In the first volume issued be the renewed (and now, sadly, defunct) Kenes Lavie II, based on a suggestion offered by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, I first set forth my ideas on the component parts of Modern Orthodoxy. As I still think they are largely valid, I will use them here to provide an overall framework for our discussion here.
Now, it's been objected that my entire premise here is a bit off base, because Modern Orthodoxy is a quintesentially Diaspora, and specifically North American, phenomenon. In brief, it can't be translated into an Israeli context. I strongly disagree. However, there is a lot of truth in this observation, and we need to carefully wweigh the differences between the Diaspora scene and the Israeli reality, in order to adapt the key elements of the Diaspora model to Israel.
Herein, therefore, are the key elements of Modern Orthodoxy:
1. Axiological Openness to Outside Culture
2. Advancement of the Status of Women
3. Commitment to the Jewish People at Large
4. Religious Zionism
A first glance at the list presents an interesting irony. These four points correspond to the major componentsof Religious Zionism, as advocated by te founder of Mizrachi, R. Yitzhak Ya'aqov Reines ז"ל. The irony is that Diaspora Modern Orthodoxy and Israeli National Religious Orthodoxy adopted three of these four planks. On two, numbers 2 and 3, they agreed (until the advent of the Hardali rabbinical phenomenon). They diverged on the other two.
Diaspora Modern Orthodoxy enthsiastically adopted number 1, while remaining largely passive regarding number 4. (In other words, the MO community passionately supported Israel, but has been pareve when it comes to Aliya.)
The National Religious community has, of course, internalized the overarching value of living in the Land of Israel. However, as opposed to the Diaspora, it has not adopted an axiologically positive atitude to Western (or any other form, of non-Jewish culture). This is especially true of the rabbinic and Jewish educational frameworks, from kindergarten to Post-Hesder. Consider, for example, the case of the flagship educational institutions of Religious Zionism in Israel: Merkaz HaRav and Bar Ilan University. The former is, essentially, a Haredi school that atributes messianic significance to the State of Israel. However, it split in two (and the community with it) over the innocuous issue of ataching a Teachers College to the Yeshiva. Bar Ilan, on the other hand, is a first rate university with the best Jewish Studies Faculty in the world. However, its parochial element is not central to its activities. [Another irony lies in the fact that Yeshiva University began as a yeshivah and expanded into a university, while Bar Ilan started as a university and only much later founded a Bet Midrash as an epicycle to itself.]
In the coming posts, I intend to focus upon the definition of element number 1, its possible development in Israel and the consequences of achieving and not achieving that dvelopment. [We will return to the other components, after wards.]