Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jonathan Rosenblum Advocates Torah U-Madda II

In a letter to the Jerusalem Post, Julius Berman, chairman of the RIETS board, responds to Jonathan Rosenblum's attack on the Maimonides school (link):

Sorry, but you're dead wrong

Sir, - After writing an excellent critique of both The New York Times in publishing, and Noah Feldman in authoring the article "Orthodox paradox" ("Feldman's bad faith," August 10), Jonathan Rosenblum veers off to conclude his piece with an appreciation of Feldman's "valuable service" in attacking modern Orthodoxy.

He first sets up a straw man by suggesting that modern Orthodoxy places "equal emphasis... on the curriculum of the dominant secular society and Torah learning," then knocks him down by claiming that, under such circumstances, Torah will necessarily lose out - witness Noah Feldman.

Rosenblum is dead wrong! The modern Orthodox Jew is not a bifurcated human being composed of half-secular and half-holy parts. Indeed, that seems to be Feldman's thesis, the only difference being that he wants to adjust the borders between the two parts so as to include intermarriage within the secular part, thus making it acceptable.

On the contrary, the modern Orthodox Jew is a whole, undivided, non-conflicted being. While he is prepared to integrate the best of the modern world, he does so through the prism of the Torah. He adheres to the same Shulhan Aruch as the haredi Jew; he studies the same Torah and Talmud. The same Rambam and numerous other commentaries are studied in the beit midrash of the modern Orthodox yeshiva.

In short, the cacophony of debate and discussion emblematic of a traditional yeshiva remains the same in a modern Orthodox yeshiva.

As to the alleged paucity of "distinguished Torah scholars" in the modern Orthodox world, I invite Rosenblum to visit Yeshiva University in New York and Israel and audit the Torah lessons given by the Torah scholars who are the yeshiva heads. Each of them is a college graduate, many with advanced academic degrees, including PhDs.

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan
Theological Seminary of
Yeshiva University
New York and Jerusalem

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