Hershel Schachter

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Not to be confused with Rabbi Herschel Schacter, former president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Rabbi Hershel Schachter
Position Rosh Yeshiva
Yeshiva RIETS
Personal details
Born (1941-07-28) July 28, 1941 (age 73)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Denomination Orthodox
Residence Washington Heights, Manhattan
Alma mater Yeshiva University

Rabbi Hershel Schachter (born (1941-07-28)July 28, 1941) is a rabbi and rosh yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), Yeshiva University, in New York City,[1] and the son of the late Rabbi Melech Schachter, who was also a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University.[2] A noted Talmudic scholar and a prominent posek, he is also a halakhic advisor for the kashrut division of the Orthodox Union.[3]

Schachter became an assistant to Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik at the age of 22. Schachter earned a B.A. from Yeshiva College and an M.A. in Hebrew Literature from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies in 1967.[1]

After receiving rabbinic ordination in 1967 at the age of 26, Schachter became the youngest Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS, and was appointed rosh kollel, or dean of the kollel, in 1971.[1]

Halakhic opinions[edit]

As a posek, Schachter has made important and notable decisions in various areas of Jewish law. In the realm of medical halacha, Schachter does not allow doctors or medical students to work on the Sabbath unless they need to save a life.[4] Also Schachter believes that the living status of a brain dead individual is a safek, a matter of doubt, and thus requires that all decisions be made with the same stringencies applied to all cases where life-and-death is in doubt. This, ipso facto, forbids the organ donations of brain dead individuals, by considering them as possibly still halachically alive, but also requires chalitzah in the case that a widow is left with only a brain dead child as well as a normal brother-in-law.[5] Regarding monetary law and taxation, Schachter believes that a graduated system of income taxes is "fair and reasonable" and thus falls under the ægis of dina d'malchusa dina, the requirement to conform to the laws of the land, and thus everyone must pay taxes.[6] Regarding other areas of religious law, Schachter holds that a woman is not allowed to serve as the president of a synagogue unless there is absolutely no other choice.[7]

Other views[edit]

In a December 2006 speech, Schachter stated that Mesirah, informing on a fellow Jew to the authorities, "is permitted in situations where one is a public menace (see Shach to Choshen Mishpat 388, 59), or if one is physically or psychologically harming another individual (for example, in instances of sexual abuse of children, students, campers etc., or spousal abuse) (see Shach to Choshen Mishpat ibid, 45)."[8][9]

In a February 2013 speech to a London audience, Schachter echoed this sentiment. He did express concern that before going to the authorities, one should make sure that a potential abuse victim is credible by referring him to a competent rabbi or psychologist. Schachter cited concerns that if the child's story was a fabrication, it could result in a Jew's being locked in a cell with a "schvartze...a black Muslim who wants to kill him." Yeshiva University condemned the use of the word "schvartze," an offensive Yiddish racial slur.[10][11][12][13] “The recent use of a derogatory racial term and negative characterizations of African-Americans and Muslims, by a member of the faculty, are inappropriate, offensive, and do not represent the values and mission of Yeshiva University,” a Y.U. spokesman stated. [14]

Works[edit]

Schachter has written many books related to Judaism. They include:

  • Eretz HaTzvi (1992) (with an approbation by Rabbi Dovid Lifshitz)
  • Nefesh HaRav (1994) - Torah from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
  • B'Ikvei HaTzon (1997) (with an approbation by the famed Rabbi Pinchas Hirschsprung, the former Chief Rabbi of Montreal)
  • Shiurei ha-Rav ha-Gaon Rabi Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Masekhet Gittin, chap. 1-4 [based on lectures from 1963-1964] (1999)
  • Shiurei ha-Rav ha-Gaon Rabi Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Masekhet Kiddushin (2001)
  • MiP'ninei HaRav (2001) - more Torah from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
  • Shiurei ha-Rav ha-Gaon Rabi Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Tzitzet, Tefillen, Kriat haTorah (2002)
  • Shiurei ha-Rav ha-Gaon Rabi Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Yom HaKippurim, Megillah (2002)
  • Shiurei ha-Rav ha-Gaon Rabi Yosef Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Masekhet Shabbat (2004)
  • Ginas Egoz (2007) (with an approbation by Rabbi Gershon Yankelevitz)
  • Divrei HaRav (2010) - a third volume of Torah from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Articles:

  • בירור הלכה בענין אמירה לנכרי בשבת וכבוד המת in HaPardes No. 57, Vol. 8 (May 1983)

He has also written more than 200 articles, in both Hebrew and English, for scholarly Torah publications such as HaPardes, HaDarom, Beit Yitzchak, and Or Hamizrach.

Works about[edit]

  • Lawrence Kaplan, "The Multi-Faceted Legacy of the Rav: A Critical Analysis of R. Hershel Schachter's Nefesh ha-Rav," BDD (Bekhol Derakhekha Daehu: Journal of Torah and Scholarship) 7 (Summer, 1998): 51–85.
  • Rachel Adler, "Innovation and Authority: A Feminist Reading of the 'Women's Minyan' Responsum" in Walter Jacob and Moshe Zemer, Studies in Progressive Halacha

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Rabbi Hershel Schachter". Yeshiva University. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  2. ^ Greenwald, Shlomo (February 28, 2007). "Rabbi Melech Schachter, Noted YU Rebbe, 93". Extras. The Jewish Press. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  3. ^ "Mesorah". Orthodox Union. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  4. ^ Schachter, Hershel (2007). "Shemiras Shabbos for Doctors and Medical Students". Torahweb.org. Retrieved 2008-04-14. "The medrash derives from a posuk in Parshas Lech Lecha that one may violate the laws of Shabbos to save the life of a choleh sheyesh bo sakanah (an individual with a life threatening sickness). The Talmud clearly states that even when we are not sure whether there is a real danger to someone's life or whether the chilul Shabbos (transgression of Sabbath observance) will save the life, we still declare that the chilul Shabbos is allowed. Rav Shimon Shkop, in his famous sefer Shaarei Yosher, points out from the Gemarah that even in a case of sfek sfeka we still allow chilul Shabbos.…There is a terrible misconception that the laws of Shabbos do not apply to doctors. This is absolutely incorrect. No profession exempts anyone from any mitzvos. Medical students are certainly not exempt from Shabbos observance. And even after having completed his school years, the future doctor must take special care to make sure he has a Sabbath-observant residency. If this can not be arranged, the student must simply look for a different profession." 
  5. ^ "Organ Donation Conference at Yeshiva University Tackles Difficult Issues". Yeshiva University. September 18, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-14. "Perhaps the most fascinating portion of the day was the discussion of brain death and halakha. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a rosh yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the rosh kollel at RIETS' Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel (Institute for Advanced Research in Rabbinics), spoke on the topic by video conference from Los Angeles. Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler, Rabbi Isaac and Bella Tendler Professor of Jewish Medical Ethics, professor of biology, and a rosh yeshiva at RIETS, spoke near the end of the conference. Rabbi Schachter has deemed the question of brain death a safek, or a matter of doubt. Rabbi SchachteS opinion would obligate its followers to act stringently in all cases of doubt, rendering a brain dead person not dead and ruling out the possibility of donating his organs." [dead link]
  6. ^ Schachter, Hershel (2005). "Taxation and Dina Demalchusa". Torahweb.org. Retrieved 2008-04-14. "In the days of the Talmud taxes were collected for the purpose of enriching the king. Based on the parshas hamelech in Sefer Shmuel (Shmuel I 8:11), the Rabbis formulated the principle of dina demalchusa dina (Nedarim 28a), literally, the "law of the land is binding": everyone must pay taxes. In Shulchan Aruch (Chosehn Mishpat 369:8), the Rishonim are quoted as having pointed out that if the taxes are unfair, or discriminatory (which is also unfair,) this would not constitute "dina" demalchusa – "the law of the land," but rather "gazlanusa" demalchusa – "the embezzlement of the land," and such tax laws are not binding (see Nefesh Harav p. 269). A system of graduated income tax is considered fair and reasonable (see LeTorah Velemoadim by Rav Zevin, p. 118).…t is important to note that today the basis for taxation is totally different from what it was in Talmudic times. Today, all modern countries provide a variety of services: They provide streets and highways, and maintain forests and museums. They provide fire, police, and military protection. They collect garbage and deliver mail. They do medical research to discover cures for diseases, etc. The taxes are collected for the purpose of covering the annual budget, which pays for all of these projects. The halacha views all of the people living in the same neighborhood as "shutfim" – "partners," sharing a common need for a shul, yeshiva, mikveh and an eruv, and therefore, the "partners" can force each other to put up the needed amount to further their partnership. So too, all people who live in the same city, state, and country are considered "shutfim" with respect to the services provided by that city, state, and country.…In our modern world, one who does not pay his proper share of taxes is no longer viewed as cheating the king (or the ruler) of the country, but rather as cheating (i.e. stealing from) his partners. The amount of money not paid by the one who cheats will have to be taken care of by having the rest of the "partners" put up more money from their pockets to cover all the expenses of the partnership. And even if much of the tax money goes towards expenditures that are not to one's personal liking and that one gets nothing out of, such is the halacha of any partnership: the majority of the partners have the right to determine what are the reasonable needs of the partnership (Choshen Mishpat 163:1). Therefore, this majority has the legitimate right to force the minority to contribute their share towards properly furthering the partnership." 
  7. ^ YU Torah Online : Shiur 43 (Rabbi Hershel Schachter)
  8. ^ "Regarding Mesirah" "TorahWeb.org", 24 Mar 2013
  9. ^ "Rav Hershel Schachter: Should I Call the Police? Clarifying the Issurim of Mesira and Chilul Hashem", "TorahWeb.org", 24 Mar 2013
  10. ^ Paul Berger, "Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter Stirs Hornet's Nest With Remarks — Again; 'Shvartze' Cleric Spoke of Killing Israeli Premier, Compared Women to Monkeys", The Forward, 21 March 2013
  11. ^ "YU dean warns against reporting unconfirmed sex abuse claims", The Times of Israel, 16 March 2013
  12. ^ "Schachter, a top Y.U. rabbi, calls for panels to screen abuse claims", JTA, 15 March 2013
  13. ^ "Yeshiva University rabbi warns sex abuse reports put innocent Jews in prison", Haaretz, 20 March 2013
  14. ^ http://forward.com/articles/173063/yeshiva-condemns-offensive-racial-remarks-by-rabbi/#ixzz2Zu0hdMVi

External links[edit]