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Communal Governance, Lay and Rabbinic: An Overview

Harav Aharon Lichtenstein

A paper delivered at the Orthodox Forum's 15th con­fer­ence, dedicated to Rabbinic and Lay Communal Authority, held in March 2003. The event explored the top­ic of the ten­sions between rab­binic and lay com­mu­nal author­i­ty from Jew­ish reli­gio-legal, his­tor­i­cal, polit­i­cal, and soci­o­log­i­cal per­spec­tives. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing look at the devel­op­ment over time and across reli­gio-legal per­spec­tives of the role of king, rav, rosh yeshi­va, and kahal and to see how con­fronta­tion with moder­ni­ty— and in par­tic­u­lar, the Amer­i­can empha­sis on auton­o­my and choice — impacts on the cur­rent dynam­ic, even in the most extreme­ly con­ser­v­a­tive of Ortho­dox com­mu­ni­ties. 

Ed. by Suzanne Last Stone, pro­fes­sor of law and direc­tor of the pro­gram in Jew­ish Law and Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Stud­ies at Yeshi­va University’s Ben­jamin N. Car­do­zo School of Law



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