Open Orthodoxy

Where Open Orthodoxy Ends: Your final destination for open review of fringe Orthodox Judaism. If you have comments, send them to

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Winding down

My initial intention with this blog was to provide a centralized resource of documented cases of ultra-left-wing Orthodox Judaism, as well as provide some common-sense commentary on those issues. My initial goals are nearly complete. Maintaining a blog takes time and energy. I hope to spend substantially less time on this endeavor and more time learning Torah. I will still try to get in a weekly or bi-weekly post...or possibly as needed.

I was using blog comments as a vehicle for readers to communicate with me. To alleviate confusion, I removed the comments feature on this blog. If a reader wishes to contact me, he or she can do so via the following email address:

For Torah sources that are relevant to issues presented at this blog, I recommend Rabbi Eliyahu Ferrell's blog, Einei HaEdah. I appreciate his chizuk and guest contributions. Aside from myself, he appears to be one of a handful of people who are willing to publicly critique "Open Orthodoxy" related subject matter. Is YU, the OU or the RCA ever going to get involved...

Blog Guest: Response to "Construction begins on Valley's first community mikvah"

"An emerging tradition: Construction begins on Valley's first community mikvah" (Jewish News of Phoenix, 11/17/06) discusses the construction of a community mikvah in Phoenix, AZ. The article states the following about Orthodox involvement in the mikvah:
Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, spiritual leader of KiDMa - The Southwest Community,which is Modern Orthodox, explained that CBI's mikvah "stands for hope and rebirth for the Jewish community." He added that the new mikvah is expected to be built "according to halachic standards" making it "kosher" for all denominations, including those who are Orthodox.

"The fact that this mikvah will be on the campus of a Reform synagogue does not make it a Reform mikvah," he said.
Rabbi Eliyahu Ferrell gave me permission to post a Letter to the Editor he sent to the Jewish News of Phoenix. Rabbi Ferrell states his concerns with Rabbi Kleinberg's involvement in the mikvah.
To the Editor:
In my opinion, any connection of Rabbi Darren Kleinberg to the new mikvah is very dismaying.

It seems to me that, in his house of worship, Talmudic law is abrogated at will. For example, the order of public prayer there does not include recital of the three Talmudic blessings through which a man thanks G-d for having been given the sanctity of a Jew and the responsibilities of Jewish manhood. [An individual man at services is allowed to say these three blessings on his own, though.] Instead, his service contains a made-up blessing. And--as I have documented in a previous Letter to the Editor--Rabbi Kleinberg's articles on the weekly Torah portion are rife with conceptions of G-d alien to Judaism.

In my opinion, he has thereby rendered himself unfit to certify the kosher status of a mikvah. And in my opinion, it is horrible that he will anyway "certify" the mikvah, because it will lead people to think it has an authentic Orthodox imprimatur.

Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell
Instructor of Talmud and Jewish Law
Passaic Torah Institute
Passaic, NJ

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Interfaith pluralism: Open Orthodoxy style

Martin Luther King memorial concert 2006 in cooperation with the Green Pastures Baptist Church, in front of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale paroches in the sanctuary:

- Click here for original source.
- Hebrew Institute of Riverdale's paroches

Rabbi Avi Weiss, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical students, cardinals, and bishops dance around the YCT bais midrash:

- Click here for original source.

- Click here for original source.

Interfaith shteiging (original title: "Havrusa action"):

- Click here for original source.

Full picture gallery : Cardinals and Bishops Visit to YCT 2006

Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, a public figure of discussion on this blog, is far left in the following photo taken at an interfaith conference (description underneath the photo "...[the conference attendees] bow their heads in [interfaith] prayer during a conference at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute"):

- Click here for original source.

Related links:
- Cardinals Study With Orthodox Students (Forward, March 2006)
- Jewish Interfaith Endeavors: Academic Programs

Labels: , ,

Positive Pluralism

There are two types of pluralism of interest to Orthodox Jews: interdenominational (e.g. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox) and interfaith (Christian, Muslim, Jew). An example of interdenominational pluralism is a non/multi-sectarian Jewish Federation. An example of interfaith pluralism is interfaith dialogue with non-Jews. Both of those examples can be positive in the proper context.

Pluralism is one of the first topics I should have written about. However, this topic is already well-documented and well-known, while other issues I have addressed are not. For completeness, I address this topic.

Some expressions of interdenominational and interfaith pluralism are quite controversial. Here are some positive viewpoints and examples of interdenominational and interfaith pluralism (albeit some are controversial):

Jewish interdenominational pluralism
- Pluralism and Jewish Unity - By Rabbi Marc D. Angel
- Pluralism

Interfaith pluralism
First and foremost, Jews must respect non-Jews:
- In The Image Of God
- Respect for others
- We Diminish Ourselves By Denigrating Non-Jews

Practical applications of interfaith pluralism:
- International Fellowship of Christian and Jews
- Noahide Laws
- Sanhedrin Moves to Establish Council For Noahides (note: my point is not whether this sanhedrin is valid or invalid, or this Noahide council is positive or negative, only that the concept of assisting sincere Noahides with Noahide matters is a positive expression of pluralism)
- RCA and OU Join with US Bishops in Calling for Expanded School Choice Options and Support

There are Jewish perspectives that consider faithful Christians to also be Noahides.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 20, 2006

Free advertising for Open Orthodoxy

Someone forwarded an email to me that Rabbi Avi Weiss will be lecturing at Kidma in Phoenix, AZ. I'm thinking about attending. Anyone who is familiar with my blog should also be familiar with Kidma. Consider this a follow-up post to Haskama: I endorse ye.

Subject: ***SAVE THE DATE***
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 11:09:40 -0700
From: KiDMa - Rabbi Kleinberg

Please join us for a special community lecture delivered by

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Founder and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School,
and one of the most influential rabbinic personalities
in the American Jewish Community today

Rabbi Weiss will speak on the topic of:
"Challenges Facing the Jewish People in the 21st Century"

Date: Sunday, December 3rd
Time: 6:30pm - refreshments will be served
Place: KiDMa - The Southwest Community
727 E. Glendale Avenue, Suite 2A, Phoenix, AZ 85020


For more information,
please contact, or call (602) 330 2335

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fundamental nature of God is not debatable

In response to Rabbi Darren Kleinberg’s article, “Reaching for Perfection”, the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix published two rebuttal Letters to the Editor. I also sent in a response, but it wasn’t published. I'm glad, as the printed letters were better than my own.

The newspaper titled the letters, “Debating the nature of God”. Rabbi Ariel Shoshan and Rabbi Andrew Gordimer were not partaking in a debate, but presenting viewpoints which they obviously believe are not debatable.

Here are Rabbi Shoshan's and Rabbi Gordimer's eloquent letters:
Count me among those saddened to read that someone would state, in the name of the Torah, that God is "less than perfect," that his choosing the Jewish people was "a moment of imperfection in God's creation and decision-making," and that Abraham and his family are "the founders of the three great religions of the West" ("Reaching for perfection," Jewish News, Nov. 3).

A simple reading of Deuteronomy 32:4 - "Perfect is His work, for all His paths are justice; a God of faith without iniquity" - as well as Maimonides' Foundations of Torah and Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith clearly illustrates that the author's assertions are not in consonance with traditional Torah beliefs.

Rabbi Ariel Shoshan

I read with dismay "Reaching for Perfection," in which the writer negates two basic principles of Judaism: the perfection of God and the unique, eternal chosen status of the Jewish people. These concepts are essential and clear in our basic religious texts, and I am shocked that a rabbi - no less one who calls himself Orthodox - could dare contradict these basics of our faith.

It is unfortunate that this incident is one of many in which the writer and fellow graduates of his rabbinic school, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), have undermined the fundamentals of traditional Judaism. YCT graduates participating in interfaith prayer, writing articles that question the authority of Halacha and adopting non-halachic practices are all too well-known. If this can be called Orthodox Judaism, I do not know what cannot.

Rabbi Andrew Gordimer
New York
Relevant links:
- Blog guest: response to "Reaching for perfection"
- Heresy? or, Heresy!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Raiders of the Lost Dvar Torah

Seven years ago next week (parshas Toldos) Rabbi Avi Weiss published the dvar Torah, “Yitzhak: Teaching us about Downs Syndrome”. It should be listed at the HIR (Rabbi Avi Weiss’ congregation) web site at Taste of Torah in Honor of Shabbat – parshas Toldos (Kislev 5760 November 12-13, 1999), however for a well-known essay it is conspicuously missing. The dvar Torah was titled as a "Taste of Torah in Honor of Shabbat", and the years 5759 and 5761 are listed, but no 5760.

One blog reader harshly and presumptuously stated to me that there are no 5760 divrei Torah listed at the HIR "Taste of Torah in Honor of Shabbat" site:
Why is it conspicuous that the article is missing when THERE IS NOT A SINGLE FORSHPEIS FROM 5760 ON THE WEBSITE??? You are being deceitful and misleading as usual. If you want to criticize things Rabbi Weiss said, that's one thing, but don't make things up.
That commenter is incorrect. Oddly, the divrei Torah are only missing for the book of Bereishis. Shemos, Vayikra, Bamidbar, Dvarim, all have 5760 divrei Torah listed in those sections. It is anomalous that this high-profile well-known dvar Torah is not also there. Thank you reader, for ensuring that my blog readers are not mislead.

The complete dvar Torah can be found here: Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 133

“Yitzhak: Teaching us about Downs Syndrome” represents a prototypical drash style of liberal divrei Torah. It contains elements of shock value and a tone that humanizes our holy Avos in a way that is untraditional. Open Orthodoxy, a movement started by Rabbi Avi Weiss, is a controversial, growing sect of Orthodox Judaism. I believe it is important to understand the hashkafic origins of provocative divrei Torah that are being elicited by Open Orthodox proponents.

The most audacious controversial idea of the dvar Torah is that Yitzhak’s alleged attributes are compared to the pathology of the genetic disorder, Down’s syndrome:
The upshot: Yitzhak is easy to deceive, he lacks individuality, is spared grief, is compliant and is even laughed at. My dear friend, Rabbi Saul Berman points out that there is a common thread that weaves itself through each of these characteristics - they are often found in those who have Downs Syndrome.
There is no classical opinion that suggests that Yitzhak had Downs. Still, the fact that his attributes fit into this mold, teaches a vital lesson - those with Downs possess the image of God and have the ability to spiritually soar, to spiritually inspire and yes, even to lead.

There are other statements within the dvar Torah that are provocative by traditional Orthodox standards:
"There is something naive, almost simplistic, about our second patriarch Yitzhak (Isaac)"

"there was something funny about Yitzhak; when you looked at him, you would laugh"

"Yitzhak is absolutely compliant. He goes to Moriah to be slaughtered without persistent argument. He seems to agree with everything he's asked to do, no matter the consequences"

"Once again Yitzhak is depicted as one for whom key decisions are made and one, who felt especially attached to his mother."

When this dvar Torah was published, many readers condemned it. One comment that best distills the criticism is the following:
Ribono shel Olam! Forget the Down's Syndrome issue...By the time you finish with this totally appalling material, to say Yitzchok Avinu had DS (r"l) is almost a limud zechus.
- Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 133

Rabbi Weiss responded to critics that his dvar Torah was only meant to illustrate compassion for those that are challenged:
For some, spirituality is exclusively bound with the intellect. Those of lesser intelligence are not viewed as having the capacity to have spiritual depth. The Forshpeis was an attempt to say that spirituality emerges from the whole being-not only from the mind, but also from the soul. Those with Downs may be blessed with the spiritual brilliance to become the greatest tsadikim or tsidkaniot of their generation. - "An Addendum to Last Week's Forshpeis on Down's Syndrome"
Rabbi Weiss' sentiments are compassionately well-intentioned but disregard the main criticism of “depictive disrespect”, which he unfortunately did not address at all in his "addendum".

Since Rabbi Weiss defended his dvar Torah, why did HIR either remove or not post it at the HIR web site? Why not post the dvar Torah with Rabbi Weiss’ follow-up statements? Is the “missing” dvar Torah an implicit recanting/repudiation of that dvar Torah?

Update: Parshas Toldos 5767 (2006)
In a dvar Torah for parshas Toldos, Yaakov and Yisrael: The Integration of Body and Soul, Rabbi Avi Weiss stated the following:
One wonders how Yitzchak could have been so naive to prefer his eldest son Esav more than the younger Yaakov.
One may wonder why Rabbi Weiss didn't use more terse, less connotative language such as, "One wonders how Yitzchak preferred his eldest son Esav more than the younger Yaakov." Or, maybe not.

Relevant links:
- Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 131
- Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 132
- Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 133
- Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 134
- Avodah Mailing List Volume 04 : Number 135

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stressful God of "tension" and "anxiety"

Akiva Herzfeld (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah class of '07) wrote a dvar Torah titled "Lech-lecha and the Marriage of Sarah, God, and Abraham" (11/2/2006) that depicts Avrohom and Sorah with pessimistic contemporary psychoanalysis. God is listed between Sarah and Abraham in the title, illustrating God as an intermediary source of tension between them. That idea is the focus of the dvar Torah. Here are some highlights from Herzfeld's dvar Torah:
God is a source of blessing in their [Avrohom and Sorah's] marriage...But God is also the source of anxiety in their marriage. The need to fulfill God's covenant had been the principal point of tension between Abram and Sarai, as they struggled to have a child and fulfill the covenantal promise.
Abram tells Sarai that she is more important to him than the pregnant Hagar, and by extension she [Sorah] is more important than the future of his name and covenant with God.
God can be a source of tension in a marital relationship, but He is also the source of all blessing and happiness. Abraham and Sarah's marriage is evidence of the struggle entailed in managing the appropriate space for God in a relationship.
Is God to blame for the alleged tension and anxiety in Avrohom and Sorah's marriage? Is Sorah "more important than the future of [Avrohom's] name and covenant with God"? Do Avrohom and Sorah manage the "appropriate space" for God in their relationship as though religion was an extracurricular hobby rather than a lifestyle?

Regardless of depictive mode and illustrative license, accurate or not, it's only drash (interpretation), right? There are critics of "liberal" divrei Torah who are concerned not only with the ideas that are communicated, but how (attitude) those ideas are communicated. For example, are those ideas presented positively and respectfully.

Does God create stress in a relationship or does he provide challenges/tests? Is Sorah "more important than the future of [Avrohom's] name and covenant with God" because Avrohom listens to her by sending Hagar away? Or, is Sorah fulfilling Hashem's mutual desires, Avrohom's namesake and covenant with Hashem by sending Hagar away? Is God "managed" within a marriage or does God encompass a marriage?

Is there a recurring theme of superfluous provocative negativity in liberal divrei Torah?

Other interesting divrei Torah:
- Women and the Mitzvah of Pru u’Rvu
- Noach the Tzadikel
- Why Sarah? A Midrash
- Choosing a Wife - Did Yaakov Get It Right?


Monday, November 13, 2006

Haskama: I endorse ye

Rabbis of "Open Orthodoxy", go forth and preach pluralism, feminism, relativism, and open Torah for all closed by radical Orthodox fundamentalist theology.

I was working on a series of blog posts when someone informed me that some of my blog readers may have the impression that certain YCT musmachim referenced at my blog are not endorsed by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Other people have said to me, "Rabbi Avi Weiss (dean of YCT) and Rabbi Dov Linzer (rosh yeshiva of YCT) must not know what is going on with their "controversial" musmachim, they would never accept it." My response to both of those items: au contraire mon frere (to the contrary, my brother).

YCT implicitly endorses their graduates by proudly listing pictures and bios of their alumni on a web page titled "Bringing Open Orthodox Rabbinic Leadership to a Community Near You". Every YCT rabbi referenced on my blog is listed on that page. The bios showcase the accomplishments of YCT graduates. For example, Rabbi Darren Kleinberg's bio states:
"...he [Rabbi Kleinberg] is a faculty member of Kol-El – The Kollel for living Judaism, a multi-denominational learning program headed by [Reform] Rabbi William C. Berk."
Rabbi Avi Weiss has explicitly stated support for specific YCT graduates in an interview for Canonist:
Rabbis Kleinberg and East are developing communities where there was no Modern Orthodoxy in effect, certainly, no Orthodoxy that we would call ‘open’ and inclusive. Development of new open Modern Orthodox congregations is an important aspect of YCT’s vision. In fact, the yeshiva [YCT] finds it so critical that we assist by financially supporting these new communities [e.g. Kidma].
There are other instances where YCT has shown support of specific graduates. As stated in an earlier post, Rabbi Saul Berman lectured at the Open Orthodox Kidma congregation. So has Rabbi Weiss. YCT musmachim I have blogged about have been featured in the YCT newsletter. Take a look at the full page Community Profile of Kidma, "YCT Alumnus Brings Open Orthodoxy to the Southwest" (YCT Fall 2006 newsletter, p.7).

Concerning what the YCT administration "knows" about their graduates, I have sent emails to both Rabbi Avi Weiss and Rabbi Dov Linzer discussing musmach concerns. I also sent them a link to my blog. Neither Rabbi Weiss or Linzer has responded to me.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blog guest: response to "Reaching for perfection"

Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell gave me permission to post his response to Rabbi Darren Kleinberg's article, "Reaching for perfection":

In Rabbi Kleinberg’s articles, we seem to read of a deity who is not the G-d of Judaism. Indeed, in all my adult years in yeshivos and in all of the years in my youth spent in non-Orthodox institutions, I never heard any Jew describe G-d the way Rabbi Kleinberg describes his god.

(1) The G-d of Judaism is good and wise beyond our capacity to imagine or describe. We state during every morning service, “Who among the supernal beings or the terrestrial beings can say to You [G-d], ‘What are You doing?’” We bless G-d as the True Judge after a bitter occurrence, affirming that He is correct in all that He does (see Talmud, Berachos 54/a and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 222:2). Rabbi Kleinberg seems to impugn G-d’s goodness: “How do we come to terms with a God that seemingly acts outside of the moral compass that our tradition (including the biblical tradition) passes down to us? What does it mean to attempt to live ‘in the image of God’ when that image is sometimes one that we wish to turn away from?...” [from "Challenge of the text"]

As the great (truly) Modern Orthodox sage Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein said, “I do not judge God. I assume, a priori, that ‘His deeds are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, without iniquity, righteous and upright is He’ (Deuteronomy 32:4). If He commands, ‘Take your son and offer him as a sacrifice,’ then it must be good (in a sense which perhaps, at the moment, I do not understand). But within the context of my a priori obedient submission, I may try to understand.”

(2) The G-d of Judaism is consummately perfect and all-knowing. He is unchanging—including growing from learning (Malachi 3:5; Jeremiah 23:24; Proverbs 15:3; Maimonidean Code 1:2-3, 1: 10-11, 2:9-10; Guide to the Perplexed 1:11, 3:13, 3:25; #10 of the 13 Faith Tenets). Rabbi Kleinberg—without any specific citations—seems to reject this description of G-d: “[T]he most fascinating aspect of the Torah [is] its depiction of God as less than perfect…And so it must be asked: ‘Did God not know that man would be alone?’ Is God not, after all, all-knowing (omniscient)? One answer that has been given to this question is that the Torah is teaching us a lesson that even God learns, and therefore, so should we…Another more mystical approach suggests that God is in a process of reaching perfection...”

(3) The Chosenness of the Jewish people by the G-d of Judaism has never in 33 centuries of religious Jewish thought been described as an error made by G-d. And never in 33 centuries has any religious Jewish thinker said that, in actuality, all of humanity is chosen. Precious, yes!—but not chosen. This is stated in unnumerable sources and is encapsulated in the Torah blessings recited every day and at every Torah-reading: “He chose us from all other nations and gave us His Torah.” In the holiday liturgy, this basic principle is also encapsulated: “You have chosen us from all other nations; You have loved us and been pleased with us.” Yet Rabbi Kleinberg dismisses this: “I would like to suggest that this idea - the idea that we Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ - is another example of a moment of imperfection in God's creation and decision-making…We must consider this awesome and wonderful privilege to be the inheritance of all peoples. There is no one who is exempt from this obligation. We have all been chosen.”

America grants freedom of speech. No one can stop Rabbi Kleinberg from expressing his opinions—but there are laws against false advertising. His articles are not representative of Orthodox Judaism.

I ask Rabbi Kleinberg to tell me if I have misunderstood him and to assert without ambiguity or obfuscation his belief that G-d never makes a mistake, never does anything immoral or unjust, and chose the Jewish people and only the Jews.

Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell
Member, Talmud Faculty
Passaic Torah Institute
Passaic, NJ

Relevant links:
- Rabbi Ferrell maintains the excellent Einei HaEdah blog

Labels: ,

Monday, November 06, 2006

Heresy? or, Heresy!

In a dvar Torah titled "Reaching for perfection" (11/03/2006), Rabbi Darren Kleinberg (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah class of 2005) of Kidma wrote some provocative remarks concerning the perfection of God and the “choseness” of the Jewish people.

Rabbi Kleinberg suggests that God is imperfect by providing an approach “that God is in a process of reaching perfection.” Rabbi Kleinberg also suggests that God made a mistake in the selection process of the Jewish people as his Chosen People by stating that “the idea that we Jews are the Chosen People - is another example of a moment of imperfection in God's creation and decision-making.” Rabbi Kleinberg reluctantly identifies ("Rabbi Darren Kleinberg dislikes labels but identifies as Modern Orthodox") as a Modern Orthodox rabbi, and yet, these are not Orthodox viewpoints.

I know of at least three Orthodox rabbis in Phoenix, AZ (where Kidma is located) who were compelled to rebut the dvar Torah’s assertions in their weekly Shabbos drashas.

Here's true pluralism at work: I communicated with Modern Orthodox, Chareidi, and Lubavitch rabbis. All condemned the contents of "Reaching for perfection".

I wonder what Yeshivat Chovevei Torah thinks of all of this…

Relevant links:
- Why Harold Kushner Is Wrong
- The Problem with Proofs of God

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mechitza magic: now you see it, now you don't

This post discusses some of Rabbi Darren Kleinberg's (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah class of 2005) views about mechitza. Foremostly, I wish to stress that his shul (Kidma) DOES have a mechitza. However, I make no assertions as to its usage or kashrus. You can see Kidma's mechitza in action at "YCT Alumnus Brings Open Orthodoxy to the Southwest" (YCT Fall 2006 newsletter, p.7).

Rabbi Kleinberg wrote an op-ed titled "Getting pluralism back on track" (8/11/2006). Here's an excerpt that implies that it's acceptable for a Jew to partake in a co-ed prayer gathering without a mechitza and without other non-negotiable Orthodox considerations:

For Jews from different segments of the community to gain a deeper understanding and therefore a deeper respect for one another, they must engage in a process of exposure to one another's experience as Jews. That includes crossing the thresholds of other denominations' houses of worship, not only for a celebration but also to pray together.
I addressed Rabbi Kleinberg’s assertions in a Letter to the Editor (8/25/2006):
Kleinberg states that we must cross "the thresholds of other denominations' houses of worship, not only for a celebration but also to pray together." However, it is against Halacha for an Orthodox Jew to pray in a synagogue with a woman cantor and without a mechitza (a divider between men and women).

For clarification of the mechitza issue, I had a brief email dialogue with Rabbi Kleinberg on 8/18/2006…

My letter to Rabbi Kleinberg:
In your recent article in Jewish News of Phoenix, you stated that we Jews must cross "...the thresholds of other denominations' houses of worship, not only for a celebration but also to pray together."

However, in an article in Forward magazine (9/20/2002), your mentor Rabbi Avi Weiss was quoted as stating: "Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, as an Orthodox institution, requires that its students daven only in synagogues with mechitzot."

Rabbi Kleinberg's Response:
Rabbi Weiss and I may well have different stands on this issue - although I believe that that statement refers specifically to regular attendance as opposed to what I was referring to.

My Response...
Via email, I said to Rabbi Kleinberg that I fail to see the difference between attending (a non-mechitza prayer service) one time or a hundred times.

Rabbi Kleinberg's Response:
In halacha we do have precedent for the idea that something can be done infrequently but should not become the regular practice. For an interesting example of this, see Rabbi Moshe Feinsteins discussion of "biah shelo c'darka" - i.e. sexual practice that deviates from the missionary position.

The reason I use this example is because it deals with an area of living in which one might expect halacha to be more rigid (compare to Catholics) - and yet R.Moshe is very broad-minded in his responsa.

So too here - the distinction between regular attendance in a non-Orthodox shul for fulfillment of one's personal prayer obligations and a more "now-and-then" attendance for the greater good of the Jewish people (if one sees it as such - of course many will not agree with me on this point either) is an important one.
An unnamed rabbi suggested that I should have titled this post, "Mechitza shelo c'darka". Or, I was thinking maybe a Shakespearean Jewish motif: "To be-ah shelo c'darka" or "Not to be-ah shelo c'darka", that is the question of mechitza.

The $64,000 question...where and how can I learn to make such fascinating Torah connections and insights?

Labels: , , ,