Monday, October 15, 2007

The Center for the Jewish Present

I just don't understand this opinion piece in The Commentator, titled "Center for the Jewish Present" (link).

He starts off with the following: "Torah u-Madda is a coercive philosophy. As an ideology, it requires denying one's tradition to adopt another's Yiddishkeit." First of all, I simply cannot understand the sentences. Yes, I understand each word. But put them together and I'm lost. Second, Torah u-Madda is not a single philosophy! Just read Dr. Lamm's book. Torah u-Madda encompasses a number of different philosophies, some of them in strong disagreement with others. For that reason, when the author writes "Torah u-Madda is also a dated philosophy" he's partially right but generally wrong. Yes, there are philosophies within the umbrella of Torah u-Madda that are outdated. But others are not. And even those that are dated might not be outdated, i.e. they might still be perfectly viable even though they are not cutting edge philosophy.

He then suggests that YU focus on "repairing Modern Orthodox's relationship with the Ultra-Orthodox community." Unfortunately, there is very little way to do that. The Ultra Orthodox community has been living on a steady diet of "passul-treif" for decades and there are very few things YU can do to change that. Besides which, there is no reason that the Modern Orthodox community needs to gain anyone else's approval. What they should be doing is taking a hard look at their own community and trying to fix its many problems, which is what they are doing.

The idea that YU can bridge the Modern Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox community by creating a trade school is simply naive.

I don't disagree with the idea that if some people do not want a liberal arts education then they should not be forced to have one. But if that is the case, why are you attending a liberal arts college? And if you do make the choice to attend such a college, don't complain about it.

And, if you think about it, there is no way to change the present. You can only change the future because the present is what it is.

In other Commentator news, note the article about the National Council of Young Israel subjecting potential rabbis to qualifying tests (link), and the editorial criticizing this new policy (link). See the Rabbi Without A Cause blog for two posts on this topic (I, II).

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More