Today’s Centrist Orthodox world–the world of Yeshiva University, the world that produces the overwhelming majority of the Modern Orthodox world’s rabbis and Torah teachers–would generally be comfortable with an academic approach to Jewish history. Normative Orthodoxy would reject historicizing the text of the Torah itself. And, in between, we have the hakhmei hamesora and the halakhic process. How we think about them, in what context we situate them, and whether we allow ourselves to think critically about them using the tools of modern scholarship is the unavoidable intellectual challenge for Torah U’Madda for the twenty-first century. We need people who are sufficiently well-versed in and committed to Torah to speak credibly in that realm, and sufficiently familiar with the current academic landscape to meaningfully bring those insights to bear. We need to believe that Torah U’Madda was not a limited-time offer that expired sometime in the last century, but that our understanding and appreciation of Torah can still be enhanced by bringing Madda to bear.
Rivka Press Schwartz, “What Are We So Afraid Of?: The Challenge of Torah U’Madda for Our Time”, Tacit Knowledge (5 January 2017) [https://rpschwartz.com/2017/01/05/what-are-we-so-afraid-of-the-challenge-of-torah-umadda-for-our-time]