Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Cardinals and the Dialogue Question (corrected)

Simcha and the Town Crier have rather bland summary of opinion pieces on the visit of the Cardinals to the YU Bais Medrash. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder has a rather sane editorial in YC's newspaper, the Commentator, about the visit. He is essentially correct that the trip was rather uneventful and unavoidable, but he fundamentally misunderstands the Rabbi Soloveitchik's Confrontation (which is not surprising, given his tendency to speak about any issue about which he is asked whether or not he has knowledge of the subject). Although previously I wrote that the trip was a sea change in Orthodox dialogue, this trip had little to do with YU.

YU has basically declined over the past twenty years to be including in the public discourse. As religion has gained a distinct voice in the marketplace of ideas, the leadership of YU could have chosen to take a lead in establishing itself as an articulate, sane, and traditionally rooted voice. The downside would mean exposing itself to the public eye and suffering when exposed (ala Rabbi Dani Stein's recent article). It would also have required a certain interest in affecting public discourse, as opposed to churning out Modern Orthodox Baalhabatim and Rabbis, which is what it has, in fact, been doing.

Now Israel Singer and the World Jewish Congress seeking to become the leaders of the Organized Jewish Community, have taken control of the Christian Jewish dialogue and will be running things in the forseeable future, including Orthodox Jewish/Catholic dialogue. Next time, the Cardinal's trip will not include a visit through the YU Bais Medrash. It's causing too much flack. Next time, they will stick to Chabad/770 and Bobov. YU will continue to be a big player in Modern Orthodoxy, a bit player in the Organized Jewish Community, and absent from the larger American stage. Which is fine, because this allows it's Roshei Yeshiva to say and write what they want, and to maintain its mediocre status.

Of course an obvious implication of Rabbi Wieder's article could be that he fundamentally disagrees with the Rav zt"l's position. Religions can understand each other (which I personally believe). But dialogue is imprudent because it will encourage us to reconcile and force us to change our beliefs or practices. Which is counter to the Rav's fundamental proposition. And that makes him the most radical of all.

Last question: Since Protocols is fundamentally attached to the WJC, should they offer disclaimers anytime either interfaith dialogue or the WJC is discussed?

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