Rejoinder: Synthesis and the Unification of Human Existence

This essay, a response to an article suggesting the appropriateness of an Orthodox Jew vacationing at Club Med, deals with fundamental issues for Modern Orthodox Jews such as the usage of leisure time and the nature of synthesis with broader culture. Rabbi Carmy argues that a life should strive to tell a "unified story," in which the various parts of a personís life cohere with his or her principles and ideals. This means that the desire to serve God should extend beyond the fulfillment of rigidly defined halakhic duties and also encompass the "imperfect duties" that lack specific directives. These "imperfect duties" will be acutely manifest in how a person chooses to spend justified vacation time. Additionally, the essay emphasizes that serious Modern Orthodoxy must make discerning judgments about which aspects of Western culture to embrace. From this more discerning perspective, leisure "is taken as a situation to be confronted and redeemed, rather than as a norm to which the Torah is to be adapted."

Click here to read the essay (PDF 1.75MB).

Tradition (Fall 1985): 37-51. (© Rabbinical Council of America, with permission.)

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