Statement Of Agudath Israel Of America Regarding Yeshivat Chovevei Torah


chovevei-torahThe following is a statement Of Agudath Israel of America regarding Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, whose activities have been widely covered here on

The forthcoming installation of a new president at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is scheduled to include a “Roundtable” entitled “Training New Rabbis for a New Generation,” featuring the newly installed YCT president alongside four representatives of the non-Orthodox rabbinate as presenters. This is a deeply troubling, and telling, development.

Throughout its history, our people have been afflicted with schismatic movements and sects at odds with the mesorah, or religious tradition, bequeathed to us at Har Sinai.

Sometimes such “new approaches” openly rejected the Jewish religious heritage, like the movement that introduced itself in the nineteenth century as “Reform.” On other occasions, the break with the Jewish past was more subtle, as in the case of the “Conservative” movement, whose name, though, was quickly belied by its actions.

Torah giants of decades past warned us to not allow any blurring of lines between the world of Jews who maintain fealty to the Jewish past and “new Judaisms” espousing theologies incompatible with our mesorah. They accordingly forbade “multidenominational” religious ventures of any sort.

Groups that ignored that wise counsel have come and gone, even as the movements they sought to treat lightly have gone on to even more blatant rejection of our heritage, redefining their “Judaisms” according to their own lights and the whims of the times.

Countless Jews have been led down the path toward Jewish oblivion by the mesorah-rejecting rabbis of the non-Orthodox movements. That an ostensibly Orthodox rabbinical seminary would now provide a prominent public platform for leaders of those movements to share their wisdom on the subject of training new rabbis is irony of the most bitter kind.

A yeshiva is a place where Jews rigorously pursue the timeless truths of Torah. That leaves no room for those who reject the very concept that such timeless truths exist. The forthcoming YCT installation ceremony does violence to this essential principle.

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  1. Torah giants of decades past..
    ‘warned us to not allow any blurring of lines between the world of Jews who maintain fealty to the Jewish past and “new Judaisms” espousing theologies incompatible with our mesorah’


    THEY REFUSE to acknowledge the most cardinal sins that one must forfeit their lives for

  2. Very well said. Thank you.

    Oh, and about the YCT plants who are sure to come onto this site and say “just ignore them”, the answer is that we may not. We have a Mitzvah (you know, a commandment from G-d) to give tochachah, and to protest, as well as clarify to all, what’s happening here.

  3. Interesting that the name follows in step to R’ Meir’s claim that a person’s (and place’s) name reveals his personality traits.
    “Chovevei Torah” means “Likes Torah” – not LOVES, just likes it. It’s a nice object of interest, but not something you live and breath.

    And, in the current Hebrew vernacular, “chovev” is used to mean “amateur”…

  4. @4 Actually, I think a lot of people would pretty much agree that this does not fall under the rubric of halachically required tochachah, since there’s basically no chance that it will be listened to. But nice job, trying to discredit someone else’s opinion by suggesting that anyone who thinks that there’s no need to publicize this MUST be a YCT plant.

    As for the content of the article… I’m not necessarily one to approve of giving other denominations a platform to espouse there values, but I also most certainly wouldn’t treat them disrespectfully, and I would still love them- yidden are yidden, and I would hope that by showing them kindness and the beauty of Orthodox Judaism that they might consider exploring Orthodoxy. If they get treated like dirt, there’s little chance they would ever be chozer b’teshuva.

  5. Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder of YCT and Yeshivat Maharat for women, allowed two adult women to publicly sing before a mixed audience of men and women at Yeshivat Maharat’s recent graduation ceremony. The prohibition of a man listening to the singing voice of a woman is clearly spelled out in the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 21:1).

    At the graduation, Rabbi Avi Weiss quoted the verse from Shir HaShirim – “Let me hear your voice [written in the feminine form in Hebrew] because your voice is pleasant” and used it to proclaim how wonderful it is that we are beginning to hear the voices of women from the pulpit. It is ironic that he quoted that, because the Gemara in Berachos 24a derives the prohibition to listen to the singing voice of a woman from this very pasuk!

    I later e-mailed the husband of one of the new maharats, whom I know personally, and asked him how the school could permit Kol Isha. This man, an Orthodox rabbi, replied that the prohibition of Kol Isha does not apply to someone saying a davar she’bikedushah (i.e. Shema, Kedushah, etc.).

    The actual wording of the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 75:3 states otherwise. It says that “one should avoid listening to a woman sing when saying Shema.”

    Only later did I realize that since the women were singing the words to a berachah (“Shehecheyanu”), that was the davar she’bikedushah he meant. In other words, listening to a woman sing from the words of Tehillim or anything composed by Chazal, according to Yeshivat Maharat, is permissible.

    This attempt to give a halachic stamp of approval to Kol Isha by redefining Chazal’s meaning and usage of the term davar she’bikedushah is disingenuous and tramples on divrei Chazal.

    Yeshivat Maharat has crossed a red line and can no longer be considered Orthodox, no matter what prefix is added to the word “orthodoxy” – “open orthodoxy,” “morethodoxy” or some other variant – to make others believe the school is still within the Orthodox camp. In this case, more is less.

    Kol hamosif goraya (Sanhedrin 29a).

  6. The roundtable at the YCT event is a particularly brazen and egregious violation, in such a public manner, of the 1956 psak of the gedolim against granting legitimacy to non orthodox and it is good that a statement like this has been issued against it. However, we should similarly be on guard and vigilant against smaller violations of the psak, that may not be so noticeable, that sometimes go by without public protest.

    We miss the presence of Rabbi David B. Hollander z”l, who was such a great leader, leading us so strongly and steadfastly in this area. I’m sure he would shep nachas from such a statement of protest, but I think he would urge us to be wary of smaller breaches in the wall of Torah Judaism as well, and not just protest when the proportions of the breach are outrageous as in this case.

  7. The problem is NOT that YCT is providing a platform to “rabbis” from these movements that reject our mesorah. The problem is that YCT rjects our mesorah! Call a spade a spade!!

  8. #12
    The Tenets of Judaism are meaningless to you ?!

    (Your ilk and Modox never fail to remind us of and publicize every single failing real, potential, or imagined among frum yiddin ..)

  9. to TorasMosheEmes:
    Observe the difference between Gedolei Yisroel and small minded imbeciles. Gedolei Yisroel object to what is objectionable not to figments of one’s imagination.

  10. To 13. True North Strong and Free,
    Just so you know, the opinion that you are disagreeing with is found in the shut of the Seridei Esh in the name of R’ Azriel Hildesheimer and is accepted lehalacha in many Orthodox communities and youth groups.

  11. To Dan #24,

    For your elucidation, the heter quoted by the Seridei Aish, Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l,(which was opposed by many poskim) [see Otzar HaPoskim E.H. 21:1:20:3], was only in the context of men and women singing zemirot together at a Shabbos table. At the graduation, women alone were singing. One has no right to expand this leniency and permit situations beyond singing zemirot together. Furthermore, the Seridei Aish himself was against this practice! He wrote that he considers it a major impropriety when men and women sing together based on the Gemara (Sota 48a). “R. Joseph said: When men sing and women join in it is licentiousness; when women sing and men join in it is like fire in tow.”

    Just so you know.

  12. #24 Dan


    `Just so you know, the opinion that you` falsely made up..

    He permitted Youth Groups

    (plus it was due to the post holocaust period)

    He was Very particular against any women participation in official (i.e Shul)events

  13. I am grieved to see that Agudath Israel only addressed a small part of the problem by pointing the finger at YCT alone. It must be stressed that Bar Kamsa is at least as terrible an offender as YCT. It is incumbent on each and every yochid not be be mishtatef with either of these avaryonim in any way.