Tag: Ethics

After yet another Rabbinic colleague’s unrabbinic behavior makes headline news, the Jewish web once again finds itself flooded with indignation, recriminations, and general critiques of Orthodox Judaism – if not thinly veiled dissertations on the evils of religion and power. If the predictable pattern continues, in due time we will inevitably be about systemic changes which need to be made to revamp the entire religious society. This sound and fury of righteous indignation will produce little more than perpetuating already deeply held resentments, produce even less by way of substantive change, while mostly benefiting the loudest remaining survivors on the battle of the moral high ground.

I cannot speak for my Rabbinic colleagues, but each scandal (and subsequent backlash) is something I cannot help but take personally. I do not mean that I am in any way a victim, nor am I pleading for sympathy or understanding. It’s personal for me in the sense that I have spent much thought, time, energy, and effort into perfecting the craft of being a pulpit Rabbi. This comes from years of growing up in a Rabbinic household as well as a brief but intense tenure at The Stanton St. Shul. To this day I still engage with colleagues and mentors about issues and strategies, not because I have immediate expectations to return to the Rabbinate, but because I take personal pride in the professional pulpit.

With this in mind, my interest today is not to defend the Rabbinate, but to improve it. To do so I would like to revisit one of my greatest grievances of the professional Rabbiante, about which I even devoted a class years ago. Specifically, in my opinion one of the most unconscionable oversights in Rabbinic education is the complete lack of attention and concern for the halakhic ethics of Religious leadership.

Judaism

Current Jewish Questions

Current Jewish Questions

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Podcasts

Most people probably do not consider utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill to be any sort of an authority on Judaism. In fact, I doubt Mill himself would have considered himself to be such an expert. But I did find one passage of his which perfectly captures the state of discourse and debate in Orthodox Judaism.

The following paragraphs are from the beginning of Mill’s The Subjection of Women which I proudly bought for $6 at a Barnes and Noble moving sale. Mill’s basic argument is against the automatic social, economic, and political disadvantages imposed on women from birth. As an introduction to his argument, Mill explains the uphill battle he faces in challenging the widely accepted status quo. While his observations are generic enough to be applicable in many other areas (politics, business, academics etc), I’d like to put this in the context particularly in how Orthodox Jews engage matters of religion be it halakhic or theological, and perhaps recalling my own personal hashkafa series.

Note: Although I tried copying verbatim, I apologize for any spelling and punctuation errors. Because Mill has a tendency for run-on sentences, I bolded one particular segment for particular emphasis so as not to get lost in the paragraph.

Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava