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What does it mean to be orthodox?

Question:

I don’t mean to be vague or disrespectful. There is a strong movement of “modern orthodoxy” now. It is an aveirah to speak loshon haro, as it is an aveirah to dress immodestly and not keep kosher. What defines a person as Orthodox. Which commandments, it seems everyone is picking and choosing. It seems orthodox is now determined by if you keep shabbos and even then some people have different ways of doing so. I really don’t know what it means anymore. There is no need to post question. It really is just for me. It seems what used to be not acceptable is, and if you are rich, or famous, more so.

 

Answer:

You are asking an important question, and it is evident merely from the fact that you are asking, that you are a conscientious person, and you want to do what is correct. To put it in a nutshell, the difference between “modern orthodoxy” and “mainstream orthodoxy” and the Yeshiva world, is that modern orthodoxy places the modern before the orthodoxy. They want to be orthodox but more so, they want to be modern, and live a more secular life, together with being orthodox. The problem with this is what happens when Jewish law interferes with the modern desire for pleasure, money, enjoyment? Unfortunately the modern overtakes the orthodoxy, and people decide (conveniently) that it is either permitted, or that we don’t have to do these mitzvos.

Mainstream orthodoxy on the other hand takes a very different approach. To them the orthodoxy part is paramount in importance, and while they do need to make a living, and as most other people want to enjoy themselves, the halacha remains paramount. Yes orthodox people also have desires, and a yetzer hora, they were not born angels. They have their struggles, and they also make mistakes. The difference is that they don’t say that it isn’t important, or that we will choose what parts of Judaism we will decide to keep, rather they will agree that what was done was incorrect. For example, orthodox Jews know that we should speak lashon hora, however in the flow of business and life we can forget ourselves, but we won’t say, “I choose not to keep this mitzva”.

I hope this clarifies your question.

If you have any other question feel free to reach out to us.

Best wishes

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