Yeshiva University News » Torah

RIETS Musmakh Rabbi Ephraim Meth Celebrates Second Completion of Shas at YU

The new semester is underway at Yeshiva University—and it began with the celebration of a milestone in Torah learning.

Rabbi Ephraim Meth completed Shas at Glueck

Rabbi Ephraim Meth

Rabbi Ephraim Meth, a 2012 graduate of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, who continues his studies in the beit midrash as a RIETS Kollel Fellow, shared his most recent completion of shas with the entire YU community at a siyum [celebration] in the beit midrash of the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Studies on January 22.

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Rabbi Dr. David Shatz on the Challenge of Perpetuating the Legacy of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik

Editor’s note: This essay by Dr. David Shatz, professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University, is reprinted, with minor modifications, from Memories of a Giant, a collection of eulogies for the Rav edited by Michael A. Bierman and originally published by the Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Institute and Urim Publications in 2003, in commemoration of the 10th yahrzeit of the Rav. Memories of a Giant is being republished by Maimonides School and Urim Publications in 2013 in commemoration of the 20th yahrzeit. We thank Maimonides School for permission to reprint the essay. References have been reformatted and slightly abridged.

On April 14, Yeshiva University will present a day of learning to commemorate the Rav’s 20th yahrtzeit.

The death of a great individual often leads to exaggerated expressions of his virtues and inflated assertions of irreplaceability. With time the sense of loss is lifted, as new leaders emerge to take the person’s place. Yet looking back at the eulogies delivered for the Rav zt”l with the benefit of much hindsight, what is striking is that if delivered today they would be expressed with the very same pathos and sense of irreplaceability.

Soloveitchik misc  4 (2)Today, a considerable time after the Rav’s death, our sense of loss is every bit as acute as it was then—maybe even more so. Orthodoxy in America, while in some respects stronger today than in the Rav’s time, suffers every day from his absence. Issue after issue inflames passions and divides the community, while no voice speaks as the final authority for his constituency. Over the years, different people proclaim what the Rav did or did not stand for, drawing from their perceptions various lessons for decisions confronting Orthodoxy today. There is thus an intense struggle to keep the Rav alive so that he may continue to be our guide. I offer here some reflections on that struggle. Whereas the eulogies in the book [Mentor of Generations—Ed.] are retrospective, focusing on what the Rav was, this essay is prospective, as it focuses on what the future holds. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva University Commemorates 20th Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik with Day of Learning

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Rabbinical Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will commemorate the 20th yahrtzeit [anniversary of death] of “the Rav,” Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l, Torah luminary and YU Rosh Yeshiva with a full-day learning program for all audiences on Sunday, April 14 on YU’s Wilf Campus, 500 West 185th Street, New York City. The program will run from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and will include lectures, discussions and presentations on the Rav’s life and legacy.

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YU will commemorate the Rav’s 20th yahrtzeit with a day of learning on April 14.

“Over the course of almost half a century, Rabbi Soloveitchik served as a mentor and role model for tens of thousands of Jews around the word and ordained close to 2,000 rabbis. Through his landmark public lectures and writings he became, and remains, well-known for his unparalleled Talmudic scholarship and religious leadership,” said Marvin Bienenfeld, a member of the RIETS Board of Trustees and the chair of the event. Read the rest of this entry…

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Rabbi Yona Reiss: Why the Siyum HaShas is Good for Jewish Unity

When Rabbi Meir Shapiro zt”l introduced the Daf Yomi learning cycle in 1923, little was it recognized that he was about to affect a major transformation in the enterprise of Torah learning throughout the world.

On August 1, thousands will celebrate the completion of a seven and a half year cycle of Talmud study.

Now, almost 90 years later, the learning of Daf Yomi is one of the most visible symbols of Torah study throughout the Jewish community. Shiurim, kollelim and study groups abound that are immersed in the daily dissection of the Daf.

A recent retrospective on the life of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt”l quoted him as having said that if not for his daily Daf Yomi routine, there were days when his necessary preoccupation with communal affairs might have prevented him from having a regular period of Torah study. Indeed, Daf Yomi has injected a sense of daily learning constancy for countless adherents. Read the rest of this entry…

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Download the Latest Edition of Purim To-Go

The Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah Web site, a project of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), presents Purim To-Go 5772.

The  online-only publication features articles by Yeshiva University roshei yeshiva and faculty, including:

  • Rabbi Yosef Blau, senior mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor], on “Remembering Purim During the Messianic Age”
  • Rabbi Joshua Flug, director of Torah research at the CJF, “The Relationship Between Mishlo’ach Manot and Matanot La’Evyonim”
  • Dr. Shalom Holtz, assistant professor of Bible, “Whose Battle? Whose Victory?”
  • Shoshana Schechter, assistant professor of Bible and director of the Basic Jewish Studies, “Purim – Fulfilling Jewish Destiny”
  • And many more…

In addition, hundreds of  shiurim [lectures] related to Purim are available at YUTorah.

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Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Army Visits Yeshiva, Speaks to Students

Rafi Peretz, Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), visited the Yeshiva University Wilf Campus on Wednesday, November 16.

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After meeting with faculty and administrators, Chief Rabbi Peretz delivered a dvar Torah before hundreds of students in the Glueck Beit Midrash. He also met with former IDF soldiers currently enrolled at YU and spoke to students at Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB).

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Torah Umadda Week Examines the Interplay between Modern Science and Torah Scholarship

If you could turn on a light just by thinking about it, would doing so be permissible on Shabbat according to halacha [Jewish law]?

Dr. Norman Adler

Dr. Norman Adler

That question was one of many students were asked to consider during a lecture titled “Nerve Cells, Robots and Human Choice: Halacha at the Frontiers of Neuroscience,” presented by Dr. Norman Adler, University Professor of Psychology, and Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).

The discussion, held at Stern College for Women’s Koch Auditorium on November 2, fused an evolution of scientific thought about the brain and genetic predisposition with Torah perspectives on free will and technology, prompting students to reflect on a plethora of issues that were equal parts science, philosophy and Jewish law. To what extent do we control our actions? In a world where action can be achieved with the push of a button, where do we end and machines begin? Why can you use a hearing aid on Shabbat? Are machine-made matzot still able to fulfill the mitzvah of matza, which must be created with specific intent?

“It is critical for young Orthodox Jews to understand the field of neuroscience and its counterpart in Jewish thought,” said Adler.

The lecture was part of a series of science-and-Jewish-thought-based discussions that together comprised “Torah Umadda Week” (the phrase, which also reflects YU’s mission, means “the synthesis of Torah learning with secular knowledge”) at Yeshiva University from November 1-3, coordinated by Yeshiva University’s Office of Admissions, the Torah Activities Club, the Pre-Med Club, the Neurobiology Club, the Genetics Club and Stern College’s biology department. Two other presentations, “From Maimonides the Doctor to the Doctor at Maimonides Medical Center: The Training of the Jewish Medical Student Throughout History,” by Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, and “Reproducing Jews,” by Dr. Richard Grazi, rounded out the week.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

“So beautifully reflecting the philosophy and mantra of Yeshiva University, this program presents experts in the fields of science, medicine and halacha that share with the students the results of their cutting-edge research,” said Reichman. “The week’s activities in their totality reveal the breadth of the Torah Umadda philosophy and stimulate the students to explore and research further.”

For Tsipora Huisman, president of the Pre-Med Club, the week was an important reminder of the unique interplay between Jewish and scientific studies: “All day I’m immersed in classes in Torah and secular topics, but events like Torah Umadda Week really bridge the gaps between them.”

Jina Davidovich, founder of the Torah Umadda Committee, hoped that the week’s lectures would continue the discussion of what it means to be a Torah Umadda Jew on campus, adding that more events like Torah Umadda Week and others were in the works.

“I contend that Torah Umadda is not the philosophy by which we allow secular knowledge into the room of our conscious, placing a barrier between our religious identity and the secular knowledge that we cautiously peruse,” said Davidovich. “It is the imperative to invite secular ideas into the warm embrace of our Torah knowledge, examining how both forms of knowledge inform one another and enable each individual to better understand their religion, themselves and truth.”

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Spend Shavuos with Yeshiva University Roshei Yeshiva and Torah Scholars, June 7-9

Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) will present a Yarchei Kallah [Gathering for Torah Study] Program this Shavuos, June 7-9, at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson, NY—just 90 minutes from New York City.

The Yarchei Kallah will feature round-the-clock Torah learning, children and teen programs, and inspirational lectures by renowned Yeshiva University personalities including President Richard M. Joel; Rabbi Yona Reiss, Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS; Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, Rabbi Ahron Kahn and Rabbi Elchanan Adler, RIETS roshei  yeshiva and roshei kollel; Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF); Dr. David Pelcovitz, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; Smadar Rosensweig, professor of Bible at Stern College for Women; and Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at the CJF.

“The Yarchei Kallah is a wonderful opportunity for members of our larger Yeshiva community to celebrate z’man matan toraseinu [the time of the giving of the Torah] by learning with our roshei yeshiva and celebrating Shavuos together in a congenial and convivial setting,” said Rabbi Reiss. “The Gemora in Pesachim says that despite disagreement about certain other holidays, everybody agrees that the celebration of Shavuos requires an element of personal indulgence. This retreat is perfect for all those who want to indulge themselves in both terrific shiurim and a warm and welcoming recreational environment during the upcoming holiday.”

To learn more about the RIETS Shavuos Yarchei Kallah or to register visit www.riets.edu/shavuos or call 212-568-7340.

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RIETS Presents May 19 Shiur for Former Students of Rabbi Mordechai Willig

Yeshiva University affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) will host a reunion shiur for the talmidim of Rabbi Mordechai Willig on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Study, Room 307, 185th Street between Audubon and Amsterdam Avenues, New York City. Rabbi Willig will speak on the subject of Sefiras Ha’Omer and Lag Ba’Omer.

Rabbi Mordechai Willig

Rabbi Willig is Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth Professor of Talmud and Contemporary Halachah and has served as rosh yeshiva at the Yeshiva Program / Mazer School of Talmudic Studies since 1973 and as rosh kollel at RIETS. He is the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Riverdale in the Bronx and deputy av beis din of the Beth Din of America.

Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP and reserve free parking by registering online at www.yu.edu/ravwilligreunion, or contact Genene kaye at 212-960-0137 or gkaye@yu.edu.

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Sep 14, 2010 — Yeshiva University will be publishing a collection of original essays on the weekly parashiyot [Torah portions], authored by rabbis and professors from every division of the University. The volume, entitled Mitokh Ha-Ohel, is sponsored by the Michael Scharf Publication Trust of Yeshiva University Press and scheduled for release by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, on October 1, 2010.

Mitokh Ha-Ohel (literally “within the tent”) brings together a diverse range of scholars and rabbinic thinkers, the multifaceted voices of Yeshiva University, to elucidate and explore all of the parashiyot of the Chamishah Chumshei Torah [Five Books of Moses] from a wide range of approaches, including textual analysis, homiletic exposition, halakhic [Jewish law] analysis and academic exploration.

“At Yeshiva University, we aspire to emulate the dwellings and philosophies of our forefathers by creating our own tent through our ideology of Torah Umadda, the marriage of Torah and secular knowledge,” said Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel.

“This truly unique volume showcases the breadth and depth of the ‘tent’ of Yeshiva University,” added President Joel, “and serves as a physical embodiment of Yeshiva University’s passion for seeking nuanced wisdom through Torah from multiple sources, and sharing that wisdom with the world.”

In addition to essays from Yeshiva University affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), the anthology, with over 500 pages, includes contributions from the rabbis, professors and administrators of Yeshiva College; Stern College for Women; Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Sctudies; Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program; Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies; James Striar School of General Jewish Studies; Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy; Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Studies; Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies; Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Center for the Jewish Future; and Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute of RIETS in Jerusalem.

Mitokh Ha-Ohel—edited by Rabbi Daniel Feldman, instructor of Talmud and Jewish Studies at YU’s Stone Beit Midrash Program and Stuart Halpern, student life coordinator at YU’s Office of Student Affairs—is the first of many planned projects from the new partnership between Yeshiva University and Koren Publishers Jerusalem. In the coming months, Koren plans to release a multivolume set on topics of contemporary Jewish law authored by Yeshiva University’s roshei yeshiva, as well as a 20th anniversary edition of YU Chancellor Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s masterwork, Torah Umadda, with a new foreward by Rabbi Lamm and an afterword by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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