Rabbi Lamm Responds

I haven’t posted here about Noah Feldman’s article, as many people have. (Ezzie did a good round up, as well as his own thoughts here and here.)  I just felt that I couldn’t really say anything new.

Anyway, if you’re interested, read this open letter (Forward.com) to Feldman from Rabbi Norman Lamm.  His tone is more disappointed sadness than anger, and it comes across poignantly.

“But all of us experience poignant anguish when a brilliant and once fully committed son of our people, who earnestly believes he is not rejecting his upbringing, effectively does just that in justifying his transgression and holding us up to ridicule.”

Here’s why I think Rabbi Lamm’s response is so wonderful.  Aside from being exceptionally written in an even and measured responsive tone (one that would make it incumbent on Feldman to respond to, if he had any semblance of credibility – which, it turns out, he doesn’t), you really get the feeling that Feldman’s attack on Modern Orthodoxy stung Rabbi Lamm in a deeply personal way.  As if his attack on the philosophy was a direct attack on the champion of that philosophy, and it certainly was.  Rabbi Lamm had no choice but to respond.  His eloquent and brilliant response was perfect.  There’s no anger; no vitriol.  There’s sadness, disappointment and pointed rebuke.

“But you took the easy way out, and thereby succeeded in holding up the Torah, the Talmud, the rabbis and especially Modern Orthodox Judaism to public ridicule, making the whole Talmudic enterprise look bigoted and racist. […] You made a trenchant point and, by the way, you succeeded in supplying […] enough anti-Jewish material to last a good few years — as antisemites have been spewing this sanctimonious poison for centuries.”

Though it is written from one academian to another, it resonates on a personal and philosophical level.  It’s as though Rabbi Lamm is saying “you should have known better.”  And Feldman should have.

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2 responses to “Rabbi Lamm Responds

  1. Well put and thanks.

  2. As usual Rabbi Lamm is eloquent and right on the money.

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