Sunday, April 05, 2009

Rav Lichtenstein and the Segue from Chardal to Charedi
From a piece I'd written a while back;

Though both Kolbrener as a current academic, and R. Lichtenstein a former academic who left it in 1962, do explore changes in the academic climate - neither of them address what has happened in the Torah world over the same span of time - the present day back to 1962, the year when R. Lichtenstein, an unrelenting current advocate of Torah u'Maddah - left academia. Much has been written on this blog and elsewhere on just the very transformations in the Torah realms, I would like to add links here later, but for now; academic treatments, see Gershon Bacon, Menahem Friedman, Jacob Katz, et al (some have material online)...Certain Modern Orthodox People literally say "we" need to find "our" Gedolim - likely meaning the term as Charedim do (a predilection to which I'm moved to respond "What do you mean 'We', White Man?"...) - and they seek one in R. Lichtenstein; it's very nice that he has no peers; it's a siman that he could be a Gadol by Charedi standards. though I've never heard someone explain how someone among the Gedolim can have no peers). Another siman is that his peerlessness confirms what many charedim believe;

"Even pursuing some 'balance' between Torah and Maddah has always been reserved for the select few - and 'b'zman ha zeh - this is an ever-shrinking few...he's just the Gadol for you ever-shrinking modern [somewhat] Orthodox!"...

In it's habitual "Gedolim"-izing reactions to Charedi expectations in rabbinic authority, Modern Orthodoxy may again be confirming it is indeed neither. Nor can it be either - and Charedi.

In retrospect, I think "Gedol-izing" of R. precisely the point of featuring him in the journal Jewish Action, where his 'dated' (in more ways than one), views on secular education are treated by one who actually is a current academic and burgeoning Chardal figure. And the OU through Jewish Action, are indeed engineering the 'upgrade'. Precisely when R. Lichtenstein has retired as Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Har Etzion. He is respectfully being dissented from...and respectful dissent is precisely something the Modern Orthodox have left themselves vulnerable to in speaking of "respectful dissent" from Charedi Gedolim - as if all Charedi models of leadership, many of them patently-modernist and reactionary, really are something that all the various models of Modern Orthodoxy consistantly deviate from. Archetyping R. Lichtenstein, narrowing down the "worthy leaders" of a diverse movement to one individual - can also appear to be showing his redundancy and obscurantism.

It may seem like I'm making far too much of one article, but I think there have been other incidents of "narrowing", such as Rav Soloveitchik. Charedim, if they acknowledge him, have been quick to claim he was decidedly not "modern" Orthodox. And more recently we've witnessed the disenfranchisement of Torah im Derech Eretz in the very sanctuary of Kahal Adath Jeshurun. R. Hirsch's pronouncements on the timeless and universal application of TIDE are widely available...

"...but Torah and Derekh Erez is nevertheless the one true principle conducive to 'truth and peace'...The principle of Torah and Derekh Erez can fulfill this function because it is not part of troubled, time-bound notions;

No matter. Authority hath spoken from the pulpit of the 'one' (sanctioned...) community reflecting the TIDE tradition; "Our generation...must follow today's gedolei HaTorah" continue R. Hirsch on Gedolei HaTorah... represents the ancient, traditional wisdom of our sages that has stood the test everywhere and at all times. These sages and they alone, have always been, and still are, our true sages.
R. Hirsch, Collected Writings VI, p.221

For KAJ, no longer is the derech which Rav Hirsch spoke of as the historically normative path of the true Sages of Israel considered timeless or universal; in his name and honor, it is not even permissible.


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