Religion & Beliefs

The Notorious R.A.V. and the Power of Rejection

I’m excited to note that long time FaithHacker commentator ravads has started his own blog, and it kicks ass. The Norotious R.A.V. has a fascinating post about the after-effects of being on the receiving end of institutional rejection by some … Read More

By / December 30, 2007

I’m excited to note that long time FaithHacker commentator ravads has started his own blog, and it kicks ass. The Norotious R.A.V. has a fascinating post about the after-effects of being on the receiving end of institutional rejection by some kind of rabbinical organization. He talks about everyone from Rabbi Joshua in the Talmud, to rabbis who burned some of Maimonides’ work in Paris, to Mordecai Kaplan, and how being rejected can really free a rabbi in a lot of ways, and allow them to be as radical and free thinking as they want to be. The focus of the article is on Avi Weiss, founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and how his forward thinking modern Orthodox yeshiva has seen a lot of negative press, including a pretty rude response from the National Council of Young Israel. The Notorious R.A.V. thinks this negativity and rejection will be freeing in a lot of ways, and will allow Rabbi Weiss to continue with his important work. To a degree, I agree. I definitely think that a rejection from NCYI can be seen as nothing less than a step in the right direction (more on NCYI on Tuesday), and I hope that Rabbi Weiss will continue breaking conventions and ordaining open-minded and well-educated rabbis. But honestly, I’m embarrassed for Rabbi Weiss that he even put forward an application for ordainees from YCT to be members of NCYI. And every time someone tells me that YCT is really wonderful and liberal, and they even considered ordaining women, and they even have women in the beit midrash– I want to throw something. Almost doing something gets you no points in my book. Having women in a beit midrash but not giving them smicha is an insult. Though I agree that sometimes rejection leads to freedom on the part of the rejectee, I think that’s kind of a cop out. Especially in the Orthodox movement we need people who aren’t afraid of what everyone else thinks. We need people who are so confident in their take on whatever halachic stand is at stake that they don’t check around to see if other people agree. We need people who couldn’t give a rat’s ass what some other movement does because they have their own convictions and that’s what’s driving them. I know it’s easy to say this, and much harder to practice this way, but when someone stands up and says, “I know this is unpopular, but this is what we are going to do because I think it’s right,” it gets me all fired up in a way that getting a Dear John letter never will.