223 episodes

The Orthodox Conundrum is a forum in which we look honestly at the Orthodox Jewish community, identifying what works well and what does not, so that, through an honest accounting, we can find solutions that will be successful. We will examine some of the major issues that affect the Orthodox world, without exaggeration, whitewashing, or pretending that they don’t exist. Our hope is that the Orthodox Conundrum will spark wider discussion that will enable Orthodox Judaism to continue moving forward in the areas at which it excels, and to rectify the areas that need improvement.

Orthodox Conundrum Scott Kahn

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.7 • 167 Ratings

The Orthodox Conundrum is a forum in which we look honestly at the Orthodox Jewish community, identifying what works well and what does not, so that, through an honest accounting, we can find solutions that will be successful. We will examine some of the major issues that affect the Orthodox world, without exaggeration, whitewashing, or pretending that they don’t exist. Our hope is that the Orthodox Conundrum will spark wider discussion that will enable Orthodox Judaism to continue moving forward in the areas at which it excels, and to rectify the areas that need improvement.

    Tzniut, Integrity, and Leadership: Reframing the Concept of Tzniut, with Rabbi Moshe Simkovich (205)

    Tzniut, Integrity, and Leadership: Reframing the Concept of Tzniut, with Rabbi Moshe Simkovich (205)

    Any discussion surrounding tzniut (loosely - and, perhaps incorrectly - translated as “modesty") is inevitably fraught with challenges and difficulty. Indeed, there are few topics in Orthodoxy that are as triggering to so many people.
    Rabbi Moshe Simkovich offers a traditional yet unique approach to tzniut, and he attempts to redefine the concept altogether, moving it further away from quantitative questions about dress and sexuality, and towards a vision that, he says, is more in line with what the word means in Tanach and according to Chazal. In this episode, he explains his innovative approach. Scott and Rabbi Simkovich deliberately kept the discussion away from the typical conversation surrounding tzniut, and instead talked about how it applies to other areas - particularly to questions surrounding leadership. Apart from helping to reframe the definition of tzniut, this also allowed them to analyze why tzniut is an important quality for leaders, how it is potentially manifest in leadership, examples and counterexamples of such leadership, ways to inculcate this quality, why humble leadership is not the same as tzanua leadership, and some clues about how to determine if a potential leader possesses the characteristic of tzniut. When all is said and done, using leadership as an example of tzniut allows all of us to better understand how it can and should be implemented in areas like sexuality and dress, as well.
    Check out the Orthodox Conundrum Commentary on Substack and get your free subscription by going to https://scottkahn.substack.com/. To read Scott's reflections on his father's life, click here. 
    Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
    Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more - we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
    Check out https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/ for the Orthodox Conundrum and other great podcasts, and remember to subscribe to them on your favorite podcast provider. Also visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
    Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Shattering a Religious Monopoly Versus Ideological Conformity: The Challenges Facing Religious Zionism Today (204)

    Shattering a Religious Monopoly Versus Ideological Conformity: The Challenges Facing Religious Zionism Today (204)

    In his classic work Kol Dodi Dofek, Rav Soloveitchik asserts that God’s gift of the State of Israel demands a response. God wants a dialogue where we answer his generosity by using His gifts to make Him present in the world. The major challenge for Religious Zionism, then, is to decide, as best as we can, what that response should be. Does it mean settling every square kilometer of the Land? Does it mean creating a medinah l’mofet, an exemplary society in every way possible?
    Discovering what this challenge is - and then meeting it - is our responsibility today.
    That challenge, in fact, is what informs today’s podcast with Yair Ettinger. Yair is a well-known Israeli journalist who has real expertise in the questions and issues surrounding the Religious Zionist world. Scott and Yair delved into the interesting dichotomy that much of the Religious Zionist community in Israel is largely becoming much more open and less reliant upon standard rabbinic authority in its religious practice, while simultaneously becoming more narrowly right wing politically. They also talked about the National Religious political parties today, and whether they authentically represent the bulk of the Religious Zionist population. They looked at the cracks that are appearing in some of the classic Religious Zionist institutions, and the apparent weakening of certain spiritual monopolies that exist. It was a very informative interview, and it offers some important insights into the future of Religious Zionism in the State of Israel.
    Check out the Orthodox Conundrum Commentary on Substack and get your free subscription by going to https://scottkahn.substack.com/. To read Scott's reflections on his father's life, click here. 
    Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
    Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more - we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
    Check out https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/ for the Orthodox Conundrum and other great podcasts, and remember to subscribe to them on your favorite podcast provider. Also visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
    Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Remembering My Dad (203)

    Remembering My Dad (203)

    It’s the little things that hit hardest. The big moments when I expect to be emotional have generally felt unremarkable; I seem to have experienced them with relative ease. The surprises come when I’m taking a walk, talking about a silly childhood memory, or seeing an old friend. Above all, I’ve learned that my emotions are often hidden - from myself as well as from others - and then I think that I’m done having feelings. But I repeatedly learn that they lie barely below the surface, ready to emerge when I least expect them.
    This is not typical episode. Today I'm going to talk about my dad, and what life has been like since he died of pancreatic cancer three and a half weeks ago.
    I hope that it's meaningful for you, just as it was for me.
    Check out the Orthodox Conundrum Commentary on Substack and get your free subscription by going to https://scottkahn.substack.com/. To read Scott's reflections on his father's life, click here. 
    Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
    Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more - we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
    Check out https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/ for the Orthodox Conundrum and other great podcasts, and remember to subscribe to them on your favorite podcast provider. Also visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
    Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com

    • 36 min
    The Dangers of a Living Prophetic Judaism: Rabbi Yosef Blau Responds to Rabbi Alex Israel (BONUS EPISODE)

    The Dangers of a Living Prophetic Judaism: Rabbi Yosef Blau Responds to Rabbi Alex Israel (BONUS EPISODE)

    In episode 201, Rabbi Alex Israel, citing Rav Kook, asked whether nowadays we need to add a greater prophetic element to Judaism, alongside our continued commitment to halacha. Perhaps today we need a new infusion of prophecy - both in terms of its spiritual content, as well as through a renewed emphasis on Torah values that may sometimes be lost in standard halachic discourse.
    In that episode, Rabbi Israel and Scott talked about the sad reality that some people feel that halacha alone does not satisfy their spiritual thirst, and they discussed the issue of potentially losing the forest of Torah values for the trees of the myriad details of Jewish law. How, in other words, shall we combine the necessity of including a living prophetic agenda within our commitment to fulfilling the details of halachic practice?
    Rabbi Yosef Blau, the senior mashgiach ruchani at Yeshiva University, commented that while he greatly respected Rabbi Israel’s approach, he felt that there are some important caveats that need to be added to the discussion. With that in mind, Scott invited him back to the podcast to voice his specific concerns. They spoke about potential problems in the search for spirituality, the dangers of treating rabbis like prophets, and the difficulty in emphasizing Torah values and the fear that they can replace Jewish law. They also spoke extensively about the State of Israel and its current war against Hamas, including whether Israel is living up to its own stated goals of being a medinah l’mofet - that is, the world’s exemplary nation. Rabbi Blau mentioned a major flaw in secular Zionism, and asked whether Religious Zionism as a movement has at times deemphasized what it considers "Western" morality in the service of other Torah values that it holds in higher regard. It was an important conversation, and whether you agree or disagree with Rabbi Blau, you will undoubtedly find his ideas both engaging and important.
    Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
    Check out the Orthodox Conundrum Commentary on Substack and get your free subscription by going to https://scottkahn.substack.com/.
    Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more - we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
    Check out https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/ for the Orthodox Conundrum and other great podcasts, and remember to subscribe to them on your favorite podcast provider. Also visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
    Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com

    • 46 min
    How Much of the Exodus Story is Historical - and Does It Actually Matter? A Conversation with Rabbi Dr. Raphael Zarum (202)

    How Much of the Exodus Story is Historical - and Does It Actually Matter? A Conversation with Rabbi Dr. Raphael Zarum (202)

    Did the Exodus from Egypt happen exactly as the Torah describes?
    How should we contend with archeological evidence that seems to indicate that certain aspects of the Torah's narrative don't make sense?
    And, for that matter, how can we contend with similar questions that surround other historical Biblical narratives?
    Rabbi Dr. Raphael Zarum, Dean of the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS) and the Rabbi Sacks Chair of Modern Jewish Thought, addresses these and other pressing questions in this special pre-Pesach episode of the Orthodox Conundrum. Listen in so that you can renew your understanding of Yetziat Mitzrayim with greater depth and profundity.
    To order Rabbi Zarum's book, Questioning Belief: Torah and Tradition in an Age of Doubt, click here.
    Check out the Orthodox Conundrum Commentary on Substack and get your free subscription by going to https://scottkahn.substack.com/. To read Scott's reflections on his father's life, click here. 
    Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
    Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more - we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
    Check out https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/ for the Orthodox Conundrum and other great podcasts, and remember to subscribe to them on your favorite podcast provider. Also visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
    Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Creating a Living Prophetic Judaism for the 21st Century, with Rabbi Alex Israel (201)

    Creating a Living Prophetic Judaism for the 21st Century, with Rabbi Alex Israel (201)

    For over two millennia, the Jewish People has lived in a world largely defined by Jewish law, or halacha. While the Tanach is filled with what might be called prophetic Judaism - a Judaism, that is, which is dominated by those who spoke in the name of God - the Judaism that emerged during the era of the Second Temple and thereafter placed a greater emphasis on the minutiae of halachic practice and the intense study of Torah.
    This halachic Judaism has been a massive success, and has kept the Jewish people alive for the duration of our long exile. For that entire time, Jews have successfully come into contact with the presence of God through their observance of Jewish law.
    The question, though, is whether in 2024 we need to add more of the prophetic element alongside our continued commitment to halacha. Perhaps today we need a new infusion of prophecy - both in terms of its spiritual content, as well as through a renewed emphasis on Torah values that may sometimes be lost in standard halachic discourse.
    Rav Kook entertained this possibility a hundred years ago, and Rabbi Alex Israel presented the potential for a new prophetic Judaism in today’s episode. Rabbi Israel and Scott talked about the sad reality that some people feel that halacha alone does not satisfy their spiritual thirst, and also discussed the problem of potentially losing the forest of Torah values for the trees of the myriad details of Jewish law. They acknowledged that there are some who are simply turned off by halacha’s extreme attention to detail, as well as by the need to rely upon authority in order to fulfill it successfully. Ultimately, the puzzle is how Orthodox Jews can maintain and further halacha, while simultaneously enriching Judaism with greater spirituality and a heightened sense of morality, ethics, and kindness - all of which, ideally, should emerge from within Jewish law. How shall we combine the necessity of including a living prophetic agenda within our commitment to fulfilling the details of halachic practice?
    Please listen to and share this podcast, and let us know what you think on the Orthodox Conundrum Discussion Group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/432020081498108).
    Check out the Orthodox Conundrum Commentary on Substack and get your free subscription by going to https://scottkahn.substack.com/.
    Thanks to all of our Patreon subscribers, who have access to bonus JCH podcasts, merch, and more - we appreciate your help, and hope you really enjoy the extras! Visit the JCH Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/jewishcoffeehouse.
    Check out https://jewishcoffeehouse.com/ for the Orthodox Conundrum and other great podcasts, and remember to subscribe to them on your favorite podcast provider. Also visit https://www.jchpodcasts.com/ to learn all about creating your own podcast.
    Music: "Happy Rock" by bensound.com

    • 1 hr 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
167 Ratings

167 Ratings

MarkTheMovieNut ,

Very valuable show

Loved the latest episode - I learned so much

hudaz123 ,

Very interesting: discusses very important topics in a clear way

All view are welcome and analyzed. This podcast must be heard by some of the more close-minded people.
Love the show, thanks!!

ANicki ,

Podcast with Avital

Insightful podcast about current antisemitism in colleges in US and in general.

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