Different Perspectives


Gary Rosenblatt ends his column, “‘Huge’ Moment For Advocates Of Orthodox Women Rabbis” (Oct. 13) with a quote from Jonathan Sarna stating, “the issue of women has long been a lightning rod” in Jewish life, and it has become “the decisive issue in America today.”

I would submit that the decisive issue today in American Jewish Orthodox life is not women but rather the more basic issue of how does Orthodoxy reconcile Western liberal society’s primary focus on individual autonomy with the traditional Orthodox Jewish primary focus on the obligations of the individual to the community.

I highly recommend reading Jonathan Haidt’s book, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.” Those whose strong sympathies lean towards women Orthodox “rabbis” may well be basing their judgments on the liberal notion that caring and fairness are the most important moral receptors. While Orthodox Judaism recognizes those priorities, they don’t automatically outweigh, and more often are subservient to, the other three moral receptors identified by Jonathan Haidt: loyalty, authority and sanctity.

West Orange, N.J.