Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pluralism and Rabbi Benjamin Hecht

I've linked before to some of the writings of Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, the founding director of Nishma, an adult study organization in Toronto. Rabbi Hecht is fervently Orthodox, from the Modern Orthodox wing of Judaism (as opposed to the Haredi, or Ultra-Orthodox). I've long been impressed with Rabbi Hecht's writings, in part because they're so learned and insightful, but also in part because he manages to balance his intense devotion to Halachic (legal, traditional) Judaism with a true open-mindedness - a desire to think clearly, no matter where those thoughts lead him, and a a desire to learn from many varied sources. He is a wonderful counter-argument to anyone who thinks that Orthodoxy is equivalent to close-mindedness.

Recently, he and I got into a small exchange in response to a blog posting of his, regarding what his movement of Judaism can learn from other movements (in this case, the Haredi). It's worth reading the short posting and the comments which follow, in part because it gives some interesting insight to the original issue in the posting, but moreso because the last entry of his (from May 16th) is an absolutely fantastic explanation of how one can be fervently Orthodox, but still rational, thoughtful and open-minded. Enjoy!


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