In the New York Times, David Brooks praises the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn as people who put the collective ahead of the individual, and are therefore the future. “I notice how incredibly self-confident they are,” he says. “Once dismissed as relics, they now feel that they are the future.”
This sales job requires disguising the fact that the “external moral order” that he so admires in the Orthodox bars intermarriage– under the kind of ethnic commandment that when espoused by political candidates has rightly disqualified them from public service in the U.S. The word “covenant” in Brooks’s homily entails no intermarriage:
But there are still obligations that precede choice. For example, a young person in mainstream America can choose to marry or not. In Orthodox society, young adults have an obligation to marry and perpetuate the covenant and it is a source of deep sadness when they cannot.
“Marriage is about love, but it is not first and foremost about love,” Soloveichik says. “First and foremost, marriage is about continuity and transmission.”
The modern Orthodox are rooted in that deeper sense of collective purpose.
I have to believe that Brooks’s praise is connected to his fears surrounding the delegitimization of the Jewish state because its laws are based on the idea of preserving a collective by privileging it over other groups. Israel is a place Brooks has visited a dozen times, and that makes him “gooey-eyed.”
Happily, Brooks is getting drubbed in the Comments. Jack Chicago:
I come from an Orthodox background and live a connected reasonably happy, and I would like to think contributing life. I make my connections and fulfill moral and communal obligations that I have deliberated about and choose to take on. I am a convinced atheist and find all deisms and similar religious practices delusional, limiting and foolish. I reject utterly that the community you describe represent the future. The only reason that you can romanticize this “counterculture” is because they are in a minority here.
I am a female Reform rabbi, who is also a Reform convert. I am not accepted as a Jew, far less a rabbi by the Orthodox. Their laws might make them more comfortable, but as a female, I would find them repressive. I would not be able to study Torah or Talmud with males, and would not be able to even sit in the synagogue with my husband or sons.