Today is March 30, 2020 / /
The vision of YCT is that a great rabbi can be an inspiring high school Gemara teacher or a principal of a Jewish day school, he can be a chaplain at Riker’s Island, or a Hillel rabbi on campus. A great rabbi can be the senior rabbi of an established Modern Orthodox synagogue of 500 families in New York or of a diverse 150 family Orthodox synagogue in New Orleans. He can be someone who inspires unaffiliated Jews to live a life of greater Jewish commitment and involvement, or a spiritual activist who fights for Klal Yisrael and for a more perfect world. And of course, a great rabbi can be a talmid chakham who produces scholarship and teaches Torah at the highest level.
It is this vision that has shaped a yeshiva that attracts students who not only love Torah, but who are driven by a sense of mission to serve the Jewish people. It led to the formation of a curriculum which has Talmud Torah and intense Beit Midrash learning of Gemara and Halakha as its bedrock, and building on this foundation: classes in Tanakh and Machshava, classes in pedagogy and informal education, immersive and integrated weeks on disabilities and medical ethics, and the best pastoral counseling program of any rabbinical school, bar none. And throughout, all that we teach is infused with Torah and anchored in halakha.
Ours is a philosophy that refuses to see the rabbinate, Torah, and the world through one narrowly-defined lens. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and bring their different talents, life-experiences and viewpoints into our Beit Midrash, giving richness and texture to our Torah and our learning. When students discuss a daf of Gemara or a particular halakha, they do not feel constrained to ask questions of only one particular sort. Questions of meaning, history, society, and yes, even questions about God, are all a welcome part of the kol Torah of our beit midrash.
When our students become rabbis, they bring this approach to the people and communities that they serve and lead. Their goal is not to have monochromatic synagogues or communities. They embrace the diversity of Klal Yisrael, and welcome all Jews, regardless of education or level of commitment. They create welcoming spaces for people.
The Torah that our students learn and teach is one of true scholarship, but it is also an accessible Torah. Theirs is not a Torah that can only be parsed by a small, elite group. Theirs is a Torah that speaks to everyone, a Torah that stimulates the mind and that touches the heart. Theirs is a Torah that draws on the intensive learning of hundreds and thousands of years, and shows how this wisdom can be brought to bear on the challenges of the world, and the issues that we face in our lives.
This is the yeshiva of which I am honored to serve as Rosh HaYeshiva, these are the students and the rabbis that I have been so blessed to teach, and this is the Torah that I have the privilege of sharing with my students, with Klal Yisrael, each and every day. May Hashem grant us the strength to continue to grow and flourish, and to learn and teach such a Torah for years and years to come,
והערב נא ה’ א-לוהינו את דברי תורתך בפינו ובפיות עמך בית ישראל, ונהיה אנחנו וצאצאינו וצאצאי עמך בית ישראל כולנו יודעי שמך ולומדי תורתיך לשמה.
Rabbi Dov Linzer