Statement of Agudath Israel of America Regarding Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

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agudahThe 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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7 COMMENTS

  1. Good to see that the Agudah is showing strong leadership, great vision, and boldness on the really tough issues.

    This statement is certain to make a big difference.

  2. The same criticisms were levied against Hasidism by the Orthodoxy of its day.

    Also, they seem to be more troubled by the fact that YCT is consorting with liberal rabbis than it is by the fact that Avi Weiss is ordaining women. This would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

  3. The same criticisms were levied against Reform by the Orthodoxy of its day.

    And Orthodoxy from RCA to the Moetzes have all uniformly condemned Mr. Avi Weiss for his ordination of women as rabbas.

  4. apikorus:

    your staement displays ignorance. The criticisms of the early hasidic movement stemmed from the fact that it emphazied mystical ideas and “feeling HaShems closeness” while placing little emphasis on learning. These concerns were completely understandable given that hasidism arose very shortly on the heels of another mystical movement that had a DISASTEROUS effect on the Jewish people; that led by the Shabsai Tzi. The fact that today “misnagdim” no longer object to hasidism, even respecting it, is because HASIDISM changed. That being said, these concerns were not then and are not today without merit, given certain things/practices/beliefs that go on in a certain hasidic community. I hope I don’t have to mention names.

  5. Dear 5
    I am not so astute as to figure out which community you are referring to. If you are not comfortable in being explicit you may just indicate the first two letters: e.g. LU for Lubavitch

  6. Dear 5,

    The minhagim of the Besht and his talmidim did not change and is still followed under today’s chasidim. What changed is the misnagdim realized they were good and not the bad they originally assumed, and so they dropped their objections and accepted and actually embraced chasidim. And today there are no more misnagdim. The non-chasidim sit on the same rabbinic bodies and moetzes with the chasidim.