Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Challenge to Dialogue

In my review of the new Charedi magazine, ‘Dialogue’ I wrote about several of their articles. One of them was an article rebutting Rabbi Michael Broyde’s valiant attempt to find merit for those married Orthodox Jewish women who dress modestly according to the letter of Jewish law and yet do not cover their hair. I also noted that one of the 3 rabbinic advisors to Dialogue is Rabbi Shlomo Miller, a Rosh Kollel, a Posek, a world class Talmid Chacham and one of the most respected figures in the Charedi world.

Earlier this year, I was shown via e-mail a hand written document signed by Rav Miller that had a scathing attack against Rabbi Broyde for doing this – seeing it as an attempt to allow married women to stop covering their hair. He compared Rabbi Broyde to Aharon Choriner, who wrote Teshuvos for the Reform Movement.

I was of course very upset by that at the time and said so. In my own zeal to defend the honor of a Talmid Chacham like Rabbi Broyde I went too far in my criticism of Rav Miller. I apologized for that. But at the same time I still feel that is was an unjust attack against Rabbi Broyde by a Rav of high position and stature and as a result it embarrassed a man who sits as a Dayan on the RCA Beis Din (The Beth Din of America).

If Rav Miller had written a Teshuva refuting Rabbi Broyde as others have done, even if it had been written in angry tones, I could have accepted it. But he didn’t do that. He just quickly jotted down a brief note written in obvious anger and disgust implying that Rabbi Broyde’s essay was so contemptible that it was unworthy of a response.

The fact that Dialogue Magazine did write a rebuttal to Rabbi Broyde with the approval of Rabbi Miller, is perhaps his way of apologizing to him while at the same time still thoroughly rejecting his arguments.

As I said in my review of the article a few weeks ago I perceived a derisive tone reflective of Rav Miller’s attitude. It was there even in the title, ‘Controversy or Contrivance’. Many have argued that they did not read the article that way and that my criticism reflected my own bias. Perhaps. But if there was any bias on my part it was set when Rav Miller first attacked Rav Broyde.

To set things straight and for Dialogue to truly live up to its name, I issue to them the following challenge. Offer Rabbi Broyde the opportunity to respond in full. Not to just write a quick letter to the editor but a full response of similar length to the article written by Rabbis Weiner and Ifrah. Anything less than that will show that they are not really interested in dialogue at all. On the other hand if they do offer Rabbi Broyde that space, I actually believe that they will have a magazine that they – and perhaps all of us - can be proud of.