Forward Thinking

Is Modern Orthodoxy the True Orthodoxy?

By Seth Berkman

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On Thursday night, Israel Prize Winner Rabbi Daniel Sperber gave a lecture at the Jewish Center in New York City on “Why Modern Orthodoxy is True Orthodoxy.”

Sperber, a Talmud scholar at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, provided a thorough history of Orthodox Judaism before noting the differences between modern Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy, emphasizing that modern Orthodoxy is willing to view Halacha as a “constantly developing entity and it is willing to face challenges.”

Sperber, devoted a large portion of his lecture on the evolving role of women in Orthodox Judaism, saying that only the modern Orthodox establishment accepts and supports these changes “that are taking place now in our society,” which are “completely rejected by our more ultra-Orthodox brethren.”

Sperber closed his speech by saying true orthodoxy regards Halacha as something “which is constantly growing, constantly reevaluating the situation, constantly readapting itself to changes in society.”

Annette Schabes, who travelled from Englewood, NJ to listen to the speech, empathized with Sperber’s views on the changing role of women. “I think that as long things are done within the framework of Jewish law, there’s no reason why one cannot take a more active role within ritual practice.”

The event was part of an annual lecture series sponsored by The Yavne-Shapiro Program in Torah and Jewish Ethics in cooperation with Bar-Ilan University. Thursday’s lecture was the first in the series given outside of Israel.

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