Innovating the Torah Nation: Why Some Changes to Jewish Life and Practice Succeed while Others Fail

Torah, in its Oral and Written formats, has and always will be the national pastime of the Jewish nation. Traditionally, it has been the yearnings of young Jews and chief determinant of greatness of Jewish Leaders. Over the course of Jewish history there have been several movements that challenged that belief and attempted to alter the traditional view of Torah; or to supplant its primacy in favor of other ideals; or to emphasize certain elements of Jewish living. Some were wild successes that continue to define Jewish life until today and others were disasters that caused needless sectarianism and strife. In this lecture we examine some of the schisms/innovations throughout Jewish history including the Sadducees, Essenes, Karaites, the Shabtai Tzvi debacle, Chassidim and it’s great dynasties, Reform, Chabadism and its Messianic ambitions, disappointments and disillusionments.