• December 2, 2022
  • 8 5783, Kislev
  • פרשת ויצא

The WebYeshiva Blog

Mazal Tov to Rabbi Noah Tile who recently received semicha from Rabbi Brovender at WebYeshiva.org.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Noah Tile. I live in Toronto, Canada, with my wife Atara and son Simon. Professionally, I am a Registered Psychotherapist in private practice, supporting individuals who struggle with OCD and ADHD. I also run a mental health company called Resolvve, a therapy and educational platform which helps students thrive in the areas of mental health, academic success, and personal growth. My passion lies in helping people make tangible improvements in their lives. With OCD work, I support clients in systematically facing their fears, both psychological and in the real world, allowing them to increase their quality of life. With ADHD, I help people organize and orient their lives in a sustainable way, while helping reduce impulsivity. In a professional capacity, I also see clients in the broader Jewish community; I have a strong interest in the intersection of Judaism and mental health. I want to bring greater mental health literacy to the Jewish world, marrying the Torah with the wisdom of the psychological and behavioral sciences, each enlightening and enriching the other. I plan to teach and produce content of this secular wisdom in combination with the rich tapestry of Jewish text, making it feel closer to home.

Why did you choose and how did you enjoy the Halacha Mastery Program?

I did many units of Chaplaincy or Spiritual Care before moving more strictly into mental health and psychotherapy. In Canada, in order to do this, one has to be in a master’s level theology program. There are no Jewish graduate programs in Canada and so this felt like an opportunity to do Semicha instead. WebYeshiva was given equivalency status, being accepted as a viable alternative to other non-Jewish theology programs. I loved the WebYeshiva program for a few reasons. First, it afforded me the flexibility to commit, on my own time, to doing the work, while pursuing a career in mental health. It was great being involved in an engaging, meaningful, and goal-oriented learning regimen that complemented the rest of my schedule and lifestyle. I feel blessed to be part of the first era of online Semicha programs, learning from some of the greatest Torah teachers in Yerushalayim and around the world. Even though I was asynchronous for much of it, I created a schedule that treated the courses as if they were live, allowing me to sustain momentum and continuity over the four years. Second are the teachers. The teachers combined scholarship and craftsmanship, love and care, as well as engaging, accessible cutting-edge material. It was a joy to get to know the teachers and to build relationships with them. Teachers were accessible and eager to help us grow in our understanding and learning. I have learned so much from them, both in content and character. Third is the learning style of the program, which is centered around developing a Halachic mind. I felt that I got an inside scoop of how a Psak is developed and who a Posek really is. One has to know and understand the sources over the centuries, beginning with the Chumash, through the Mishnah and Gemara, to the Geonim, Rishonim, Achronim and Poskim. From there, they must consider relevant factors in the newness of their time and figure out how best to help Klal Yisrael serve God in the here and now. For example, in modern kashrut, a Posek must know the past sources and conversations of our Sages while comprehending the complex realities of food science and production. It is a tremendous responsibility to then take the risk and stake what you believe for the betterment of the community. While this is of course not my role, I appreciate it all the more. Being a Posek is both an art and science, and to watch the development of their minds, watching how a Psak is generated was eye opening. What stood out to me most in learning was seeing the unique genius of each Rabbinic mind extend themselves into the millennium old conversation, paving the way for the future generations. I was moved by just how sensitive and compassionate a Posek must be, remaining humble, all the while being fiercely bold to do, say, and guide as they see fit.

Since receiving semicha from WebYeshiva, what are your goals in learning moving forward?

Moving forward, although I hope to continue to learn practical Halacha in the style that WebYeshiva taught, my main areas of focus are:
  • Mental health and Judaism
This I elaborated on above.
  • Teaching and learning the Aseret HaDibrot.
In general, I want to continue to be a teacher of Torah. In particular, through Project Aseret I have become fascinated with the relationship of Klal Yisrael to the Aseret HaDibrot and the long, seemingly lost tradition of their centrality as the core values of the Jewish people. These are the לוחת הברית, the tablets of our Covenant, written with the finger of God, כתבים באצבע אלקים, so to speak. At one time, there were minim (likely early Christians) who tried to say that the 10 were more important than anything else, that only they were Divinely given at Sinai. For this reason, our Sages moved their recitation out of specific Temple services (where they were originally said just before the Shema). Since then, there has been an overall wariness and caution with regards to elevating their status in relationship to Torah and Judaism. And yet, what if the 10, rather than shrinking the Torah, help us see the all of it, in its expansiveness? This is what Rashi alludes to in Sefer Shemot (24:12):

“כל שש מאות ושלש עשרה מצוות בּכלל עשרת הדברות הן”

All of the 613 Mitzvot are included in the Aseret HaDibrot

Looking back at the sources in Chumash and Chazal, we see a fascinating story about the power of the 10. After all, the 10 are what Klal Yisrael heard פנים בפנים, face to face, direct from Hashem (at least the first two). Additionally, this project allows me to experiment with fascinating pathways in learning that web apps, such as Sefaria and Nakdan provide, in being able to find language parallels (or intertextuality), across different stories and ideas in Tanach and Chazal. We all now have access to research methods and ways of seeing Torah that only were available to Talmidei Chachamim with photographic memories. The intersection of tech and Torah excites me greatly. I also am working on building source sheets that are aesthetically pleasing and engaging for all audiences, bringing the key words and phrases of the people of the book to life. I feel that this is one thing missing in Torah Shiurim and learning in general. This to me is a way to fulfill the dictate of יגדיל תורה ויאדיר, to make Torah great and glorious.
  • Overall content production
I want to continue to produce content in the written and spoken form. I have a podcast and blog called Torah Thoughts, which delves into the areas of Judaism, mental health and personal growth. An "Aseret" Podcast also is coming out soon, where I interview those who excel in one area of their Avodas Hashem through the lens of the Aseret HaDibrot. Overall, I am thankful to God for this unique opportunity of being a student of WebYeshiva. I am so appreciative of the welcoming and supportive staff, including Michal Haber, Rabbi Zippor and Rabbi Saks. A big Hakaras Hatov to my teachers, Rabbi Rothstein, Rabbi Geller, Rabbi Fink, and of course Rabbi Brovender, for their support, their guidance and their Torah. I wholeheartedly recommend WebYeshiva’s Halacha Mastery Program to all!
Semicha
Mazal Tov to Rabbi Brian Sopher who recently received semicha from Rabbi Brovender and Rabbi Fink at WebYeshiva.org.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in 1954 in Glasgow, Scotland to parents who were traditionally Jewish but not shomer shabbat. There were no Jewish Day Schools in Scotland then so I attended public school where I was usually the lone Jew in the class. My parents made sure I went to a cheder after school twice a week and on Sundays. After that I continued my Jewish education every Sunday in the Talmud Torah until I left to study medicine at both the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and at the University of Manchester. It was a revelation coming from the outskirts of Yiddishkeit in Scotland to Manchester, a vibrant Jewish community, and it was there that I met my wife Susan who was also a medical student at the time. Living in Manchester for 40 years, we raised our three children while I practiced family medicine. At age 60 I retired from general medical practice in the UK and later that year on our 36th wedding anniversary we made Aliyah to Netanya where we had spent many happy occasions vacationing. Each of our children live happily here in Israel with all our grandchildren, the eldest of which has his bar mitzvah this year on Shabbat Korach.

Why did you choose the Halacha Mastery Program? How did you enjoy it?

My journey into regular Torah learning started once my sons left for Yeshiva. For the previous 7 years or so there was a Rebbe in Manchester who taught them every Sunday morning. After my youngest went to join his brother at Yeshivat HaKotel I decided to continue the Sunday morning shiur myself. These shiurim whetted my appetite for more regular learning but after we made Aliya it was hard to find the right chevruta. At a Shabbat meal a neighbor suggested I look for learning opportunities online and the next day I found WebYeshiva. After trying out a few different shiurim I eventually enrolled in the Halacha Mastery Program. The standard of the lecturers throughout the program was excellent and the review and preparation classes led by Rabbi Uri Cohen were invaluable. The greatest challenge for me personally was assimilating all the information into daily life but the program also showed me that halacha is not a dead subject but a living organism that adapts to meet modern times.

What in particular stood out for you during your learning?

One of the most significant learning experiences for me in the semicha program was the different approaches of the poskim and how that showed through in the different styles of both Rabbi Geller and Rabbi Fink’s teaching. These Rabbis have two distinct styles that epitomize the best of WebYeshiva. Rabbi Fink is analytical and very exact making it easy to follow his argument. Rabbi Geller teaches a freer style of question and answer that contrasts Rabbi Fink’s approach dramatically, yet gives you an entirely different perspective.. At the end of the day, the best outcome of learning in the Semicha program was gaining a fabulous weekly chavruta with one of the other talmidim. We completed Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata together and are now learning Mishnah Berurah on a weekly basis. Many thanks to WebYeshiva!

Since receiving semicha from WebYeshiva, what are your goals in learning moving forward?

My goals are to continue learning with WebYeshiva, return to Daf Yomi, and start a weekly Mishneh Torah shiur, as I feel the Rambam's approach to halacha is so unique he deserves regular study. When it comes to the Halacha Mastery Program, I enjoyed the experience very much and the learning never stops.
Semicha
Mazal Tov to Rabbi Daniel Rose who recently received semicha from Rabbi Brovender and Rabbi Fink at WebYeshiva.org. Daniel has been a Jewish educator for over thirty years, working in the world of informal and formal Jewish education. He has taught, developed curriculum, and consulted for Jewish day schools around the world and lectured in Jewish education for several universities. He is currently Director of Education at Koren Publishers, where he has developed several educational siddurim that are used in schools, camps, and communities around the world and is in the midst of working on an exciting new Tanach project. Daniel also works for the Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust, developing curriculum and educational resources to further the teachings and legacy of Rabbi Sacks zt"l. Due to his involvement in these roles he spends much of his time engaged in Torah learning of some kind or another, especially machshava, and now Tanach.

Why did you choose to enroll in the Halacha Mastery Program and how did you enjoy it?

Ever since learning in Yeshiva post-high school at Yeshivat Hamivtar when I was first exposed to serious study of halacha, I have wanted to invest in learning halacha in-depth, and perhaps pursue semicha studies. My professional and academic journeys took me in different directions until recently when I found myself with the opportunity to do this and jumped at the chance. I thoroughly enjoyed the Halacha Mastery Program. I found it intellectually and spiritually stimulating and engaging. The teachers were all excellent, and I especially benefited from the digital mode of learning (remote) and the versatility of the program, by using the archives which allowed me to create my own learning schedule and fit my studies into my already hectic professional and family life. Additionally, it was very special for me to be able to reconnect to teachers from my yeshiva days some thirty years ago, and learn from them once again, especially Rabbi Brovender and Rabbi Fink.

What stood out for you learning practical halacha from the sources?

Anyone who spends significant time learning in yeshiva will know how to look up halacha in the various sefarim, but rarely do we find ourselves with the opportunity of delving deeply into classic and contemporary practical issues in halacha from expert world renown teachers, using a breathtaking array of texts and methodologies. I particularly benefited from the tremendously diverse courses available, which include not only the familiar classical subjects of halacha you would imagine would appear in a semicha program, but also other diverse and relevant topics to our lives, such as hilchot tefilla, technology and halacha, and medical ethics and halacha.

Since receiving semicha from WebYeshiva, what are your goals in learning moving forward?

The semicha program pushed me to spend more time immersed in halachic texts than ever before in my life. While my work and personal learning interests find me learning Jewish thought and philosophy often, as well as other text based learning to prepare for teaching and educational resource development, rarely do I find myself pushed to delve deeply into halachic texts. Having spent this time doing just that I hope to harness the momentum and continue this going forward.
Semicha
Mazal Tov to Rabbi Saul Orbach who completed the WebYeshiva.org Halacha Mastery Program and more recently the WebYeshiva.org Semicha Program. WebYeshiva spoke with Rabbi Orbach about his learning experience.   Why did you choose the Halacha Mastery Program? What did you enjoy most about it? I had just finished learning regularly somewhere when I was offered the opportunity to join the Halacha Mastery Program, which seemed like not only great timing, but a great opportunity, which I embraced wholeheartedly. I very much enjoyed the program. The teachers are all excellent. The content was diverse yet covered the topics needed to ultimately study for Semicha. With the online format, regardless of where I might have happened to be, I could participate in the class. I recall more than one class I logged into while sitting in an airport awaiting my flight. And for the courses I missed, or simply wanted to review again, everything was recorded so that I could do that at my leisure, or on demand. How cool was that! Although I’d rather have a Chevrusa and learn together in person, I also enjoy learning on my own, so the self-study aspect of the program worked well for me.  But it really comes down to all the great teachers who teach in the program. Just excellent, all of them! What stood out for you about learning Halacha from the sources? Learning Halacha from the sources is a very exciting undertaking. There are a couple of things I find absolutely fascinating about it, which enhanced the learning so much for me. First, to see the development of the Halacha from the earlier sources, -from the Torah SheBichtav to the Mishna to the Gemara to the Rambam to the Shulchan Aruch, and down the chain of tradition. Then we get to the Poskim, the Rabbis who develop and refine the practical Halacha we live by today and understanding their methods, including how Halacha deals with new topics and how the Halacha develops around those new topics. For example, an issue that stands out that we covered was the development of electricity. As it turns out, originally, based on their initial understanding (or lack thereof) the Poskim of the day permitted the use of electricity. As the Rabbis’ understanding caught up with the technology, the Halacha changed to prohibit its use on the one hand, and adapt its usage on the other. Another was birth control and how the methods used in the time of the Gemara was adapted to modern day application. Lastly, to learn the Halachot k’Seder in the Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch, or even in Shmirat Shabbat which we had to study, is to witness the intellectual genius of the authors in codifying law. From one law to the next, systematically developing a code that covers the vast majority of cases, by adding layer after layer, exception after exception, -it’s beyond amazing to realize the monumental accomplishment they were able to achieve all from memory (without computers of course). Separate from the Halacha Mastery Program what do you like to learn most? I met Rabbi Brovender about 44 years ago and started learning at Yeshivat Hamivtar in 1979. We go back a long way and I’m proud to say that I continued to learn with him as well as many of the other great Rabbis/teachers at WebYeshiva from its inception. Rabbi Brovender and I have a weekly chevruta till this day. Separately, I have been learning Chasidut intensively for close to 15 years and have been teaching a weekly Chabura for the last 5 years. I particularly enjoy the insights into the Penimiut of the Torah that the Chassidic masters offer, that very often upends our typical understandings of standard Meforshim. Sometimes, these are difficult to understand, but like any Torah endeavor, once you do, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes along with it. What do you do professionally? On a professional level, I’ve been involved in the tech startup/venture capital world for the past 33 years. I had periods where I built companies, a period of six years where I turned failing companies around, a 3 year period of social impact investing, and I’m in my 8th year of venture capital work. Additionally, I teach venture capital and entrepreneurship in the MBA programs at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and the Technion. I also work as a high level advisor to companies and non-profits and continue to be active in the entrepreneurial scene on a global level. --

For more information about the Halacha Mastery Program please visit our program overview page.

 
How would you describe your relationship with Rabbi Brovender? What is special about learning Torah with him? What do you enjoy learning most with him?     I first met Rabbi Brovender when he was recruiting for Yeshivat Hamivtar in New Jersey in 1978. He gave an impressive Torah talk (as always, I was to learn), and when I went up to ask him some questions, he told me that the answer to my questions is that I should learn Torah. It was a simple yet profound experience. I started learning at Hamivtar the next year, and eventually, I became the executive director of the Yeshiva as well.
So we had a teacher/student relationship and a work relationship as well that turned into a friendship and personal relationship. I can easily and proudly say that he put me on the path to regular Torah learning.  Rabbi  Brovender  has always been a part of my life since then. I am hardly unique in this feeling, as most of the people who were close to him feel the same way. He has a very special ability and attribute to make people feel so comfortable, so special, so genuine, that they feel close no matter what. Not everyone makes the effort to stay in touch with him afterwards, but I can tell you that all the ones I know who didn’t, still feel close despite that.  I am proud to say that I did maintain my connection over all of these years. When WebYeshiva was launched, I was one of the first students and was able to reconnect and learn with him, as well as with many of the other great Rabbis/teachers at WebYeshiva, from its inception. Beyond the classes I take with him in WebYeshiva, I was fortunate that Rabbi Brovender agreed a couple of years ago to learn the Pri Zadik of Rav Zadok HaKohen of Lublin with me weekly. Learning with Rabbi Brovender is a unique experience, especially for me. He is a Talmid Chacham par excellence. His knowledge is vast, his insights are sharp, and his is a very creative mind, so much so that learning together is always a rewarding experience of uncovering understandings and seeing the Torah in new ways. What a joy!
Semicha
Rabbi Paul Terman is one of the WebYeshiva.org's first recipients of semicha. Born in California, he grew up in Florida and it was during his time at the University of Miami where he became increasingly interested in Jewish observance. "Jewishly I was only armed with a basic Sunday Hebrew School education, but while I was at university I found myself yearning for more knowledge. I found myself endlessly asking campus rabbis questions and growing in my observance. I found value in learning Torah as a means of connecting to God, as catching a glimmer of the Divine," Rabbi Terman explained. Although he found the campus rabbis knowledgeable he also found himself yearning for a greater understanding of the Torah and what it means to be a Jew.  "Naturally, this brought me to Rabbi Chaim Brovender's Yeshivat Hamivtar and where learning how to learn was essentially their motto," he said. "I found myself drawn especially to learning halacha, its foundations and the processes by which it is derived. The legal structure and the logical foundations of halacha fueled my ability and desire to study it." After moving back to the US in order to pursue a PhD in Physics from Texas A&M University he began learning at WebYeshiva.org which seemed a fitting extension of the kind of learning he had done at Hamivtar, as the WebYeshiva staff included several Hamivtar rabbis. Eventually, he joined the Halacha Mastery Program. "The Halacha Mastery Program seemed to be the culmination of much of my previous learning and desires for growth which included understanding many of the details of halacha and the processes by which we arrive at it, and furthering my foundation to allow for truly independent study," Rabbi Terman said. Rabbi Terman lives with his wife in New haven Connecticut. He has a BA in History and BS in Physics and Mathematics. A researcher of dark matter, he is currently working on an experiment looking for a specific type of dark matter called LUX.  
Semicha