Volume 41 Number 91
                 Produced: Wed Jan 21  5:50:44 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Academic Status of Rabbinical Ordination
         [Alan Cooper]
Academic Status to Rabbinic Degree (4)
         [Carl Singer, David Riceman, Leah Aharoni, Ari Trachtenberg]
Fish, Meat and Milk
         [Wendy Baker]
Kissing the Torah Scroll
Leningrad Codex - Karaite?
         [Stan Tenen]
Murdering the language
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Third Temple from Heaven
         [Jeffrey Woolf]
Walking into a church
         [Carl Singer]
         [Aharon A. Fischman]


From: Alan Cooper <amcooper@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 10:16:55 -0500
Subject: Academic Status of Rabbinical Ordination

>Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...> writes:
>I have before me a Weekly Portion sheet of a prominent Torah institution
>here in Israel.  It states that it trains "young Rabbis to take the
>Israeli Rabbinate's rigorous Yadin Yadin examinations [equivalent to

That statement could be taken to mean only that the rigor of the
Rabbinate's examinations are comparable to the rigor of Ph.D. qualifying
examinations.  If that is the correct understanding, it is probably
true, without regard to the broader question of whether earning
rabbinical ordination is in some way equivalent to earning a Ph.D.

>My questions are:
>a)  as I am not a Rabbi nor a Dr., is there general agreement on this list
>that Yadin Yadin is a Ph.D. equivalent?

I cannot speak for the Israeli context, but I am familiar with the
policies and practices of the two American seminaries where I have
taught (one Reform and one Conservative).  In both places, rabbinical
ordination is not an academic degree, nor is it considered to be the
equivalent of one.

HUC Cincinnati carefully distinguishes its graduation ceremony, where
academic degrees are awarded, from its ordination, which is done in the
context of a Shabbat morning service.  At both JTS and HUC, rabbinical
students are awarded Masters' degrees for successful completion of the
*academic* portions of the program leading to ordination.  At HUC, that
means that rabbinical students attend both graduation and
ordination--the former to receive a degree, and the latter to be
ordained.  At JTS, the awarding of degrees and the conferral of
ordination are done separately at the unified Commencement event.

>b)  can one truly compare a Rabbinic and an Academic degree?

To the extent that they have comparable academic requirements, yes.  But
there are significant divergences as well.  Anyone who has had to teach
a class of mixed graduate and rabbinical students will know that each
group approaches the same material with a different agenda.  And
naturally the course of study for the rabbinate emphasizes professional
skills that are irrelevant in doctoral degree programs.

>c)  are the two courses of study quite different?

At HUC and JTS, they are anchored in the same basic language and text
skills, and they may have some specific courses in common, but otherwise
they are different in many respects.  Most people will have some
experience with the difference I'm speaking about in their own line of
work.  Think, for example, about the difference between a physician and
an organic chemist.  Both of them have to study the same basic science,
but one is a member of a profession while the other is an academic
specialist.  (It is possible to be both, of course, and many rabbis hold
Ph.D. degrees.)

>d)  Is Yoreh Yoreh a MA then?

At HUC and JTS, the equivalent of the MA is awarded for the academic
part of the program that students complete on the way to ordination.

When I was Director of the graduate school at HUC, I occasionally would
receive requests from yeshiva-trained rabbis to certify that their
rabbinical training amounted to the equivalent of the MA.  The reason
for their request was that they were applying for jobs (usually hospital
chaplaincies) that required an accredited Masters' degree "or
equivalent," and of course they held no degrees at all that would be
recognized by the State of Ohio.  Since HUC's graduate degrees were
accredited by Ohio, the hiring agency would accept HUC's certification
that the academic part of the rabbi's program leading to ordination was,
indeed, the equivalent of the M.A.  I was happy to provide that
certification on the basis of the rabbis' transcripts.

There was one amusing case where a rabbi, clearly out of touch with the
academic world, asked if I would be willing actually to award him the
M.A.  from HUC on the basis of the work that he had done in Lakewood.  I
explained to him that he didn't need the degree itself, only the
certification that I described above.  But I couldn't resist continuing
in deadpan fashion to inform him that he would be welcome to come to
Cincinnati to continue his studies in order to earn the M.A.  He did not
take me up on the offer.

Alan Cooper 


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 10:37:12 -0500
Subject: Academic Status to Rabbinic Degree

I believe that calling Yadin Yadin as Ph.D. might be viewed as a useful
analogy to distinguish it from Yoreh Yoreh.  That is Yadin Yadin
represents a higher (the highest?) level of attainment.

I think that it's really an apples / oranges comparison to carry it
beyond that.  I personally feel that it would demean the Rabbinic degree
to equivalence it with an academic degree.  One can learn w/o living

Smicha, itself, is a rather ambiguous undertaking.  There are Roshei
Yeshiva who have learned and taught (and lived) Torah all of their lives
but do not have (formal) smicha -- there are balabtim who have "bought"
smicha in conjunction with learning part time with a Rabbi.

There are Yeshivas in the U.S. that grant college degrees.  I do not
know specifically which accreditation organization has audited them.  I
saw a resume from a fine young man who had studied at Lakewood for many
years.  He had a Masters in, as I recall, Analytical Studies, from
B.M.G.  Bais Medresh Gevoah (Lakewood) He also had computer skills via
courses he had taken while in Kollel.  He was leaving Kollel (and the
support of his father-in-law) to start making a living for his wife and

Carl Singer, Ph.D.

From: David Riceman <driceman@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 11:36:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Academic Status to Rabbinic Degree

> a)  as I am not a Rabbi nor a Dr., is there general agreement on this list
> that Yadin Yadin is a Ph.D. equivalent?

No.  A Ph.D. requires a substantial novel contribution to the field.
Yadin yadin rquires mastery of previously known material.  The proper
analogy is law school.

> b)  can one truly compare a Rabbinic and an Academic degree?

Many masters and professional programs are analogous.  They require
mastering bodies of knowledge and skills.

David Riceman

From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 23:16:42 +0200
Subject: Academic Status to Rabbinic Degree

The equating of Yadin Yadin to a Ph.D. does not say anything about the
institution. It is embedded into the pay system of the Israeli Ministry
of Education.

The salaries of Israeli teachers and educators are linked to their
academic degrees and years of experience. Hence, Yore Yore is equivalent
to an MA, and Yadin Yadin to a Ph.D. In other words, a rabbi with Yore
Yore will receive the same salary as his colleague with an MA, and a
rabbi with Yadin Yadin will receive a salary equal to that of a teacher
with a Ph.D (all other things remaining equal).

I am absolutely sure of this, from my previous experience as a human
resources coordinator, handling over a dozen such teachers with rabbinic

Leah Aharoni
English/Hebrew/Russian Translator
Telefax 972-2-9971146, Mobile 972-56-852571
Email <leah25@...>

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 10:56:37 -0500
Subject: Re: Academic Status to Rabbinic Degree

I cannot comment on the chief rabbinate's "yadin yadin" exam, as I am
not familiar with it specifically.  However, I can comment on the
relation between Rabbinic and Academic degrees, being intimately
connected to academia.

I believe that one cannot honestly compare a Rabbinical degree and a PhD
 ...  and that this is not in any way a reflection of their relative
merits, simply of their philosophy.  A PhD (at least the kind with which
I am familiar in science and engineering) involves researching,
developing, and supporting a genuinely novel idea.  Examinations are a
prerequisite for this degree, but the real test is the ability to defend
the novelty and relevancy of your ideas in front of your peers.

Rabbinical s'micha (ordination) shares the necessity for defending
difficult ideas to your peers, but does not, and should not, require
novelty of solution.  Though rabbinic novelty is useful in new,
unforeseen circumstances, it is inappropriate and possibly
counterproductive to require this for all rabbinic students.  Novelty in
traditional halchic interpretation is the well-guarded exception rather
than the norm.

As such, it is more appropriate to compare a rabbinical degree to a
J.D. or M.D.  degree - a degree with the same (or more?) respect as a
Ph.D. but with a clear professional perspective that measures
understanding of complicated professional ideas rather than the
generation of novel ones.  

Ari Trachtenberg, Boston University


From: Wendy Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 13:52:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Fish, Meat and Milk

An interesting side light observation on this discussion accured to me.
I know many vegetarians and a few, what I would call fishitarians, who
will eat fish but not chicken or meat.  The 2 fishitarians I know are
not only Jews, but those who are most familiar with kashrut.  The
vegetarians, mostly those that eat milk and eggs, that I know, are from
all kinds of backgrounds, Jewish or not.

I assume that this Rabbinic law regarding chicken as meat, but not fish
as meat, psycologically influenced these 2 fishitarians.  Fish just
doesn't seem to be meat.

Wendy Baker


From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 14:16:00 EST
Subject: Re: Kissing the Torah Scroll

<< Jeffrey Aaronson wrote: <<When we return the Torah, it is carried
through the women's section.  At other shul's where this is done, who
carries the Torah - a man or a woman?>> >>

This whole discussion reminds me of an incident that my brother told me
about when we were kids.  The sefer Torah was being carried through the
women's section, and one woman, when seeing the Torah,
exclaimed. "Papa!" and kissed it.  Apparently, the peroches bore the
name of her father.

Which leads me to the question of the appropriateness of such actions?
Was she kissing the Torah, or the covering that bore her father's name
and thus it was a loving expression to her father.  Similarly, when
people kiss a tombstone, is it an appropriate action?



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 13:36:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Leningrad Codex - Karaite?

>IIRC, Karaite or not, that is a subject of a very major dispute. Aron
>Dotan's monograph (published by the IOMS - Int'l Organization for
>Massoretic Studies) I believe holds that it was, but many other
>Massoretic Scholars disagree, I dare say most hold otherwise, against
>Dotan. For instance, R Mordecai Breuer.
>Dov A Bloom

Thanks for the info.  This is interesting, and is worth further study.

The Introduction to the Facsimile Edition includes a full discussion of
the various theories of the origin of the Codex, and its history.
Apparently, one "Abraham Firkovitch turned up with it in the 1840's,..."
FIrkovitch was "renowned as a prominent Karaite leader and successful
businessman.  Until 1818, he was the hazzan, the cantor, in Lutsk,"
which is ultimately why the codex ended up in Leningrad.  A few pages
later, the Introduction tells us, "A number of sources state that the
Leningrad Codex came from the Cairo geniza."

The Introduction was written by Astrid Billes Beck, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Perhaps a detailed study of the carpet pages and their micrography could 
help to tell us of its origin.



From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 15:47:24 +0200
Subject: Re: Murdering the language

> ... "Thou shalt not kill" is a mistranslation. If we could not kill, we could
> not make war or execute a murderer.  The correct translation should be
> "Thou shalt not murder."

While I have used this exact argument many times myself, I cannot but
feel a bit uncomfortable when I read Bamidbar 35:30 "lefi eidim yirtzach
et ha-rotzei'ach" - on the basis of witnesses shall the murderer be
 ... *murdered*?? Obviously in this context the verb does *not* mean
murder, does it?

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Jeffrey Woolf <woolfj@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 20:19:53 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Third Temple from Heaven

One indirect indication of the pervasiveness of this belief may be found
in the fact that the Sefer Yere'im does not list a commandment to
rebuild the Temple as one of the Taryag Mitzvot.

Jeffrey Woolf


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 13:05:58 -0500
Subject: Walking into a church

I recall when taking a guided walking tour of the Naval Academy in
Annapolis, not paying much attention to which building was which, I
found myself in the basement of the Naval Academy Chapel.  Good thing
I'm not a Cohain -- as the body of John Paul Jones lies their repleat
with Marine Honor Guard.  The Chapel, itself, is huge building in the
shape of a cross.

Carl Singer


From: Aharon A. Fischman <afischman@...>
Subject: Zemirot

Many Shabbat Zemirot have the Shem Hashem [name of G-d] as part of the
text of the song.  When singing the zemirot should one say the Shem
Hashem like they were davening, or just say HASHEM as if it were not

Aharon A. Fischman


End of Volume 41 Issue 91