In the Fall 2023 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books:
- Torat Chaim: Words to Share at Life’s Meaningful Moments edited by Rabbis Wes Kalmar,
Noah Cheses, Steven Miodownik and Brahm Weinberg
- The Golden Age of the Lithuanian Yeshivas by Ben-Tsiyon Klibansky
- Choshev Mishpat: Software Ethics in Halacha by Shaul Moshe Alter
Torat Chaim: Words to Share at Life’s Meaningful Moments
Apprenticeship is an important part of becoming a professional. When it comes to Torah, joining the chain of practical tradition and learning from an experienced mentor is even more important. The Talmud (Berachot 47b) says that even if someone has learned many Torah texts, if he has not served under an experienced scholar, he is an am ha’aretz, an ignoramus.
For twenty years, Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter has been gathering young rabbis twice a year to help them prepare for holidays and hone their rabbinic skills. For the many rabbis who were fortunate enough to attend these “Yarchei Kallah,” Rabbi Schacter served as a mentor, guiding them through their challenges in the congregational rabbinate. (Also important, perhaps life changing, were the sessions with Mrs. Yocheved Schacter, an experienced psychotherapist.)
Rabbi Schacter began the Yarchei Kallah when he was dean of the Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Institute in Boston, and took the project with him when he moved to Yeshiva University. For well over a decade, the Yeshiva University Yarchei Kallah has trained Modern Orthodox rabbis in the practical aspects of the rabbinate. A mainstay of the Yarchei Kallah are the binders of primary sources of homiletical material that rabbis can incorporate into their sermons. Prominent scholars are also invited to address the gathered rabbis. Overall, the Yarchei Kallah offers rabbis the opportunity for continued training and a safe space to share experiences with colleagues and seek guidance from those who have faced similar challenges.
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