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During the Middle Ages, two systems of thought competed for theological primacy, their advocates promoting them as explanatory foundations for observance of the Law.One was the rationalist-philosophic school, which endeavored to present all commandments as serving higher moral and ethical purposes, while the other was the mystical tradition, exemplified in Kabbalah, which assigned each rite with a role in the hidden dimensions of reality.In more open Orthodox circles, attempts were made to formulate philosophies that would confront modern sensibilities.Notable examples are the Hegelian-Kabbalistic theology of Abraham Isaac Kook, who viewed history as progressing toward a Messianic redemption in a dialectic fashion which required the strengthening of heretical forces, or the existentialist thought of Joseph B.Soloveitchik, who was deeply influenced by Neo-Kantian ideals.
Responding to the Reform movement's abandoning of traditional practice and established religious jurisprudence, the new "Orthodox Judaism" (a previously unknown term) adopted an opposing stance which sought to enshrine practices that had evolved until that time.
This form of Judaism may be referred to as Haredi Judaism, or "Ultra-Orthodox Judaism".
According to the New Jersey Press Association, several media entities refrain from using the term "ultra-Orthodox", including the Religion Newswriters Association; JTA, the global Jewish news service; and the Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest daily newspaper.
In the 20th century, a segment of the Orthodox population (as represented by the World Agudath Israel movement) disagreed with Modern Orthodoxy and took a stricter approach.
Such rabbis viewed innovations and modifications within Jewish law and customs with extreme care and caution.