Why Aren’t Most Jews Orthodox?

Dear Orthodox intellectual:

Have you publicly addressed the primary reasons why most Jews are not Orthodox? If you haven’t, I’d love to see that. I’m curious if you think the biggest obstacle to non-Orthodox considering Orthodoxy is intellectual (most of the non-Orthodox thinkers I know regard Orthodoxy’s foundational claims as absurd, such as the unity of the Torah rather than being a post-mosaic composite work stitched together from many sources, the historicity of the Exodus, virtually everyone who’s studied the evidence has concluded that the Exodus did not occur as chronicled in the Torah, etc) or do you think the biggest obstacle is moral or do you think the biggest obstacle is inconvenience.

If the biggest obstacle is inconvenience, then Orthodoxy’s approach to the non-Orthodox makes sense, but if the primary reason is intellectual, then none of the great rabbis have addressed the problems that prevent thinking people from taking Orthodox Judaism seriously. Most of my peers can not take Orthodoxy seriously for the same reason they do not take seriously claims made for Superman, the Easter Bunny, Thor, etc.

History professor Marc B. Shapiro replies to my inquiry above: “I haven’t examined it, but I think the reasons are convenience, but also now ideological reasons. Many non-Orthodox Jews see the positions that Orthodoxy takes as immoral. E.g., when it comes to issues like gay marriage. For the non-Orthodox, this is a human rights issue, and Orthodoxy is on the wrong side of history (the women’s issue is also relevant in this regard). So the non-Orthodox are turned off by the difficulty of Orthodoxy, the expense, and what they regard as the moral failings of Orthodoxy. The intellectual issues are minor if at all.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). 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 (Alexander90210.com).
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