Monday, June 08, 2009

No, I am not a Reconstructionist Rabbi!

In the wake of my posting my questions for Rabbi Sachs, the "facilitator" for autistics, which called into question the legitimacy of the practice, an interesting thing happened. I posted the questions on Tamar Yonah's blog, using my rabbinic title. Even though I usually do not use it, since I was addressing an audience which might simply look at Rabbi Eliezer Sachs' title and dismiss my words. Thus, "Rabbi Joshua Waxman."

The problem is that there is another Rabbi Josh Waxman, who is a Reconstructionist rabbi, and I was then confused with him. He comes up first on Google. I come up second, with a comment saying that I am not the same as the other Rabbi Joshua Waxman, but that might be missed.

Anyway, to clarify, there are multiple Josh Waxmans. Some of them are even close relatives of mine. I do not believe I am related to the Reconstructionist rabbi. I met him once or twice, and he seems to be a nice enough fellow, though I am sure I disagree with him in many aspects of halachah, hashkafah, and theology.

Here is a link to a page about Rabbi Joshua Waxman, the reconstructionist rabbi (who also blogs at BeliefNet).

And here is a video of Rabbi Joshua Waxman, the Orthodox rabbi who received semicha from YU (=me). I don't like how I look on video, but this video, posted by me in 2006 about parsing the words Tzadik Tamim in parshat Noach should demonstrate that we are not the same person.

Hopefully this makes it clear for anyone who may have confused us; in the meantime, I should try to figure out some way of making it up front, in the future.

Without getting into to much detail, a related point is how do you know whether someone has semicha? I recall a statement when I was growing up that nowadays you can get semicha from Ma Bell. That is, when the telephone company called up and asked how you wanted to be listed, one might just say Rabbi X instead of X. The same is true on the Internet, and indeed this is so with some figures who have presence on the Internet, some prominent, and some not so prominent (and sources tell me even one whose last name is "Waxman," though not me or the Rabbi Waxman above). How can we tell? I would take the attitude of giving the benefit of the doubt in casual conversation, but investigating if the person makes extreme statements outside the norm that might be trading on the rabbinic title.


Yosef Greenberg said...

The question is a little deeper than that.

What is smicha? Not all Yeshivas give anything of the sort.

joshwaxman said...

well in some case (such as the one i'm hinting at) in doesn't even come close...

Yosef Greenberg said...

Got it. :)

To further my point: Rav Elyashiv, Rav Belsky and Chacham Ovadia all do not have smicha in the real sense.

I usually ignore the title Rabbi until I'm convinced from his words or if I've heard about him before.

It usually doesn't make much of a difference anyway. Only to the level of disrespect I'll show when I disagree. :)

Joe in Australia said...

It doesn't seem plausible that there are two rabbis in the same time period with the same name. Surely it is more likely that the typesetter erred and has ascribed this blog to the famous Reconstructionist rabbi? Or alternatively that you and he are the same person, writing at different stages of your life. In that case we should ask what experiences led (will have led) you (or him) to undergo such a radical change. I can see lots of fodder here for a graduate student writing (who will have written) a dissertation on Jewish bloggers in the early 21st century.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin