By: Nadav Heller, MTA Class of 2019

Last week, the MTA Debate Team had the privilege of hearing from one of our rebbeim, Rabbi Tani Cohen, who modeled what a debate would look like on the topic of mining the halachic wisdom of Yichud as it relates to today’s society.  After detailing the prohibitions of Yichud, Rabbi Cohen debated whether or not these halachas are outdated or unsuitable for a modern world.  After presenting both sides of the topic, Rabbi Cohen stated that recent occurrences in Hollywood related to harassment prove that hilchos Yichud can still be relevant today.  He also discussed the merits of not putting yourself in situations that can be questionable in the first place and introduced us to a program that helps religious individuals adhere to the laws of Yichud.  This program seeks to normalize carrying around a doorstop so that the door can be propped open in interviews, meetings, and everyday interactions to avoid transgressing these laws and help prevent misconduct.  In addition to providing the Debate Team with pertinent halachic information, Rabbi Cohen’s presentation also helped us learn how to develop strategies that will assist us in arguing our topics at future debates.  We are grateful to our Faculty Advisor, Mrs. Levitt, for working with Rabbi Cohen on this presentation and exposing us to a new way of looking at this specific halacha.  This presentation by Rabbi Cohen highlighted the unique synthesis of Torah and Madda at MTA, as Rabbi Cohen blended Torah wisdom with an array of knowledge in the areas of culture and debate.


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