of secular life which are not in conflict with those values.
2) The YCT's community's approach to Torah U'Maddah will be: I am frum but secular values are as important as Torah values and when there is a conflict I will try to minimize such difficulties by altering my Torah values to be in sync with secular values. 
One can already see this coming in the writings of the YCT community about what their "Orthodox" views are.  Whether its supporting provacteurs seeking to cause public turmoil while imagining themselves to be defending "religious freedom", or encouraging those leading a lifestyle inimical to Torah Judaism to pretend that despite engaging in activites the Torah describes as "to'evah" they are doing nothing wrong because that's what secular society says, it is quite clear that this group has already decided that Morethodox values will trump Torah values if the alternative is standing up to secular society and saying that what they believe is wrong.
It is quite likely that the IRF will ultimately formally spin its way out of Orthodoxy and into the waiting arms of the right wing of Conservatism .  Certainly the further they go trying to change their Jewish values into secular ones the more anarchonistic such remnants of proper observance like that archaic mechitzah will be seen as unnecessary.  No doubt they will try to show that Orthodoxy supports mixed seating.  But over time, this will lead to clarification for the YU side of MO and allow the movement to gain a greater focus on its raison d'etre.

1 comment:

micha said...

There in general is a playing down of the importance of hashkafah. Such as the link to the post on Morethodoxy about dogma. While there are those in the chareidi world narrowing the intellectual options to rather maximalist solutions, erring in the other direction doesn't work.

There seems to be a trend within LWMO to reduce the ikkarim of our faith to a few truisms few Orthopractic Jews would deny -- there is a creator, the historical givens necessary to support halakhah. Prof Marc Shapiro's article and book are only one example of a genre.

This is because the way LWMO is going from R JB Soloveitchik's "twin peaks" (ramatayim tzofim) of dialectic to a compromise between conflicting values is to play down the role of values. Halakhah defines Judaism, and aggadita is considered entirely fluid (rather than "just" far more fluid). And so, anything one chooses to do that can be fitted through the halachic hoops is okay...

... and one can use loose halachic hoops. These foreign values, which are now on center stage, become the means by which one decides to follow an until-now neglected opinion.

One last pet peeve: There is a basic inconsistency with how LWMO deals with mimetics. When it comes to Women's Prayer Groups, the argument is entirely textualist. While it was never seen before "lo ra'inu eino ra'ayah", so let's see what the books actually allow. When it comes to married women covering their hair... suddenly what was normal in Lithuania (not that the rabbis ever expressed approval) must have been justified.