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As its name suggests, Modern Orthodox Judaism explores the limits of Jewish law (halakha) in order to accommodate contemporary views.

Modern Orthodox Jews are far more open to maintaining relationships with non-Orthodox Jews, as well as the rest of the world. Contrary to most other Orthodox Jewish groups, Modern Orthodox Jews are more likely to embrace intellectual pursuits beyond traditional Jewish study of the Torah.

In the United States and most other Western countries, Modern Orthodox Judaism is represented by Centrist Orthodoxy based on considerations of the Torah and secular knowledge, a philosophy known as Torah Umadda. In Israel, it is dominated by largely reflected by Religious Zionism, an ideology that melds Orthodox Judaism and Zionism. The term refers to several movements representing a wide spectrum of related philosophies. While not one and the same, these movements share similar values and constituencies.

Modern Orthodox Jews strive to be full members of the modern world while avoiding sin in their personal lives, accepting that the benefits of being observant are worth the risks.

In Modern Orthodox Judaism, Jewish law is held to be binding, but interaction with modern society is considered beneficial. Modern Orthodox Jews are involved in community affairs, such as caring for the poor, attaching significance to being productive members of society while, at the same time, preserving the integrity of halakha.

Modern Orthodox Jews are typically Zionist in orientation, placing both religious and national significance in the nation of Israel.

In the past three or four decades, the political spectrum within Modern Orthodoxy has widened. Areas of difference include questions over the extent of cooperation with more liberal movements, the correct balance of religious and secular academic pursuits, the role of women in education and worship, and the appropriateness of modern textual criticism in the study of the Torah.

On the right side of the spectrum, Modern and Haredi Orthodoxy are similar, a trend that has been referred to as the haredization of Modern Orthodoxy.

Although they define themselves as centrist, Modern Orthodox institutions in the United States include the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

On the left end of the spectrum is the Open Orthodoxy, which places a greater emphasis on secular studies, global issues, and closer relationships with Jews from other movements. Women are taking on more leadership roles, and some members of this movement are engaged in social justice issues.

Some of those who identify themselves as Modern Orthodox Jews are behaviorally modern rather than ideologically modern, falling outside of Modern Orthodoxy in the philosophical sense. This trend is sometimes known as Social Orthodoxy. Ideologically Modern Orthodox Jews are meticulous in their observance of halakha, but Social Orthodox Jews are not so careful in their observance and are defined as Modern Orthodox only in the sense that they are neither Haredi or Conservative.

As you can see, Modern Orthodox Judaism can be stretched to accommodate highly differing views, from traditionalist to revisionist. Some elements of Modern Orthodoxy are receptive to messages that are generally identified as Haredi while at the other end of the scale there are those that are aligned with many of the traditions of Conservative Judaism.

Historically, Modern Orthodox Judaism is rooted in the teachings of Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and, more recently, with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. Other influences include Torah Umadda and, to a lesser extent, Religious Zionism.

Modern Orthodox Judaism is inclusive toward the society in general, and the larger Jewish community in particular. As compared to Haredi Judaism, Modern Orthodoxy is accommodating to modern living, secular scholarship, and science, although not necessarily welcoming. Modern Orthodox Judaism has an emphasis on Israel and on Zionism, particularly the religious significance of the land of Israel.

The Modern Orthodox and the Ultra-Orthodox regard halakha as divine in origin, although they differ somewhat in leniencies and strictures.

While Modern Orthodoxy aligns itself with Haredi Orthodoxy and Conservative Orthodoxy in some areas, it more clearly differs from the approaches of Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism, which do not consider halakha to be binding and settled.

The focus of this category is on the Jewish movement known as Modern Orthodox Judaism and any of its sects. Due to the lack of clearly defined lines, any group that claims an affiliation with the Modern Orthodox Judaism movement is appropriate for this category or any subcategories.



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