Monday, August 22, 2011

An 1839 critique of the ability of yeshivas to train and produce rabbis.

Here is an interesting caustic comment concerning yeshivas in R. Hirsch Fassel's Choreb be-zayon, his critical "Letters of a Jewish rabbi and scholar" on R. Samson Raphael Hirsch's Choreb.

The gist of this comment by Fassel, who had studied at the Chasam Sofer's yeshiva in Pressburg and became a moderate reformer, is that nowadays there was no way to produce rabbis, who have to teach themselves. Yeshivas are useless:
"Today, although this problem is gradually being lessened, young man will have to form themselves into rabbis. But where shall this be done? In Yeshivos? There is there one thing taught which actually pertains to the rabbinate? Everything there has a polemical tendency, and the most one can get out of it is perfecting Dialectic - but what else? Not even Casuistics (i.e., the study of responsa) or practical halacha, let alone exegesis and hermenutics, homiletics and rhetoric. A youth spends many years in the Yeshiva and all he has to show for it to belong to the rabbinate is to teach himself everything, becoming an autodidact."


  1. Great post! Thanks for this...Still true now a days, if not more. If you want to become a Rov you have to take your own initiative. However perhaps by the 'modern Orthodox' there is more of a program in place to move you from learning in Yeshiva or in a College into a Rabbinical program. By the charedim I see more than it depends on what a person does for himself.

  2. What's with the shifts in font? I can understand using Latin for Hebrew transliterated terms, but i thought "Rhetorik" had already been Germanicized.



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