YWN Coffee Room » Decaffeinated Coffee » Controversial Topics

Calling people with questionable smicha Rabbi

(73 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by chafetzchaim613
  • Latest reply from yoelhoffman

Tags:

No tags yet.

  1. I don't want to point out individual yeshivos but I know at least one (plus one online) that gives smicha to juts about anyone who will pay for it. You spend a couple years for a couple hours at night and the Rabbis there will walk you through yoreh yoreh. Some yeshivos are just so strapped for cash that they will give it to just about anyone who will pay and is not a Reform Jew.

    Should 30 year old guys learning in Kollel call 23 year old kids who just got smicha from one of these places Rabbi while they call them by their first name? Where do you draw the line- perhaps we should only call people Rabbi who actually have a career as a Rabbi apposed to someone who just got smicha over the internet or some questionable yeshiva after a year?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. Absolutely, call him by his first name alone.

    In fact, there is no obligation whatsoever to call ANYONE with any smicha, even legitimate smicha, "Rabbi" simply because he got smicha.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. popa_bar_abba
    Incorrigible; eccentric; somewhere between mean and average; sometimes only a bit over the top; arbitrarily engaged in cynicism.

    I compromise by calling them maharat. It stands for Manhig Hilkhatit Rukhanit Toranit

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. Toi
    beware the cleats

    stink, i was gonna reply along the same lines.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. popa_bar_abba
    Incorrigible; eccentric; somewhere between mean and average; sometimes only a bit over the top; arbitrarily engaged in cynicism.

    tee hee

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. So why do you think someone would join a small yeshiva that basically hands out smicha and where they would be one of the biggest guys there apposed to a bigger yeshiva where the person would be a small "no body" but surrounded by real talmeidei chachamim.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. Same reason someone might want to get smicha from JTS or HUC. Just because one calls itself Orthodox does not necessarily mean it is indeed Orthodox or that, at least, everything it does is proper Orthodox practice.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. yytz
    Member

    Just because someone got smicha from an online or less-well-known yeshivah doesn't mean they don't deserve the title. Yeshivat Pirkei Shoshanim requires its students to pass the Rabbanut's smicha exam, so they at least have to know something.

    More generally, people who get smicha through such places aren't necessarily doing it so they can get a title they don't deserve or aggrandize themselves. A lot of people either didn't have the opportunity to go to a regular yeshivah, because they became BTs at a late age or whatever, and simply take the smicha course as a way to challenge themselves to increase the level of their Torah knowledge. Even if these places became so widespread that nearly all men have smicha, I don't see what's wrong with that -- it would probably increase the overall level of Torah study and observance.

    In practice, anyway, if someone seems like a talmid chacham and people refer to him as rabbi, then call him rabbi regardless of whether he has smicha at all, or regardless of whether you know where he has smicha from.

    If someone is bothered by their own feeling that people with less knowledge than you have smicha, because unlike them the person never went to the trouble to get smicha, then I would say that person should go ahead and get smicha already if they deserve it so much.

    Of course, if places are giving away smicha without requiring people to learn anything, that's a problem and people should keep that in mind when deciding whether to take someone's halachic views seriously or call them a rabbi. But that doesn't mean each graduate from such places is inadequate in their knowledge.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. sam4321
    Member

    It so happens to be that some of these 23 year olds know yoreh deah very well and some older people who dont.Everyone is diff and if one learns the halachos inside theywill know it well.to pasken one needs shimush anyways so that rwally counts where he did it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. The Litvishe Kiryas Yoelite:

    Do you think it is wrong or irresponsible for money-strapped yeshivos to lower their standards to such a low level for smicha in order to get more students and money?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. yaakov doe
    Member

    Who are we to judge the quality of one's smicha?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. shein
    Joseph

    Today everyone is a "rabbi". The title doesn't mean much anymore.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. oomis
    Best Bubby EVER

    Many people have smicha and do not even refer to themselves as Rabbi. Some people have smicha and do not have a Shul or practice rabbanut or even teach. Nevertheless, if they have legitimately earned their smicha, they should be addressed as Rabbi, if that is their wish (some prefer not to be). If someone has NOT earned his smicha through his learning and knowledge of Torah, then that's a whole 'nother ballgame.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. HaKatan
    Gadol Yihiyeh

    CC613, my understanding is that in BMG (Lakewood), at some point they all seem to gain the honorific Rabbi even though they do not (nearly all) neither have semicha nor have even studied Y"D at all.

    As to this practice at the unnamed institutions you discuss, I don't see what's wrong with learning Yoreh Deah at night and receiving "semicha" if you pass a legit test on Y"D. That doesn't make you qualified to refer to, say, Rav Dovid Feinstein, by his first name, but that also doesn't mean you're not allowed to use that honorific in recognition of your mastery of Y"D.

    Unless you propose that "Rabbi" be used only for those in the rabbinate/chinuch, it is already used for every guy at BMG once they reach a certain point. So anyone who passes a legit test on Y"D deserves that honorific, for what it's worth.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. WolfishMusings
    The Wolf

    Today everyone is a "rabbi". The title doesn't mean much anymore.

    I have, for a long time, protested when someone called me "Rabbi" or any other variation of the word. I have not earned it and calling me "Rabbi" is disrespectful of those who have studied and worked diligently to obtain the title.

    The Wolf

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. oomis: "Nevertheless, if they have legitimately earned their smicha, they should be addressed as Rabbi, if that is their wish (some prefer not to be). If someone has NOT earned his smicha through his learning and knowledge of Torah, then that's a whole 'nother ballgame."

    Who determines legitimate? There are people who because of FINANCIAL reasons or a lack of time, social skills etc. that simply cannot get smicha. Though this has nothing to do with a lack of Torah knowledge. On the other hand, there could be someone who is a baal geiva and attains smicha where he knows if you have the money or connections you will get it.

    Yes, I do think it is wrong for people who are not employed as a Rabbi to use the title Rabbi. If you are not using the title to benefit the klal than the only other reason you are using it is because your're a baal geiva and that is not legitimate. "Earning it" by learning is not a reason to call oneself "Rabbi" every time you go to a chasna or get a letter in the mail.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. Toi
    beware the cleats

    im more fed up with every guy in a frock being called 'Hagaon'. seriously, most arent.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. Ðash®
    Member

    I have, for a long time, protested when someone called me "Rabbi" or any other variation of the word.

    I'd think that a Shliach Tzibur (including a Baal Koreh) is deserving of an honorific.

    © Ю

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. mdd
    Member

    Since when did mastery of davka a portion of Y.D. as opposed to anything else make one a Rabbi?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. shmoolik 1
    Member

    how about the other titles people add to their names Admor of Etc. shalitah, Gadol Ha door etc. there must be a standard not to buy a house put up a sign and we have a new gadol in the neighborhood.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. DaMoshe
    Member

    If someone graduates medical school, you generally call them Doctor, no matter how old they are. It has nothing to do with age, it is a title that you've earned by virtue of passing the exams needed.

    If someone gets semicha, they've earned the right to be called Rabbi. Does that mean you always have to? Probably not, but when using a formal address, you should write their official title.

    Whether you have respect for them or not is up to you. If the semicha is from a yeshiva you don't hold of, then don't show them the respect to their face. Obviously, don't use them as your Rav.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. Confucious
    Joseph

    Don't call a reform (or conservative) pastor a rabbi.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. gavra_at_work
    caution

    This is why I don't even have questionable Smicha. I don't want anyone to insult me by calling me Rabbi (CV).

    Now GAVRA is a Choshive title. Gavra is used many times in Shas, probably more than any other title.

    (I believe this is a repeat)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. DaMoshe: "If someone graduates medical school, you generally call them Doctor, no matter how old they are. It has nothing to do with age, it is a title that you've earned by virtue of passing the exams needed."

    This is just something our society made up. In America, if someone learns Shakespeare or psychology in grad school they are also given the title doctor. You can learn philosophy from mamish kofrim atheists who are over basic mitzvah of "anochi Hashem ELokecha" and get your Ph.D and be called a doctor. The entire thing is so arbitrary. I understand the need to call someone who benefits the klal with an honorific such as a student in a school calling his teacher Rebbi. But to use the title (which is very often non-deserved) simply because you "earned" it is nothing but geiva. The smicha we have today is not comparable to the bnei smicha mentioned in the gemara.

    mdd "Since when did mastery of davka a portion of Y.D. as opposed to anything else make one a Rabbi?"

    Agreed.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. "then I would say that person should go ahead and get smicha already if they deserve it so much."

    What if such a person cannot afford smicha or does not have the time to get smicha because he has a job. Shouldn't people be encouraged not to get smicha unless they absolutely need to for parnasa or because they are a rav of a community? Wouldn't this cause the title to be more respected?

    שמעיה ואבטליון קיבלו מהם.

    שמעיה אומר:

    אהוב את המלאכה, ושנא את הרבנות, ואל תתודע לרשות.

    perkey avos 1:10 clearly says it is better not to get smicha if you do not have to. So there goes your argument saying everyone should get smicha. The chafetz chaim and others never got smicha until they had to.

    "More generally, people who get smicha through such places aren't necessarily doing it so they can get a title they don't deserve or aggrandize themselves. A lot of people either didn't have the opportunity to go to a regular yeshivah, because they became BTs at a late age or whatever, and simply take the smicha course as a way to challenge themselves"

    I am sorry but this is the biggest excuse used in the book. You can't learn Torah lishma unless you are getting smicha? Please.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. WolfishMusings
    The Wolf

    I'd think that a Shliach Tzibur (including a Baal Koreh) is deserving of an honorific.

    I would disagree.

    Even if you want to argue that I should be addressed as "Rabbi" ex-officio* (as, for example, a grade school Rebbe would be called Rabbi even if he doesn't have semicha), that would only apply to the members of my shul. It would not apply to anyone else.

    The Wolf

    * A position I disagree with as well.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. oomis
    Best Bubby EVER

    Chafetzchaim, I am in accord with DaMoshe.

    My father O"H was a great Talmid Chochum who did not have smicha. He was every bit as learned as any Rov I have ever met, but he never went for smicha and would not have called himself Rabbi, though unquestionably he would have passed any bechina given to him. His learning WAS strictly l'Shma, and he had an eidetic memory, so whatever he learned was committed to his memory immediately. He was known for his shiurim and lectures that were typically spontaneous in nature, without notes, and he could quote seforim by heart. He SHOULD have been called rabbi, but preferred not to receive that title.

    So I repeat, someone who has honestly earned that title (I love the word honorific), deserves to be called by it, if he so chooses, just as a non-practicing doctor, retired govt' official (i.e. Mayor Koch O"H),or retired military man is still called by their title. It makes no difference if he has a shteller or teaches in Yeshivah. He still has the degree. Now, OTOH, I kind of believe that a wife of a rabbi should be referred to as the rebbetzin, if in fact her husband is a practicing rabbi in a shul. I am sure there are those who will disagree with that, but it's a semantic issue, I guess.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. oomis: Online smicha currently costs $ 4,920. If some rich kid gets smicha from here who has plenty of money and free time, spends 20 years as a lawyer and doesn't learn a day after that: your father should be mekaved him while he addresses your father who learns Torah all day as Mr. so and so?

    So according to you the Chafetz Chaim should be not have been called Rabbi but rather Mr. so and so like your father was while the guy who got an easy smicha for $4000 in two years online or from some tiny yeshiva and hasn't learned in 20 years and works as a lawyer should?

    I'm sorry but I cannot think of anything more ridiculous. In my yeshiva there are people who do not have smicha and are called Rabbis because they actually teach while others have a two year smicha from 50 years ago and haven't learned in years yet should be called Rabbi?

    You are using examples of what goyim do and how they address each-other to make your point but I do not think that is comparable. Throughout Jewish history in galus (until recently) since the real smicha was lost people with and without "smicha" have been called Rabbi. Reform and Conservative Jews also have "smicha".

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. apushatayid
    Member

    I heard (am no expert in his teshuvos make such a claim) that R' Moshe z'l used the term rabbi when referring to members of non orthodox clergy. Orthodox clergy were called Rabbonim.

    The title rabbi really means nothing these days. I am routinely called rabbi by the homeless who solicit change outside the building where i work and the kenyan dry cleaner where I have my cleaning done.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. Confucious
    Joseph

    Rav Moshe did not ever call any non-Orthodox "rabbi".

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. oomis
    Best Bubby EVER

    oomis: Online smicha currently costs $ 4,920. If some rich kid gets smicha from here who has plenty of money and free time, spends 20 years as a lawyer and doesn't learn a day after that: your father should be mekaved him while he addresses your father who learns Torah all day as Mr. so and so?"

    FTR, my dad (who was niftar 19 years ago, and I only WISH some rich kid or ANY kid could see him today to get a Sholom Aleichem, if not kovod, from him) had the title Dr. in his health-related profession, and Chazzan too. He wore many hats, but Rabbi was not one of them.

    Be that as that may, if online smicha were considered legitimate smicha, then I would have no problem addressing the individual who received it, as Rabbi. I cannot imagine however, that Smicha can be conferred by another Rov, without actually doing the action of "smicha" on the talmid. So it would tend to make me think that unlike an on-line reputable college degree (where the student actually has to do and submit the work) it is not quite the same getting "smicha by internet."

    I understand the point you are making,and btw, there is such a thing as smicha for teaching, but not paskening shailos, and it is also a kovod to the mechaneich b'Torah, to be called Rav or rebbie even without smicha. My sons had rebbeim who for certain did not have smicha, but were called Rav so and so, and their learning reflected their worthiness of the title.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. Confucious
    Joseph

    Technically, anyone with smicha can confer smicha on anyone else. IOW, if a 21 year old has smicha, he can give smicha to his 18 year old friend.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. oomis
    Best Bubby EVER

    But one cannot just GIVE smicha to just anyone.There has to be a basis for him to be worthy of it, at least in the learning aspect. Or is that not the case?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. DaasYochid
    a singular mind

    But one cannot just GIVE smicha to just anyone.There has to be a basis for him to be worthy of it, at least in the learning aspect. Or is that not the case?

    Ideally, of course. In reality - who knows?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. "Technically, anyone with smicha can confer smicha on anyone else. IOW, if a 21 year old has smicha, he can give smicha to his 18 year old friend."

    Yea, I actually know a 21 year old guy who has smicha who gave it to an 18 year old friend who gave it to his 13 year old brother who sold it online for $4,920 so he could buy that video game he always wanted.

    Ok I made that up except for people selling smicha online and in tiny yeshivos in the tri state area for $4,920. That part is true.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. Sam2
    The Even-Keeled and Erudite Shmuely Wollenberger from Las Vegas

    Confucious: It must really be terrible when reality doesn't fit with your world view. But since you deny reality instead of simply looking up something easy, you made yourself look foolish.

    Rav Moshe, in the T'shuvos, called everyone Rabbi-Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. However, he did it in two clearly different ways. For the Orthodox, he spelled it in Hebrew, Reish Beis Yud, to show that it was a Kavod'dik title. For Conservative and Reform, he spelled it as they would in Yiddish (Reish Aleph Beis Yud Yud) to show that it was just a title, just like he'd call a doctor a doctor. Now, there was obviously no Kavod at all meant in calling them "Rabbis" (anyone who reads his T'shuvos about Conservative and Reform can see that in a second). But it's a blatant falsehood to claim that R' Moshe never called them Rabbis.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. apushatayid
    Member

    Thank you Sam. Saved me the trouble of heading over to hebrew books, to look for and then copy and paste from a teshuva where he uses the term "rabbi" in reference to members of the reform and conservative clergy.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. yaff80
    Member

    One "adam Chashuv" once said that anyone studying Torah as a vocation deserves the title Rabbi just for the mere fact that he sits and learns.
    Just as an aside, what about the ones who teach children. Many people call them Rabbi although I believe they are getting confues with Rebbi. IMO They shoud be addresses as Rebbe so and so rather than Rabbi so and so.
    Any thoughts?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. Confucious
    Joseph

    Well, on that token (that you are concerned with rebbe/rabbi) if you call them Rebbe, people might confuse them for the Admou"r type of Rebbe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. oomis: "I understand the point you are making"

    Thank you, it would have been a privilege to meet your father. He seems like a great man.

    yaff80: I think the emphasis goes on what the person does for the tzibur and how he should be addressed by others in his position. Perhaps the students should call their teacher Rebbe instead of Rabbi but I don't see what the problem is if they call him Rabbi as this would certainly enhance the kavod of Torah.

    Kavod haTorah is increased when people call others Rabbi who put their title into practice through teaching, chinuch or by being the Rabbi of a shule. Calling people Rabbi only because they took some questionable smicha program 20 years ago and do not benefit the tzibur through their past learning is not kavod haTorah. On the other hand, I suppose if they got smicha from the Mir or a similar yeshiva this would be another story all together.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. rebdoniel
    Modern/Open Orthodox

    What institutions offer online semicha? I know about Pirchei Shoshanim and R' Wilhelm, as well as R' Mordechai Yitzchok Friedman. Any others?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  42. OneDayAtAtime
    Member

    A few weeks ago I noticed an ad for a Yeshiva dinner honoring several people who were referred to as "Rabbi". I called the Yeshiva and asked from what Yeshiva a certain honoree was a musmach. The administrator told me "Living in Lakewood is enough to be called Rabbi"

    I think that is a slap in the face to those who legitimately have earned Semicha.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. OneDayAtAtime: I disagree. I bet you 10 to 1 that the person being honored at his yeshiva dinner knows more Torah and has more yiras Hashem than some guy who got a two year smicha. I recently got a call from my roshe yeshiva asking if I wanted to sponsor a certain "Rabbi" of the yeshiva to be honored. This person does not have smicha (I believe after talking with him) because he is content to learn Torah lishma and realizes the dangers of attaining official smicha and the harm in can cause (throughout chazal you see source after source discouraging going into rabbanus unless you have to). He rather sit and learn lishma. He sits and learns in yeshva everyday- all day. When you walk in to the yeshva, there is rarely a time you won't find him in his seat being osek in Torah before you get there. He also gives shiurim to younger talmidim.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. Below is one example. I think it's mamish what we have today.

    "These underdeveloped students who have not gathered much Torah knowledge, seek to gain prestige in the eyes of the common people and the inhabitants of their city [by] jumping to sit at the head of all questions of law and halachic judgements in Israel. They spread division, destroy the world, extinguish the light of Torah, and wreak havoc in the vinyard of the God. In his wisdom, Solomon alluded to them [as follows, (Song of Songs 2:15)]: "Take for us foxes, little foxes that spoil the vinyards, [our vinyards are blooming.]" Rambam Mishneh Torah Hilchos Talmud Torah 5-4

    אלו התלמידים הקטנים שלא הרבו תורה כראוי והם מבקשים להתגדל בפני עמי הארץ ובין אנשי עירם וקופצין ויושבין בראש לדין ולהורות בישראל הם המרבים המחלוקת והם המחריבים את העולם והמכבין נרה של תורה והמחבלים כרם ה' צבאות עליהם אמר שלמה בחכמתו אחזו לנו שועלים שועלים קטנים מחבלים כרמים:

    Posted 1 year ago #
  45. Sam2
    The Even-Keeled and Erudite Shmuely Wollenberger from Las Vegas

    Chafetzchaim: What sources in Chazal are against being a Rabbi? That's just silly. Rabbanus in that Mishnah in Pirkei Avos means public leadership, not being a Rabbi.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  46. oomis
    Best Bubby EVER

    Thank you, it would have been a privilege to meet your father. He seems like a great man. "

    Thank you. He was indeed. For so many reasons.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  47. sam4321
    Member

    chafetzchaim613: I don't understand why it bothers you so much.You can call anyone Rabbi or not ,its up to you. One can tell if someone is a true talmid chacham or not.If someone receives Yoreh yoreh or yadin yadin then it means they know that topic well does it mean they can pasken,maybe,if they have shimush or not.Without a doubt there are plenty of people who don't have smicha who far surpass people with smicha,but that doesn't make someone with yoreh yoreh an am haaretz. In two years one could learn a lot of Yoreh Deah and know it well.Should that person be called Rabbi that's up to each individual to decide.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  48. Sam2: "What sources in Chazal are against being a Rabbi? That's just silly." I just gave you one.

    sam4321: I agree with you. I am just against people demanding that everyone calls them Rabbi because they have some sort of smicha and people against not calling others Rabbi because they do not have an official smicha.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  49. thegra
    JasonX troll

    Wow, what a great topic that is finally being discussed. Yasher Koach to chafetzchaim613 (I cannot agree with you more regarding everything you said).

    I agree that it is a week proof to bring Chukas Hagoyim as your raya (a couple people said since doctorate holders in America are called doctors regardless of what they do or how old they are so should people with any sort of "smicha"- no matter how cheep the smicha is). However EVEN THIS is not true.

    The book Honor & Respect: The Official Guide to Titles
    says someone who has a Ph.D and does not work in academia (the example they gave is someone with a doctorate who works at a Bank) should not be addressed as doctor. So by that logic someone with a smicha degree who works in business, medicine, law etc. should not be called Rabbi.

    Regardless, to even compare the two in the first place is rather silly in my opinion. The problem is that historically over time honorifics with real meaning get more and more watered down. This happens whenever money is given directly or indirectly in return for an honorific to institutions.

    The lesson is that unless it is coming from a very well known and respected rov: focus on what people say and not the person saying it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  50. Charles Short
    Chuck Snort

    I made a donation of $4000 and got smicha within 6 months; from someone who was also a Medical Doctor, btw.

    Posted 1 year ago #

RSS feed for this topic

Reply »

You must log in to post.