For much of the past 2000 years, when most of contemporary Halacha was being formulated, there was only a single denomination\sect of Judaism. (Leaving aside Ashkenzi vs Sephardi, which is mostly a matter of minhag.) However, in recent years there has been an explosion of division among Jewry, and now we've got almost a dozen, not even including all the different Hassidic groups. This appears to be a return to the situation at the end of Bayit Sheini, and that situation is reflected in the halakha and hashkafa from that time. (For example, please see https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/34509/880)

What are the contemporary halakhic and hashkafic implications of this trend?

(Related: What is the orthodox view towards the existence of a progressive denomination?)


There have been several different sects of Judaism almost since the beginning of the religion.

  • The oldest movements were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots
  • Medieval movements included Karaites and Rabbinical Judaism
  • Rabbinical Judaism split into Chasidic, Orthodox, Reform and Conservative in the US today
  • Other countries have similar movements differently named


So there has always been a diversity of opinions and movements in Judaism.

The most recent splits are commonly recognized to be a result of German Jews to assimilate and modernize the parts of Judaism that they viewed as outdated.


The complexity of the Jewish people and their practices has long been a part of our history and is in no way a new phenomenon.

  • Hey Jeremy, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thank you for your answer. I hope you don't mind that I edited it the structure and formatting (but not the content); if I did anything you don't like, you can fix it here. – MTL Oct 12 '14 at 0:52
  • Thank you, and sorry for the very long response. Life is busy in a good way. Thank you for the edits also, it is perfect. – Jeremy Gold Apr 19 '16 at 17:50
  • My pleasure. No reason to apologize for the delayed response, it's perfectly all right. I really appreciate that you got back to me and validated the edit like that; most of the time, if the original poster doesn't fight an edit, it's just ignored ;-) – MTL Apr 19 '16 at 18:00
  • Of course, I try to remember that there is a human being on the other side of the keyboard. Thanks again for the edit Shokhet. – Jeremy Gold Apr 19 '16 at 19:12

Your question ignores the reality of the twelve shvatim. Each with its own personality, its own sanhedrin, in some instances a definable different pronunciation of words and according to the Arizal different nuschaos hatefila.

Having separate smaller groups is not necessarily a bad thing. I will relate a drasha I heard from one of my rebbeim in beis medrash. While at Har Sinai, the Torah describes the state of the fledgling nation as being at the apex of unity, as one man with one heart. And yet the medrash tells us that when klal yisroel saw the angels parading in separate groups, each with their own flag, Klal Yisroel requested to be separated into tribes and Hashem agreed. What happened? Isn't this disharmony in action? And the answer given was that for each person to feel special and connected to Hashem they need a clearly defined role as part of a smaller microcosm, not to feel like one drop in an endless sea of 600,000, but rather to be part of the smaller group of the tens of thousands. As long as we all recognize each other right to worship Hashem in that person's group and associated style, than diversity can be beautiful. However, as far as interaction between various groups go, most orthodox denominations will not accept a group as being part of Jewish diversity if that group ignores the basic tenets of Judaism, such as adhering to halakha. And the vast majority of orthodox groups do not actively try to convince any other orthodox group that they are soley correct, and that the other needs to change.

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