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The chickens come home to roost

Reader comment on item: More about the Orthodox Future of Judaism

Submitted by john w mcginley (United States), May 5, 2008 at 18:16

On the one hand those who, in the wake of the Haskala, chose, in effect, to be children of the Enlightenment who happen to be of Jewish pedigree and culture first and children of the Covenant second -- if at all. This grouping includes Secular Jews both in and outside of Israel; Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews; and all varieties of Zionist-oriented Jews. On the other hand those who would come to be called the Orthodox ((thereby being products of the Haskala as well albeit in a different way) )) who chose to give clear priority to being Children of the Covenant first last and always. It was only a matter of time. With each generation the Jews who are children of the Enlightenment who happen to be of Jewish pedigree and culture Jewish identity becomes progressively diluted. Precisely as the Jewish soul of this grouping of Jews atrophies, the strident show of Jewish externals becomes exaggerated. But this is a shell which no longer has a kernel. It is imploding in upon itself.

Because the Orthodox -- both Khassidic and non-Khassidic -- remained steadfastly faithful to the principle of halakhic observance they have properly prospered.. The Achilles heel, so to speak, of the Orthodox is the fact that intellectual dishonesty is rampant in all shades of Orthodoxy. Less rampant among the Modern Orthodox than in the other groupings of the Orthodox, but even there intellectual honesty is at a premium. If this disease within Orthodoxy is not addressed, then Orthodoxy itself will face the same crisis faced by the other grouping. This would, of course, be a disaster of the very worst order for Judaism as a whole.

The only remedy to this sad and dangerous situation is for there to be, soon, a radical reform WITHIN Orthodoxy (without at all compromising on the principle of halakhic fidelity) which allows Orthodoxy to be just as much committed to intellectual honesty as it is committed to maintaining the principle of halakhic fidelity. There is hope. There are intersting stirrings in both Modern Orthodoxy and even in Chabad. One hope that these stirrings will have turned out not to be too little too late.

Joh W. McGinley

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