Let’s just look at the parts of halacha which are clearly Rabbinical Judaism leaving aside the more Biblical parts. Of course to a Chareidi there is no difference because to him all of the Torah She beal Peh comes straight from Sinai. However most intelligent people realize that the TSBP is just the Rabbinical interpretation (a very liberal interpretation) of Biblical law. (See my summary of TSBP) Surely most Modern Orthodox people realize this in which case it’s about time they start changing the obsolete bits. I have to assume that either they’re too scared that they’ll lose credibility to the crazies in the black hats, or that they really don’t understand that there is no religious reason to hold onto obsolete halachot and keeping them is just a pain to everyone.
What obsolete halachot?
- We spend half of our prayers on praying for a Temple that no one really wants. We spend a whole fast day praying for the rebuilding of a city that was rebuilt centuries ago.
- We won’t drink wine touched by a non-Jew because he might have made it into a libation for an idol (or to stop social interaction with non-Jews which is equally stupid because you’re not chumming up with the guy who manufactures your wine) We won’t eat food cooked by a non-Jew for similar reasons.
- We won’t let women become Rabbis or learn Gemara (depending how RW) because the people who wrote our law books were sexist (as was everyone back then).
- We don’t eat fish with meat because of some superstition of the Talmud. We do metziza b’peh because the Gemara thought it had a therapeutic effect.
- We’re not supposed to take medicine on Shabbat because back in the day they used to crush up spices for medicinal purposes.
- We won’t eat kitniyot on Pesach because ….
And that’s just off the top of my head. Now I know some elements of Orthodoxy have tried to reform (or just ignore) some of the above but for the most part we’re stuck with a lot of this rubbish.
Keeping halacha is hard enough as it is but not ridding ourselves of useless debris left behind by time just makes things impossible. What kind of law code can only become stricter but never become more lenient? What kind of law code doesn’t change to fit the times? Rabbinical Judaism was originally an attempt to reform Biblical law, it has totally lost focus. Keeping these things does no one any good.
There are essentially two ways to make excuses for this desperately annoying intransigence:
1.Chazal were supermen and who are we to change what they set down as halacha (I don’t even need to respond to that)
2.There was an agreement from all of Klal Yisrael to accept the Talmud as unchanging law
2 is all well and good except that there is zero record of some sort of decision to officially accept the Talmud but even if we say it’s a tacit agreement all it takes is a little and I mean just a little bit of common sense to realize that Chazal if they could see us today would probably be laughing. Because Chazal were not intransigent they liked to innovate and reinterpret. If they had been as conservative as the Orthodoxy nowadays we would still be knocking people’s eyes out as a punishment.
Once again the Charedi denies there was ever any change in halacha but a well educated MO Rabbi? Does he really not realize that Rabbinical Judaism was originally all about innovation and that it is not something handed down from Sinai but rather a way to adapt Biblical law to changing circumstances?
What is the difference between Conservative Judaism and MO Judaism? It’s that Conservative Judaism had the cajones to say “we’re going to set up a council of Rabbis to keep Rabbinical Judaism in touch with the changing times.” Oh how terrible of them they want to keep Rabbinical Judaism up with the times what kofrim and minnim and bla bla bla
Modern Orthodoxy has to realize that it’s not weakness to try to bring halacha up to date.