|Rabbi Moshe Meiselman|
|Yeshiva||Yeshiva Toras Moshe|
|Other||Founder and principal, Yeshiva University of Los Angeles|
|Birth name||Moshe Meiselman|
|Born||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Spouse||Rivkah Leah Eichenstein|
|Alma mater||Boston Latin
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Moshe Meiselman is an American-born Orthodox Haredi 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 descendant of the Lithuanian Jewish Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty. Meiselman is, in his own words, “perhaps the only rosh yeshiva today who never learned in a proper yeshiva.”
Early life and education
Meiselman was born to Harry Meiselman, a dental surgeon, and Shulamit Soloveitchik, a teacher and Jewish school principal who attended New York University and Radcliffe College. He has two sisters, Dr. Elona Lazaroff and Judith Pluznik.
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. His mother, Shulamit, authored the book The Soloveitchik Heritage: A Daughter's Memoir (1995). 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 (although Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik spent part of the week away from Boston, teaching at Yeshiva University in New York).
Meiselman graduated from high school at the Boston Latin School and then went on to attend Harvard University (the undergraduate school which all three of Soloveitchik's children and his American grandchildren attended) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the latter institution, he studied under Dr Donald Werner Anderson and earned his doctorate in mathematics in 1967 with the thesis "The Operation Ring for Connective K-Theory". While Meiselman's sole formal education (including high school through post-graduate school) took place at secular institutions, rather than Yeshivot, Meiselman's students report that was strong in his haredi viewpoint even at this young age. They report that he would often debate teachers of philosophy on points of religion, stressing his strong religious views in an extremely secular environment.
Meiselman began his career teaching mathematics at City University of New York. After his marriage in 1971, he became a maggid shiur at Beis Medrash L'Torah in Skokie. Afterward, he taught at Yeshivas Brisk (Brisk Rabbinical College) in Chicago, headed for a time by his uncle, Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik. 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.
In 1982, having built up enrollment to nearly 400 male and female students in YULA's various divisions, Meiselman moved to Israel to open a yeshiva for American students, together with co-rosh yeshiva Rabbi Doniel Lehrfield (Rabbi Lehrfield and several other faculty members subsequently left to start another yeshiva, Bais Yisroel). He named the new school Toras Moshe after his grandfather, Moshe. He selected Rabbis Michel Shurkin and Moshe Twersky, both close students of Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik, to head the teaching staff. In 2011, Meiselman reported about his yeshiva that "We have 96 boys in the beis medrash and 44 in the kollel, and almost all of our kollel yungerleit are home-grown".
Meiselman is one of several grandchildren of Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik who have established yeshivas in Israel, perhaps the most famous being Aharon Lichtenstein, son-in-law of Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik, who established Yeshivat Har Etzion in the late 1960s. Yeshivat Reshit, a popular yeshiva in Israel for American students in Beit Shemesh, was established by the Rabbis Marcus, also descendants of Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik. Unlike these other two yeshivas, however, Toras Moshe discourages its students from attending Yeshiva University, and in fact virtually none of its students continue on to Yeshiva University.
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. He is a member of the rabbinic advisory board for Dialogue, a contemporary Torah journal. Additionally, Meiselman has authored Tiferes Tzvi, a commentary to the Rambam, as well as numerous articles on Talmudic study and thought in hebrew.
Philosophies and controversies
After a disagreement about being mentioned in the acknowledgments in Natan Slifkin's book, The Camel, The Hare, and The Hyrax, Meiselman lectured for approximately two-and-a-half hours over several sessions, supposedly in private conversations with several students at Yeshivas Toras Moshe, insulting both Slifkin personally 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 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'",
Meiselman subsequently wrote that 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".
Meiselman's student, Rabbi David Kornreich (a lecturer at Toras Moshe), maintains a blog, called the Slifkin Challenge, dedicated to arguing with Slifkin's views. Korenreich's other website, "Freelance Kiruv Maniac" also argues with Slifkin and other Modern Orthodox positions.
Torah, Chazal and Science
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)". 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. Joseph Soloveitchik's position on Talmudic science, and false or misleading statements regarding the validity of scientific knowledge.
Following the opinion of some Haredi thinkers in the area of Holocaust theology, 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".
The State of Israel
Meiselman's mother was active with Zionist causes, was member of the Zionist Youth Movement, and was "the only woman on the executive board of Yardenia, a national Polish Zionist organization". Meiselman, in contrast, subscribes to Haredi views regarding the State of Israel and the Israel Defence Forces. He has stated that it is forbidden for a yeshiva student to join the Israeli army, and has even criticized the Nachal Haredi, stating in an interview that Nachal Haredi has "not been successful in maintaining commitment to Torah." Meiselman referred to Knesset member Dov Lipman as one of the "enemies of Torah".
In 2013, Meiselman sat on the dais at a rally in NY against conscription of yeshiva students into the Israeli army. Both Satmar Rebbes were involved in the planning of, and also sat at the dais at, this rally.
In commenting on Modern Orthodox innovations with regard to women, Meiselman has stated that “when it comes to the rabbis and the people who are at the forefront of pushing for these changes so that they can 'update' Orthodoxy to conform with today’s 'progressive' cultural norm ... [the] common denominator between nearly all of them is that they are largely ignorant of halacha and devoid of serious Torah scholarship. If your knowledge of Torah and halacha are limited, then you are not limited by halacha. One is never confined by things that one doesn't know and never learned!"
As stated by one of its faculty members, "Toras Moshe is strongly opposed to Y.U. Yeshiva University and actively tries to dissuade its students from enrolling there." The same faculty member articulated his institution's view that Y.U. is in an institution that "teaches Kefirah [heresy]."
Meiselman is married to Rivkah Leah Eichenstein.
- Torah, Chazal and Science. Israel Bookshop Publications. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60091-243-6.
- Jewish Woman in Jewish Law. Ktav Publishing House. 1978. ISBN 0-87068-329-2.
- Esheth Hayil in Perspective: The Role of Women in Judaism.
- "Commitment: Reviewed by Moshe Meiselman" (PDF). Jewish Action (Orthodox Union): 89–94. 2005.
- "The Rav, Feminism and Public Policy: An Insider's Overview". Tradition 33 (1): 5–30.
- The Incomparable Gaon of Vilna. Orthodox Union. 1997.
- ralph (November 4, 2010). "Rav Meiselman: Yo’atzot to Poskot, Maharat and Rabbah is a "Natural Progression"". Matzav.com. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- Negri, Gloria (July 30, 2009). "Shulamith Meiselman, 97; devoted to Jewish education". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- Soloveitchik Meiselman, Shulamit (1995). The Soloveitchik Heritage: A Daughter's Memoir. KTAV Publishing House. p. xi. ISBN 0881255254.
- Kobre, Eytan (November 3, 2011), "Mosaic of Truth", Mishpacha
- "Rav Meiselman: Yo'atzot to Poskot, Maharat and Rabbah is a 'Natural Progression'". matzav.com. November 4, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- "Moshe Meiselman, Class of 1959". classmates.com. 2015.
- "The Mathematics Genealogy Project–Moshe Meiselman". Genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- "Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly". Mishpacha.com. November 30, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- "Yeshivat Reishit". Reishit.org. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- "About". Dialogue. 2014. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
- Student, Rabbi Gil (May 22, 2011). "New Periodical: Dialogue 1:1". torahmusings.com. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
- Slifkin, Natan. "Rabbi Meiselman's Lectures and the Response". zootorah.com. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
- "The Text of the 'Letter to the Editor' on 5TJT". Slifkin Challenge. December 12, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
- "The Slifkin Challenge". Slifkinchallenge.blogspot.com. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- "Voice From The Wilderness". Fkmaniac.blogspot.com. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
- Torah, Chazal and Science (Lakewood: 2013), p. 634
- Aviezer, Nathan (Summer 2004). "Review Essay: Torah, Chazal and Science" (PDF). Hakirah: The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought (17): 17–30.
- Student, Rabbi Gil (December 1, 2014). "Book Review: 'Torah, Chazal and Science'". Jewish Action.
- Meiselman, Moshe (1989). "Towards a Torah Understanding of the Holocaust". Oraisa: A Journal of Contemporary Jewish Issues (Yeshivas Toras Moshe) 1: 19–20.
- Boylan, Rabbi Moshe (May 8, 2013). "'The Identity of the Israeli People is at Stake'". Yated Ne'eman.
- Natan Slifkin (June 11, 2013). "An Enemy Worth Fighting Against". Rationalist Judaism. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- "The Slifkin Challenge: Stop The Lies -- Part III (2 UPDATES)". Retrieved November 15, 2015.
- "Book Review: 'Torah, Chazal and Science'", San Diego Jewish World, March 27, 2014
|Brisker family tree|