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Category:Jewish Diversity/Relating to the Non-Orthodox
Title:Tradition and the Nontraditional Jew
Author:Rabbi Dr JJ Schacter
Publisher or Source:Jason Aronson, 1992
Synopsis: From the Publisher One of the central problems facing the contemporary American Jewish community is the progressive deterioration of the relationship between Jews who identify with the various denominations within Judaism. Orthodox Jews, in particular, face a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, they are committed to the notion that the halakhah (Jewish law) is normative and binding not only for themselves but for all Jews. They believe that it is God's will that every member of k'lal Yisrael (the community of Israel) observe Jewish law as presented in the Bible and the Talmud, as codified by the Shulhan Arukh, and as applied to contemporary times by authoritative religious decisors or posekim. No deviation from this fundamental commitment on either ideological or practical grounds can be tolerated, they claim, for it would undermine and deny the very essence of a divinely revealed Judaism. Yet, many contemporary Orthodox Jews find it difficult to accept the practical implications of this position. The classic manner of dealing with an apikorus - the nonbeliever or skeptic ("one is required to actively destroy them and to bring them down to the nethermost pit") - and the obligation to hate the wicked feel harsh to many who are unprepared to adopt such a policy toward neighbors, co-workers, and, often, close relatives. But the issue goes beyond mere sentiment. Strong arguments are also made on purely halakhic grounds against the stricter, more extreme position. Indeed, while some continue to argue that halakhah today mandates hating other Jews, others find such a conclusion to be indefensible and untenable. This volume seeks to address this issue from the perspectives of Jewish history, Jewish law, and Jewish thought (hashkafah). The contributors to this volume were participants in the Orthodox Forum, an annual gathering of scholars who meet to consider major issues of concern to the Jewish community.
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