Monday, November 29, 2010

Hashkafic Fairness and Balance

I have been having an e-mail debate with a right wing modern Orthodox friend about the value of my blog. I have in the past explained and defended what I do here and do not feel the need to do it again now. But one of the challenges he posed to me is why I do not have any criticism of my own community – which for the most part is the right wing modern Orthodox world.

I must concede that I have not specifically criticized this world. Not because I wouldn’t criticize what’s going on in my own backyard but because I truly do not see anything there of sufficient merit to comment upon.

Cynics might say that I am too blinded by my own Hashkafos to see any problems.

OK. I challenged my friend to come up with issues that are truly a problem in right wing modern Orthodoxy that I have neglected. He mentioned a few. The problem is that many of his issues are not really specific to right wing modern Orthodox circles. They are problems of the greater MO world.

As I have often said - modern Orthodoxy has a large segment comprised of what I call MO-Lite. They are the ones who are Orthodox more for social reasons than for religious or ideological ones. And while one can find ‘Lites’ in all strata of Orthodoxy, I concede that there is probably a greater proportion of Lites in the MO world than in the Charedi world.

Laxity in Mitzvah observance can be seen among Lites via observance of various of the Halachos of Erva (e.g. being Shomer Nigiya – touching the opposite sex). These Halachos are often ignored by many young MOs, but in almost all instances these are MO Lites, not serious MOs.

That such things do occur even in some RWMO circles or even among Charedim just means that the sex drive is very strong and given the opportunity - some people will succumb to temptation. Ain Apitropus L’Aaryos. But they are the exception that proves the rule in both communities.

Other areas in modern Orthodoxy that my friend pointed to are just as problematic in Charedi circles as they are in RWMO circles. Going OTD which can lead to Illegal drug use and other anti-social behavior is a problem with no Hashkafic label - having more to do with family dysfunction or a childhood sexual molestation.

He mentioned the RWMO failure to adequately address the problems with internet use. That may be true but it is equally true of the Charedi world. Neither community has successfully dealt with the problem. Both have their own ideas of which trek to take. And each idea has its pluses and minuses. But it seem that at least in America, the two sides seem to be coming together in how to deal with it. The Charedi mainstream no longer insists banning it and has instead suggested the same kind of safeguards that the RWMO suggests (and just about anyone else who cares about what their child encounters on the internet). Instead of a ban - safeguards are suggested which include but are not limited to filters, monitoring, keeping computers out in the open and out of bedrooms.

There were a few other issues he mentioned but all had similar answers.

So in the interests of fairness and balance ( not to co-opt Fox news - but the expression fits) is there any serious failing with respect to right wing modern Orthodoxy that I have neglected and needs to be addressed?