14-Year-Old Talmid Chochom Seeks to Take Semichah Exam


gemara-learningWhile his classmates spent the summer break at the beach or at the pool, vacationing in Israel or abroad, Moshe’s focus was on a completely different subject. While they were trying to solve crossword puzzles or Sudoku, Moshe’s gifted mind continued to race ahead. Last week, the boy fulfilled his dream of sitting the Chief Rabbinate’s ordination exams – and he is only 14 years old.

The rabbonim that examined the boy, who will soon be starting the ninth grade, say they have yet to encounter such a phenomenon.

Moshe, the son of a well-known Religious Zionist family from the Sharon region, is an expert on Shas, poskim, Rishonim, and Acharonim.

Over the years, a long line of prominent rabbonim and religious judges, both from the National-Religious and chareidi streams, have tested the boy, and were left flabbergasted by his knowledge.

A few months ago, Moshe’s parents contacted the Chief Rabbinate and requested he be allowed to sit in on the semichah exams. These exams are part of a course parallel to bachelor’s degree studies, and are usually meant for avreichim over the age of 25. Moshe’s family, however, hoped that the rabbonim would recognize that their son is gifted and allow him to take the test at a young age. The family had a similar case with Moshe’s younger brother, who at the age of 13, already holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Hebrew University of Yerushalayim

The Chief Rabbinate Council recently deliberated on the matter, and several rabbonim, including the council’s president, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Rav Yona Metzger, were leaning in favor of granting the request. But opposition from his Sephardic counterpart, Rav Shlomo Amar, led the council to ultimately deny the request and force Moshe to wait a few more years.

 On the eve of the exam, the head of Rav Metzger’s bureau, Rav Chaim Hemdinger, decided that the gifted child could take the exam, but without his answers being checked or bearing any weight in the future should he wish to pursue semichah. The decision was made in hopes that Moshe’s participation would encourage him to continue down this path and grow in knowledge of the Torah.

The thousands of yeshiva students who arrived at the International Convention Center in Yerushalayim to take the test this week were shocked to find young Moshe there as well. When one of them looked through the boy’s notebook, he discovered just how far Moshe’s knowledge of halacha extends and quickly called Rav Amar’s attention to it. “He doesn’t stop writing, it’s an entire sefer,” he told the chief rabbi, who was at the ICC at the time. “He doesn’t miss a single opinion from the poskim.”

Tzefas Chief Rabbi Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, who had tested Moshe himself and was very impressed with his proficiency in the material, said he was disappointed with the Chief Rabbinate’s decision not to take the boy’s potential into account. “Throughout the generations the Jewish people would nurture such people, who are destined to grow in Torah studies,” Rav Eliyahu claimed.

He added that ordination to the Rabbinate would have encouraged the boy and given him motivation, without fear of him being elected for any kind of rabbinical office at such a young age.

Moshe’s farther refused to comment and said he was instructed by rabbonim not to go public with the story for fear of ayin harah.

{Ynet/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. We need more positive and uplifitng stories. may we be zocha to the geulah shlaima. Everyone have a good fast.

  2. I disagree with the previous two comments.

    Running of such a story is what is wrong with yiddishkeit today.

    In previous generations, modesty was a central part of frumkeit. being an uhnuv is a major part of being an uhdum gadol. Here, you are teaching a boy that ga’avuh goes hand in hand with being an elui.

    You ruin him for being a gadol.

  3. Quote: “Moshe’s farther refused to comment and said he was instructed by rabbonim not to go public with the story for fear of ayin harah.”

    So how do we know all these details?

  4. it is very obvious why the wouldnt give him smicha a child that young could not neccesarily understand emotions and politics and so many other fundemental aspects of the surrounding besides the law. what i mean to say is that he cant lead and that most times every case is differant.

  5. It’s important for a child that age to enjoy the summer in a Torah way. To much intensive study that early can lead to burn out.