In an exclusive and groundbreaking interview in this week’s American Yated Ne’eman, Rav Moishe Meiselman, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Toras Moshe, one of the first yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel established to cater to American yeshiva bochurim, discusses a number of pressing topics, including bochurim learning in Eretz Yisroel and breaches in halacha and mesorah proposed by modern day feminism.
Rav Meiselman, a scion of the Brisker Soloveitchik family, also discusses his relationship with the Soloveitchik family and especially his uncle, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Boston.
The following are some details from the fascinating interview:
- Rav Meiselman was born and raised in Boston and, in his words, is “perhaps the only rosh yeshiva today who never learned in a proper yeshiva.”
- Rav Meiselman, from the time he was 18 years old until 29, learned with his uncle, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, bechavrusah, for hours, virtually on a daily basis.
- In 1982, Rav Meiselman established Yeshiva Toras Moshe, named after his grandfather, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik.
Commenting on bochurim learning in Eretz Yisroel, he says, “There is so much kedushah, so much Torah, that a bochur can absorb in Eretz Yisroel. Unfortunately, on the other hand, where there is a lot of kedushah, there is a lot of hefkeirus… If a bochur comes to Eretz Yisroel and lives an unstructured life, not only is he squandering the unique benefits that he could otherwise have gained from being exiled to a makom Torah, but he would probably have been better off staying in America, where at least there is some parental and yeshiva supervision. Today, being a bochur in an unsupervised or loosely supervised atmosphere in Eretz Yisroel constitutes a churban.”
Rav Meiselman also speaks about a book he authored called “Jewish Women in Jewish Law.” and the interplay between feminism and Orthodoxy.
In commenting on the so-called left-wing of Modern Orthodoxy to try creating innovations with regard to women, Rav Meiselman says, that “when it comes to the rabbis and the people who are at the forefront of pushing for these changes so that they can ‘update’ Orthodoxy to conform with today’s ‘progressive’ cultural norm…[the] common denominator between nearly all of them is that they are largely ignorant of halacha and devoid of serious Torah scholarship. If your knowledge of Torah and halacha are limited, then you are not limited by halacha. One is never confined by things that one doesn’t know and never learned!”
Rav Meiselman continues: “Additionally, all of them, even those who do have some degree of Torah knowledge, have no sense of mesorah, of the sanctity of mesorah. They have no innate sensitivity, no feel for what true Yiddishkeit is, nor any hachna’ah, any sense of humbling oneself, before the great poskim - both past and present - who do know something and who do understand what mesorah and Yiddishkeit mean.
“Basically, they are people who conceive ideas of what they perceive that Judaism should allow and blame it on the Torah. As it were, they paint a bull’s eye and then draw the target around it, trying to force the Torah into it and make it fit.
Rav Meisleman was asked about the concept of ‘yo’atzot,’ so-called women rabbinic advisors who rule on some areas of taharas hamishpacha.
“If you are an am ha’aretz,” says Rav Meiselman, “you don’t understand why a woman am ha’aretz can’t pasken a shailah. It started with yo’atzot, progressed to poskot, Maharat, and finally Rabbah. It’s a natural progression. When am ha’aratzim with no deep innate religious sense of the authenticity of Yiddishkeit and mesorah implement an agenda-driven innovation, these things are the inevitable outcome…”
Read the full interview in this week’s American Yated Ne’eman.