The Modern Orthodox – Haredi Split

Marc B. Shapiro writes: In Europe, every small town had a rav. Sometimes the rav was an adherent of Agudah, and other times a follower of Mizrachi. But as far as the townspeople were concerned, that didn’t matter. He was the rav and if there were halakhic questions in the town he was the one to decide them. If you were an Agudist and the rav was a Mizrachi man, when you had a halakhic question you would go to your rav. The politics of the Jewish world did not interfere when it came to halakhah. Furthermore, the various Agudat Rabbanim in Europe (and also in the U.S.) welcomed all rabbis, regardless of where one stood in the Agudah-Mizrachi dispute. In the post-World War II world, however, the haredi world has entirely changed all this and rewrote the rules. They were able to convince their followers that unless a rav follows the haredi Daas Torah he is not a reliable rav, and therefore he should not be consulted on halakhic matters. In other words, the halakhic competence of a rav was made dependant on his political outlook. This is a complete break with Jewish tradition, as it existed in Europe. While some might regard this development as simply another example of haredi “shtick”, I think it is more significant as it illustrates once again that haredi Judaism can be just as modern and revolutionary as that which it sees itself as fighting against

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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