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Chag HaSemikhah Remarks, 5777

T oday marks the fourth and
final opportunity I have to
address a Chag HaSemikhah
as Yeshiva’s president. It has been a
sacred privilege.
President Richard M. Joel
President and Bravmann Family University
Professor, Yeshiva University
Today, we celebrate over 130 young men
of extraordinary quality and character ‫ישראל ואורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא חד הוא‬. ‫ֹאמר ה’ ִהּנֵ ה ָמקֹום ִא ִּתי וְ נִ ּצַ ְב ָּת עַ ל ַהּצּור‬
ֶ ‫וַ ּי‬
who I have seen grow in learning and in And almost 85 years ago, our first And the Lord said: “Behold, there is a
middos and in professionalism. president, Dr. Bernard Revel zt’l, stood place next to me, and you shall stand on
the rock.”
And today, I know that you join me in at this podium and said the following:
celebrating the extraordinary Roshei Out of the portals of this sanctuary of Such a dramatic moment — Moshe
Yeshiva and Hanhala of Yeshivat the spirit shall come a Jewish leadership wants to see God’s face. As close as
Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan whom I — lay and spiritual — conscious of its Moshe was to the Ribbono Shel Olam,
have had the pleasure to partner with. unique heritage, striving to develop in he was hungry for more. He wanted to
this land a Jewish life, culturally creative see God’s face, and God says no. But
In today’s celebrants, Yeshiva
and spiritually satisfying, based upon the then God says “stand beside me.”
embraces the continuity of our
profound mission of advancing Torah eternal foundations of the Torah, helping Rav Sampson Raphael Hirsh explains:
values, so as to guide, teach and lead our communities to fuller self-expression, ‫ — ִהּנֵ ה ָמקֹום ִא ִּתי‬there is a place next to
our people and the world to a better and richer contribution to the cultural Me. One and only one point of view
place. Almost 40 years ago, President and spiritual values of our society. exists as the highest goal to be attained
Norman Lamm stood at this podium So I stand here today on the shoulders by the highest human mind, even for
and shared the following message: of those who came before me, and I Moses, only one legitimate point of
contemplate, what can I possibly add view, and that is not to try and get a
Scholarship and piety are necessary,
to this discussion? To this continuing sight of God, but, elevated by God,
but they are not sufficient. A spiritual
conversation? and godliness, to look at men and the
person is one whose ideals and practice
human condition from a height, next to
transcend his self-interest, whose To me, parashat Ki Tisa offers a God, near to God, from God’s point of
deportment and, indeed, very presence precious perspective on how we, klei view, to understand and appreciate all
symbolizes the values of Torah. kodesh, and lay kodesh, are to lead men and all conditions of human life.
Years before that, at an earlier Chag our lives, a message that has been a
This master insight — the human
HaSemikhah, his predecessor, Dr. Samuel defining insight for my life and I think
for that of my wife and children. being is not supposed to see God —
Belkin zt’l, shared the message that:
it’s not our realm. Our goal is to stand
There is one thing we must remember Perek lamed gimmel details an amazing beside God. Our role is not to see
always. Just as we have faith in God, discussion between Moshe and the God, but to see as God sees, and strive
and just as we have faith in the Torah of Ribbono Shel Olam, culminating with to do as God does.
Moses, so let us have faith in the Jewish Moshe beseeching God to let Moshe
see God’s face, Hareini na es kevodecha. Beloved musmakhim: Hear the
people, in the continuous miracle of its
God responds: message from four presidents of this
rebirth. Let us have faith in the miracle of
Yeshiva, and consider that:
spiritual unity between God, His Torah ‫ֹאמר ל ֹא תּוכַ ל לִ ְראֹת ֶאת ָּפנָ י ּכִ י ל ֹא יִ ְר ַאנִ י‬
ֶ ‫וַ ּי‬
and His people, which is summed up in ‫ ָה ָא ָדם וָ ָחי‬Be a caring role model;
the sayings of our Sages, “Israel, the Torah And He said, “You will not be able to see Believe in the Jewish People;
and the Holy One Blessed Be He, are one.” My face, for man shall not see Me and live.” Dare to make a difference in the world;
And strive to see as God sees and do

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary • The Benjamin and Rose Berger CJF Torah To-Go Series • Shavuot 5777
as God does — vehalachta b’drachav. of Torah by constantly fanning its you. Partner with them and with all
flames. Your actions matter — your our children to advance the Torah and
As musmakhim of Yeshivat Rabbeinu
Yitzchak Elchanan, you have been commitment to Torah inspires people advance the world.
and elevates the world.
trained in leadership, you have been V’cheyn yehi ratzon.
prepared to serve as our ambassadors Esther and I are entrusting our
of nobility, spreading the warmth children and our grandchildren to

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Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary • The Benjamin and Rose Berger CJF Torah To-Go Series • Shavuot 5777