Into this fray comes a recent article that purports to provide twelve defining principles of Modern Orthodoxy. While clearly well meant and heartfelt, it is my opinion that these definitions fall victim to the same flaws other attempts have made to define the movement.
While anchored in the Torah, Talmud, and rabbinic tradition, Halakhah is shaped by, and responds to historical and cultural circumstances.
Halakhah demands adherence to the highest moral standards. Proper behavior is dictated by traditional Jewish values and modern ethical norms.
Torah study is a primary Jewish value. Such study should almost always be pursued in conjunction with self-sustaining employment. Full-time Torah students are not automatically entitled to financial support by the Jewish community.
Work is an ennobling pursuit. Work should not be viewed as a necessary evil whose purpose is limited to earning a living.
The best of secular learning and culture has inherent value beyond any economic benefit.
The earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Evolution is the best scientific explanation for the development of life on earth. The account of creation in the Book of Genesis is religious, rather than scientific. Since the Torah is not a scientific work, scientific fact and theory neither conflict with nor confirm the Torah.
Theological justifications of evil — e.g., the Holocaust was God’s punishment for Jewish assimilation — are wrong and offensive.
Both secular and religious Zionism are legitimate ideologies. The State of Israel is the fulfillment of religious and secular aspirations for an independent Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel.
All human beings are created equally in the image of God. The Jewish community must work in fellowship with its non-Jewish neighbors towards the betterment of society.
There is one Jewish people. We share a common destiny and many religious values with non-Orthodox denominations and we must cooperate on issues of mutual interest.
Dress is a matter of individual taste, within the bounds of propriety determined by local custom.
Women are free to pursue careers of their choice. They may attain the highest levels of Torah scholarship and assume leadership roles within the Jewish community.In one position statement the author shows what is concerning about the YCT way of adjusting halacha to accord with secular liberalism. The first part of the statement, about pursuing careers of their choice, is fine as is the second. One of the defining features of Modern Orthodoxy is that women study at the same levels as men as per the instructions of the authorities of the movement back the Rav, zt"l. It is the final point that slips in and ruins the position. The idea that women can assume leadership roles within the Jewish community is terrible vague. It could mean that women are allowed to lead female study groups or work as Yoatzot. Alternatively it could mean giving them the title "Rabba" or "Maharet" and handing them their own congregations. It is something that would have to be clarified and certainly the pre-existing bounds of halacha must be the basis for that clarification.
In summary the author has started a discussion and Modern Orthodoxy would certainly benefit from that but we must move beyond "We do this" and "We do that" to look at the underlying principles that motivate us. If that happens then worthwhile advances will happen.