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May 2010 • Sivan 5770 (:‫אין התורה נקנית אלא בחבורה )ברכות סג‬ Volume 44 • Number 3

In This Issue
Divrei Torah from:
Rabbi Kenneth Brander
‫תנו כבוד‬
Rabbi Mark Dratch
Rabbi Michael Rosensweig
Rabbi Ezra Schwartz ‫לתורה‬

Celebrating Chief Rabbi Lord

the Chag Jonathan Sacks
HaSemikhah awarded the innaugural
5770 Lamm Prize
Page 3 Page 4
In This Issue
Rabbi Isaac Elchanan
Theological Seminary Page 3 News from RIETS
RIETS Chag HaSemikhah 5770, and Chief Rabbi Lord
Jonathan Sacks recieves the inaugural Norman Lamm
Richard M. Joel Prize at Yeshiva University
P resi d ent, Y eshi va U ni v ersity

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm

C hancellor , Y eshi va U ni v ersity
R osh H aY eshi va , R I E T S

Rabbi Julius Berman

C hairman of the B oar d of T rustees , R I E T S Page 12 Musmakhim in the Limelight
A look at community rabbis who have trained the next
generation of pulpit rabbis
Rabbi Yona Reiss
M a x an d M arion G rill Dean , R I E T S

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Dav i d M it z ner Dean , C enter for the J ewish F uture

Rabbi Zevulun Charlop

Dean E meritus , R I E T S

Page 18 Practical Halachah

Rabbi Robert Hirt
Vice P resi d ent E meritus , R I E T S Hashdeihu…ve-Khabdeihu? Community Responses
to Members Accused or Indicted of Crimes
Rabbi Dr. Solomon F. Rybak By Rabbi Mark Dratch
P resi d ent, R abbinic A lumni

Rabbi Chaim Bronstein

A d ministrator , R I E T S

Page 5 Chomer L’Drush Page 17 Book Review

The Role of the Divine in Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine by
CHAVRUSA the Halakhic Process Rabbi Yitzchak Blau
A P ublication of R I E T S R abbinic A lumni By Rabbi Kenneth Reviewed by Rabbi Chaim Jachter
Rabbi Ronald L. Schwarzberg
Director , T he M orris an d G ertru d e B ienenfel d
Department of J ewish C areer De v elopment
Page 9 Divrei Chizuk Page 21 Divrei Hesped
an d P lacement Categorizing Birkat Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander z”l
HaTorah By Rabbi Dr. David Luchins
Rabbi Elly Krimsky By Rabbi Ezra Schwartz
E d itor , C H AV R U S A
Page 10 Back to the Page 22 Lifecycles
Rabbi Levi Mostofsky Beit Midrash
A ssociate E d itor , C H AV R U S A Uniting Our Two Torot
By Rabbi Michael
Ms. Keren Simon Rosensweig
A ssistant E d itor , C H AV R U S A

Rabbi Robert Shur

G raphics an d L ayout, C H AV R U S A
Editorial Policies
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Development and Placement.
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N e w Yo r k , N Y 10 0 3 3
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C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
In the News

RIETS Honors Next Generation of Rabbis at

Chag HaSemikhah Convocation
At the conclusion of the Chag HaSemikhah
ceremony on March 7, new musmakhim and
esteemed roshei yeshiva, teachers, mentors, family
and friends poured onto Amsterdam Avenue to
dance in celebration of the continuity between rab-
binic leaders past, present and future. That continu-
ity was a palpable theme, as the largest ever group
of new musmakhim received their ordination at a
ceremony that also honored rabbis who celebrated
their Chag HaSemikhah 50 years ago.

The Chag HaSemikhah ceremony took place in

Lamport Auditorium at Zysman Hall, with video
hookups in the Fishel Beis Midrash at the Yeshiva
University Israel Center and an online webcast.
The Israeli musmakhim had a program at the Israel
Center on January 24.

The rabbis are the products of a comprehensive

program of professional rabbinic training aimed at
creating Torah scholars able to effectively handle
the challenges of contemporary Jewish life. Many
graduates have already accepted positions in the
rabbinate, Jewish education and community work.

“A lot are in their field already which is very

inspiring for the young men just graduating,” said
Rabbi Marc Penner ’95R, director of professional
rabbinics at RIETS and the chairman of the Chag
HaSemikhah. “You get a sense of how far-reaching
the positions are — all around the world.”

Addressing the more than 200 graduates of

the 2006-2010 classes, Rabbi Yona Reiss ’91R,
celebrating his first Chag HaSemikhah as dean of
RIETS, spoke of the enduring connection between
rabbi and student, even as the student grows into
Top to Bottom: Members of the RIETS classes of ’57, ’58 and ’59 reunited prior to the Chag;
his role as rabbi. “Your rebbeim here are your per- President Richard M. Joel and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Norman Lamm congratulate the new
manent rebbeim. We view you as our permanent musmakhim; Roshei Yeshiva lead the dancing on Amsterdam Avenue after the Chag.
talmidim and now, chaverim,” Rabbi Reiss said.
“You should not hesitate to consult with them to rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills and rabbinic leaders such as Rabbi Julius Berman ’59R,
clarify how to apply Torah principles to the many a Judaic studies teacher, said that as he and his fellow chairman of RIETS Board of Trustees; Rabbi
challenging situations that you will encounter and musmakhim undertake “awesome responsibility,” the Haskel Lookstein ’58R, principal of the Ramaz
thereby maintain the kedusha of Torah in our new rabbis “take comfort in the support of our col- School and rabbi of Kehillath Jeshrun Synagogue;
communities. Through your dedication to learning leagues and our beloved yeshiva. We go forth on the and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein ’59R, rosh hakollel
and upholding the Torah you will serve as vital shoulders of the great rabbis who came before us.” at Yeshiva University Israel Center.
links in the chain of our mesorah.”
RIETS also honored members of the classes of Special awards were given to Rabbi Marvin Bienen-
Speaking on behalf of his fellow musmakhim at the 1957, 1958 and 1959, who received semikhah field ’56R, a member of YU’s Board of Trustees,
Chag HaSemikhah, Rabbi Adir Posy ’05R, assistant 50 years ago. The distinguished group includes continued on page 4
C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
In the News

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Receives

the Inaugural Lamm Prize
Accepting the inaugural Lamm Prize on March 17,
Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks spoke about the
dichotomy between Torah and chachma (secular
wisdom) and the need for both in a Jew’s intellec-
tual being. “How can we apply Torah to the world
if we can’t understand it?” he questioned. “Are we
supposed to behave towards secular knowledge the
way the Vatican behaved towards Galileo? Us? The
people of knowledge?”

Calling Yeshiva University “the single most im-

portant educational institution in chutz la’aretz,”
Rabbi Sacks said that “YU has been led and
inspired for so many years by the man we honor
tonight, Rabbi Norman Lamm — man of Torah
and chachma.”

The Lamm Prize is one of several tributes to Rabbi

Lamm that was established in celebration of the (L-R) Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Norman Lamm, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, President Richard M. Joel.
chancellor’s 80th birthday. In addition to the
Lamm Prize, YU has recognized Rabbi Lamm Jewish thoughts and deeds. For championing G-d reclaim its heritage as a light unto the nations.
with the endowment of the Rabbi Norman Lamm and Torah with the whole world watching.”
Kollel L’Horaa, an intensive advanced semikhah Saluting Rabbi Lamm, President Richard M. Joel
program in Jewish legal issues; the creation of “Tonight’s honoree was not my first choice,” applauded the chancellor’s “lifetime of dedication
Yad Lamm — a physical space on campus that quipped Rabbi Lamm, “he was my only choice.” to the cause of Torah Umadda in all of its facets.”
will house displays and text documenting Rabbi Rabbi Sacks, who has served as Chief Rabbi of
Lamm’s 27 years as president; and the Lamm the United Kingdom since 1991, has maintained However, Rabbi Sacks spoke also of the private
Archives online, which includes over 800 digitized a prolific writing career of original works and new Rabbi Lamm, recalling a friendship that started
sermons, audio and video. translations, most notably his translation of the sid- over 40 years ago when he was a young student
dur. He received the prestigious Jerusalem Prize for in need of a mentor with whom to discuss his
Rabbi Sacks was presented with a citation, which contributions to Diaspora Jewry in 1995 and was questions. “The private Rabbi Lamm, who showed
read in part, “for spreading hope in a world des- knighted in 2005. His most recent book, “Future kindness all those years ago to a young student,
perately in need of it. For acting as an exemplar of Tense,” is a call for Jewry to reject insularism and changed my life,” he recalled. n

RIETS Honors Next Generation of Rabbis at Chag HaSemikhah Convocation

continued from page 3

who received the Eitz Chaim Award; and Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrin-
sky ’57R, YU’s vice president for University affairs, who received the
Harav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik Aluf Torah Award. In presenting
the award to Bienenfeld, YU President Richard M. Joel said, “You have
dedicated yourself to ensuring that lives of value and values emerge
from this yeshiva.”

To the graduates, President Joel said, “may your efforts bring to the
Jewish people shleimut and shalom — wholeness and peace.” n

Rabbi Michael Rosensweig ’80R surrounded by rabbis participating in the Chag

Hasemikhah associated with West Orange, NJ. Rabbi Rosensweig served as a
scholar in residence in West Orange to honor the musmakhim. Seated next to
Rabbi Rosensweig is Rabbi Aaron Kra ’43R, also of West Orange.
C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Chomer l’Drush

Devorah, a woman, is precluded from being a

witness, how could she judge?
The Role of the Tosafot offers two explanations. First, he responds
Divine in the that Devorah judged through prophecy; therefore,
she was not bound by this standard requirement.
Halakhic Process Second, Tosafot states that Devorah did not judge
the children of Israel as a judge, rather as a teacher.
Tosafot interprets the statement of her sitting
Rabbi Kenneth Brander under a palm tree as referring to her role as teacher,
preparing judges for the judicial system.

Let us evaluate the second answer of Tosafot. If

the pasuk in Shoftim refers to her as a teacher, why
did she need to sit under a palm tree? According

T he Talmudic incident of the oven of Aknai

(Bava Metsia 59b) — with the super-
natural proofs to Rabbi Eliezer and the
consistent ruling of the majority that “It is not in
Heaven” — emphasizes that Divine intervention
wheat in their threshing areas. This biblical account
indicates that Dovid was employing prophesy in
making the halakhic decision of whether to go to war.
Concerned about the appropriateness of this activity,
the Talmud (Eruvin 45a) elaborates on this issue.
to Jewish law, when it comes to teaching a group
of men there is no concern of yichud. This is a
concern only if she was involved in adjudica-
tions, when she would be in the company of two
men or fewer1. Nevertheless, Tosafot asserts this
does not play any role in the halakhic process. “What was it that he [Dovid] asked about? Perhaps second answer, which maintains that Devorah did
whether it was permitted or forbidden to repulse the not judge, she taught. While the first answer that
This ruling becomes practical in several Talmudic attack, surely, we would retort, the Bet Din of Samuel Devorah judged through ruach ha-kodesh may be
sugyot. For example, the Talmud (Temurah 16a) the Ramathite was then in existence? Rather [Dovid] in consonance with the text, it conflicts with the
relates: “R. Judah reported in the name of Samuel: asked about whether he would be successful or not. “ thesis that any form of Divine intervention is ex-
They [Jewish people] forgot three thousand laws cluded from the halakhic process. Despite the fact
during the period of mourning for Moses. They Rashi (Eruvin, ad loc., s.v. harei Samuel) clarifies the that Tosafot’s first answer is in perfect consonance
[Jewish people] said to Yehoshua: “Ask [God]”; Talmud’s question by stating that going to war is with the text, Tosafot suggests another answer,
Yehoshua replied: “It [the entire Torah] is no longer not in the domain of the urim v’tummim, a form of one which stretches the pshat but fits within the
in Heaven (Deuteronomy ad. Loc).” communication with the Divine, but in the province halakhic legal system2.
of the court. The Talmud asserts that the dialogue
This passage is significant for it represents God’s between Dovid and God was not over the halakhic The Talmud (Bava Batra 122a), reflecting on Bam-
“inadmissibility” to the halakhic process — even in a issue, of whether the war was appropriate. The court idbar 26:52-56, indicates how Yehoshua divided
situation in which no new laws are being formulated. of Samuel would decide if it was permitted to go to the land of Israel. Many techniques could have
These were forgotten laws, laws that had already been war. The prophetic dialogue was merely used as a been used to divide the land. A lottery alone could
introduced into the mesorah. Nevertheless, this pas- means of ascertaining whether or not they would be have been effective. Yet Divine intervention plays
sage demonstrates that God’s role is still excluded from successful in this halakhically mandated battle. a central role in the division of the land. If dividing
the halakhic framework. This principal is elaborated the land of Israel is a halakhic issue, why should the
in other parts of the Talmud including: Shabbat We are told (Shoftim 4:4-5) that the prophetess Divine Spirit be permitted to play any role in Yeho-
104a; Pesachim 114a; Yoma 80a; Megillah 2b; and Devorah judged the people of Israel. The Talmud shua’s dividing of the land? Is this not a violation of:
Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 1:5. Indeed, Maimonides (Megillah 14a) notes that she sat under a palm “The Torah is no longer in Heaven”?
(Yesodei ha-Torah 9:1) codifies this principle. tree, which is not leafy, to avoid the problem of yi-
chud, being alone with another man. Tosafot and We are told (II Samuel 7) about Dovid’s interest
Scriptural and Talmudic Rashi (Megillah 14a, s.v. m’shum yichud) elaborate, in building the Beit HaMikdash and his asking
that since Devorah would judge individuals, there permission from Natan the prophet. The permis-
Challenges to the Thesis was a constant concern about yichud. Large leafy sion from the prophet is rescinded (II Samuel ad
However, despite the references mentioned, there trees could create a secluded environment in loc.) after God appears to Natan. If it is a halakhic
are several incidents in Tanach, Talmud and responsa which yichud would be a concern. So Devorah mandate for the king to build the Temple, why does
literature that appear to challenge this thesis. Let us addresses this concern by sitting beneath a palm Dovid ask permission from Natan in his capacity
evaluate these incidents and learn more about the tree which did not have excessive shade. In as prophet? Furthermore, if Natan’s response is
Divine role in the post Mosaic halakhic process. his commentary, Tosafot (Niddah 50a, s.v. kol contrary to Dovid’s halakhic understanding of the
ha’kasher) questions how Devorah could serve issue, how does Dovid allow prophecy to stop him
Shmuel (I 23:1-4) relates how the Philistines at- as a judge, for only those who have the capability from building the Temple?
tacked the Jews in the area of Keilah and robbed the of bearing witness can qualify as a judge. Since continued on page 6

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Chomer l’Drush

The Role of the Divine in the Halakhic Process

continued from page 5

The Talmud (Zevachim 62a) relates the following bed and broke all the vessels that he had used in eating mined through an experiment, through which he
incident regarding the building of the Second Beit the barbuta. All who withdraw from eating the barbuta concluded that his initial premise (the meziu’t)
HaMikdash. “R. Eleazar b. Jacob said: Three prophets will merit a blessing on their head .4 was incorrect.
[Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi] went up with them
[the people] from the [first] Exile: one testified to In defense of Tosafot, who permitted the barbuta R. Abraham b. Dovid of Posqueires occasionally in-
them [the people] about [the dimensions of] the fish, and to protest against the use of dreams in the serts idioms, which seem to indicate that divination
altar and the site of the altar; another testified to them halakhic process, Rabbi Ezekiel Landau makes the played a role in his commentary on the Mishnah,
that they could sacrifice even though there was no following comment: his comments on Mishneh Torah and his responsa.
Temple; and a third testified that the Torah should “Regarding the information Rabbenu Ephraim received (see his Introduction to Eduyyot and Shofar,
be written in Assyrian characters.” in his dream ... I say that dreams may not advance v’Sukah, u’Lulav 8:5; see also Beit ha’Behirah
or detract from a halakhic position. And never have 6:14;). While some take these statements literally8,
How is it possible the prophets could be employed I heard that Jewish law should be proven from those Rabbi Dr. Isidore Twersky9 and others10 explain in
to decide the dimensions and location of the altar, who receive dreams. For dreams speak words of vanity. great detail that these statements are not an attempt
something that has such significant halakhic conse- If Rabbenu Ephraim, may his memory be blessed, by the Ravad to impose divination, supernatural
quences3? It would seem that if a rigorous halakhic who was a righteous and a great man of piety, was sources of knowledge, into the halakhic process.
analysis should determine the above issues, why is concerned with the substance of his dreams, for in his Rather, the Ravad’s terminology must be analyzed
prophecy and ruach ha-kodesh employed to reach dreams it stated that he had permitted a rodent, and from a historical and literary perspective. In this
these conclusions? These three incidents (dividing perhaps his dream was accurate and it was dealing context, the Ravad’s phrases are contemporary
the land, building the Temple, determining the with his permitting the barbuta fish. Rabbebu Ephraim colloquiums, used also by others, to accentuate the
location of the altar) represent the first exception to would have seen that this fish had scales as the Tosafists veracity of an idea.
the rule “The Torah is not in Heaven.” saw, (which the barbuta fish sheds when drawn out of
the water); he [Rabbenu Ephraim] would have recog- There are accounts of R. Joseph Caro being visit-
In discussing the kashrut of fish, the Talmud nized that the solution for his dream concerned a differ- ed regularly by a maggid, an angel sent by God to
(Avodah Zarah 40a; and Hullin 63b) discusses ent foodstuff that he had permitted. However, to bring teach and dialogue with this great halakhist. Many
the definitive ways to determine whether or not a a proof from a fleeting dream is foolishness and has no reject these reports. They see these accounts as at-
fish is kosher. The Talmud mentions two ways: the significance. I would like to ask to the one concerned tempts to slander R. Joseph Caro’s illustrious and
checking for fins and scales or checking the shape of for Rabbenu Ephraim’s position why this dream didn’t revered name as a pillar of the halakhic process11.
the fish’s egg. Based on these findings Tosafot state come to all the Baalei Tosafots, Rabbenu Tam and Others proclaim that R. Caro was an integral part
that the fish known as barbattus is considered kosher the great halakhic decisors who permitted the barbuta of the mystical culture of Zefat12. They assert that
even though its scales cannot be located. Rabbenu fish, revealing to them this dream? Study the Tractate R. Joseph Caro kept a diary of his visits.13 In fact,
Tam (Avodah Zarah ad. loc. s.v. amar Rava) suggests Sanhedrin as well as the Rema, in Yoreh De’ah, the end R. Shlomo Alkabez relates how members of the
... that we are permitted to eat barbuta, even though of Siman 259 ... the Rema codifies that dreams can not community witnessed the visit of the maggid
we do not find scales on the fish. advance or detract from a halakhic position5. to R. Joseph Caro on Shavuot night, when they
gathered together to participate in the tikkun leil
However, R.Isaac Or Zaru’a relates: This is just one example of many, in which one Shavuot14.
And I, the author, heard from the mouth of the holy observes the classical halakhists refusing to allow
Rabbi Judah he-Hasid, may his memory be blessed, any form of Divine intervention to advocate for or However, it is important to realize that advocating
anyone who eats the barbattus will not merit in the detract from a halakhic position6. R. Caro’s relationship with a maggid in no way
eating of the Leviathan (the fish which the righteous compromises his integrity as a halakhist. In R.
will enjoy in the Messianic times). I know this to be true The Mordekhai7 relates an incident in which the Joseph Caro’s diary, Maggid Mesharim, halakhic
from the following incident. Rabbenu Ephraim Bar Raban had ruled leniently in a case regarding wine references are few, and when comparing them with
Yizhak, may his memory be blessed, once permitted and non-Jews. After his Shabbat meal he went to statements found on his commentary on the Tur
this barbuta. That night in a dream, he was brought a sleep and had a dream in which his father-in-law, or the Shulhan Arukh we observe an unwilling-
plateful of rodents to eat. He [Rabbenu Ephraim] was Eliakim b. Joseph, appeared to him and seemingly ness to allow the teaching of his maggid, a form of
angry at the one [in the dream] who had brought him contradicted his ruling. The Raban interpreted prophesy, to influence his halakhic decisions.
this plateful of rodents. At which point he responded the dream to mean that his halakhic decision was
[the one who brought the plate of rodents] to Rab- incorrect and rescinded it. This does not com- In the introduction of Rav Chayyim Volozhin
benu Ephraim, “why are you angry? You are the one promise our thesis. While the dream caused the to the Vilna Gaon’s commentary on Sifra de
who permitted [the eating of this non-kosher food].” Raban to reflect upon his decision, further reading Zeni’uta15, Rav Chayyim offers an observation on
Rabbenu Ephraim was angered by the statement and of the responsum indicates that the Raban in fact, the role the Divine played in the halakhic and learn-
woke up. He them remembered that on that day he had did not allow this premonition to determine the ing process of the Vilna Gaon.
permitted the barbuta. Immediately, he arose from his final halakhic status of the wine. That was deter-

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Chomer l’Drush

Sanctioned Reliance reality on the halakhic system. In these situations, why is God, the ultimate embodiment of truth,
Divine intervention is not accepted and is a Biblical excluded or limited from the halakhic process?
Upon Divination violation of, “The Torah is no longer in Heaven.”
Having said all this, it is important to note that the When Dovid and his army needed to know how to The Talmud (Niddah 30b) tells us the celebrated
halakhic system does allow for the reliance upon relate to the Philistine invasion it was the court that concept that a fetus learns the entire Torah in the
Divine intervention on a limited basis. had to process that reality. The court determined that womb by an angel and forgets it prior to delivery.
Dovid was halakhically mandated to go to war. Every This portrayal of the human condition may be
In Melachim (I:10), we are told of the construction new phenomenon or event (i.e. the Philistine inva- cause for mourning. We have all lost the Torah
of Solomon’s ornate throne. The throne is elabo- sion, the oven of Aknai, or the contemporary reality taught to us by a Divine being. Yet Rabbi Solovi-
rately described in the Midrash as having various of surrogate motherhood) must be analyzed through etchik insists that this depiction is one that should
animals statuettes etched into it16. Furthermore, the prism of halakha. This cannot be done through be approached with jubilation25. For this Talmudic
these statuettes would play a miraculous role in the Divine intervention but through a set of halakhic backdrop is here to remind us that the study of
judicial process. Any time a false witness would enter protocols, allowing us to approach every new reality Torah is never a task of collecting new information;
Solomon’s court to testify, the statuettes would begin through the prism of Jewish law. rather, as victims of amnesia we are reconnecting
to scream. Tosafot17 substantiates the midrash by to our original identity. Would we prefer to receive
suggesting that the role of the statuettes in Solomon’s While this approach is put forth by many, it does the Torah in a fashion in which there would be no
judicial process was sufficient reason to legitimate not take into account the Rishonim who have struggle? Would we prefer to retain all the Torah
their fashion, despite the biblical prohibition of the employed divination to decide halakhic fact. Such knowledge taught in utero and not struggle in our
second commandment. It would thus appear that an example includes the responsa literature of attempt to find the way of God? Definitely not!
this midrashic statement, as well as the endorsement Rabbenu Ya’akov of Marvege, one of the sainted It is preferable that our relationship with God is
by Tosafot, seems to contradict the thesis that divina- Ba’alei ha-Tosafot (late 12th–13th century), who has established and strengthened through the rigorous
tion plays no role in the halakhic process. a collection of 89 responsum in which he claims he pursuit of Torah knowledge.
received answers to his questions from Heaven.
There are several other Talmudic incidents that God wanted every Jew to be able to forge a
seem to permit Divine intervention. (see Yoma One may suggest that this infrequent use of divina- dynamic and participatory relationship with Him.
75a; Yevamot 41b, 99a and Tosafot ad. loc. s.v. v’en tion is not within the halakhic parameters stated in While it is true that the norms and mores of Torah,
mo’tsi-in.) Rabbi Yehuda Rosanes, the author of Bava Metsia and codified by the Rambam, and its its doctrines and principals, are Divinely ordained,
the Mishneh la’Melekh18, and others19 conclude use is suspect. Within the sea of halakhic thought, the expansion of these tenets are left to the Jew.
that there are two dimensions to the halakhic these exceptions are to be viewed as deviant, and With the knowledge of the axioms and theorems
process; one component of the halakhic system do not require an overhaul of the stated thesis. of Mosaic law, we are mandated to create halakhic
allows for Divine intervention in helping to solve protocols for any new event or phenomenon which
its dilemmas, while the other component forbids However, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook 22 and many modern man encounters26. To create modernity
its use in coming to any legal conclusion. other rabbinic scholars23 through the generations shaped through the prism of Jewish ethics.
have postulated that those who used Divine inter-
Aid In Finding The Facts vention for more than just establishing factual reality This is also the message of the passage (Menahot
When the halakhic concern is born out of the fact are within halakhic parameters. They suggest that 29b) where Moshe sat in on Rabbi Akiva’s class
that the factual reality is uncertain, divination would the prohibition in the Torah of employing divination which he found incomprehensible. Moshe did not
be acceptable. For example, if a piece of kosher meat is only applicable in situations where the halakhic understand the discussions within the beit midrash
is found and we are uncertain as to whether or not process has a chance to resolve the dilemma. For of Rabbi Akiva, for Moses was familiar with the oral
it has been salted, the question is one of meziu’t, or example, in the case of the oven of Aknai, the pro- tradition of his time. However, contributions to the
the factual reality of that piece of meat. The goal is to hibition to use Divine intervention stems from the oral tradition developed by future participants, the
ascertain whether or not the meat was salted; if that fact that the halakhic process itself is in a position to future students of the mesorah, were not known
could be resolved, the question would be answered. resolve the dilemma. When that is possible, Divine to Moshe. This partnership obligates us, within the
In this kind of situation, Mishneh la’Melekh20 sug- intervention is prohibited, based on the principle, parameters set forth in the Torah, to develop the
gests that halakhah does allow Divine intervention “It is not in the Heaven.” However, if the traditional “science” of halakhah. We are mandated to be active
to play a formal role. Since the Divine is the ultimate halakhic process cannot determine how a specific participants in a process where rigorous exploration
source of truth, any credible indication from this phenomenon can be analyzed in Jewish tradition, of the sea of halakhah enables us to reach new truths.
source of what the true reality is would be welcomed. then Divine intervention would be a permissible
Therefore, in all the above cases where the Talmud or vehicle to resolve this halakhic dilemma24. This understanding of our role in the halakhic pro-
Talmudic commentators, like Tosafot, mention that cess gives us deeper clarity into the final sentences
Moshe, Solomon or Eliyahu used, or will use, divina- Why is Hashem Excluded of the oven of Aknai incident, with which this
tion, it is acceptable21. article commenced:
From the Halachic Process? R. Nathan met Elijah and asked him: “What did
Often a situation arises in which the factual reality is One question still remains to be addressed. If, in the Holy One, Blessed be He, do in that hour [when
clear. What is unknown is the impact of that factual fact, halakhah is interested in the ideal truth, then continued on page 8

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Chomer l’Drush

The Role of the Divine in the Halakhic Process

continued from page 7

the rabbis refused to listen to his intervention]? [Elijah ha-Raban, no. 26; this incident is also discussed by 17. Yoma 54a, s.v. kruvim d’tsurata.
replied] God laughed [with joy], and stated nits-hu-nee Rabbi Abraham Kook, Misphat Kohen, siman 18. Rambam Hilkhot Ishut 9:6 s.v. ye’da.
banai, nits-chu-nee banai, “My children have won, My 96:7. 19. She’elot u-Teshuvot Rasbah I:10 (Machon
children have won.” 8. R. Moshe ben Solomon ibn.Habib in his introduc- Yerusalayim: Jerusalem, 5757); Birkei Yosef, Orakh
tion to Sha’ar Ha-hakdamot of R. Haim Vital’s Hayyim 32:4, s.v. shuv raiti; R. Barukh Epstien,
One way to translate God’s response is stated above. Sefer Ez ha-Hayyim (Jerusalem) page 8; Teshuvot Torah Temimah, Vayikra 27:34, note 216 s.v. ayin
However a second meaning to the word nits-hu-nee Mahari ben Lev (Jerusalem 5730) vol. 3:116; kesef mishnah; Yabi’a Omer, ad. loc., section 9-11;
and the phrase nits-hu-nee banai is “my children have R. Chaim Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim (Jerusalem R. Margaliot’s introduction to She’elot u-Teshuvot
immortalized me, my children have immortalized :5752) page 8 (check under Rabad ha’shleshe min ha-Shamayim (Mossad Harav Kook, Jerusa-
me.” For it was God’s intent to withdraw from the entry number 11); Prof. Dovid Tamar, “Sod lem), chapter one footnote 12.
halakhic process, allowing our voice to be clearly Hashem Li-rey-av,” Be-rurim b’Hilkhot ha-Re’ayah 20. Rambam Hilkhot Ishut 9:6 s.v. ye’da.
heard. Such involvement guarantees the immortality (Jerusalem:Beit haRav, 5752) pp. 525-33. 21. Perhaps the use of a prophet in the establishment of
of Torah and the eternality of the Divine. n 9. Rabad of Posquieres (Cambridge, Mass.: 1962) the location of the alter (Zevahim 62a) is permitted
pp. 291-300. not only based on the approach of Rav Kook, previ-
Footnotes 10. R. Ahaon Marcus introduction to She’elot ously discussed. It may have also been permitted due
1. Rema, Even ha-Ezer 22:5. u-Teshuvot min ha-Shamayim (Tel Aviv: 5717) to the fact that the prophet was only determining
2. Rav Samuel Strashun, in his commentary on page 8; Prof. Jacob Katz, Halakhah and Kabbalah the geographical location of the altar, a clouded
Tractate Niddah (Chidushei ha’Rashash, 50a, (Magnes Press: 1984) page 17. factual issue. The prophet’s role was not to create new
s.v. v’Devorah) explains the answer of Tosafot in a 11. Ozar Yisrael, (New York: J.D. Eisenstein, 1951), pp. halakhic precedent, rather to verify a factual reality.
fashion which does not allow prophecy to play a role 88-9; CH. B. Friedberg, Bet Eked Sepharim – Bib- 22. Iggerot ha-Re’ayah (Mossad Harav Kook, Israel
in judgment. He interprets Tosafot as meaning that liographical Lexicon, (Tel Aviv:Baruch Friedberg, 1961), 1:467 and 2:133.
it was a horat sha-ah that Devorah was allowed to 1952), p. 546, no. 471 (entry entitiled Maggid 23. She’elot u-Teshuvot Mitsbatsot Zahav (1986,
judge, even though she was a woman. See the Yabbia Mesharim); L. Greenwald, The Life and Times of Israel), Hoshen Misphat 4:52; Sefer Yosef Ometz
Omer, ad. loc. section 15-17, who also deals with R. Joseph Karo (New York: Feldheim, 5714). 82; She’elot u-Teshuvot haRadvaz, 4:80; see R.
this conflict between Devorah and divination. 12. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, Joseph Karo Lawyer and Margaliot’s introduction to She’elot u-Teshuvot min
3. One may suggest that the incident mentioned Mystic (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, ha-Shamayim (Mossad Harav Kook, Jerusalem).
in Zevahim is different from the other situations 1977), pp. 1-24; Meir Banyahu, Yosef B’chiri Maran 24. This might also be the approach of the Balei Tosafot
mentioned. In Zevahim, the prophets contribute Rebbe Joseph Caro, (Jerusalem :Yad ha’Rav Nissim, as seen in note four.
based on their scholarship and life experiences, not 5751) pp 393-412; R. Dovid Luria, Kadmut Sefer 25. This is the reason why Rabbi Soloveitchik once
necessarily relying upon their prophetic abilities. haZohar (Warsaw:1887), anaf chamishi, pp. 33- mentioned to the author that he felt chickpeas were
The decisions regarding the altar placement and its 35; Prof. Dovid Tamar, “O’lalot Zafat” Tarbiz 28,1 not appropriate for a shalom zachor. Chickpeas are
dimensions are based on the fact that these prophets (Jerusalem: 5718), page 107; Prof. Dovid Tamar, consumed at a shalom zachor, due to the fact that
lived during the First Temple and knew the location. “Mamar Maggid Mesharim b’pherush R. Avraham they are the food of a mourner. The child has lost
However, for our discussion we may also assume Galanti l’Eicah” Arashet I (Jerusalem: 1958). all of his Torah and this round food is consumed to
that divination was used and explain how it was 13. Visits of the maggid with R. Joseph Karo are men- commemorate this loss based on the comments of R.
halakhically acceptable. tioned in several places including R. Isaiah Horowitz, Sirkes; see Taz, Yoreh De’ah 265, no. 13. However,
4. Or Zaru’a on Avodah Zara II: 200; Haggahot Shenei Luhot ha’Berit (Jerusalem Machon Sha’rei Rabbi Solovietchk suggested that this loss is not
Asheri, Avodah Zara 40a. Ziv , 5753), vol. III p. 4 (tractate Shavuot no. 5); a tragedy but represents the dynamic challenge of
5. Noda bi-Yehudah, Mahadura Tanina, Yoreh De’ah, R. Isaiah Horowitz’s letters found in a collection of reconnecting to God through the study of Torah.
#30. “Letters from the Land of Israel,” collected by Avra- 26. This idea is fully developed by R. Joseph Baer
6. Additional examples include R. Shabbetai b. Meir ham Yaari ( Massada LTD: 1971); R. Hayyim Soloveitchik in the Beit ha-Levi, drasha no. 18,
Hakohen’s refusal to accept the dream mentioned Vital, Sha’ar ha-Gilgulim; R. Chaim Azulai, Shem describing the differences between the first and
in the Teshuvot Maharam m’Rothenburg, no. 31 ha’Gedolim (Jerusalem:Ozar ha’Sefarim, 5752) second luchot and how these differences impacted
(these teshuvot are found in the Mishneh Torah p. 94 (entry no. 165 under Yosef Karo); See also the upon the covenantal relationship between God and
after Sefer Kinyan, Hilkhot Se’khirut) as support introduction of Rav Hayyim of Volozhin to the Vilna the Jewish people.
for a halakhic position advocated by R. Yosef Gaon’s commentary on Sifra de-Zeni’uta.
Caro; Shakh, Hoshen Misphat, 333, sif katan 14. In a letter found in the introduction to the Maggid
25; Teshuvot ha-Radbaz, Sh’nei Alafim, no.286; Mesharim (Jerusalem Orah, 5720).
Teshuvot R. Yom Tov b. Moses Zahalon , no. 271; 15. Sifra de Zeni’uta . I would like to thank Rabbi
R. Yom Tov Lipman Heller, Divrei Hamudot, Dr. Norman Lamm for pointing me toward this
found on the Rosh, Hullin, 7:31. reference.
7. Mordekhai, Avodah Zarah, 5:858 and in the Sefer 16. Bamidbar Rabbah 7:17, Esther Rabbah 1:12.

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Divrei Chizuk

our learning should be to properly understand the

differences between Jews and the rest of the world.
When we study Torah we should be thinking
about the great fortune we have to be Hashem’s
Categorizing people and the opportunity for olam habah that
comes with talmud Torah. However, if we follow
Birkat HaTorah the Levush and the Steipler and understand birkat
haTorah as a birkat hanehenin, then the focus of
our talmud Torah should be the enjoyment of
Rabbi Ezra Schwartz learning. We study Torah and teach Torah because
we enjoy it.

Approaching Talmud Torah with the aim to enjoy,

to derive hanaah, is the focus of the Avnei Nezer’s
famous introduction to his work Eglei Tal on the

T he bracha that is recited on talmud Torah

is the source of a great deal of halachic
literature both of the practical and analytical
nature. Much ink has been spilled pondering why
birkat haTorah is singled out as a d’oraitha obligation
aseh 15) he clearly posits that birkat haTorah is
a brachah of shevach v’hodaah, a blessing that is
intended to praise and thank G-d for giving us the
unique gift through which we have the opportunity
to merit the world to come. Gra (Orach Chayim
melachot of Shabbat. The Avnei Nezer writes that
many assume that one who enjoys his Torah study,
and exults in the jubilation of deriving new Torah
insights, is not as pure as the one who studies Torah
simply because he is commanded to do so. If you
unlike virtually all brachot and why birkat haTorah 47:18) however clearly maintains that birkat enjoy your learning, you seem to lack the lishma
is recited even by those who do not have a complete haTorah is a birkat hamitzvah. There is, however, element that categorizes the ideal of Torah study.
obligation to study Torah. Even the text of birkat an often neglected but tremendously intriguing The Avnei Nezer maintains that this approach
haTorah itself is subject to a dispute in the gemara third opinion. The Levush (Orach Chayim 47) is tremendously mistaken. Rather, the primary
that goes on to this very day, and even the number of writes and this same idea is developed by the purpose of learning Torah, as explained in the
brachot that are recited as part of birkat haTorah also Steipler in his sefer on Masekhet Brachot (#22), Zohar, is to attain simchah — joy and pleasure.
lacks consensus. Many suggest that a great number that the brachah we recite on Torah is in fact a This seems to be consistent with the positions that
of these questions hinge on a single issue: the nature birkat hanehenin. When we make a brachah prior see birkat haTorah as birkat hanehenin. Moreover
of the bracha that is birkat haTorah. to Torah study, we are not simply thanking G-d for the position of Rabbenu Tam, that la’asok b’divrei
creating the Torah. We are anticipating the pleasure Torah and v’haarev na constitute a single brachah,
Brachot fall into many different categories. Brachot and enjoyment we will glean from Torah study. We would point in the direction that the primary focus
of shevach and hodaah, praise G-d for a wonderful know that the study of Torah will be a pleasurable of engaging in Torah study is to enjoy Torah for it
gift. These brachot need not necessarily be recited activity and like so many hannaot a specific to be sweet. This also seems to lead in the direction
before the action. Brachot recited on hanaah most brachah was instituted. that birkat haTorah is a birkat hanehenin.
often on the gustatory pleasure of ingesting food-
carry with them a prohibition to derive benefit It seems that the question of how to categorize Including birkat haTorah in the category of birkat
before the bracha is recited. Moreover, birkot birkat haTorah may shed light on the fundamental hanehenin however, forces us to confront the
hanehenin carry with them an obligation to recite nature of talmud Torah. Why is it that we learn? Do question as to why we do not recite a bracha
a brachah acharonah, a brachah after the action, in we study Torah simply because G-d commanded acharonah after learning. After all, we do recite a
addition to the brachah that is recited before the us to do so; Talmud Torah thereby being a maaseh bracha acharonah after the other pleasures that
action. The third category of brachot are birkat hamitzvah similar to all other maasei hamitzvah — mandate a birkat hanehenin.
hamitzvot, the blessings that introduce a mitzvah. perhaps greater in degree but of the same kind as
In the famous formulation of Rav Soloveitchik, all other commandments. Or do we study Torah The Steipler addresses this in his essay on birkat
these serve as a matir and enable us to approach because we are aware that it is Torah that sets us apart haTorah. He maintains that fundamentally, there
G-d with the performance of the mitzvah, from the rest of humanity — that imposes special should be a bracha acharonah recited after learning.
something which would otherwise be pretentious responsibility on us to serve as moral guide-stars to a However, unlike hanaaot like eating, where there
if not impossible. The question that is pondered is too-often morally deprived world? is a true end point, there is no real end point to
into which category does birkat haTorah fall. one’s learning. Even during the times when one is
If birkat haTorah is fundamentally a birkat engaged in activities that prevent him from opening
A survey of the rishonim and acharonim will yield hamitzvah, it would seem that the dominant lesson a sefer, his act of learning has not ended; he is
three divergent opinions regarding which category of talmud Torah, the aspect which should be the simply an onus, and is unable to continue to study.
of bracha birkat HaTorah properly falls into. The focus of our attention, is the mitzvah element;
Ramban famously criticizes Rambam for leaving we learn to fulfill G-d’s will. If however, we take For myself, and I am sure for all those involved
birkat haTorah out of his list of 613 mitzvoth. As the approach that birkat haTorah is a brachah of in chinuch and rabbanut, this point is quite
part of his essay on the topic (hashmatot l’mitvot shevach and hodaah, it seems that the focus of continued on page 11

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Back to the Beit Midrash

necessary only with respect to Torah shebaal peh:

Ela amar lahen al haTorah shebaal peh sheyesh
ba dikdukei mitzvot kalot v’chamurot v’hi aza
kamavet v’kasheh k’she’ol; l’fi she’ein mi shelomed
otah ela mi she’ohev haKadosh Baruch Hu b’chol
Uniting Our libo, b’chol nafsho uv’chol m’odo (Tanchuma).

Two Torot This development is extremely perplexing

particularly since Chazal view the commitment
to Torah shebaal peh as primary — as the
Rabbi Michael Rosensweig preprequisite to kritat habrit, and in terms of its
inherent spiritual value — “Hashem consecrated
the brit with Jewish people only for the sake of the
Oral Tradition (Gittin 60b).”

What accounts for the need for a dual Revelation

of the Torah, for the drastic measures to promote

T he central theme of Shavuot, reflected in transcend descriptive labels. They were meant to Torah shebaal peh and for its axiological priority?
its krait haTorah and t’fillah, though not convey distinctive, singular approaches to Torah.
explicated in the Torah itself, is Mattan Torah shebichtav is significant as a text. The spelling The conclusion of the Tanchuma provides the
Torah. Chazal, in numerous contexts, develop the and structure of each word and marking has clue. Chazal view the distinctive categories of
thesis that is the crucial cornerstone of Yahadut — halachic and homiletic significance. Even when Torah as representing basic themes of Yahadut.
that Revelation was two-tiered, consisting of oral the meaning is apparently unchanged, a Sefer Torah shebichtav, standing on its own, projects a
and written components. On the pasuk, “These Torah that is improperly transcribed is disqualified. commitment to broad values and general religious
are the statutes and the laws and the Torot which Absolute attention to form may even come at the principles whose demands need not intrude
Hashem gave the Jewish people, by the hand of expense of substance, as kri u’ktiv demonstrate. pervasively on apparently neutral spheres of one’s
Moshe, on Mount Sinai (Vayikra 26:46),” the Sifra Torah shebaal peh recorded in the gemara and life. Broad guidelines that can be implemented
comments that this plural lashon ‘Torot’ teaches midrash, on the other hand, derives its special variously, together with the ritual imperatives
us that two Torot were given to the Jews — one status from its conceptual content, not its specific that are hardly overwhelming in scope, constitute
written and one oral. formulation. Indeed, obsessive allegiance to a the essence of such a Torah. It is Torah shebaal
specific formulation occasionally can be inhibiting peh in conjunction with Torah shebichtav and
At first glance, the two components appear and counterproductive. independently by means of mesorah that is
to represent a study in contrasts. However, responsible for a halachic system which regulates
the relationship between the two is, in fact, The Baal Hatanya’s suggestion that one can fulfill every aspect of life, suffusing the neutral and secular
complimentary and even ideal. Torah shebichtav, the mitzvah of Talmud Torah by simply reading with sanctity. It is this Torah that overwhelms us
the Divine text that yields multiple truths (shivim Torah shebichtav even without comprehending with detail and minutiae (see Gitten 60a). The
panim laTorah) is subject to a variety of legitimate its message, while such a gesture would be Tanchuma itself elaborates:
interpretations (see Sanhedrin 34), and whose very meaningless with respect to Torah shebaal peh, Torah shebichtav, klalot v’Torah shebaal peh pratot.
letters recombine into the different Divine names highlights the distinctiveness of these approaches. Torah shebaal peh harbeh vTorah shebichtav me’at.
(see Ramban introduction to B’reishit). Torah The twin halachic injunctions that ideally prohibit V’al Torah shebaal peh ne’emar ‘arukah m’eretz
shebaal peh, in sharp contrast, though also Divine in that transcription of Torah shebaal peh and midah ur’chavah minei yam.
origin, unfolds through a distinctly human process, proscribe the quotation of Torah shebichtav
consisting of painstaking transmission of data and divorced from its text, reflect the ideal reciprocal Moreover, this Torah constitutes the real litmus test
halachic methodology and the rigorous analysis and interplay between the two components of Torah. of religious commitment:
application of its conceptual content. The functional Lo timtza Torah shebaal peh el mi shem’vakesh
complimentarity of the two is evident, as the Torah Yet, it is striking that Chazal perceive a perceptible oneg ba’olam; taavah v’chavod ug’dulah b’olam
contains in its text, and by virtue its structure and difference in the attitude of Klal Yisrael toward these hazeh, ela b’mi shememit atzmo alehah.
form, numerous hints and obscure references that two Torot at the time of Mattan Torah. In response
are accessible and decipherable only by means of to apparently conflicting reports of naaseh v’nishma Torah shebichtav is the source and inspiration
mesorah and the hermeneutic methodology of the (Shmot 24:7), on the one hand, and the extremely of ethics, while Torah shebaal peh serves as the
13 middot (see Eruvin 21b). reluctant posture reflected by the need for coercive means of implementing that vision, imbuing it with
measures — kaffah aleihem har k’gigit, on the other, substance and establishing a sense of legal obligation:
Moreover, it is obvious that the respective the midrash resolves the dilemma by advancing a Torah shebichtav — Shma b’ni musar avicha,
designations, Torah shebichtav u’baal peh, distinction between the two Torot. Coercion was shehu mosro shel Hakadosh baruch Hu. ‘V’al

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Back to the Beit Midrash

titosh Torat imecha — Torah shebaal peh, shehu moral societies that safeguard even basic principles animate and guide it is totally inconsistent with the
kabbalat ol mitzvoth kulo. of justice and fairness reinforces this theme. dual commitment undertaken at Har Sinai. Middat
Pirkei Avot, for this reason, is preceded by an hadin untempered by middat harachamim is hardly
In midrashic and kabbalistic literature, Torah enumeration of the mesorah. Moreover, they have the ideal.
shebaal peh is characterized in terms of the more completely ignored the theme of commitment and
rigorous and uncompromising middat hadin. submission that is the basis for the real relationship The Midrash declares unequivocally that neither
Torah shebaal peh is identified with the me’or between man and his Creator. factor alone suffices, nor should one be substituted
hakatan, a light that is dimmer, but also has the for the other (see Shmot Rabbah 47:4). Rabbeinu
capacity to illuminate even the night. Middat hadin B’chai, commenting on ‘ki ner mitzvah v’Torah
ohr, emphasizes the primacy of Torah shebaal
Klal Yisrael’s initial reticence is now fully untempered by peh, equated with ner, but accents its necessary
comprehensible. It is much easier to roots in Torah shebichtav — ohr. He notes that
enthusiastically embrace the general commitment middat harachamim Torah shebichtav contains both din va’chesed,
articulated by Torah shebichtav, than the all- as Torah shebaal peh is merely its extension.
encompassing life of Torah shebaal peh. At the is hardly the ideal. Elsewhere, he concludes that while many situations
same time, Torah shebaal peh’s primacy is manifest. require the bright universal light of the sun, other
At the same time, for b’nei Yeshiva who are steeped circumstances mandate the more focused beam
We live in an age in which, unfortunately, primarily in Torah shebaal peh, as they should be, of a candle to illuminate the cracks and crevices of
many Jews, like Klal Yisrael of old, display far it is important to underscore the indispensability specific life situations.
greater enthusiasm for the symbol of Torah of Torah shebichtav. A Torah shebaal peh that loses
shebichtav than for the motifs conveyed by sight of its Torah shebichtav origin and roots runs The theme of shtei Torot is as compelling today
its oral counterpart. They do not adequately the risk of becoming preoccupied with detail in a as it was at the dramatic moment of Mattan
appreciate that universal values, and even specific way that threatens to detract from the substance Torah. May we rededicate ourselves to this dual,
ritual behavior, require an overarching and and conceptual significance of those very details. ambitious, yet complimentary program — l’hagdil
comprehensive structure to be effective. The failure Divorcing the details of halachah from the lofty Torah ul’haadirah. n
of secular ethics and of other religions to produce goals and ideals of Torah shebichtav which must

Divrei Chizuk

Categorizing Birkat HaTorah

continued from page 9

poignant. We realize that there is never an end to we don’t completely comprehend and are not at all hold true. So long as there are those who have not
our learning. Very often the shiurim that we give passionate about, we will impact on few people, if learned, my own learning is deficient. Therefore
reflect first thoughts on a particular subject rather anyone at all. teaching Torah is an integral part of our own
than a final conclusion after having exhausted the responsibility to learn Torah.
topic completely. We understand that the notion On a halachic level also we should realize that
of a brachah acharonah on talmud Torah is a teaching Torah is the truest form. In Sefer Viewing birkat haTorah as a birkat hanehenin has
conceptual impossibility. Hamitzvot (Mitzvot Aseh 11) the Rambam the advantage of instilling us with the passion to
puts forward a single mitzvah to learn and teach teach; to share the enjoyment that we derive when
Viewing birkat haTorah as a birkat hanehenin has Torah. Teaching is part and parcel of learning studying with others. It will help us properly fulfill
a huge pedagogic advantage. On a practical level, for two reasons. On a practical level, as the the mitzvah of talmud Torah and will enable so
the more we enjoy our Torah study, the more mishna in Avot highlights, very often we do not many others to taste some of the sweetness that we
pleasure we glean while preparing shiurim. The properly understand Torah until we convey so much enjoy. It will infuse even greater energy
more excited we are when we present our thoughts, it — mitalmiday yoter mikulam. However, and passion into our avodat hakodesh. It will
the greater impact our Torah thoughts will have on there is also a philosophical dimension to the increase the already tremendous success Yeshiva
our baalei batim. If we are engaged in talmud Torah connection between teaching Torah and learning University and RIETS musmakhim are finding
because it is geshmak, if we recite birkat haTorah Torah. Areivut tells us that we have not properly spreading d’var Hashem throughout the United
as a a birkat hanehenin every day, we will be more discharged our obligation in the performance of a States and beyond, and will bring us as a people
energized and excited; our words will be so much mitzvah so long as there are other Jews who have closer to attaining our sacred mission. n
more powerful. However, if we repeat old ideas not completely discharged the mitzvah themselves.
that we found in sermon manuals, stale thoughts In the realm of Talmud Torah the same could

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Musmakhim in the Limelight

Preparing the Next

“The mishnah teaches at the beginning of Masechet Avot: ‘Moshe received the
Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua; Yehoshua to the Elders…’
From the words of this mishnah we learn several important principles. First,
that each person must have a rebbe who transmits Torah to him. Without
surrendering himself to his rebbe and being subservient to him in order to
receive the mesorah from him, he will not be able to succeed in his Torah study.
Second, Moshe was obligated to transmit the Torah to future generations, as it
says, ‘See, I taught you laws and statutes as Hashem my Lord commanded me.’
(Dvarim 4:5.) There is a serious prohibition for a Torah giant to hold on to his
Torah without transmitting it, for the Torah was not given to the Jews to be
theirs individually, but rather, it was given to the entire congregation of Israel.”
Nefesh Harav, pp. 4
Musmakhim in the Limelight
In an issue devoted to zman Matan Torateinu and the transmission of our holy mesorah, we highlight three veteran rabbis, who have not only suc-
ceeded in their own callings, but have trained assistant rabbis who have succeeded in their own careers in the rabbanut. We focus this column on
the sterling rabbinic careers of three chaveirim: Rabbi Haskel Lookstein ’58R, Rabbi Alvin Marcus ’52R and Rabbi Benjamin Yudin ’69R.
We chose not to speak to these rabbinic mentors, but rather, to their protégés. We laud these three leaders for hearkening to the mandate of the
mesorah: to share their wealth of Torah and experience, assuring the continuity of successful synagogue rabbis.
We convened three former assistant rabbis to each rabbi for this feature. All of the essayists are still engaged in avodat hakodesh and consider
the rabbi under whom they served as a mentor.

In Tribute To Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein has been the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun since
1958 and principal of the Ramaz School since 1966. He is the Joseph H. Lookstein
Professor of Homiletics at Yeshiva University, vice president of the Beth Din of America,
and a member of the Board of Directors of the UJA Federation of New York. Rabbi
Lookstein is also a commissioner of the New York City Human Rights Commission.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and earned his ordination,
master’s degree, and Ph.D. from Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Haskel and Audrey Lookstein

Rabbi Dale Polakoff ’82R as part of its extended family. I saw and felt the love this sense of history and tradition. I am very proud
Brown suits. Brown shoes. Both items that I owned between rabbi and congregant, yet realized that when I am able to continue this American rabbinic
and wore before becoming an assistant rabbi at such a bond develops only over time and often tradition and I hope that I have transmitted that
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, before having through much sacrifice. I learned about the chal- love and the tradition to my assistant rabbis. n
the privilege of having Rabbi Haskel Lookstein as lenge of raising children in such a family. Rabbi Mintz is the spiritual leader of Kehillat Reyim
a mentor. Since those days you won’t find a brown Ahuvim in Manhattan.
suit or a pair of brown dress shoes in my closet, I know that the lessons I learned from Rabbi
because at KJ that was not how a rabbi dressed. Lookstein and KJ played a significant role in Rabbi Mark Wildes ’94R
shaping my rabbinic career. I often think back with
Brown is not a rabbinic color. fondness to those days, not simply because of what From 1996 through 1998 I had the great honor
I learned, but because of the relationship that I had of serving as the assistant rabbi of Congregation
Despite the obvious superficiality of clothing color, the privilege of forming with one of the pillars of Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City. Without a
there was a deeper lesson ingrained in me from that the American rabbinate. A student relationship has question, the greatest part of that position was the
beginning of my rabbinic career. I learned in a very grown into one of colleagues, but the foundation privilege of being trained and mentored by Rabbi
profound way that there are professional expecta- of respect, admiration and friendship has grown Lookstein. I learned much during those two very
tions of how a rabbi carries himself, how he acts, stronger and deeper over the years. n special years, much of which has informed my own
what he does and yes, even what he wears. Rabbi Rabbi Polakoff is the senior rabbi at the Great Neck rabbinate and work in outreach.
Lookstein taught that even more by example than Synagogue.
he did in our mentoring discussions. First and foremost, Rabbi Lookstein taught me
Rabbi Adam Mintz ’85R what it means to be dedicated to the institution
I learned that there was a professional expectation one serves. I will never forget walking with Rabbi
that every drashah and shiur was prepared and Rabbi Lookstein taught me the rabbinate as a Lookstein in one of the halls of the synagogue
thought out, and in those early days, written out profession and a passion. Rabbi Lookstein appre- building and watching him pick up a piece of
word for word. I subsequently learned that not ciates every detail of the rabbinate whether it was trash that was lying on the floor. As he tossed the
every drashah needed to have three points or appli- setting the schedule for Yom Kippur services or trash into the garbage he told me that working
cations, but in those days that was the expectation. I meeting with a congregant to discuss a personal for a Jewish institution means you care about
learned (painfully) that reading a ketubah properly problem. For Rabbi Lookstein, the rabbinate is everything that goes on, down to the last piece of
took practice, and I learned firsthand how a rabbi an art and I have tried in my rabbinate to emulate paper on the floor. It also left a great impression
who understands his pastoral responsibilities can these qualities. on me as to the dignity that a synagogue should
make a difference in a congregant’s life. represent; so the congregants will come to associ-
Finally, Rabbi Lookstein loved the tradition of ate the synagogue and really all of Judaism with a
Rabbi Lookstein and Audrey taught me how a the American rabbinate that he learned from his certain elegance and class. To this day I make sure
rabbinic family holds all of the pieces together, and father, Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein. As a historian that every event MJE hosts is done with the right
how a rabbinic family considers the congregation of American Orthodoxy, I especially appreciated look so it can convey the right feel.
C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Musmakhim in the Limelight

Rabbi Lookstein also taught me how to run a sure that every sermon has both practical applica- someone to go to, not only with halachic queries,
synagogue service, and in particular, to ensure tions and a take-home message that is clear. but also for advice and guidance in life’s most
that the davening moves and that the congrega- important decisions.
tion is not allowed too much time to remain But perhaps the greatest thing I learned from
inactive. To this day, at the Shabbat beginners Rabbi Lookstein is a rabbi’s commitment to his All in all, Rabbi Lookstein is a rabbi’s rabbi and I re-
service I conduct, I always make sure there is congregants. In a very large congregation Rabbi main forever indebted for having learned so much
never a lull in the davening. My congregation Lookstein somehow manages to be in touch with under his tutelage. n
is either singing, chanting or doing something, the personal issues affecting the many individuals Rabbi Wildes is president and founder of the Manhattan
never remaining idle. who make up the KJ membership. He is totally Jewish Experience outreach organization.
devoted to his people and they know it. As such,
Rabbi Lookstein taught me and countless others Rabbi Lookstein has been able to serve as a true
how to prepare and deliver a sermon and to make spiritual guide for his many parishioners and as

In Tribute To Rabbi Alvin Marcus

Rabbi Alvin Marcus holds the position of Rabbi Emeritus of Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob and
David in West Orange, NJ, and was rabbi of the shul from September 1968 to early 1988. He
received his semikhah from RIETS in June 1952 and received a Doctorate of Divinity degree
from Yeshiva University in 1983. He served as president of the Rabbinical Council of New
Jersey and a past president of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Metropolitan New Jersey. He
was co-chairman of the Rabbinic Division of the United Jewish Appeal Campaign of the Jewish
Community Federation of Metropolitan New Jersey. He has also served as president of the
RIETS Rabbinic Alumi, as well as chairman of the Education Commission of the Rabbinical
Council of America. In metropolitan New Jersey, Rabbi Marcus was co-chairman of the V’aad
HaKashrus of Metrowest, on the board of the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and was
chairman of its Board of Education. He is also co-president of the Joint Chaplaincy Commis-
sion. He is also administrator of the Kukin Society of Fellows.

Rabbi Alvin and Marilyn Marcus

Rabbi Daniel Cohen ’94R to success in life is an upbeat and can-do attitude. how to work a crowd, whether at a shul kiddush
My time spent under the tutelage of Rabbi Alvin No task was too small for Rabbi Marcus and no or developing a relationship with respect. Rabbi
Marcus serves as an invaluable source of inspiration challenge was too great. If an assistant rabbi can Marcus’ professional goals were about the shul,
and guidance in my rabbinate. When I reflect upon embody the same spirit thoughtout his career, he never about himself. He knew that if I succeeded, it
Rabbi Marcus’ impact, I realize that his love of will realize his personal dream of making an eternal would be good for the shul. n
people and pastoral influence shapes my priorities. difference in lives of Klal Yisrael and be blessed by Rabbi Bixon is the rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation in
Delivering sermons, organizing programs or man- G-d with renewable energy every day of his life. n Miami Beach.
aging the operations of the synagogue are all crucial Rabbi Cohen currently leads Congregation Agudath
to success; but the glue of a cohesive congregation Shalom in Stamford, CT.
and transformational rabbinate flows from the Rabbi Daniel Alter ’98R
spiritual counsel and engagement in the lives of To this day, I still consider Rabbi Marcus to have
our members. I spend most of my time developing Rabbi Donald Bixon ’95R been my primary mentor in the rabbinate. Permit
relationships with the Jewish people and with G-d’s Rabbi Marcus taught me to be a professional rabbi. me to share some anecdotes which reflect on that
help, supporting them emotionally and spiritually, I distinctly remember coming into shul 20 minutes impact.
unlocking their Divine spark and doing my utmost before mincha on a Friday afternoon and saw him
to realize their potential. I am eternally grateful to re-typing the announcements the president would I was once sitting in the office with Rabbi Marcus,
Rabbi Marcus for his mentorship and investment make after davening on Shabbos. I asked him, when one of his mentees called. The young,
in me as a person and as a rabbi. “Rabbi, you have secretaries, why are you doing ambitious, and extremely talented rabbi began to
this?” His answer rings true for the rabbinate: “If describe the incredible kiruv shabbaton he had just
Rabbi Marcus loves serving the Jewish people and the president’s announcements are not exact and run. “What about Mrs Schwartz?” interrupted Rab-
his passion and positive attitude for the rabbin- correct, it reflects badly on me.” bi Marcus. “Who?” asked the young Rabbi. “Mrs.
ate distinguish his career. Whether for myself or Schwartz” responded Rabbi Marcus. “She has a
any other assistant rabbis who trained with Rabbi Rabbi Marcus taught me how to be a rabbi – how cold today and missed shul this shabbos. Have you
Marcus, these character traits are contagious and to run a shul, the importance of being involved in called her?” Assuming Rabbi Marcus was joking,
energize my mission as a rabbi. One of the keys the greater community. Rabbi Marcus taught me the young rabbi continued to describe the dynamic

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Musmakhim in the Limelight

programming that was taking place at his shul. “But and showed me how to paint the boards black. this vision is rare. He also believed strongly in Klal
what about Mrs. Schwartz? Have you called her to- (They are less conspicuous when used as a lechi if Yisrael and made every effort to reach out and
day?” Rabbi Marcus asked again. As Rabbi Marcus they are the same color as the telephone pole.) As co-exist with all Jews. It did not matter if they were
continued to emphasize the older widow who had a community rabbi, Rabbi Marcus possessed an rabbis or lay people, Orthodox or non-Orthodox,
a cold, I realized that Mrs. Schwartz was a fictional extremely diverse array of skills. Even outside of religious or not, they were all Jews, and he treated
figure. Rabbi Marcus, in his gentle way, was subtly homiletic, pastoral, and other traditional rabbinic them all with extraordinary respect.
teaching a mentee a very important lesson about competences, he was extremely skilled.
the role of the rabbi. Rabbi Marcus did not micromanage his assistant
I don’t think I ever saw Rabbi Marcus become rabbis. He allowed us to find our passion in the
My first induction into the world of eiruvin was angry. His philosophy matched his temperament, rabbinate and encouraged us to move in those
through Rabbi Marcus. He would drive with me which is always calm and composed. Under his directions. When I looked back at the assistant
over the course of two hours while we checked the leadership, West Orange was always known as a rabbis before me, I realized that the job description
eruv together. For me, this was the most valuable community where peace reigned, everyone got for each of us had been different. He allowed each
time of my entire week; two hours of uninterrupted along, and somehow, a community made up of of us to discover and develop our own passions. He
time with my mentor. During our second week of people with diverse philosophies and perspectives, also trusted us to grow in our areas of choice, make
checking, we found a lechi that was down. Rabbi as well as a wide array of personal religious practice, mistakes on the path of growth, and covered for us
Marcus drove me to Home Depot. Having learned came together to feel and act like a united commu- when we did make those mistakes. n
through many Ritvas or Pnei Yeshoshuas, I had nity. He believed strongly in community and was Rabbi Alter is rabbi of the DAT Minyan in Denver and
never actually entered a Home Depot before. Rab- willing to stand up against any form of divisiveness head of school of the Denver Academy of Torah.
bi Marcus bought a number of planks, had them in order to maintain the cohesion that existed in
cut down, then bought a few cans of spray paint, West Orange. In today’s fragmented Jewish world,

In Tribute To Rabbi Benjamin Yudin

Rabbi Benjamin Yudin has served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Shomrei Torah
in Fair Lawn, NJ since 1969. Together with his wife Shevi, he has been involved in virtually
every aspect of Jewish communal life in Fair Lawn. Rabbi Yudin is a senior member and past
president of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County and, in 2007, was appointed by Gov-
ernor Jon Corzine to the New Jersey-Israel Commission. After receiving a B.A. in history from
Yeshiva University, he pursued a dual graduate program, earning semikhah from RIETS as
well as a master’s degree in Jewish History. His association with Yeshiva continues to this day.
A former rebbe in YU’s high school, Rabbi Yudin currently teaches Bible and Jewish thought in
the Mechina Program at Yeshiva College, and is a former dean of Mechina’s predecessor, the
James Striar School. He also chairs the Moshe Besdin Memorial Fund, which raises scholar-
ship money for needy students from Russia, Iran, and other countries. In 1993, Rabbi Yudin
received the Yeshiva College Alumni Association’s prestigious Bernard Revel Memorial Award
in Religion and Religious Education. Rabbi Yudin’s weekly parshah commentary on radio sta-
tion WFMU’s “JM in the AM” program is heard by thousands of listeners in the tri-state area.
Countless others have been inspired by the explanatory essays Rabbi Yudin contributed to
Rabbi Benjamin and Shevi Yudin the ArtScroll Transliterated Linear Siddur, a landmark prayerbook designed to enable all Jews
to be full participants in the synagogue service.

Rabbi Donald Bixon ’94R and growing spiritually. Rabbi Yudin is a true rav me that I too could find diverse satisfaction in the
Rabbi Yudin is the consummate Talmid Cha- b’Yisrael, and I learned from him the Torah aspect profession. I observed an unparalleled commit-
cham, who constantly pushes himself in learning. of the rabbinate. n ment to chesed, talmud Torah and kiruv that was
I learned from him how to persevere in preparing contagious. In particular, I try to adopt Rabbi
to teach Torah and to assure myself that I had Rabbi Dovid Cohen ’97R Yudin’s positive outlook and confidence in every
s’darim k’vuim for my own learning. Rabbi Yudin My mentorship under Rabbi Yudin was the Jew. He would often reflect that somebody is “not
always used to quote R. Joseph Lookstein, “If the impetus for my pursuing a career in the rabbinate. yet” religious rather than “not” religious.
baalei batim like the rabbi, they’ll do more for the Rabbi Yudin was incredibly enthusiastic about all
rabbi than they will for Shulchan Aruch.” After be- the opportunities he had to touch people and make Rabbi Yudin is the model mentor. He included
ing with Rabbi Yudin and seeing how lishma he is, a profound impact on their lives. He was a part me every step of the way. He often would discuss
I saw first-hand Rabbi Lookstein’s aphorism come of almost every family in his community. Rabbi complex shailos or personal counseling issues and
to life in Fair Lawn; how people trying to emulate Yudin viewed every day in the rabbinate as a fresh would even solicit my input. He viewed it as his re-
R. Yudin ended up following Shulchan Aruch opportunity for growth and that attitude convinced sponsibility to train me for a career in the rabbinate.

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Musmakhim in the Limelight
I had the great merit of five years under his tutelage, you are willing to give to another. Rabbi Yudin also qualities that had a great impact on my develop-
and my current congregants have a more effective, reinforced the idea that a rav must always continue ment and still inspire me today are Rabbi Yudin’s
engaged rav because of the mentoring I received. to excel and grow in his personal learning in order ahavas Torah and selflessness. Rabbi Yudin’s
Rabbi Yudin is a model rav because he is above to feel fulfilled in his relationship with Hashem. excitement for Torah study has inspired countless
politics and pettiness. His entire focus is ahavat Everything the rabbi did — he did b’simchah. He students; I have seen him light up upon hearing
Yisrael and helping Jews. n taught his congregants (and assistant rabbi) that a new Torah insight and beam at the thought of
Rabbi Cohen is rabbi of the Young Israel of the West Side everything in life, is an “opportunity and privilege”; creating a new opportunity to share Torah with
and Mashgiach Ruchani at Stern College for Women. every person is a “friend,” and we must always find others. His personal sacrifice for the benefit of oth-
the strength to have a “sever panic yafos” for every ers is legendary. Together with his wife, Shevi, they
person at all hours. have opened their hearts and home to Jews from all
Rabbi Shmuel Silber ’02R over and continue to inspire a culture of giving by
Rabbi Yudin was an incredible mentor in so many I believe that Rabbi Yudin’s ability to be an incredible leading a shining example.
ways. I still remember the first thing Rabbi Yudin “mashpiah” (both as a mentor to young rabbis and to
taught me — “there is nothing part time about his greater congregation) is rooted in his unbridled Serving as an assistant to Rabbi Yudin enabled me
the rabbanus.” I believe that this “maamar” truly sincerity, kedushah and love for Am Yisroel. to learn by observing his humble, gracious style
personifies and embodies his commitment to Am of leadership that has earned the trust and respect
Yisroel. It was clear to me from the beginning that My time as Rabbi Yudin’s assistant was not just of his congregants. His dedication to excellence
Rabbi Yudin was a rav not just to his kehillah but shimush in the rabbanus, it was shimush for how in learning and living Torah is a model which is
to any Jew who was in need of his help, guidance to properly live life — and for this I am forever ideal for budding rabbis to emulate. Those whose
and advice. Rabbi Yudin showed me the beauty grateful. n rabbinate reflects the type of genuine and sincere
of leading a life devoted to serving Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Silber serves as rabbi of the Suburban Orthodox avodas Hashem — bein adam lachaveiro and bein
He demonstrated to me that even small acts of Congregation in Baltimore. adam lamakom — found in Fair Lawn are blessed
chessed, kindness, devotion and empathy could to have a true moral compass. n
have a lasting and transformative effect on the lives Rabbi Reuven Brand ’05R Rabbi Reuven Brand is the Rosh Kollel of the Yeshiva
of others. Rabbi Yudin taught me that true growth Rabbi Yudin served as an outstanding mentor and University Torah Mitzion Kollel in Chicago.
as a rav, Jew and human being is directly propor- teacher by modeling the values which are essential
tional to the amount of effort, time and patience for future leaders in Klei Kodesh. Two specific

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Book Review

Fresh Fruit & Blau selects Aggadic passages that are essential
building blocks of Jewish literacy and writes in a
move forward and responsibly exercise his life’s
mission which indeed is very good.
Vintage Wine pleasant, elegant and engaging manner that makes
(OU Press, Ktav and this book a truly delicious read. Another example of Rav Blau’s masterful ap-
Yeshivat Har Etzion, 2009 ) proach is his analysis of the Gemara (Eruvin 65b)
An example of Rav Blau’s method is his analysis of which states that a man is known by koso (how he
by Rabbi Yitzchak Blau ’94R the gemara (Eruvin 13b) which presents the pro- drinks), kiso (how he chooses to spend money)
tracted debate between Beit Hillel and Beit Sha- and ka’aso (how he expresses his anger) and some
Reviewed by Rabbi Chaim Jachter ’92R mai as to whether it is better for one not to have
Rebbe, Torah Academy of Bergen County; Dayan, say b’sachko (how he plays). After noting the al-
Beth Din of Elizabeth and Rabbi of Congregation been created and the conclusion in favor of the literation Rav Blau notes the different approaches
Shaarei Orah of Teaneck approach that it is better for man not to have been as to why these three activities are named. Ben Ye-
created. Rav Blau notes that this conclusion ap-
hoyada explains that the examples reflect increas-
parently contradicts Hashem’s observation at the
ing prevalence as not everyone drinks, there are
Torah educators are constantly challenged to find conclusion of the six days of creation that all He
times when we do not use money, but the danger
topics that their students will find compelling and made is very good (Breishit 1:31). Rav Blau offers
of anger is always present. Maharsha explains that
meaningful. Congregational rabbis are faced with a variety of approaches to solve this problem. He
the additional challenge of presenting shiurim cites Rav Yosef Albo (Sefer HaIkkarim 3:2), who these categories represent the three categories of
and derashot that are suitable to audiences whose explains that all of creation is referring to the total- mitzvot: between man and man (kiso), between
educational levels often range from accomplished ity of creation, but some aspects of creation, such man and Hashem (ka’aso, because Chazal
Torah scholar to outright beginner. Many of the as man, are not necessarily very good. Yet another compare anger to idolatry) and between man and
classic and even newer sefarim available on a possibility is that the gemara is simply speaking in himself (koso).
dizzying array of topics often provide material that terms of comfort (“Noach”) that it is simply more
a Modern Orthodox audience will find arcane comfortable for one not to be created but that it is Rav Blau then analyzes the last test of play. He
and not meaningful to their lives as Jews. On the certainly good for man to be created. explains the test is whether one conducts an
other hand, some of the newer means of analysis integrated life in which he integrates Torah values
rely entirely upon original thought that fails to even into areas of reshut, where the Shulchan
resonate with our audiences due their failure to Aruch does not offer strict guidelines as to how
build upon classic commentaries and styles. Thus one should behave. Rav Blau further develops
rabbis and educators are left with a dearth of tools this idea using Rabbi Norman Lamm’s analysis
at their disposal to help them create presentations of the gemara (Megillah 9a), which distinguishes
that will satisfy their constituents. between the Greek-Western perception of leisure
and the Torah view of leisure. Whereas the
Rav Yitzchak Blau’s Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine Greek-Western tradition views leisure as simply
is a most welcome breath of fresh air for Torah refraining from productive behavior, the Torah
professionals. Rav Blau has an incredible knack of views rest as laden with potential for spiritual
identifying topics and traditional commentaries growth. Thus the use of one’s leisure time is a very
that our audiences will find meaningful. More- appropriate manner to gauge someone’s spiritual
over, his breadth of knowledge is astounding. He
cites from an incredibly wide mixture of sources
that provides the variety our audiences so very
Rav Blau’s work is a much-needed, groundbreaking
much need. In his analysis of approximately 90
work which is a highly valuable addition to any To-
Aggadic passages from the gemara, Rav Blau
rah professional’s tool box. It is recommended for
regularly cites Rashi, Rambam, Meiri, Maharsha,
Maharal, Netziv, Ben Yehoyada, Ein Yaakov, rabbis searching for appropriate topics for discus-
Meshech Chochmah, Rav Yechiel Yaakov Wein- sions between mincha and maariv, classroom reb-
berg and Rav Yitzchak Hutner in addition to the beim to teach appreciation and in-depth analysis of
expected citations of Rav Kook and Rav Soloveit- Agaddah, and a valuable resource and springboard
chik. Other lesser known personalities such as for formulating derashot. The Torah community
Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel and Rav Reuven Katz He then articulates an answer based on Rav Hut- eagerly looks forward to many more such volumes
are cited when needed to provide just the right ner that the gemara’s conclusion represents the from Rav Blau, which will greatly elevate the quality
insight into a classic text to clinch a lesson that is beginning of one’s life journey where one should of Torah literacy and Torah classes throughout the
relevant to our times. Rav Blau even spices his dis- be struck with the awesome responsibility of one’s Jewish community. n
cussions with citations from non-Jewish sources life journey and feel that it is better not to have
such as Isaiah Berlin and Soren Kirkegaard. Rav been created. Only after this recognition may one

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Practical Halachah
ing so is just a meritorious act.16 Furthermore, there
Hashdeihu… is a dispute as to whether we have to judge everyone
in this manner17 or whether our favorable judgment
ve-Khabdeihu? is reserved only for the religious elite18. Rambam is of
the opinion that, as a matter of law, righteous people
Community Responses must always be given the benefit of the doubt and
that wicked people must always be judged negatively,
to Members Accused or regardless of the apparent nature of any particular
action. He applies R. Yehoshua ben Perahyah’s
Indicted of Crimes teaching — hevei dan le-kaf zekhut — only to
actions of beinonim, those who are neither wicked
Rabbi Mark Dratch ’82R nor righteous18. Others apply this principle only to
strangers, those whose characters are unknown to
us and for whom we have no context by which to
make assumptions about their behavior20. Maharam

Shik and Avodat Yisrael, in their commentaries to
he seemingly ubiquitous headlines Benefit of the Doubt Pirke Avot, limit its application to those individuals
announcing alleged illegal activities of mentioned in the Mishnah — friends and teachers;
In general, we must judge others favorably, assuming
Orthodox-affiliating Jews pose an impor- strangers may be suspected.
their innocence: “ve-hevei dan et kol ha-adam le-kaf
tant challenge to rabbis and communities.1 How do
zekhut;3” “ha-hoshed be-kesherim lokeh be-gufo;4”
we treat shul members who have been accused of
and “be-tzedek tishpot et ‘amitekha,” which means Always?
financial misconduct, sexual or physical abuse, and
not only that “you shall judge your neighbor with Despite the call to judge favorably, there is room
other crimes? Are they welcome in the shul? Do
righteousness,5” but “you shall judge your neighbor for suspicion and for precaution. When there is no
they receive aliyot? Lead the services?
as righteous.” While many reasons have been prof- hazakah, or when the hazakah has weakened due to
The answers are not simple. On the one hand, the fered for this attitude6, for our analysis it is impor- circumstances, reliable suspicions and other factors,
facts of the cases have yet to be heard or confirmed tant to draw attention to those who base it on the misgivings and doubts are appropriate. Masekhet
in a court of law and the accused have yet to be principle of hazakah, a legal theory that enshrines the Derekh Eretz, Pirkei Ben Azzai 3:3 tells the story of
found guilty; they may very well be innocent. Any status quo and enables us to make certain presump- R. Yehoshua and his suspicious treatment of a house
punitive or restrictive policies may lead to our viola- tions about people and their behavior — people guest. After an evening of eating and drinking, R. Ye-
tion of halbanat penei haveiro ba-rabbim, lashon are presumed to be as they have always been. Every hoshua showed his guest to the roof where the visitor
hara, motzi shem ra and rekhilut; and ona’ah (op- person has a hezkat kashrut and is to be considered would spend the night. After the guest climbed the
pression). We may be guilty of being hoshed be- innocent until proven guilty 7: either people are pre- ladder, R. Yehoshua, without his guest’s knowledge,
kesheirim, of failing to be dan le-kaf zekhut and to sumed born guiltless and honest and they continue removed the only safe descent. In the middle of the
provide support and encouragement to fellow Jews to be so8; their behavior patterns until now have es- night, the guest gathered much of his host’s property
in crisis who just at this time need the empathy and tablished a presumption that all his actions are good and sought to escape “like a thief in the night.” The
caring of their community and spiritual leaders. and noble9; or since the rov (the majority) of Jews ladder having been removed, the thief fell off the roof
On the other hand, if the allegations are true, honor- behave in good and noble ways10, or the majority of and was injured. When the thief complained about
ing the accused publicly may be a hillul Hashem, this person’s actions are good11, the odds are that this the missing ladder, R. Yehoshua castigated him say-
casting aspersions on the ethics and integrity of the person is part of that majority. ing that he should have realized that he would have
shul 2; other community members may feel uncom- been under suspicion. The conclusion: “One should
Another approach that explains the requirement of
fortable seeing them attend and fully participate in always consider others as thieves, while honoring
judging others favorably suggests that in considering
synagogue life; and alleged victims of this individual them like Rabban Gamliel.”
suspicious behavior we are to assume that we do not
may feel angry that someone who harmed them has know the entire story, that we do not properly un- The gemara, Niddah 61a, relates that when certain
unconstrained benefits of all the rights and privileges derstand another’s motivations, or that the unseemly men who were rumored to have committed
of the community. This may lead to resentment of, act may have merely been an innocent mistake12. In murder came to R. Tarfon and asked to be hidden,
and alienation and disaffection from the rabbi, the fact, we are warned not to judge another “until we R. Tarfon replied, “How should I act? If I do not
shul and the community. Furthermore, if the accusa- have been in his place13.” And even when we observe hide you, [the avengers of the blood] would see you
tions are about physical or sexual abuse, others in unquestionable misconduct by a Torah scholar, a [and kill you]. If I do hide you, I would be acting
the community may be future victims of this alleged person whose piety and conduct are presumed to contrary to the statement of the rabbis, ‘As to slan-
perpetrator; what is the community’s responsibility be beyond reproach, we must assume that he has der, though one should not believe it, one should
to protect innocents from harm? immediately repented for his misdeeds.14 take note of it.’ Go you and hide yourselves.”
The issues are complex and deserve much more de- One final example: the Mishnah, Yoma 18b, relates
tailed analysis than this space allows. The following Judging Favorably: Obligation how the elders charged the High Priest prior to his
may serve as a helpful introduction to some of the or Meritorious Act? officiating in the Temple’s Holy of Holies on Yom
issues and offers approaches to this sensitive matter. There is a difference of opinion as to whether we are Kippur. To ensure that he would follow the rituals
obligated to judge others favorably15 or whether do- according to the rabbinic, Pharisaic requirements,

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Practical Halachah
and not in accord with the interpretations of the Credible, persistent rumors and circumstantial Policy Considerations
Sadducees, they warned him against deviating from evidence are sufficient in order to speak out against
We have briefly touched on a number of the major ar-
the halakhah and then they all wept. The kohen supposed malfeasors. Megillah 25b records permis-
eas of halakhic and ethical concerns that must be con-
cried because they suspected him of being a Sad- sion to shame publicly a person about whom there
sidered when formulating congregational policies that
ducee, and they cried for having suspected him and are rumors that he is an adulterer and refer to him as
respond to members accused or indicted of crimes. To
not judging him favorably. Rambam explains that “gimel shin,” an acronym for gala shaita (adulterer,
these we add some practical considerations:
where there is a hekhreh gadol the need to presume madman)27. A rumor that a certain disciple revealed
innocence is suspended. R. Moshe Soloveitchik, a matter that had been declared a secret 22 years 1. Congregations should formulate and adopt poli-
zt”l, suggested that in the case of this case of the ko- earlier was enough to ban him from entering the cies in advance of any specific situation. This gives
hen Gadol on Yom Kippur the elders were justified: Bet Midrash28. Rumors of impropriety, even though sufficient time to discuss and formulate their re-
while one may look at a person’s past behavior in a they were not confirmed by legal testimony, were sponses. It also allows for greater objectivity when
charitable light, such openness is not required, and sufficient to enable a court to remove an agent acting discussions are held about theoretical situations
may be inappropriate, with regard to future actions. on its behalf29. A reasonable presumption (amatla) and not about specific cases or individuals. Further,
was enough to dismiss a community functionary, these policies make it easier to respond should an
Thus, where there is reason to be concerned about
such as the administrator of the Hevra Kaddisha30. actual situation arise.
future negative ramifications we should not give
others the full benefit of the doubt but may pro- Even a court, usually constrained by a high standard 2. Ideally, the policies should be formulated and ad-
ceed with suspicion. of testimony which must be met before it passes opted by the group, not any one individual. While
judgment or metes out punishment, is authorized the halakhic guidelines should be provided by the
Lashon Hara to administer lashes to a person who is the subject rabbi, the responsibility for the practical applica-
of persistent rumors of impropriety31. And a court tions of those guidelines (both in formulation and
Although the prohibitions of lashon hara, rekhilut
may place someone in niddui (excommunicative in practice) must be shared with lay leadership.
and motzi shem ra are rigorous and severe, there
ban) determined solely by ‘omed ha-da’at (deduction
are circumstances in which sharing derogatory 3. One can certainly distinguish between accusa-
based on an assessment of the merits)32.
information with others is obligatory21. Specifi- tions of financial misconduct and accusations of
cally, if there is a to’elet22, a positive, constructive, Devarim ha-nikkarim (self-evident conditions) sexually abusive or violent behaviors. While the
and beneficial purpose, like protecting others may also be sufficient. The Talmudic Sage Samuel former are both illegal and against Jewish law, one
from physical or financial harm or protecting their asserts that King David punished Mephiboshet (II could argue that in many such cases the extent of
religious and spiritual integrity, the prohibition Samuel 19) based on devarim ha-nikkarim (self- personal harm to community members and the
against lashon hara does not apply23. Motzi shem evident conditions)33. Thus, according to Samuel, chances of future harm are limited. (There are
ra, spouting lies and spreading disinformation, is one may act on circumstantial evidence that gives exceptions, of course. Some recent events come
always prohibited. And if the lashon hara serves as a strong and conclusive support to an allegation; it to mind.) In areas of abuse or violence, concerns
warning against the possibility of future harm, such is not considered lashon hara34. Even persistent about the future safety and welfare of others are
communication is not only permissible, but, under rumors (kala de-lo pasik) alone may be proof very real and must be a primary consideration. In
certain conditions it is compulsory24. enough35. The Talmud applies this to the case of a such cases, not only should public honors be with-
rabbi, an individual who must be a moral exemplar held, but careful consideration should be given as
Of relevance for our consideration is how certain
for his community, whose integrity is called into to whether the alleged abuser may be permitted at
we must be of the veracity of the allegations before
question by persistent rumors; he can no longer services or into the building altogether.
we are permitted to act on them. Most often we are
function in a rabbinic capacity36. In fact, “Wherever
not qualified to investigate or judge the allegations; 4. Nevertheless, in any case in which the alleged
there is desecration of God’s Name, honor is not
most often it would be inappropriate to do so. These conduct that instigated the accusations constitutes
extended to anyone, not even to a rabbi.”37
limitations, however, do not exempt us from acting a hillul Hashem, the congregation should restrict
responsibly. Certainly, extreme care must be taken The credibility afforded to a rumor is based on all public honors; the kevod ha-Torah and kevod
as the consequences of accepting and acting on false the premise that its very existence indicates that ha-tzibbur must also be protected. Honoring such
allegations can be devastating, as we noted above. the person who is the subject of that rumor must an individual may itself be a hillul Hashem. And
necessarily be guilty, to one degree or another, of careful consideration must be given to how the
We do not need complete, two witness-observant
the misconduct of which he is accused38. Now, congregation’s reactions are viewed by its youth:
male testimony in order to act. Under certain cir-
experience teaches us that not every rumor is true what message is the shul sending its children about
cumstances, the word of an otherwise unqualified
and not every subject of every rumor, even if it its expectations for proper halakhic and ethical be-
witnesses can be accepted, even in a bet din. There
is pervasive, is always guilty. The Talmud points havior? How is this balanced with care and concern
is a takanat kadmonim which authorizes a court
to the claim against Moses — he was accused of for individuals in crisis?
to accept the statements of individual witnesses,
adultery — which was clearly a false accusation
women and relatives in places and circumstances 5. Careful consideration should be given as to if and
promulgated by those who were jealous of him
in which kosher witnesses are not regularly found25. when restrictions should be discretely and quietly
and his position. The Talmud therefore limits the
While Shulhan Arukh agrees that an unsubstanti- imposed and if and when they should imposed
presumption that “where there’s smoke there’s fire”
ated accusation is ineffective with regard to punish- publicly. Discretion may avert concerns about pub-
to situations in which those who started the rumors
ing a person for unacceptable behavior, where an lic shame while at the same time avert community
are not enemies of the subject and have no personal
accusation leads to concerns about potential future gossip and offense. Nevertheless, some actions
agenda to unjustly disparage him.39
harm or victimization, the court has the obligation demand public response and the obligation of
and the authority to act to protect the vulnerable26.

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Practical Halachah

hokhei’ah tokhi’ah should not let us remain silent. 10. Teshuvot Noda be-Yehudah, Kamma, Even ha- 23. See R. Yisrael Isser, Pit’hei Teshuvah, Orah Hayyim,
6. Ideally, a shul policy and its implementation Ezer, no. 69; Teshuvot Nahalat David no. 26. no. 156.
should be objective; the less discretion permitted 11. Commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah to Mishlei 21:12. 24. For the requirements that must be met in order to
to the leaders, the fewer the chances of personal 12. Rema to Hoshen Mishpat 34:4 and Shulhan permit derogatory speech, see Hafetz Hayyim, Hil.
politics and divisiveness. Nevertheless, not all Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 34:12. Lashon Hara, kelal 10 and Hil. Rekhilut, kelal 9.
accusations are equal and, where there is reason- 13. Avot 2:4. 25. Rema, Hoshen Mishpat 35:14. According to Rema,
able doubt as to their veracity, there should be great 14. Berakhot 19a: It was taught in the school of R. Yoreh De’ah 334:43 quoting Maharik, shoresh
reluctance to vilify or exclude the accused. Careful Ishmael: If you see a scholar who has committed an 120, a court may place someone in niddui based
consideration must be given as to how and by offense at night, do not have doubts about him [the solely on allegations brought by those who are
whom this determination will be made. next] day; perhaps he has repented. “Perhaps,” you normally unqualified to testify.
say? [That is not the case,] he has certainly repented. 26. Even ha-Ezer 178:20.
7. Rabbis must remember that their responsibilities According to Me’iri, Shabbat 127b, he is to be 27. Rashi s.v. desani shomanei.
include all of the members of their congregations, judged favorably even if it appears that his actions 28. Sanhedrin 31a.
including the accused and indicted and their fami- are disreputable. 29. Teshuvot ha-Ritva, no. 206 quoted by Bet Yosef,
lies. Even if, for reasons of congregational welfare, 15. Rambam, Sefer ha-Mitzvot, ‘asei no. 177; Sha’arei Hosen Mishpat 290.
a person is barred from receiving honors or from Teshuvah, sha’ar 3, no. 218; Semag ‘asin 106; Sefer 30. Teshuvot Ramatz, Orah Hayyim no. 15 quoted in
attending the services altogether, the rabbi must ha-Hinukh 235. Piskei Din Rabbaniyim, helek 5, p. 27.
maintain contact and offer appropriate support to 16. Me’iri to Shevu’ot 30a. 31. Kiddushin 81a; Hil. Sanhedrin 24:5. Ritva to
the accused and his family. 17. Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim 4:4; Rashi, Shevu’ot Kiddushin 81a. A person whose reputation is bad
8. While proper care and concern must be shown 30a, s.v., hevei dan et haverkha. [because of] inappropriate sexual activity and the
toward the family of the accused, it must be re- 18. Hil. De’ot 5:7. like, and there is circumstantial evidence (raglayim
membered that it was he — and not the congrega- 19. Peirush ha-Mishnayot to Avot 1:6. la-davar) or persistent rumors (kola de-lo pasik),
tion — that brought this on to his family40. 20. Commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah to Avot. See is lashed with lashes of rebellion because he violated
also Sha’arei Teshuvah, sha’ar 3, no. 218, in which that which is written, concerning the sons of Eli,
9. Statements by shul leaders and representatives
Rabbeinu Yonah writes that judging a pious person “No, my sons; it is not a good report what I hear” (I
must be tactful and sensitive. Statements of support
favorably is “al derekh emet” (a rational requirement Samuel 2:24).
and empathy for the accused must never be formu-
needing no biblical mandate) and in which he main- 32. Rema, Yoreh De’ah 334:43 quoting Maharik,
lated in a way that is callous to the ethical standing
tains that the biblical obligation to judge favorably shoresh 120.
of Torah, the integrity of the community, the rule of
refers to a beinoni (an average person) whose deeds 33. See Rashi, s.v., devarim ha-nikkarim haza beih. See
law and the welfare of possible victims. n
are morally ambiguous. The principle to be dan le- Tosafot Yesheinim to Yoma 22b and Sefat Emet to
kaf zekhut applies to a beinoni whose deeds appear Shabbat 56a for a different explanation.
to be most likely sinful. 34. Shabbat 56a-b; Hafetz Hayyim, Hil. Lashon
1. On the relationship between ritual observance and
ethical behavior see A. Lichtenstein, “Being Frum 21. See Mark Dratch, “Let Them Talk: The Mitzvah Hara, kelal 7:10-11; Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav, Orah
to Speak Lashon Hara” at Hayyim 156:10.
and Being Good: On the Relationship Between
Lashon%20Hara%20and%20Abuse.pdf. 35. Hil. Sanhedrin 24:5;
Religion and Morality” in “By His Light : Character
and Values in the Service of God” (Jersey City, NJ 22. To’elet is a factor in permitting not only otherwise 36. Mo’ed Katan 17a. See Orah Hayyim 53, Mishneh
forbidden speech, but it is a consideration in all Berurah, no. 78, quoting Yam Shel Shelomo,
KTAV Pub. House; Alon Shevut, Israel: Yeshivat
interpersonal (bein adam le-haveiro) prohibitions Hullin, no. 52; Bi’ur Halakhah s.v. im ba’u alav
Har Etzion, 2003) 101-133.
as well. R. Elhanan Wasserman, Kovetz He’arot, edim quoting Bi’ur ha-Gr”a which cites Gittin 89a
2. See Mark Dratch, “The Shame of It All; The Real
Yevamot no. 70, writes: All interpersonal injunctions and Ketubot 36b and Teshuvot Hatam Sofer, no.
Shanda in Revealing Abuse” at http://www.jsafe.
are prohibited only [when the act is performed in a] 11; Hafetz Hayyim, Issurei Rekhilut, he’arot ve-
destructive and deleterious manner, for no positive hashmatot, kelal 7 quoting Magen Avraham 53:7,
3. Avot 1:6.
benefit. For example, the prohibition of “Do not hate Mahzit ha-Shekel, Peri Megadim, no. 29.
4. Shabbat 97a; see Entziklopedia Talmudit, vol. 17,
your brother” prohibits only sinat hinam (wanton 37. Berakhot 19b.
cols. 559-566.
hatred), i.e., when he did not see him commit an il- 38. Mo’ed Katan 18b: “A person does not incur suspi-
5. Sifra, Kedoshim 2:4.
licit act. But if he witnessed an illicit act, it is permis- cion unless he has done the thing [suspected]; and
6. For a more detailed discussion, see Mark Dratch,
sible to hate him … So too regarding the prohibition if he has not done it wholly, he has done it partly;
“Couldn’t Be! Do Alleged Perpetrators of Abuse
of physical assault; Rambam wrote that this applies and if he has not done it partly, he has a mind to do
Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt?” at www.jsafe.
only if he strikes another in an aggressive manner it; and if he has not had a mind to do it, he has seen
…So too regarding the prohibition “You shall not others doing it and enjoyed [the sight of it].”
7. Hil. Kiddush ha-Hodesh 2:2; Bet Yosef, Yoreh De’ah
go as a tale bearer”— one is permitted to speak 39. Mo’ed Katan 18b.
1 s.v. katav ha-Mordechai.
lashon hara concerning those involved in disputes 40. See Yoreh De’ah 334:1; Pit’hei Teshuvah, no. 1, s.v.,
8. Teshuvot Maharshdam, Hoshen Mishpat, no. 310.
in order to quell the argument … Thus, all of this ve-afilu yesh la-hush.
9. Encyclopedia Talmudit, XIII, Hezkat Kashrut, cols.
indicates that all these prohibitions are permitted for
26-27; Avnei Milu’im 127:2; Shev Shemateta,
the purpose of to’elet.
Sha’ar 1, 15.

C HAV R U S A • S i v a n 57 7 0
Divrei Hesped

Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander ’38R, z”l

by Rabbi Dr. David Luchins ’71R

Dr. Bernard Lander’s p’tira on sity. His pioneering work on juvenile delinquency was also an Orthodox Union lay leader, and it was
Monday evening, February 8 convinced him that access to quality education was largely due to his efforts that Yeshiva’s once flour-
(Shevat 25) marked the end of the key to combating both poverty and crime, a be- ishing synagogue youth programming was merged
an era in American Jewish life. lief that would later be reflected in Touro College’s into NCSY by 1970.
He was the last survivor of an emphasis on reaching out to underserved segments During the late 1960’s, Dr. Lander headed a
intrepid band of American-born of both the Jewish and general population. landmark study for Norte Dame University on the
Jewish children of the Depression who would boldly Bernard Lander married Sarah Shragowitz in 1948 roots of the then-raging campus turmoil. He was
assume the mantle of lay leadership of American and they settled in Forest Hills where their four troubled by the high percentage of alienated bright
Orthodoxy in the post war era. Tested by privation, children, Esther (Greenfield), Hannah, Debbie Jewish students who were playing leadership roles
tempered by the twilight struggle against fascism (Waxman) and (Rabbi) Doniel, were all born and in the unrest. This finding, along with his abiding
and communism, they would succeed in building a raised. Dr. Lander played a major role in shaping belief in the nurturing power of education, would
vibrant Torah community in the very North Ameri- the Forest Hills Orthodox Jewish Community, lead to his historic effort to create Touro College.
can environment in which so many “experts” had serving as president of the Queens Jewish Center
declared it could never survive, much less flourish. A Personal note: In 1973, having been offered full-
and helping to found Yeshiva Dov Revel, named time employment at the then tiny Touro College,
Born on the Lower East Side in June of 1915, after his beloved mentor. From 1949 to 1971 he I asked my beloved mentor Rabbi Israel Miller zt”l
Bernard Lander was deeply shaped by his years served as a professor of sociology at the City Uni- if I should take the offer. He thought for a minute
at Yeshiva College (class of 1936) and RIETS versity of New York and, for much of this time, as a and responded, “David, Bernie Lander is taking the
(where he was ordained in 1938). His more than visiting professor at Notre Dame, where he enjoyed skills he acquired at Yeshiva and utilizing them to
70 creative years in communal life were profoundly a close friendship with the president, the legend- serve the larger community — join him and do the
influenced by the vision of Dr. Bernard Revel and ary Father Hesburgh. In 1954, Dr. Samuel Belkin same with the skills we taught you.”
the Torah of his Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, invited Dr. Lander to return to Yeshiva University
zichronam l’bracha. and accept the position of the dean of the Bernard Touro’s growth from 37 students in 1971 to 17,500
Revel Graduate School. He served in this position today has been well documented elsewhere. The
I first met Dr. Bernard Lander at the Orthodox institutions’ scope, as it prepares for University
Union’s 1964 Biennial Convention in Washington, for 15 eventful years, chairing the taskforce that
organized YU’s graduate schools of social work, status in the near future, is testimony to the range of
DC. He was already a legend in Orthodox Union Dr. Lander’s daring vision; from the acclaimed af-
circles, having served as a director or officer since education and psychology. Dr. Lander also worked
closely with his life long friend Rabbi Moshe filiated Yeshivat Ohr Chayim in Kew Garden Hills
1938 (at his death he had served on the Union’s to schools of osteopathic medicine in California,
Board for 72 of the organization’s 112 years). Besdin in the founding the James Striar School of
Jewish Studies at Yeshiva College. Harlem and Nevada; from unique programs em-
I knew that he had played a pivotal role in the powering the Charedei communities in Israel and
creation of NCSY in 1954. I had heard that he had Of all of Dr. Lander’s many achievements in com- Borough Park to the competitive Lander Colleges
used his extensive contacts in the civil rights move- munal life, one of the most significant was his role for Men in Kew Garden Hills and Women in Man-
ment (he had been New York’s City’s First Human in creating and nurturing NCSY. He often spoke of hattan; from the newest addition, the New York
Right Commissioner and had served on the Fed- the 1954 Orthodox Union Convention where he Medical College in Westchester County, to the
eral Human Rights Commission under Presidents helped Harold Boxer convince a skeptical plenary innovative Flatbush Program which has enabled
Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson) to help ensure session to endorse the concept of a nationwide thousands of yeshiva and seminary students to
that Martin Luther King’s historic 1963 March Orthodox synagogue youth movement. He served attend college in the evening and Sundays.
on Washington would be held on a Wednesday for over 20 years on the Joint Youth Commission,
instead of Shabbat. I would later learn that he had fighting to ensure that NCSY received the support It is a measure of Dr. Lander’s genius that his
been a prime force in crafting the MacIver Report it needed to survive, including the historic decision guiding principle now seems so logical; an institu-
of 1951 that helped create the current structure of to hire Rabbi Pinchas Stolper in 1959 and support- tion deeply loyal to Torah values can and should
local and national Jewish Community Councils. ing his insistence on uniform halachic standards at provide quality educational opportunities to every
However, I had no way of suspecting in 1964, that all NCSY programs (how strange it is to remember interested segment of society, without asking any
within a few years, I would be joining Dr. Lander when mixed dancing and mixed swimming were segment to compromise its core values in any
in his audacious dream of creating Touro College, burning issues in NCSY). fashion. The same college that runs a first class
an adventure which continues to provide me with College of Medicine in Nevada (with m’zuzot on
Dr. Lander played a pivotal role in convincing Dr. every door) can answer the call of Gedolei Yisroel
both meaningful employment and intense personal Belkin to have Yeshiva work closely with NCSY,
satisfaction. to provide heavily subsidized higher education to
over the occasional objections of the Yeshiva Uni- Jewish girls from the former Soviet Union. The
Dr. Lander’s communal career began in the Rab- versity Youth Bureau which had its own synagogue same Touro College that sponsors cutting-edge
binate at Congregation Beth Jacob in Baltimore, youth movement and summer seminar programs graduate programs in the health sciences and
Maryland. He returned to New York City in 1942 for teenagers in North America and Israel. Dr. pharmacology can offer superb graduate education
to finish his doctoral studies at Columbia Univer- Lander was the only staff person at Yeshiva who in Jewish education and Jewish studies. All of these

C h avr u s a • S i va n 57 7 0
Divrei Hesped Lifecycles

programs, from the renowned Mesivtot to the campuses in Paris and

Berlin, from the pioneering School of General Studies branch campus Publications Rabbi Dr. Herbert ’57R and Dina
Dobrinsky on the of a granddaughter,
in East Harlem to the Touro Colleges in Miami and Los Angeles, share Rabbi Stanley Wagner ’56R, co- Adina (Elyssa) Dobrinsky, to Andy
the same vision, the same commitment, the same dream. Their very author of Onkelos on the Torah, a five Feuerstein-Rudin from Teaneck.
diversity is testimony to the unity of his vision. Their very differences volume English translation of Onkelos
Rabbi Nachman (Michael Judah)
on its incorporation into the OU’s
attest to the holistic totality of his legacy. ’07R and Hudi Elsant on the birth
Shnayim Mikra program.
of a son, Elchanan Yechezkel. And to
But none of this captures the real magic of Dr. Bernard Lander’s unique Rabbi Morey Schwartz ’90R on the grandparents, Rabbi Yaacov ’73R
style. Lists of schools and litanies of degree-granting programs hardly publication of his new book entitled and Abby Lerner.
convey the majesty of his dream or the tenacity of his convictions. And, Where’s My Miracle? Exploring Jewish
Rabbi Amichai ’02R and Jody Chaya
Traditions for dealing with Tragedy
perhaps most important, they do not reflect the remarkable force of his Erdfarb on the birth of a daughter,
published by Gefen Publishing House.
personality or the extraordinary commitment to kavod habriyot and Rosa Avigayel.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin ’76 on the
Ahavat Yisroel that graced his remarkable accomplishments. As one publication of his new sefer on Vayikra,
Rabbi Elie ’07R and Yael Farkas on
maspid declared, “the only thing bigger than his mind, was his heart.” the birth of a daughter, Shira Temima.
the newest volume of his popular
Unlocking the Torah Text: An In-Depth Rabbi Howard Finkelstein ’77R on
About a decade ago the daughter of an American employee at Touro’s winning the Grinspoon-Steinhardt
Journey into the Weekly Parsha (OU
Moscow campus was killed in a terrorist attack. Dr. Lander oversaw the Press and Gefen Publishing). Award for Excellence in Jewish
arrangements for her levaya in New York, sending a minyan of Touro Education-2009.
staff to the kvura and being maspid the niftara, a participant reported, “as Mazal Tov Rabbi Avi ’08R and Sarah Fried on
if it was his own daughter.” When he was later asked how he knew the RIETS student Chaim Apfel on
the birth of a son, Yehuda Simcha.
young woman, he replied he had never met her. his marriage to Tehilla Raviv from Rabbi Lippy ’69R and Dr. Maureen
Queens. Another YUConnects Friedman on the birth of a daughter
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan related that he was once speaking to a
shidduch! to Simcha and Efrat Friedman of Yad
major banker when Dr. Lander’s name came up and the banker shared Binyamin.
Rabbi Bernhard ’50R and Vivien
with him the following story:
Auerbach on the wedding of their Rabbi Hersh Moses ’58R and Sarah
“I was at a meeting with Dr. Lander a few years ago when his college was in granddaughter Avital Naiman to Tzuri (Lebowitz) Galinsky on the birth of a
Dotan. great-granddaughter, Talya, born to
serious financial trouble; those of us in the room had every reason to doubt
Binyamin and Hodaya Galinsky. Mazel
if the school could survive and no incentive to continue extending their Rabbi Bernhard ’49R and Vivien
Tov to granparents Eliezer and Tzippy
credit. It was a tough and unpleasant meeting. And then the phone rang. Auerbach on their grandson Yechiel,
son of Tova and Aharon Naiman,
Dr. Lander answered it. ‘Yes, Momma,’ he said, and for the next ten minutes becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Rabbi Shmuel ’76R and
he chatted with his mother as though we didn’t exist, as though we weren’t Barbara Goldin on the birth of a
Rabbi Julius ’59R and Dorothy
on the verge of pulling the plug on his dream. After what seemed forever to granddaughter, to Yehuda and Noa
Berman on their grandson Chanoch
a room full of busy bank officials, he got off the phone and said ‘I’m sorry, Goldin.
Aminsky, son of Simcha and Myra
but when my mother calls that comes first’. ‘Is everything alright?’ One of us Aminsky, becoming a Bar Mitzvah. RIETS student Benji Goldman on his
asked. ‘Yes,’ he said ‘but she needed to tell me about her day.’ marriage to Shosh Kramer from North
Rabbi Azarya ’78R and Charnie
Berzon, on the birth of a grandson,
“After that,” the banker told the Senator, “how could we refuse his Rafael Shalom, born to Baruch and Rabbi Moshe ’55R and Sarah Gorelik
request for more time?” Mariam (Levitanus) Berzon. of Jerusalem and Rabbi Shalom ’82R
and Shifra Kurz on the marriage of
One evening in the spring of 1997 I received a phone call from Dr. Rabbi Elichai ’09R and Zahava
Rinat Weitz (granddaughter of Rabbi
Lander urging me to call my Rebbi, Rav Ahron Soloveichik, to wish Bitter of Alon Shvut on the birth of a
and Mrs. Gorelik) to Eliezer Kurz (son
daughter, Shalva Tzivia. Mazal Tov to
him a happy 80th birthday. I was delighted to do so and promptly called grandparents Rabbi Yaacov ’74R and
of Rabbi and Mrs. Kurz).
Rav Ahron who asked me how I was aware of this occasion which he Abby Lerner. Rabbi Dovid ’01R and Ilana Gottlieb
assured me he had never publicized. When I told him that Dr. Lander Rabbi Steven ’06R and Rachel Burg
on their daughter Eliana becoming a
was the source of my “inside information,” he began to laugh and Bat Mitzvah.
on their son Aryeh Yehoshua
declared, “historians in future generations will have heated arguments becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Also to Rabbi Maury ’04R and Malka
over how many people named Bernard Lander were active during grandparents Rabbi Melvin ’74R and Grebenau on the birth a daughter.
Pearl Burg.
the last half the 20th century. No one will even consider that it was just Rabbi Micha ’02R and Rivkie
one man — rather, they will postulate that there was a Rabbi Bernard Rabbi Asher ’81R and Laya Bush Greenland on the birth of a son,
on the birth of their first grandson, Daniel Yaakov.
Lander who created yeshivot and Jewish colleges, a Dr. Bernard Lander Yisrael Zev Bush, to Donny and
who founded law schools and medical schools, and a lay leader named Rabbi Chananel ’94R and Sarah
Yehudis Bush.
Herbsman on their son Naphtali
Bernard Lander who was deeply involved in communal affairs.” “But,”
Rabbi Yehuda ’10R and Elissa becoming a Bar Mitzvah.
said Rav Ahron, “I must add a fourth person for them to ponder — Chanales on the birth of a daughter,
Dov Beresh Lander, who remembers his classmates’ birthdays 60 years Rabbi Basil ’73R and Sherri Herring
Tova Adina.
on the marriage of their daughter Yael
after they sat together in my father’s shiur” n Rabbi Ariel ’10R and Yael Davis on to Eli Fischman of Brooklyn.
the birth of a son, Moshe Yitzchak.
Dr. David Luchins is chair of the Political Science Department of Touro And to grandparents, YU Vice
Rabbi Avi ’09R and Rebecca
College and founding dean of the Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth (Mandel) Hochman in Boca Raton on
President for University Life, Rabbi Dr. 
the birth of a son, Binyamin Simcha.
and Mark Hasten School Hillel ’75R and Rock Davis.

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Rabbi Avrohom ’86R and Rena Rabbi Uri and Nava Orlian on the Rabbi Chaim ’05R and Avital The family of Rabbi Samuel W.
Kanarek on the marriage of their birth of a son, Netanel. Strauchler on the birth of a son, Zvi. Rubenstein ’41R, Rabbi Emeritus
son Yehuda to Miriam Feinstein, of at Agudas Achim Synagogue in
Rabbi Joe and Ashira Ozarowski Rabbi Dr. Joseph ’58R and
Manhattan. Columbus, Ohio.
on the birth of a granddaughter, Honey Sungolowsky on their
Rabbi Avrohom ’86R and Rena Nachala Sarah, to Shalom and Bryna grandson Shimon Eliyahu Chaim Rabbi Dan Segal ’02R on the loss of
Kanarek on the mariage of their Ozarowski. Garrel becoming a Bar Mitzvah in his father, Emmanual “Mike” Segal,
son Shmuel to Sora Perel Jacobs, of Jerusalem. also father of Gadi Segal.
Rabbi Dr. Gil ’07R and Melissa
Perl on the birth of a son, Eitan Rabbi Mark Urkowitz ’78R on the Rabbi Mendel Shapiro ’75R on the
Rabbi Aaron Kaplan ’08R on his Mordechai. birth of a grandson, Ezra Yeshaya, loss of his wife and Rabbi Steven
marriage to Anna Avery of Miami. born to RIETS student Tzvi and Klitsner ’87R on the loss of his
Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky ’06R on his
Michelle Urkowitz. sister, Betsy Shapiro.
Rabbi Shaya and Nechie Kilimnick marriage to Jessica Abramowitz of
on their grandson Doni becoming a Chicago. Rabbi Shaya ’78R and Dina Roemer Rabbi Mendel Shapiro ’75R on
Bar Mitzvah. Wexler of Efrat on the birth of a the loss of his father, Rabbi Morris
Rabbi Asher ’78R and Rashie
granddaughter, Eden Tova, born Shapiro.
Rabbi Barry ’01R and Dina Kornblau Reichert on the marriage of their
to Tehila and Jeremy Gimpel of
on their son Yoni becoming a Bar daughter Miriam to Avi Stiefel, recent Rabbi Yair Silverman ’02R and
Neve Daniel.  Mazal tov to great-
Mitzvah. oleh from Teaneck. RIETS Israel Kollel Shoel uMeishiv
grandparents Rabbi Shlomo ’51R
Rabbi Eliav Silverman ’06R on the
Rabbi Jonathan ’02R and Chaya RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel and Chaya Wexler of Jerusalem.
loss of their mother, Anita Hirsch-
Krimsky on the birth of a son, and Chasida Reichman on the birth
Rabbi Howard ’77R and Annette Silverman.
Yeshaya Simcha. of a granddaughter, Ora Basya, born
Wolk on the marriage of their son,
to Yitzchak and Ahuva Reichman. Rabbi Yitzchak A. Sladowsky ’56R
Rabbi Shalom ’82R and Shifra Kurz Gavriel Aharon, to Talia Volk.
on the loss of his sister, Mrs. Vita
on the marriage of their son Eliezer Rabbi Elimelech ’09R and Dr.
RIETS Shoel uMeishiv Rabbi Yosef Naiman, wife of Dr. Michael Naiman.
to Rinat Weitz of Elkana. Chaya Rosenthal on the birth of
Chaim Yanetz on his marriage to
a son, Moshe. Mazel Tov to Rabbi Rabbi Matt Tropp ’84R on the loss
Rabbi Eliezer ’75R and Lucy Langer Rivka Janashvily in Israel.
Rosenthal’s grandparents Rabbi of his mother, Dorothy Tropp.
on the birth of a granddaughter,
Joshua and Claire ‘55R Hertzberg,
Malka, to Baila (Rosenblum) and RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Gershon
Naftali Langer.
on their new great grandson. Condolences Yankelewitz on the loss of his wife,
Rabbi Elie ’02R and Abigail Rabbi Noah Baron ’10R, Member Mrs. Bluma Yankelewitz.
Rabbi Naphtali ’09R and Elana
Rothberger on the birth of a of the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel of
Lavenda on the birth of a son, Akiva
daughter, Geula Bracha. Chicago, and Zemira (Baron) and
Yehuda. Mazel Tov to grandparents
Rabbi Stuart ’80R and Karen Rabbi Elihu ’57R and Freida Schatz Rabbi Eli ’04R Ozarowski on the
Lavenda. on the birth of a great-grandson, loss of their father, Bernard Baron.
Roee. The Family of Rabbi Samuel Cooper
Rabbi Yisrael Lutnick ’92R is
producing and starring  in a one- Rabbi Simcha ’07R and Rachel ’32R.
man show entitled The Broadway Schaum on the birth of a daughter, Chani Jaskoll, wife of YU Dean Rabbi
Rabbi Sings His Mind.  The show Ayelet Rut. Mazel Tov to Great- Ira Jaskoll ’75R on the loss of her
was presented in Jerusalem and grandparents Rabbi M. Aaron ’43R father, Rabbi Mordecai Topel.
will be staged in January in Tel Aviv, and Batya Kra.
Netanya, Rehovot and Raanana. Emily Friedman Labaton, wife of
Rabbi Nahum ’81R and Bracha Rabbi Ezra Labaton ’74R, on the
RIETS student Ramon and Debra Schnitzer of Maale Adumim on the loss of her father, Isaac Friedman.
Lyons on the birth of a son, Avraham birth of a grandson, Betsalel, to
Moshe. Temima and Amichai Perlman Rabbi Daniel Lander, Rosh HaYeshiva
of Yeshiva Ohr HaChaim (Queens,
Rabbi Gary ’81R and Beaty Menchel Rabbi Fabian ’52R and Ruth NY), Mrs. Ester Greenfield, Mrs.
on the marriage of their son Dovid to Schonfeld on the birth of a great- Debbie Waxman and Mrs. Hana
Emily Scharfman, of New Rochelle.   granddaughter, Nitzan Shira, born Lander on the loss of their father,
to RIETS student Jonny and Ilana Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander ’38R.
Rabbi Eduard “Eddie” ’73R and
Sandy Mittelman on the marriage of Rabbi Israel Lifshitz on the loss of
their son Dov to Dr. Nechama Blatt. Rabbi Tzvi ’07R and Tova Sinensky his mother, Chana Lifshitz.
on the birth of a daughter, Moriah
RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yaakov Rabbi Joseph Ozarowski on the
’79R and Peshi Neuburger on the loss of his father, Uszer (Oscar)
marriage of their daughter Chaya Rabbi Yehuda ’78R and Edna Singer Ozarowski, grandfather of Rabbi
to RIETS student Aryeh Weistreich. of Mitzpe Yericho on the birth of a Eli Ozarowski ’04R, Rabbi Shalom
Mazel Tov to grandfather RIETS grandson, Roi Yedidya, to Yair and Ozarowski and Chani (Ozarowski)
Dean Emeritus Rabbi Zevulun Nili Singer, and on the birth of a Newman.
Charlop ’54R. granddaughter, Reut Miriam to Avi
and Tzvia Konen. The family of Rabbi Dr. Baruch
RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yaakov Poupko, ’41R.
’79R and Peshi Neuburger on Rabbi Mordechai ’59R and Naomi
the birth of a granddaughter, Spiegelman on their grandaughter, Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Rosenthal ’93R,
Yehudis, born to their children Motti Adi Rachel, daughter of Vardit and on the loss of his mother, Marilyn
and Avigayil Neuberger. Mazel Tov Avi Spiegelman, becoming a Bat Rosenthal, wife of Dr. Martin
to grandfather RIETS Dean Emeritus Mitzvah. Rosenthal.
Rabbi Zevulun Charlop ’54R.

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