Culture, Religion, Sex & Gender

Jonathan Mark takes on "Maharat Judaism"

You know, I grew up Modern Orthodox. I’ve been rooting for Yeshivat Chovevei Torah since even before I had friends and family there. And though my religious identity has grown inordinately more complicated as time goes on, there’s something homey and admirable to me about the Orthodox fringe — the love of tradition and ease with it, the love of God’s world and elevation of secular knowledge to religious obligation, the willingness to swim against the current in the frum world, and especially the demand that a static Torah and a fluid human culture meet each other, crosspollinate, and grow — but retain their integrity — over and over and over again.
So why was I nodding inside, feeling chills and cheers in equal measure, when I read this rant by Jonathan Mark, in which he thrashes the liberal Orthodox for doing what it is they do: ‘expanding the palace of Torah,’ with nuance and caution?
Hop on over to his blog. See him assert how…
+ Rav Avi Weiss plays politics to the detriment of his values.
+ Nobody really cares what YCT does anyway.
+ Chabad is *the* model for success as a Jewish movement.
+ The liberal Orthodox community lacks the depth it should have.
+ The liberal Orthodox community lacks the strength of its convictions.
+ Blu Greenberg is the mashiach.
I sorta think he has a point. (Especially about Blu Greenberg.) Check it out and tell us what you think.

8 thoughts on “Jonathan Mark takes on "Maharat Judaism"

  1. Mark gets a lot right in his critique of YCT, but he lost me with the paragraph including the line: “Some at YCT can teach Torah beautifully, particularly Davidi Jonas, whom I’ve heard the most and whose shiurs I try not to miss.” (I’ve heard the kid, and he’s an am ha-aretz (badly) masquerading as a talmid hakham; if Mr. Mark thinks that he’s an example of YCT’s finest then his ability to judge such things is highly suspect.) Also, his paean to Blu Greenberg at the end is just weird. Unfortunately, the oddities of the rant serve to weaken the integrity of the overall argument, which is solid. Alas.
    Also, hillul, “static Torah” — since when?

  2. Oh that line was just the most concise way I could say something along the lines of: “the ortho fringe are the only group I know, who both
    1. believe in the most restrictive of the various major understandings of Halacha — i.e. you can’t change the system, you can’t do much without a Sanhedrin, etc.
    2. believe in the innate value of worldly knowledge and culture — not just to make money in galut but to educate, broaden one’s perspective, and honor God.
    3. Actively throw themselves into the tension between these things.”

  3. Dear Wolfman
    I don’t know who you are, but your comment regarding Rabbi Jonas was rude, wrong, and not respectful of the dialogue that this site is trying to foster. I appreciate your voicing your opinion of Chillul’s post, and reacting to Mr. Mark’s writing, but an unsubstantiated, ad hominem attack of a person who does not read this blog, and who was only mentioned casually in a linked article is completely out of line.

  4. I also have to agree with Mark, at least to an extent…I feel like creating this wacky new title only serves to annoy all sides, and placate none.
    @Josh – while wolfman’s comments might not have been the most tactful, the line about Davidi Jonas was an big part of Mark’s argument defending YCT, and wolfman should be entitled to his opinion about the man. I also think it’s a bit unfair for you to attack him for his comments, without at least making clear where your inherent biases might lie…

  5. Talking about ad hominem attacks, I definitely thought the weakest (pettiest?) parts of J.Mark’s essay were the places he got personal — as if 2 or 3 anecdotes can prove a point about an entire institution.

  6. @PW Wolfman is welcome to dispute any of Mark’s comments, and he is welcome to his own opinions regarding anyone. However, personal attacks are not welcome. The blog is dedicated to discussing ideas, news and events, not to judging and ranking assorted characters’ intelligence. As to your second comment, regarding disclosure, I make no secret of my name or identity, contrary to both of my present interlocutors.

  7. @Josh, I didn’t mean to pick a fight, and in terms of disclosure, my issue wasn’t with your name as much as with your institutional affiliation…

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