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    Orthodoxy – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. We hear so much about Open Orthodoxy, Modern Orthodoxy and Ultra-Orthodoxy. Who invented the term “Orthodoxy”?

    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

    A. It was Abraham Furtado, at the time of the “Sanhedrin” assembled by Napoleon in the early 19th century.

    It is not a good term (Leo Jung preferred “Torah-true”).

    Literally it means “right thinking”, but it is associated not so much with Jewish philosophy but Jewish practice.

    Orthodoxy believes in God and His will but it is not measured so much in theological terms but by virtue of its commitment to the commandments of the Torah.

    The different styles of Orthodoxy arise out of varying views as to how far Orthodoxy can accommodate modernity.

    It is not a question of whether Orthodox Jews can use modern technology (they do) but whether one can live in two worlds, whether one can interweave Jewish principles with modern thinking or would rather withdraw from “outside” mores and retreat into a spiritual cocoon.

    Modern Orthodoxy (which is my preference) believes that you can participate in the culture, civilisation and ethos of the modern age, so long as you have a sense of discrimination and know where to draw red lines.

    Samson Raphael Hirsch believed that the real issue was whether a Jew judged Judaism by the standards of modernity – or modernity by the standards of Judaism.

    He was alarmed by the non-Orthodoxy which gives halachah (Jewish law) “a vote but not a veto”.

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