Friday, January 08, 2010

Post-Orthodox

Gil Student has set some criteria for being, what he calls, Post-Orthodox. I understand his concerns, but I seriously doubt that a number of these are reasonable. Indeed, one wonders if the kind of cathechisms that he is recommending are salutary.

Herewith is his list (with my comments in italics. When I write 'I agree' that means I agree that it's a Post-Orthodox position.):

  1. You do not believe that the Rambam's thirteen fundamental principles are binding (This would exclude the Ramban and Albo. Now, I do not accept Marc Shapiro's contention that a Jew need not believe in anything. However, there is a legitimate range of belief with which the Rambam could not agree and most authorities would. BTW, the Rambam would not agree with the doctrine of Daas Torah, unless you had a PhD in Philosophy.)
  2. You believe that there are post-Mosaic additions to the Pentateuch (I agree)
  3. You think that the Amoraim sometimes distorted the views of Tannaim (Willingly?)
  4. You believe that the conclusions of the Gemara are not halakhically binding (I agree)
  5. You approve of increasing women's roles in synagogue ritual (I support increasing women's roles in the Synagogue, though I am on record against women's aliyot and the other Shirah Hadashah type of innovations. This stance is NOT Post-Orthodox. Shirah Hadashah likely is.)
  6. You support the ordination of women (What does he mean by ordination? I am four-square in favor of Yoa'tzot Halakhah and To'anot Rabbani'ot.)
  7. You think that professors have the same religious authority as rabbis (I agree. I think, though, that we need more Rabbi, AM and Rabbi Dr's out there.)
  8. You don't want accepted standards for conversions (What does that mean? If he means minima, I agree. If he means that we should divest full comstituted Battei Din of any leeway, that's just a surrender to the extremists.)
  9. You believe uncomfortable customs should be jettisoned (What customs? Minhagim that no longer 'speak' to the community fall into disuetude on their own. I've written three articles showing that. If, however, he means customs that aren't politically correct, and we're deferring to current 'tastes', then I agree.)
  10. You believe in complete, unbounded interfaith and interdenominational dialogue (I agree. The Rav's guidelines are still the way to go.)
  11. You want "out" homosexuals to be accepted as equal members of the community. (Homosexuality should never become a legitimate parameter of Orthodoxy, any more than Hillul Shabbat.)
  12. You believe that practices perceived as discriminatory should be changed (What does that mean? See number 9.)
  13. You think that every rabbi has equal halakhic authority. (I agree with this. On the other hand, I also object to the total dependence upon the individual rabbi on 'his Poseq.' Rabbis should know their limits, and so should those greater than they.)
[More to come.]

12 comments:

Seth (Avi) Kadish · אבי קדיש said...

Wow, I find myself agreeing with nearly all of your responses.

Can I join your religion?

Shabbat Shalom.

Ben said...

Can you please clarify when "I agree" means you agree with the assertion and when it means that you agree that the assertion is post-orthodox.

Stan said...

What does "I agree" mean?

Anonymous said...

Before going too far afield, and having not read the original, may I commend to all a piece now 50 years old: "The non-Observant Orthodox" by Howard Levine z"l.

Larry Lennhoff said...

#11 - Gil has stated that by 'out' he means someone who admits they have a homosexual orientation, even if they are celibate and intend to remain so. Do you still agree that such a person is unOrthodox as a mechallel shabbat b'farhesia?

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>Now, I do not accept Marc Shapiro's contention that a Jew need not believe in anything.

Marc Shapiro's contention that a Jew need not believe in anything?

Lurker said...

2. You believe that there are post-Mosaic additions to the Pentateuch
(I agree)


This would then categorize R. Yehuda, who said that the last eight psukim in the Torah are post-Mosaic (TB Bava Batra 15a), as "post-Orthodox". Likewise, it would also categorize Ibn Ezra as "post-Orthodox": He glibly expanded the post-Mosaic section at the end of the Torah from 8 psukim to 12. In addition, he also believed that there are post-Mosaic additions in Bereishit 12:6, Bereishit 13:7, Bereishit 22:14, Devarim 1:2, and Devarim 3:11.

5. You approve of increasing women's roles in synagogue ritual
(I agree, though I am on record against women's aliyot and the other Shirah Hadashah type of innovations.)


I don't understand what you mean: By saying "I agree", you are stating that you believe that increasing women's roles in synagogue ritual is "post-Orthodox". Obviously, this would include women's aliyot, etc. So then what do you mean when you say "though I am on record against women's aliyot and the other Shirah Hadashah type of innovations". That seems to imply that, other than the Shira Hadashah innovations, you don't believe that increasing women's roles in synagogue ritual is post-Orthodox.

11. You want "out" homosexuals to be accepted as equal members of the community.
(Homosexuality should never become a legitimate parameter of Orthodoxy, any more than Hillul Shabbat.)


What about people who simply have a homosexual orientation, even though they do not commit homosexual acts? (This is how Gil defined what he's referring to; i.e., such a person is "post-Orthodox".) Why should a person be regarded as "post-Orthodox" just because of a desire in his mind that he doesn't act upon? Wouldn't this mean that anyone who has desires to do forbidden things (i.e., every one of us) is "post-Orthodox"?

Jeffrey Woolf said...

To Lurker:
1) R. Yehudah's opinion has been rejected, but can be regularized. Ibn Ezra is problematic, and he's been historically called to task for that.

2) You misunderstand. There are other ways to increase a woman's involvement in the synagogue and its ritual, other than Aliyot.

3)I agree with your point.

Lurker said...

2) You misunderstand. There are other ways to increase a woman's involvement in the synagogue and its ritual, other than Aliyot.

Yes, there certainly are. But Gil posits, without qualification, that someone who approves of doing so is "post-Orthodox". He does not limit this classification to only "women's aliyot and the other Shirah Hadashah type of innovations".

Jeffrey Woolf said...

Then I summarily reject his inclusion of this trait as comprising Post-Orthodox thinking.

Mikewind Dale said...

Professor Marc Shapiro does NOT say that a Jew need not believe in anything. He simply believes that there is a wide-range of legitimate opinions. Furthermore, Professor Shapiro often says that he is NOT a theologian, that he is only a historian. He tries to show what people DO say, not what they SHOULD say. He often says that at his university, he deliberately avoids interfaith dialogue, because he doesn't want to be "the Jew". See, for example, here.

Professor Shapiro's book is actually quite conservative, making not a single revolutionary or novel claim. All he does is collect and analyze what other people have said, but as far as I remember, he expresses no opinions of his own.

By contrast, Professor Menachem Kellner's book is far more revolutionary and daring, and Professor Kellner admits as much: here.

OAbe said...

Kudos to you for recognizing in your post that this concern with "post-Orthodoxy" is entirely polemical and intended to place those with objectionable views outside the camp. After all, your only substantive differences with Student involve the views that you hold that you feel should not place you in the post-Orthodox camp.

Good to see that someone is dropping the pretense of sociological commentary.