Why I Signed a Letter on Open Orthodoxy

Englishopen letter on corpulence - cover pageThe Jewish internet is ever more abuzz concerning the controversies surrounding Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and its affiliates forming the institutional backbone of Open Orthodoxy. Recently, after my esteemed acquiaintance, YCT president Rabbi Asher Lopatin complained in an op-ed to Haaretz, in which he arrogated to him and his movement support from [most of] Modern Orthodoxy, I joined a group of rabbis to co-author and sign a public letter, which was published there, as well. Why did I sign that letter, what are my concerns?

The Five Towns Jewish Times just published my op-ed delineating many of our concerns. My conclusion is:

Nobody cares to read Rabbi Lopatin, Rabbi Weiss or even Rabbi Farber out of Orthodoxy, but this isn’t about their souls (though friends do care about that, too). It is about how to educate tomorrow’s leaders and laity, and how to remain loyal to G”d’s Torah and mitzvot even in our turbulent, demanding times. This is about how to inspire the next generation to remain within or return to Orthodoxy in deed and spirit, in heart and soul, to study Torah and live according to her everlasting values.

Can something be done? When it was announced that Rabbi Lopatin, a gentle, very knowledgeable person, would become the new YCT president, opinions were divided. On the one hand were those who saw it as a fig leaf, and that with his charm, Rabbi Lopatin would call for friendly contacts while continuing business as usual. Others, me included, were hopeful that he could and would have the courage to take a few steps back and turn back towards Tradition, towards Sinai. Sadly, the recent years has seen an upsurge of controversies emanating from YCT and Open Orthodoxy. So far, it looks like the naysayers were right, but it is not too late to prove them wrong. YCT and Open Orthodoxy can still turn back, and Rabbi Asher Lopatin can make this happen. But for that, words do not suffice; actions are needed. Open Orthodoxy must recognize the boundaries of Orthodoxy and become more passionate about observance and tradition than about change. And they should hold back from instituting or continuing de facto innovations until the mainstream of Orthodoxy approves, at least begrudgingly, those changes [as legitimate bishe’at ha-dechak or at least bedi’avad, as halakhically valid ex-post facto].

Read the whole article here.

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