Nothing Orthodox About Open Orthodoxy


chovevei-torah1By I. Schwartz, Yated Ne’eman

In the face of silence by most of the Orthodox world, the Yated has consistently spoken out about the dangers of Open Orthodoxy, the ideology and movement founded and led by Rabbi Avi Weiss and the rabbis of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) and the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF). The Yated has tracked the development of Open Orthodoxy and has exposed its array of hair-raising proclamations and programming, leaving readership wondering where the “Orthodoxy” in Open Orthodoxy is.


Our last exposé about Open Orthodoxy reviewed its history and documented the further crossing of red lines by this movement. For those who seek a brief recap:

  • The heads of the Reform and Conservative rabbinical schools participated in the first YCT semicha ceremony, where these non-Orthodox rabbinical leaders “danced together with students, faculty and other guests” (YCT Newsletter).
  • YCT highlights the work of one of its graduates, serving as a campus rabbi, in creating a Haggadah modified for the interests of same-gender marriage advocates (YCT Newsletter). This same YCT graduate has done other campus work promoting and celebrating same-gender expression (
  • YCT employs non-Orthodox rabbis, male and female, on its teaching staff, granting them full rabbinic credentials (YCT staff roster).
  • YCT sponsors joint training and theological programs and prayer with Reform and Conservative rabbinical students and clergy (YCT Newsletter and website). Similar programs with seminary students of other religions have also occurred under YCT auspices and are documented in the YCT Newsletter and on its students’ blogs.
  • YCT welcomed Catholic clergy to its bet midrash for a day of chavruta study with YCT rabbinical students, followed by a hand-in-hand circle dance and song with the Catholic clergy and YCT staff and students (
  • YCT pluralistic rosh yeshiva Rabbi Dov Linzer, in his article about perceived inequities in the Gemara toward non-Jews, shows that although some opinions in Chazal can be read to give non-Jews more equitable standing in the limited area of the article’s discussion, “the halakha follows the interpretation that the Gemara gives to the statements of the Tana’im and Amora’im. Nevertheless, many committed Jews are often left feeling that even when halakhic solutions are being found, they run counter to the ethos of the system, and are to some degree disingenuous and lacking in integrity. ‘Should we be bending the halakha to conform to our modern notions of egalitarianism?’ is a reasonable question to ask and a hard one to answer. An honest answer requires finding within the Talmud those voices that articulate those same values that are driving us” (Milin Havivin journal, vol. 1, p. 36).
  • 2009 saw the rabbinic ordination of Sara Hurwitz, who serves as “Rabba” Hurwitz at Rabbi Weiss’ shul, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR), and as dean of Yeshivat Maharat. “At the Hebrew Institute, she is a full member of the rabbinic staff, where she fulfills all functions of a rabbi, including teaching, speaking from the pulpit, officiating at life-cycle events, including funerals and weddings, and addressing congregants’ halachic questions… ‘I understood the desire and drive of others to serve in this capacity. I knew that with God’s help and the help of the many people who also supported the Orthodox ordination of women…'” (
  • A 2010 Kabbalat Shabbat service at HIR was led by a woman ( HIR also has an official women’s service with “Kriat HaTorah and Haftarah” read by women, along with female “Gabbayot.” (
  • HIR also hosts an annual Martin Luther King Jr. concert, where the male-female choir of Green Pastures Baptist Church, in full church robing, sings religious and gospel songs in the HIR synagogue sanctuary, from the bimah, together with Rabbi Weiss (see,, and
  • A 2010 “Statement of Principles” redefining the Orthodox attitude toward same-gender marriage was signed by YCT and IRF rabbis and their allies (
  • One IRF vice president went so far as to write that he would endorse having a special cake at a Kiddush in his shul to mark the engagement of two male members (

(From “What’s New with YCT, Open Orthodoxy and the RCA?” in Yated Ne’eman, June 24, ’11.)


The latest in this series of deviations from Torah Judaism was boldly announced recently on the “Morethodoxy” website, which features articles from the leaders of Open Orthodoxy about their ideology and movement. In what can be called nothing less than unprecedented, IRF officer and YCT advisory board member Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky (who is a member of the RCA and the rabbi of a shul that is part of a prominent Orthodox synagogue organization) brazenly declared that he no longer recites the daily bracha of “Shelo asani isha” and explained: “Each morning (by reciting the bracha of “Shelo asani isha”), we actually reinforce the inherited prejudice that holds that women possess less innate dignity than men.”

Rabbi Kanefsky argued that this blessing should therefore be omitted and then appeared to somehow attack the idea of mechitzah: “Often, she (the Orthodox woman) must content herself with davening in a cage in shul.”

The rabbi concluded his article by explaining that he no longer recites the bracha of “Shelo asani isha” because “I cannot take God’s Name in the context of this blessing anymore. I suspect, at this point in history, that it constitutes a desecration of the Name, God forbid. In time-honored rabbinic tradition, “better to sit and not do.”

In his article, Rabbi Kanefsky also criticized the halachic restrictions against women serving as dayanim and in certain other halachic roles, declaring, “This is no way to run a religion.”

Under criticism, Rabbi Kanefsky retracted and admitted that his tone was too strident and that his article was light in halachic reasoning. He reissued his article under the title, “A Calmer and Fuller Articulation,” and he basically retained his same stance, but used gentler language and provided what he termed the halachic rationale for his refusal to recite the bracha of “Shelo asani isha.” (It is interesting that although the Morethodoxy website, at Rabbi Kanefsky’s request, pulled the first version of his article, the article continued to appear on the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism website, which apparently feels that Rabbi Kanefsky articulated ideas very much in line with the Conservative position.)

In his revised article, Rabbi Kanefsky introduced “the proper halachic execution for the omission of the blessing, ‘You have not made me a woman‘”:

“(1) We are familiar from our siddur with the blessing ‘For You have not made me a non-Jew.’ In our printed versions of the Talmud, however (see Menachot 43b), the blessing appears not in the negative formulation, rather in the positive language ‘for You have made me an Israelite‘ (She’asani Yisroel). While the majority of Talmudic commentaries and codes nonetheless maintained that the correct version is the one we have in our siddur, two prominent sages demurred. Both Rosh (Brachot 9:24) and the Vilna Gaon prescribe the recitation of “for You have made me an Israelite,” in accordance with our version of the Talmud.

“(2) Bach (O.C. 46), while aligning himself with the majority position, rules that if in error you said ‘for You have made me an Israelite,’ then you should omit the two blessing that follow, including ‘for You have not made me a woman.‘ (Mishnah Berurah 46:15 cites this position as well.) This is because the expression of gratitude for being a (male) Jew already includes the sentiments of the subsequent blessings within it.

“(3) The argument now proceeds with the assertion that we ought to deliberately recite “for you have made me an Israelite” (for women, the feminine version ‘She’asani Yisroelis‘) in order to create the grounds for omitting “for You have not made me a woman.”

“This is an unusual halachik maneuver to be sure, one which requires justification. And this brings me to my second point. We don’t re-explore our halachik options with an eye toward change, absent a compelling reason to do so. By the same token, though, to resist re-examination when such is needed is to abdicate our responsibility to ensure that we’re always practicing halacha at its very best.

“As I wrote in my original post, I believe fervently that Orthodoxy has yet to grapple fully or satisfactorily with the dignity of womankind. We know and understand, like no generation before us has known, that women are men’s intellectual and spirit equals.

“We find ourselves today in a halachikshat hadechak’…the sort of circumstance that justifies using an ingenious halachik strategem to effectively drop this blessing from our liturgy.”

So we now have a major Open Orthodox rabbinic figure arguing, in version number one of his missive, for the excision of an obligatory Talmudic bracha from daily tefillah, and writing that he suspects that recital of the bracha is now a chillul Hashem. This Open Orthodox rabbi effectively calls for reform and reformulation of the siddur, placing himself above the chachmei haTalmud in deciding which brachos are appropriate, and he attacks the attitudes of the chachmei haTalmud without compunction.

This Open Orthodox rabbi also assaults halacha, treating dinim de’Oraisa (such as women not serving on a bais din) as if they were capriciously invented by some hateful and prejudiced rabbis, scathingly reprimanding the halacha: “This is no way to run a religion.”

It is absolutely unbelievable. It is so shocking. It is unheard of, despite the shoddy halachic loophole that is suggested in order to “effectively drop th(e) blessing from our liturgy.”

A few days later, another Morethodoxy article appeared, this time written by a woman who serves as the ritual director of the congregation of another rabbinic star of Open Orthodoxy (who holds positions on the IRF and YCT advisory boards, and is a member of the RCA). This new article concludes:

“Even if we adults feel comfortable with the matbe’a of ‘Shelo asani isha,’ clearly, our children perceive an undercurrent of male superiority in this bracha. Whether we choose ‘She’asani Yisrael‘ or some other solution (I have been saying ‘She’asani isha‘ for years, because I am truly grateful for being female and because there is liturgical precedent for it), we must recognize that the negative messaging is getting through. Even if our girls and boys absorb negative gender stereotypes from our surrounding culture, I would not want them to perceive them from within our holy tradition” (Morethodoxy, “A Story from the Front Lines,” August 11).

Adding to the mix was an article just penned by Rabbi Zev Farber, a YCT graduate, IRF board member, and member of the IRF Vaad Giyur. The article, “Shelo Asani Isha – A Critique of Contemporary Bloggic Discourse,” is posted on the Jewish Ideas and Ideals website, headed by Rabbi Marc Angel, co-founder of IRF.

In his article, Rabbi Farber, considered one of Open Orthodoxy’s greatest young scholars, comments that he too is working on an article “advocating an adjustment to our nussah.” As if this were not radical enough, Rabbi Farber’s treatment of the words of Chazal and even of Tanach are something quite unexpected:

The earliest reference to these blessings is in Tosefta Berakhot 6:18. Here is the entire passage:

R. Yehudah says: A person must say three blessings every day:

a. Blessed [is God] for not making me a gentile.

b. Blessed [is God] for not making me an ignoramus.

c. Blessed [is God] for not making me a woman.

Gentile – for it says: “All the nations are like nothing before Him, like naught and void they are considered by Him” (Isaiah 40:17). Ignoramus – for an ignoramus does not fear sin. Woman – for women are not obligated to perform mitzvot

“Here each blessing comes with a short explanation. It is better to be a Jew than a gentile, since gentiles are entirely discounted by God – an offensive enough statement which inspired the alternative text of “who has made me an Israelite.”

The “offensive enough statement,” as Rabbi Farber terms it, is that of Yeshayahu Hanovi, just quoted by Rabbi Farber in the Tosefta. Rabbi Farber knowingly refers to the words of Yeshayahu Hanovi, as utilized by Chazal in a Tosefta, as “an offensive enough statement”!

So we now have a young Open Orthodox rabbinic leader and scholar attacking the words and values of Yeshayahu Hanovi as used by Chazal for the basis of a bracha. Is this not unbelievable?

We come away from the above articles being told that Chazal were out of touch and did not realize that the nuscha’os they halachically mandated were faulty and promote wrong values, as the bold leadership of Open Orthodoxy proceeds to reform Judaism by changing halacha and doing away with ancient texts and ideas from the Gemara that don’t fit into the liberal, cosmopolitan vision of Open Orthodoxy.


Although it is not well-known, the early leadership of Reform Judaism initially operated within what it felt was a halachic framework. The Reform deviation of mixed seating during prayer was justified by Reform leadership on halachic grounds, for the Shulchan Aruch does not state that a shul must have separate seating and a mechitzah. The notions of separate seating and a mechitzah were “mere tradition” (what we Torah Jews call “mesorah“), and according to technical halacha, argued the first Reform rabbis, the traditional layout of the shul could and needed to be dispensed with, in consonance with the egalitarian spirit that was sweeping Western Europe in the early and mid-1800s.

Reform leaders introduced the organ into congregational worship, even on Shabbos, with the argument that it was halachically permissible as shevus bemakom mitzvah. Again, tradition was tossed aside, and the worship service was brought into line with German non-Jewish prayer services.

Likewise, in order to switch prayer from Lashon Kodesh to German, Reform rabbis wrote teshuvos invoking the well-known heter for individuals to daven in the vernacular. Notwithstanding fierce condemnation from Torah leaders that these moves wore tearing tradition to shreds, Reform steadfastly defended its changes on technical grounds.

Reform ritual had become so different from traditional Yahadus that Reform leadership had little problem dropping the brachos of “VeliYerushalayim” and “Es tzemach Dovid” from Shemoneh Esrei and from deleting Korbanos and all references to Shivas Tzion and binyan Bais Hamikdosh from the siddur. Soon, total denial of halacha and the Divine authority of Torah ensued, and Reform had abrogated all claims to normative Yahadus.

Open Orthodoxy began its path by crossing socio-religious red lines, such as fostering greater cooperation with and recognition of non-Orthodox Jewish clergy, and engaging in celebratory religious interaction with Christian clergy. Then came adopting new standards for geirus, which was one of the goals of IRF; minority and non-normative halachic opinions justifying the new geirus leniencies were cited. New attitudes toward non-traditional marriage were proffered by YCT’s rabbis, radically changing accepted Orthodox norms so as to bring Open Orthodoxy in line with the times, yet not violating halacha. Soon thereafter, Open Orthodoxy introduced the ordination of women, again accompanied by teshuvos to justify this breach of tradition on technical halachic grounds. Then came changing tefillah: tefillah could be led by women, and brachos could be cancelled and replaced, updating davening and nusach to reflect the values of the day. Sometimes, bogus halachic loopholes were created, while at other times, no halachic justification was offered. Open Orthodox leaders were mevatel brachos and introduced new brachos seemingly because these leaders just felt like it, denouncing Talmudic dictums and values without hesitation.

Going back to the development of Reform Judaism 200 years ago and looking at the recent development of Open Orthodoxy, do we detect a common pattern?

Despite the glaring similarities between the development of Reform and other non-Orthodox movements and the presently developing path of Open Orthodoxy, there are some very notable differences in the surrounding religious landscape. Let’s jump ahead 150 or so years later, when Orthodoxy was being established on a large scale in America, faced with challenges from movements that sought to dilute Yahadus and pull masses of Torah Jews out of Orthodox life.


In the middle half of the 20th century, Modern Orthodoxy in America was faced with pressures to take down mechitzos in shuls, with rabbis affiliating with Conservative congregations and the Conservative movement, and with attempts to breach halachic norms. For a large segment of Jews who identified themselves as Orthodox, the lines were getting blurred, fidelity to halacha was being jeopardized, and their future within clear Orthodox boundaries was quite seriously threatened.

Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University, was the halachic authority whose rulings carried the greatest influence in the Modern Orthodox community during his era. Rabbi Soloveitchik saw the dangers and did not hesitate to create red lines and forbid their crossing by Modern Orthodoxy. These actions saved Modern Orthodoxy from the threats of merger into the Conservative movement and irreversible loss of Orthodox identity.

Here are a few important examples:


“I do hereby reiterate the statement that I have made on numerous occasions, both in writing and orally, that a synagogue with a mixed seating arrangement forfeits its sanctity and its halachic status of mikdash me’at, and is unfit for prayer and avodah shebalev. With full cognizance of the implications of such a halachic decision, I would still advise every Orthodox Jew to forego tefillah betzibbur even on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rather than enter a synagogue with mixed pews… No rabbi, however great in scholarship and moral integrity, has the authority to endorse or legalize, or even apologetically explain, this basic deviation…” (from a message by Rabbi Soloveitchik to the 1955 RCA convention).

Orthodox rabbis uniting with non-Orthodox Jewish clergy

“It is my opinion that Orthodoxy cannot and should not unite with such groups which deny the fundamentals of our weltanschauung. It is impossible for me to comprehend, for example, how Orthodox rabbis, who spent their best years in yeshivos and absorbed the spirit of Torah Shebaal Peh and its tradition, for whom Rabi Akiva, the Rambam, the Rema, the Gra, Rav Chaim Brisker and other Jewish sages are the pillars upon which their spiritual world rests, can join with spiritual leaders for whom all this is worthless… From the point of view of the Torah, we find the difference between Orthodox and Reform Judaism much greater than that which separated the Perushim and the Tzedukim in the days of Bayis Sheini, and between the Kara’im and traditionalists in the Gaonic era. Has Jewish history ever recorded an instance of a joint community council that consisted of Kara’im and Torah-true Jews?” (from Rabbi Soloveitchik’s 1954 Yiddish article in Der Tog Morgen Journal).

Interfaith relationships

“We are, therefore, opposed to any public debate, dialogue or symposium concerning the doctrinal or ritual aspects of our faith vis-a-vis ‘similar’ aspects of another faith community. We believe in and are committed to our Maker in a specific manner and will not question, defend, offer apologies, analyze or rationalize our faith in dialogues centered about these ‘private’ topics which express our personal relationship to the God of Israel” (from an open letter by Rabbi Soloveitchik to the RCA, 1964).

Criticizing Chazal and statements that any of their words no longer apply

“The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah (3:8) writes: There are three categories of those who are kofrim baTorah: he who says that the Torah is not from Hashem, and he who denies the interpretation of Torah, which is Torah Shebaal Peh, and he who is mak’chish magideha. This means that one who disparages any of the baalei hamesorah, stating that their hashkafos or opinions were lacking, or that they had personal faults, is the equivalent of a kofer in Torah Shebaal Peh… One dare not declare that the chazakos in the Gemara, which reflect eternal truths, no longer apply. To declare such is heresy (sentiments expressed by Rabbi Soloveitchik in the early 1970s when a prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi sought to modify halachos of ishus based on his claim that a certain chazakah of Chazal no longer applied).


Fast forward half a century. Modern Orthodoxy again faces challenges to its identity and fealty to mesorah and halacha, as Open Orthodoxy is sweeping through halachic innovations and total disregard of mesorah, heading toward outright reform of Orthodox observance – yet there is no one speaking out. There is not a word of condemnation or concern.

Open Orthodoxy’s reforms and attempted integration into Modern Orthodoxy are met with deafening silence at best and sometimes even with cooperation and support. To wit, YCT’s graduates are landing pulpit and campus rabbinical positions at synagogues and universities affiliated with mainstream Modern Orthodox synagogue organizations. IRF and YCT leadership maintains joint and apparently influential membership in the RCA. The new RCA president, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in his inaugural address, hinted at a possible relationship between IRF/YCT and the RCA. Popular Modern Orthodox lecturers and authors, affiliated with mainstream Modern Orthodox organizations, participate in YCT symposiums and contribute to YCT publications. Meanwhile, Open Orthodoxy continues its leftward trek over the edge, toward reforming Orthodoxy and breaking away from the chachmei hamesorah, and even censuring the ideas of Chazal when they do not fit in with the times. Yet no one says a word.

Why the deafening silence? Why the passivity and acquiescence?

Where is the Modern Orthodox condemnation of the path that Open Orthodoxy is taking, as Open Orthodoxy tries to infiltrate Modern Orthodoxy’s rabbinate and institutions? Do people think that Open Orthodoxy will disappear or give up its course of radical innovation and rejection of basic tenets of Judaism? Why does no one speak up and alert the community of the fire that burns and threatens to consume much of the Orthodox world?

Open Orthodoxy has very ambitious plans to change Yahadus, and Modern Orthodoxy and its organs had better wake up.

{This article first appeared in Yated Ne’eman-USA and is republished here with permission.}

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  1. Modern Orthodoxy knows all about YCT. The RCA does not consider semicha from YCT to be a valid semicha. Avi Weiss is a member because he joined many years ago – I was told by an RCA member that they actually considered throwing Weiss out of the RCA, but decided against it – but they will not allow in YCT grads. They issued a statement against ordaining women.

    What more do you want? Weekly announcements against YCT? They made their stance, and now they don’t even recognize YCT. Ignoring them is probably better than giving them publicity.

  2. Why is there a need to post these kinds of articles. What is the benefit to Klal Yisrael other than to encourage bad feelings towards other Jews. True Bnei Torah wouldn’t trash fellow Jews or make trouble like this article is inviting. Please are yourself what the purpose is before putting such items on your website.
    It will be interesting to see if you even post this comment…or if you are so closed that criticism of your choices are not made public!

  3. there’s nothing wrong with this organization if these concepts are practiced in the Catholic Diocese
    I’m proposing a new Brocho ‘ Sheloh Ussani Them’

  4. These are nothing more than christians… Masked as Yiddin… If Moshe Rabeinu was here today these rashas would be swallowed by the ground like Korach.

    Hakodesh Barachu didn’t issue a Torah for reconstructionists or reformist, or one for the so called conservatives… One Torah at Sinai for all Yiddin… If you don’t like it then openly leave the family… we may miss you out of pity… But that’s it…

    But hear this clearly, those of us who are Observant, both men and women are overjoyed with the gift we received from Sinai…. AS IS!!!

  5. To the autor ofthis McArtian diatribe.
    There is no fire here. It is not appropriae to cry wolf. If you don’t like open orthodoxy’s solutions to issues, then offer your own. Rather than running from issues mabe you and your ilk need to be part of the solution rather than being the main problem.

  6. to #6… that is an excellent question.

    Moving away from the modern world to keep close to Hakodesh Barachu is difficult. the type of jews mentioned in the article are playing to the emotions of those who are finding temptation unbearable… so to stay somewhat in the clan you acquiesce to their ploy.

    But I beg of you to stand firm against your Yetza Hara, call me @ 347.534.1402 I will point you towards good men or women as the case may be that will support you; call Hatzolah, its obviously an emergency of a life threatening nature; call a Rav; call on a Yeshiva for a charusa… but make a call so we may support you… the last thing we want you to do is to harm your neshama by going following the weak minded.

  7. This was an inevitable problem for Modern Orthodoxy…anything that tries to be a compromise between two diametrically opposed lifestyles will be stretched in both directions, eventually into irrelevance (like Neolog Judaism from Hungary). Fortunately many people who were raised Modern Orthodox have become much frummer…unfortunately you have these “open orthodox” people, who, like the title says, are very open but not very orthodox. I had a rebbe in yeshiva who was fond of saying that he knew people who were “so open-minded that their brains fell out.” That’s clearly the case here. Organizations like the RCA should sever all affiliation with anyone who supports this movement.

  8. Sheldon, a few questions:
    What are the issues, and have they really not been addressed?
    Is it possible that some of the issues are not perceived as such in other circles? For example, I’m a woman and I have no issues with this bracha. Could be because I have never felt that the men in authority I’ve had to deal with, or just men in general look down on me, don’t take me seriously, etc., even though they’ve said their bracha for decades and some people might think negative attitudes have been imprinted. Newsflash: they haven’t, because saying that bracha doesn’t result in that. You’d think you’d see more of that over the generations if it did.

    I am woman, hear me kvetch….

  9. Kudos to Matzav for posting this article. There is definitely a need for it.

    The issue with Open “Orthodoxy” is that the uninformed will be made to think that it’s really Orthodox, because it has the word “Orthodox” in its name.

    Open “Orthodoxy” should call itself what it really is – Conservative.

  10. “What is the benefit to Klal Yisrael other than to encourage bad feelings towards other Jews. True Bnei Torah wouldn’t trash fellow Jews or make trouble like this article is inviting.”

    #2, Speaking out against these “other Jews” who are trying to incorporate Torah violations into Jewish life and calling it “Open Orthodoxy,” is not “encouraging bad feelings” or “trashing” them.

    It is informing the Jewish public that what these people are doing is not correct.

  11. #2: Sorry, too easy. We don’t have to accept or be respectful of these deviant views. Let’s not fall into the politically correct trap of thinking that traditional views may not be strongly expressed. Not only that, but this article is a relatively dry presentation of the facts, which every Jew deserves to know. Now if these people ask me for money, I know to say no! And if I’m a rav/ community leader, I know to include them OUT.

  12. First, I want to state that I agree that this “open orthodoxy” is not representative of true Torah Judaism, and we need to make sure that true Torah Yidden are not ensnared by them. But I believe that this article is written in a way that is geared to those of us who are not at risk of succumbing to this group, and it will not do an adequate job of getting the message to those who might be more vulnerable to the “open orthodoxy” theology.
    This article makes a list of numerous offenses made by the “OOs”, and even brings good sources and arguments against their positions. However even though they have no da’as torah from today’s torah authorities, they still have ‘what to be somech on’ from their da’as yachids, and out-of-context statements from seforim and gedolim, and to the unlearned and/or more liberal person, that will be enough to give the “OOs” legitimacy. The argument that “this is how Reform and Conservative started” won’t work, because they can always say “this time is different”. Think people won’t buy it? It happens all the time in other contexts and people will buy it here, too.
    Even if someone won’t buy in to most of the “OOs” halachik arguments, the fact that this commentary is so long and brings so many things, the “OOs” can still focus in on one or two items in this piece to “shlug up” and thus call into question the credibility of the entire article. For example, any Torah Jew can agree that same-gender relationships are wrong. But what about giving people with such urges compassion? That is all that is implied by their “statement of principles”. I read the statement. It specifically says “Halakhic Judaism views all male and female same-[gender] [intimate] interactions as prohibited”. One might argue that the statement lacks da’as torah and/or is not appropriate for public release. One might even say that compassion in the wrong circumstances is wrong, though one might be hard-pressed to show that this is such a circumstance. At the end of the day, I did not see anything blatantly wrong or anti-torah in it.
    The tactic to take is a different one, and it is one that I heard in a drasha this past shabbos. The drasha did not focus on any specific psak of the “OOs”, because that should not be our focus. The drasha focused on the need for anivus in learning Torah. One should go into a sugya with anivus, with the attitude that these tannaim, amoraim, rishonim, etc. are greater than I am. If I don’t understand something, it is a lacking in me. I need to work on resolving it. I am not (yet) zoche to comprehend what is going on here. If I go into it as a ba’al gaiva, and I am just as great as the previous doros (Ch’V), then my own prejudices and the influences of modern society can creep into my understanding of the sugya, and therefore the psak halacha. They have an agenda, and due to gaiva, they think that their reasoning is just as good as earlier generations. That, combined with a da’as yachid here and an out-of-context statement there, and they have enough to legitimize their end result.
    What we need to do is NOT attack their psak, because they can defend their psak. And even if they can’t, there will soon be another one that they can. We need to attack their motivations. Their motivation is their agenda to change yahadus to conform to modern society, and they are able to legitimize the changes due to gaiva. And in order to argue with them, we need to improve ourselves. The way to do this is to work on our anivus and emunas chachamim, and in this way, we will be zoche to have credibility in defeating this threat to yahadus, especially among those who are at risk of falling prey to the way they analyze sugyos and arrive at psak halacha.

  13. Yesterday’s Yeitzer Hara was against keeping Shabbos, kaserus, etc… Today – he puts on a yarmulkah and becomes a “pluralistic” caricature approving of all loose behavior… This is precisely what caused the ancient war in Givaa, and its tragic aftermath.

  14. The article ultimately fails to give a logical Hadracha, on how to answer our children, when they will definitely ask these questions.
    I was yearning for some infomative guidance rather than knocking a certain group.

  15. To Sick & Tired:
    I wish you a refuoh shleimoh bimheiro.
    “True Bnei Torah wouldn’t trash fellow Jews or make trouble like this article is inviting.”
    Is the Rambam etc. a true ben torah according to your understanding?
    He criticizes different kinds of Jews, for instance those that don’t believe in ALL 13 ikrei emunoh.

  16. Ooh, them’s fightin’ words. The correct question is, am I a housewife or do I work outside the home.
    Part-time for both, in education and we’ll leave it at that.

  17. Trouble with today’s ‘modern’ orthodox is that they forgot orthodoxy means complete adherence to Torah. If one finds it difficult to be totally observant and goes off the derech, then that is his/her personal choice and can always do tshuvah and return. No one, especially in these times, is perfect. But the chutzpah of thinking ‘they’ have the right to redesign, rewrite, reinterpret Jewish law, Torah, etc. makes them chotim u’machtim! If they cross the line and do rewrite (for their convenience) anything in Torah observance, then they cannot and must not be called “Orthodox” of any kind! They have then become reconstructionist or reform! There is no such animal as “Open” Orthodoxy!

  18. Open Orthodoxy may continue to make outrageous sounding statements in their effort to synthesize Orthodoxy with their liberal values. But there is no danger that they will go down the path of the Reform and Conservative.

    The vast majority of Open Orthodox baal habatim are frum Jews who faithfully observe Shabbat, kashrut, and are engaged in regular Torah study. This was never true of the early Reform and Conservative Jews, who usually left observance before the entered non-orthodox movements.

    While they will continue to annoy other Orthodox groups, the Open Orthodox are connected to Torah in a way that the first Reform and Conservative Jews never were.

  19. To #28, I respectfully disagree.

    Just because Jews observe Shabbos and Kashrus and learn Torah does not mean that they are “Orthodox” or “Frum,” and it’s not just a matter of “annoying” other Orthodox groups.

    Jews must observe Halachah (law) AND also the proper Hashkafah (outlook) AND also the Mesorah, handed down the generations from Mount Sinai. It’s a “package deal.”

    Jews should not invite Catholic clergy to their Bais Medrash, for a day of Chavrusa study, followed by a hand-in-hand circle dance and song with the Catholic clergy.

    Jews should not invite to their synagogue, the choir of a Baptist Church, in full church robing, to sing religious and gospel songs.

    Jews should not invite Reform and Conservative “Rabbis” to s Smichah ceremony and should not have joint learning and prayer sessions with them.

    Jews should not endorse having a special cake at a Kiddush in the synagogue, to mark the engagement of two male members.

    Jews should not create a Haggadah modified for the interests of same-gender marriage advocates.

    Jews should not sponsor a “Coming Out for Purim” at a college.

    Jews cannot “ordain” women or tamper with the Brochos as designated by Chazal, ZT”L, who wrote the Brochos with Ruach HaKodesh. If C”V someone finds a Bracha offensive, it’s because the Bracha is not being understood properly.

    “This is no way to run a religion.” Judaism is not a religion that is “run,” like a business.

    Open “Orthodoxy” will not go down the path of the Reform and Conservative? On the contrary, it’s already begun.

    Open “Orthodoxy” is redesigning Judaism in line with its liberal views. It should be called “Conservative.”

    It is hoped that the Yated and Matzav will continue to expose Open “Orthodoxy” for what it truly is, so that people are not misled into thinking that this is Judaism.

    Also, before people start posting, “Loshon Hora!”

    Protesting an anti-Torah practice that publicly proclaims itself to be “Kosher” is NOT Loshon Hora.

  20. From an essay on “Open Orthodoxy” —

    “Orthodox Jewry should adopt elements of the Reform and Reconstructionist universalistic agenda of tikkun olam, ‘repair of the world.’ At the turn of the twentieth century, one prominent Orthodox rabbi declared that Orthodox Jews would do well to learn from Conservative Jews how to give tzedaka (charity) and how to show respect for rabbis. . .Modern Orthodoxy is open to secular studies and views other than those of their rabbis; open to non-Jews and less observant Jews; open to contact with Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements…”

    Orthodox Jews reach out to Jews who, through no fault of their own, grew up in Reform or Conservative modes of observance.

    However, Halachah takes issue with recognizing these modes as an organization and with recognizing their seminaries and temples which, by their philosophy, deny Torah Min HaShomyaim.

  21. If a reporter for a Jewish newspaper was assigned to write a story on a particular yeshiva, would it not make sense for the reporter to:

    a. visit the yeshiva?
    b. interview the rosh yeshiva?
    c. interview the Rebbeim?
    d. interview past and present Talmidim?

    I. Schwartz has done none of these with respect to YCT. All he has shown is that he can do some internet searches and cherry pick what in his mind is the most scandalous pieces off of YCT’s own PR material.

    How about some real serious journalism and honest reporting?

    But, what can you expect from a newspaper whose very name is a grammatical error?

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