Op-ed

Ani Maamin: 13 Principles of Faith that Make Us Modern Orthodox

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February 21, 2021

Federated Rabbis of Uncertain Modernity (FRUM)

Federated Rabbis of Uncertain Modernity (FRUM)

Ani Maamin: 13 Principles of Faith that Make Us Modern Orthodox

Pxhere, adapted

In recent years, our Modern Orthodox communities have fallen prey to a dangerous misconception about the approach of Torah u-Madda—that it should extend ח"ו to modern academic scholarship of the Torah and Judaism. Make no mistake: Torah and Yiddishkeit cannot be subjected to scientific or academic scrutiny. To combat this scourge of disinformation, we the Federated Rabbis of Uncertain Modernity (FRUM) present Thirteen Principles of Faith which all Modern Orthodox believers must publicly affirm and accept:

1. Creation

The universe was created in 7 days, as described in Genesis. —These are not really days, of course, since the world is billions of years old. Nor is it creation exactly, but we still believe it to be true.

2. Adam the First

The first human being was Adam, who was created from the dust of the earth. —We accept modern science, however, so this can only refer to Adam II. Adam I evolved from primates.

3. Eve and Gender Equality

The first woman was created from the man’s rib to be his helper. —Women and men are equal, of course, though not in shul. A woman can be POTUS and SCOTUS, just not a mara de’asrah.

4. The Flood

God flooded the whole world, saving Noah and the animals on the ark. —Although the reality of ecosystems on multiple continents contradicts this story, it is written with a chiastic structure, so we must believe it.

5. Chosen People

God chose the Jews as his special people. —Every human being deserves a relationship with the Divine. But since the nations rejected the Torah when God first offered it to them, it is their fault that God prefers Jews.

6. Exodus

God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt with great miracles. —Historians cannot find any evidence for this in the Egyptian record, but the strategic use of beautiful images of pharaohs and tombs in a commentary can make up for that.

7. Shabbat

The penalty for breaking Shabbos is stoning. —At the same time, we believe in freedom of religion, so people who do not wish to keep Shabbos can choose not to be executed.

8. Torah mi-Sinai

God gave Israel the Torah at Sinai, which included both the written and oral Torahs. —It is halakhically permissible to study the development of the oral Torah over time; even the written Torah can be studied academically, as long as you stick to literary readings and Second Temple texts like Jubilees or the Dead Sea Scrolls.

9. Wiping out Amalek

Every year we must remember the requirement to slaughter every Amalekite, man, woman, and child. —Genocide, however, is always immoral.

10. Israel

God gave the land of Israel to the Jews and told us to remove the native Canaanites. —We of course respect all indigenous peoples, as all are God’s children.

11. Mashiach

We pray every day for the coming of the messiah, the future ideal Davidic king. —Other than that, we believe in representative democracy.

12. Sacrifices and the Third Temple

God commands animal sacrifices that will return when the Third Temple is built. — We respect our vegetarian and vegan members, and prefer prayer to sacrifice. God willing, the messiah will continue tarrying and we can keep paying heartfelt lip service to sacrifices, as the verse says: וּנְשַׁלְּמָה פָרִים שְׂפָתֵינוּ, “Instead of bulls we will pay [the offering of] our lips” (Hosea 14:3).

13. Resurrection of the Dead

In the future, the righteous will all be bodily resurrected. —We’re a little fuzzy on who ends up being married to whom, and whether you and your grandmother will be the same age. We have established a committee to work out the details.

The Federated Rabbis of Uncertain Modernity (FRUM) is a body of leading Modern Orthodox thinkers committed to harmonizing traditional Judaism with modern science and ethics—which means we have to fudge a lot on each.

 

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