The Godol Hador (link to blog is on the right) wrote an interesting little piece about the differing opinions for the future of Jewish Orthodoxy.
Here's how it went:
Does Chareidi Judaism have a future ? Is Modern Orthodoxy on the way out ? I have heard a number of different opinions on this matter.
1. The UO viewpointThe MO's will ultimately die out. The move to the right is inevitable. The whole maykil thing was only a temporary aberration after the war. We are now almost back to how it was before the war. The MO's will eventually all become disillusioned as they move farther and farther left.
2. The MO viewpointThe UO's will ultimately die out. The move to the left is inevitable. The whole machmir thing was only a temporary aberration after the war. We are now almost back to how it was before the war. The UO's will eventually all become disillusioned as they realize the bunch of lies they have been fed.
3. The centrist viewpointThe MO's and the UO's will ultimately die out. The move to the center is inevitable. The whole machmir vs maykil thing was only a temporary aberration after the war. We are now almost back to how it was before the war. The RW UO's and LW MO's will eventually all become disillusioned, leaving the RW MO's and the LW UO's to combine to form a stable center.
4. The Atheist ViewpointOrthodox Judaism will ultimately die out. The move to atheism is inevitable. The whole religion thing was only a temporary aberration while man could not understand how the world worked. Biblical Criticism and Scientific Progress will eventually render orthodox religion (maybe all religion) extinct.
I don't know the answer. I'm not even sure which one I hope for, I guess 3. However two things I learnt recently, based on a lot of events, some public and some private, give me food for thought.
1. There is a lot more 'kefirah' in the MO camp than most people realize (not neccessarily a bad thing).
2. There is a lot more 'ugliness' in the UO camp than most people realize (definitely a bad thing).
Of course I use the words 'kefirah' and 'ugliness' slightly loosely. But only slightly.
I had written a rather long reply to this, so I figured I might as well post it here:
Actually, I don't think atheism will win out, especially not in the short run. People will generally be attracted to religion for the foreseeable future. And while I like the Modern Orthodox viewpoint better than the Ultra-Orthodox, I don't see Modern Orthodox as entirely stable. Its best feature will also be what dooms it.
Since the Modern Orthodox Jew is typically exposed to all sorts of science and ideas which go against traditional Jewish faith - they must make constant justifications and apologetics to bring together their two worlds. A rather unstable arrangement.
Some will try to escape the modern world's terrors and head into the UO camp where they will wear black hats and send their children to Touro (but only if they have to!).
Others will see the apologetic nonsense for what it is and begin to doubt the claims posed by Judaism. These will turn even more liberal and liberal until their beliefs are outside normative traditional beliefs in total.
I also don't think the UO lifestyle will be long-lived. Though, don't get me wrong, I see Ultra-Orthodox communities being around for a very long time. I just think that the numbers will shrink - though it will grow more before it shrinks. The UO life is hard, tribal, and small. There will always be people who will try and escape into the wider world. As the world becomes more invasive into daily life - which would be following the trend so far - more UO Jews will leave for a more secular lifestyle.
The centrist ideal, you'll have to help me out there, what is a centrist? What do they believe? How do they live? I can't begin to postulate what their future may be if I don't even know who they are.
If it is a slightly less UO theology and lifestyle than the UO are today, then that's probably where I think most Orthodox Jews will be in the future. Most will not be able to escape the arms of the bigger world into their lives, but still many will reject "goyishe" thoughts and philosophies and find comfort inside the relatively insular communities.
The far future though...that's anyone's guess.