Dual loyalties: the modern Orthodox dilemma
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Dual loyalties: the modern Orthodox dilemma book
The modern Orthodox or dati leumi (lit. national religious) are characterised by a search to synthesise between the Torah and the modern worlds, or between modernity and Orthodoxy. By contrast to the Haredi separatist approach, the modern Orthodox seeks to reach a synthesis, or compromise, between the two worlds. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (2009), 12 per cent of Israel’s Jewish population deﬁned themselves in 2009 as ‘modern religious’ (as distinct from another 8 per cent who deﬁned themselves as Haredi). Among the questions facing the community are Judaism’s view on freedom of expression in mass media and art, and the right to know. For example, some rabbis within the dati leumi community have not issued legal rulings limiting the Jew’s exposure to modern media – reﬂecting an intellectual commitment to the search for a synthesis. A stricter sub-stream of the community, the ‘hardal’ or ‘Haredi leumi’, is a combination of a Haredi separatist view towards modern culture but a nationalist or ‘leumi’ view towards nationalism and the Zionist state. The hardal contrasts with the Haredi view which does not embrace the nationalist Zionist verve but shares a common view of the need to control the exposure of the community or wider world, including to the media and arts. In one sense, the modern religious-hardal divide raises the question of
whether Judaism is a code of moral teachings on a limited number of subjects (known as the 613 positive or negative commands), beyond which Judaism has nothing to say and the individual is free to act according to his wisdom and moral conscience or whether Judaism is an all-embracing rule of life. If the latter, it is incumbent upon the modern Orthodox Jew to reconcile the two worlds. There is a seemingly endless Hegelian-type struggle between loyalty to Judaism and to the modern world of science with the mid-point thesis moving in one or other direction.