Saturday, May 15, 2021

While [email protected] (HDM) is too cowardly to include his name in his full page ad in last week’s edition of The Jewish Link, (“An Open Letter to My Modern Orthodox Rabbinical Leadership”) I will not hide behind anonymity with my response.

HDM not only vilifies the rabbis, but in one fell swoop has called into question the observance of every single person in the Modern Orthodox community receiving The Jewish Link and who read his screed.

Members of the Modern Orthodox community are blessed with the ability to make religious decisions for themselves, sometimes relying on leniencies but still within the confines of Halacha; we do not rely on roshei yeshiva or chassidish rebbes except when faced with extremely complex shailot. Because someone elects to swim on Shabbat, does not mean they are being mechalel Shabbat, as there are poskim who do permit swimming; women in the community who decide that they do not wish to cover their hair need only look to some of our rabbinic leaders whose wives did not cover their hair including the wife of the Rav, the founder of Modern Orthodoxy, and the wife of Rabbi Norman Lamm, the voice of Modern Orthodoxy.

I firmly believe that the actions the RCBC took at the very beginning of the corona pandemic quite literally saved lives! The protocols created by the RCBC, in consultation with Modern Orthodoxy’s preeminent poskim like Rabbi Hershel Schachter, became the protocols adopted by the OU and RCA for communities across the country and around the world. I also fervently believe that the rabbis’ quick and decisive actions not only fulfilled the communal obligation of “dina demal’chuta dina” but took the Halachic imperative of pikuach nefesh as seriously as it should be taken. People are alive today because of their painful, yet necessary, actions!

One needs only to drive to parts of Brooklyn and Rockland County to see the utter failures of the rabbinic leadership in these communities in the face of the corona pandemic. Members of these communities continued their religious lives as if a deadly virus simply did not exist. Even after dozens—hundreds—of deaths within these communities, their leadership still maintained that halachot like minyan attendance were sacrosanct, unfortunately to the detriment of their communities. And ours!

So while the rabbis of the RCBC may not force our Modern Orthodox community to fulfill every single Halachic mandate, recognizing that the Modern Orthodox community is not monolithic, their stance on protecting lives is simply unimpeachable. Perhaps HDM should consider moving to a community that values women not wearing pants or men learning for hours every day over the value of human life instead of insulting the rabbis whose very actions protected us, thereby insulting our entire Modern Orthodox community!

Ryan Hyman