28 December 2005

Special Guest Speakers

On the night of Tuesday 13 December, Rabbi Yehuda Mirsky, spoke to students at YCT about Rav Kook's thought, primarily as it related to democracy.
The following day, on the fourteenth, Rabbi Natan Greenberg, of Bat Ayin spoke to the yeshiva on Hanukkah and what was so special about it, beginning with more traditional sources, then going into Rav Nahman of Breslav's perspectives.

18 December 2005

First and Second Year Students Do Chesed Week

This week, students from years one and two in the semicha program are taking part in chesed activities. While some students are helping out around New York City, seven students are helping out down south with the Hurricane Katrina clean-up in Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana. I, Drew Kaplan, will be blogging about the latter on my blog over the next week.

07 December 2005

Me'orot Program Discusses Women's Issues

YCT's Me'orot program brought in four outside speakers recently to discuss about women for Orthodoxy. Last Tuesday, Dr. Judith Plaskow spoke about challenges that the non-Orthodox movements have presented to the Orthodox movement in terms of women, and Devorah Zlochower spoke about halakhic problems for women within Orthodoxy vis-a-vis the status quo. Last night, Rivka Haut spoke about Women of the Wall, as well as women's prayer groups, while Lisa Schlaff spoke about the Darchei Noam minyan on the upper west side of Manhattan. (The first-year students, as part of their/our Modern Orthodoxy class were in attendance, as well.)

06 December 2005

Rabbi Weiss Speaks About Relating To People

Yesterday, Rabbi Avi Weiss began his Monday post-Minha speeches with one on relating to one's fellow, especially as a rabbi. He said at the outset that the purpose of these speeches (lasting around 15-20 minutes) is for them to be "relevant to the rabbincate relative to the mission of the yeshiva." I think that the meta-purpose of these talks to the yeshiva is that we students don't have much interfacing with Rabbi Weiss, so these lectures are designed for him to impart some of his wisdom to the students, specifically, as he said, regarding morsels of knowledge about the rabbinate.
He began speaking about the dialogue in Bereishit 29:4ff where Ya'akov is speaking with others where Ya'akov is shown to be speaking to them, while they are merely speaking. He went from there to speaking about connecting with people when we're speaking with them.
He made the point that what we're doing is holy work - the keyword is relationships. He further said that it is important to recognize "that we're dealing with people, with a personality, with a character." It is about connecting.
Additionally, "Before you can be a good Rav, you need to work on being a good person - a mentsch. It's not that what a person says, per se, is what people hears. Rather, a person "hears" what the other person does.
"It is a core value of Chovevei Torah to graduate poskim, talmidei chachamim. But in the end, it is also to graduate people who love people."
I look forward to his future mini-lectures.

01 December 2005

Rabbi Meir Lichtenstein Speaks

Wednesday morning, Rabbi Meir Lichtenstein, the rosh beit midrash at Yeshivat HaKibbutz HaDati Ein-Tzurim, came to speak to the first-year and mechina students. His שיעור (lecture) was upon a statement of רבא (Rava - an early fourth century Jewish sage, who lived in Mechoza, Babylonia) recorded in קידושין ו (Kiddushin 6b) about the permissibility of gifts with a condition of return with another of his statements on the same topic.
One of his points was that even though his statement is not formulated in conceptual
terminology, but that it is clear that he has a conceptual basis. This, of course, brings up whether statements are those of case law or those of conceptual law. He pointed out that conceptual terminology is not (or seldom(?)) found among the Tannaim, somewhat among the Amoraim, and a lot among the Stammaim. It was also interesting to look at how we may see the stam as not just being wrong, but that he may have had a different conceptual approach to the topic.