Moshe Meiselman

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Rabbi Moshe Meiselman
Position Rosh yeshiva
Yeshiva Yeshiva Toras Moshe
Began 1982
Other Founder and principal, Yeshiva University of Los Angeles
Personal details
Birth name Moshe Meiselman
Born Boston, Massachusetts
Father Harry Meiselman
Mother Shulamit Soloveitchik
Spouse Rivkah Leah Eichenstein
Alma mater Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Moshe Meiselman is an American-born Orthodox rabbi and rosh yeshiva (dean) of Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Jerusalem, which he established in 1982. He also founded and served as principal of Yeshiva University of Los Angeles (YULA) from 1977 to 1982. He is a scion of the Lithuanian Jewish Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty.

Early life and education[edit]

Moshe Meiselman was born to Harry Meiselman, a dental surgeon, and Shulamit Soloveichik, a teacher and Jewish school principal, in Boston, Massachusetts.[1] He has two sisters, Elona and Judith.[1][2] On his mother's side, he is a descendant of the Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty. His maternal grandfather was Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik and his maternal great-grandfather was Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, known as Reb Chaim Brisker.[3] Meiselman was a nephew of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, rosh yeshiva of R.I.E.T.S., with whom, according to Meiselman, he had study sessions on a near daily basis from the time he was 18 until he was 29 years old.[4] His mother, Shulamit, authored the book The Soloveitchik Heritage: A Daughter's Memoir (1995).[1]

Meiselman attended Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the latter institution, he studied under Dr. Donald Anderson and earned his doctorate in mathematics in 1967 with the thesis "The Operation Ring for Connective K-Theory".[5]

Career[edit]

After his marriage in 1971, Meiselmen became a maggid shiur at Beis Medrash L'Torah in Skokie. Afterward, he taught at Yeshivas Brisk (Brisk Rabbinical College) in Chicago, headed by his uncle, Rabbi Ahron Soloveitchik.[3]

In 1977 he moved to the West Coast and founded the Yeshiva University of Los Angeles (YULA), opening separate high school programs for boys and girls, a yeshivah gedolah, and a kolel. He also served as a posek (arbiter of Jewish law) for the local community.[3]

In 1982, having built up enrollment to nearly 400 students in YULA's various divisions, Meiselman moved to Israel to open a yeshiva for American students.[3] He named the new school Toras Moshe after his grandfather, Moshe.[3][4] He chose Rabbi Michel Shurkin and Rabbi Moshe Twersky, both close students of Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik, to head the teaching staff.[3]

Meiselman is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles. His Jewish Woman in Jewish Law (1978) sparked much discussion among authors and feminists for his traditional Jewish response to feminism.

Philosophies and controversies[edit]

Slifkin controversy[edit]

After a disagreement about being mentioned in the acknowledgments in Natan Slifkin's book, The Camel, The Hare, and The Hyrax, Meiselman supposedly made comments in private conversations with several students at Yeshivas Toras Moshe criticizing both Slifkin and his work, specifically his suggestion that the Sages of the Talmud were mistaken in certain scientific matters. Slifkin subsequently sent a letter to Meiselman rebutting the critiques of his work, calling the lectures "factually incorrect and extremely defamatory". Slifkin also posted audio of the conversation that someone had recorded on his website, with a note that he did receive a request to remove it from his website on the grounds that 'they were only intended for his yeshivah'",[6] Meiselman subsequently wrotethat those were private, "off-the-cuff" conversations and do not accurately represent his complete opinions, although Meiselman's recorded conversation begins with an explanation of why he "decided to discuss this with the entire student body".[7]

Torah, Chazal and Science[edit]

Meiselman's 2013 book, Torah, Chazal and Science, in effect a response to Slifkin's challenges, promotes the theory that all unqualified scientific statements of the Talmudic sages were divinely inspired and are therefore immutable: "All of Chazal’s (the Talmudic sages') definitive statements are to be taken as absolute fact [even] outside the realm of halakhah (Jewish law)".[8] The flip side of this thesis, and another major theme of the book, is that modern science is transitory and unreliable compared to the divine wisdom of the sages. Reviewers have pointed to the author's forced interpretations of various Talmudic passages, the misrepresentation of Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik's position on Talmudic science, and false or misleading statements regarding the validity of scientific knowledge.[9][10]

The Holocaust[edit]

Following the opinion of some Haredi thinkers, Meiselman has argued that the Holocaust was the result of Jewish cultural assimilation in Western Europe in the early twentieth century. He writes that "the turning away from the status of an 'am ha-nivhar, a chosen people, and the frightening rush toward assimilation were, according to the rules that govern Jewish destiny, the real causes for the Holocaust".[11]

Personal[edit]

Meiselman married Rivkah Leah Eichenstein,[3] daughter of the previous Zidichover Rebbe of Chicago, Rabbi Avrohom Eichenstein.

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

Selected articles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Negri, Gloria (30 July 2009). "Shulamith Meiselman, 97; devoted to Jewish education". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 July 2015.  HighBeam subscription
  2. ^ Soloveitchik Meiselman, Shulamit (1995). The Soloveitchik Heritage: A Daughter's Memoir. KTAV Publishing House. p. xi. ISBN 0881255254. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Kobre, Eytan (3 November 2011), "Mosaic of Truth", Mishpacha 
  4. ^ a b "Rav Meiselman: Yo'atzot to Poskot, Maharat and Rabbah is a 'Natural Progression'". matzav.com. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  5. ^ The Mathematics Genealogy Project – Moshe Meiselman
  6. ^ Slifkin, Natan. "Rabbi Meiselman's Lectures and the Response". zootorah.com. 
  7. ^ "The Text of the 'Letter to the Editor' on 5TJT". Slifkin Challenge. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Torah, Chazal and Science (Lakewood: 2013), p. 634
  9. ^ Aviezer, Nathan (Summer 2004). "Review Essay: Torah, Chazal and Science" (PDF). Hakirah: The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought (17): 17–30. 
  10. ^ Student, Rabbi Gil (1 December 2014). "Book Review: 'Torah, Chazal and Science'". Jewish Action. 
  11. ^ Meiselman, Moshe (1989). "Towards a Torah Understanding of the Holocaust". Oraisa: A Journal of Contemporary Jewish Issues (Yeshivas Toras Moshe) 1: 19–20. 

External links[edit]