The Rules of Progress
by S. M. Hutchens
A New York Times article speaks of the blacklisting by Israel's Chief Rabbinate of an American Orthodox rabbi who advocates "a more open and inclusive Orthodoxy," and to that end favors abortion, ordains women, and supports gay marriage. He also claims he believes the Torah to be the Word of God and fully binding.
One knows the type. He is the person who claims to be a follower of a coherent tradition, but for reasons of his own reserves for himself the privilege of opposing it whenever it suits him. (Sworn, for example, to uphold the U.S. Constitution, he conveniently finds it, whenever necessary, to be a "living document.") Externally viewed, he looks less like a variation within the tradition than a transitional character who is by degrees moving into what opposes it, but will not forthrightly admit any transgression. He is "progressing," not abrogating.
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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