Sunday, December 4, 2011

Putting the kibosh on "dynamic"

Click here for "Rav Kingfish", an excellent piece by Jonathan Mark at The Jewish Week on the flaws of the "dynamic" rabbi.

Some of the article's key points match my own misgivings in many ways, including -
* the emphasis that 'dynamic' places on parts of the rabbinate at the expense of others;
* the problem of perpetually needing to 'top' dynamism;
* the way that "dynamic" can go to a rabbi's head.

And it reminds me of a piece I wrote in December 2008: Young and Dynamic and 124/78.

Here's something odd: Among the finds I reported in that piece was that a Google search for rabbi and “young and dynamic” yielded 604 results. Tonight it resulted in 501,000. The phrase "dynamic young rabbi" had 206, but tonight it registers 1,900. What do you make of that? Google's expanded reach, or something else?


  1. What do I make of it? Mostly that indeed, as described here, Google's "number of results" calculation is no longer reliable.
    I just ran your search - it gave me somewhere in the 400,000 range on the first page, claimed over a million results on the 10th and 20th, and when I tried to go to the 30th page it took me to:
    Page 24 - 231-235 of 235 results.

  2. AnDat-
    Definitely a good point, but I remember this happening since the earliest days of Google. The order of magnitude has changed, but back then they would tout a few thousand results and peter out after the first 20.

  3. Interesting. I appreciate the call for a Judaism that focuses more on the quiet, introspective moments.

    However, I think Mark confuses dynamism in a communal sense with halakhic dynamism (if that's the right term, which I'm not sure it is). After all, there are plently of dynamic Orthodox rabbis who would never countenance female rabbis or patrilineal descent. I would say your stated concerns focus on communal dynamism, which is a clearer and less controversial subject.

    As for "The Seven-Percent Solution", I can't make up my mind whether it's a deliberate reference to how Sherlock Holmes used to take cocaine.

  4. Since Rabbis now often move to other places, could this be considered dynamic, as opposed to static?

  5. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)December 5, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    This essay has nothing to do with "dynamic" -- "dynamic" means 'active, having a lot of energy'. Nothing necessarily to do with being "radical" or "innovation-minded". I'd expect a so-called journalist to not confuse his readers with weird re-readings of straightforward adjectives.

  6. Daniel-
    I think he believes one influences the other. I think he may be right, too.

    Anonymous 12:18 PM-

    See my reply to Daniel.