Debates

In 1966, Rabbi Greenberg was involved in two protracted debates about the direction of modern Orthodoxy. Both debates took place in the public eye, through written—and published—exchanges. One was with Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, the other was with Rabbi Shelomoh Danziger. Gathered here are much of the originals writings as well as later commentary. The materials here are not entirely complete—if you have any of the missing documents, please contact us (see the Contact page).


Greenberg-Lichtenstein Exchange

Rabbi Greenberg and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein had an intense written exchange about the future of modern Orthodoxy during 1966. Their debate was published in The Commentator, the Yeshiva College newspaper—both were popular professors at Yeshiva at the time.

“The dialogue/debate between the two men pointed to a serious fissure with the ranks of modern Orthodoxy, both at Yeshiva and beyond, that would eventuate, farther down the road, in an actual split. Greenberg’s trajectory took him to the outer limit of Orthodoxy, while Lichtenstein remained firmly anchored in the Orthodox mainstream,” wrote David Singer in “Debating Modern Orthodoxy at Yeshiva College: The Greenberg-Lichtenstein Exchange of 1966,” a 2006 article about the exchange published in Modern Judaism.

As recently as 2006, with the publication of My Yeshiva College: 75 Years of Memories, there were still reverberations from debate. The links below are a selection of materials related to the debate.

Original exchange: article and letters from The Commentator
Note: This pdf is not a high-quality reproduction; sections are difficult to read. We are working on getting a better version as well as a transcription. If you have a good quality copy, please let us know!

David Singer, “Debating Modern Orthodoxy at Yeshiva College: The Greenberg-Lichtenstein Exchange of 1966.” Modern Judaism (2006) 26, no. 2: 113-126.
Link to purchase article from Modern Judaism
Link to brief excerpt

Lecture on the debate. Rabbi Alan Brill, Ph.D., Modern Orthodoxy course. YU Torah Online.

2006 follow-up exchange between Greenberg and Lichtenstein. My Yeshiva College: 75 Years of Memories.

Greenberg-Danziger Exchange

Shelomoh Danziger wrote a piece entitled “Modern Orthodoxy or Orthodox Modernism” in the October 1966 issue of The Jewish Observer in which he raised issues vital to Orthodoxy and critical of certain Orthodox intellectuals including Rabbi Greenberg. Following the article, there was an exchange between Rabbi Greenberg as well as others, with Rabbi Danziger replying.

In an article in Tradition about the exchange, entitled “Revelation and the Orthodox Intellectuals,” Michael Wyschogrod wrote: “The issues raised in this exchange…touch upon almost all of the most crucial issues facing Orthodoxy today, issues that have lurked in the background for decades…Probably because of this, the Danziger-Greenberg exchange suffers the defect of covering too much territory, as if time were very short and everything had to be compressed to its essentials…While this may be understandable, it is also to be regretted because issues such as modern Biblical scholarship, the halakhic process and change, as well as Orthodoxy’s attitude toward social issues require exploration in depth in an atmosphere of calm and deep concern.”

Shelomoh Danziger, “Modern Orthodoxy or Orthodox Modernism.” Jewish Observer (October 1966): 3–9.
Note: We have not yet located a copy of this article; if you have one, please let us know!

Irving Greenberg, Shelomoh Danziger, “Orthodox Modernism – An Exchange.” The Jewish Observer. December 1966. 13–20.
Note: This is Rabbi Greenberg’s letter and Rabbi Danziger’s response.

Michael Wyschogrod, “Revelation and the Orthodox Intellectuals.” Tradition.
Link to purchase the Tradition article.