David Lapin
David Lapin
Rabbi, Consultant, Author

What They Don’t Teach in Rabbi School

While delivering today’s Matmonim [1] it struck me that Rabbis today are seldom taught the 10 vital capacities for Rabbinic practice:

  1. How to balance creative thinking (chidush) with authentic Torah (massorah).
  2. How to balance divergent views to reach halachik decisions.
  3. How to prepare, construct and deliver a shiur.
  4. How to teach Talmud with modern relevance.
  5. How to counsel and coach.
  6. How to listen.
  7. How to ask powerful questions.
  8. How to inspire rather than control.
  9. How to educate rather than brainwash.
  10. How and when to give constructive feedback, and how and when not to.

Apart from a plethora of worthwhile academic work that has been done in many of these areas, our own rabbinic tradition is steeped in methodology that has evolved and stood the test of millennia. This methodology used to be handed down from teacher to student, from mentor to mentee. The Aruch Hashulchan[2] would spend many weeks training students to whom he gave semicha (ordination) in these methods. Now however, rabbinic students seldom have personal relationships with their teachers that would allow for this transmission. Many teachers of Torah themselves have never been privileged to this form of training.

I was fortunate to have been trained by my father who himself was trained by the Rav of Telz, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Bloch and his uncle Reb Elya Lopian. I was also trained by my Rosh Yeshiva the Rav of Kefar Hasssidim/Rechassim[3], Rav Chaim Lifshitz a talmid of the Seridei Aish[4] and Rav Moshe Feinstein. Few have had the opportunities I had to learn at the feet of Torah giants who themselves were trained by the pre-war Gedolei Yisrael of Europe. Having had access to this training highlights the tragic skills gap that we see now in a lot rabbinic and educational leadership. Rabbis and their communities and students are both the casualties of this training gap.

These skills could be taught as stand-alone courses, but since they are so core to Torah learning it would be more powerful for them to be integral to the way Torah is taught and studied. Let’s start a conversation.

[1] Matmonim is a daily 15 minute shiur based on the Daf Yomi that extracts, expands and applies one deep and actionable insight from the Daf. It is available on https://bit.ly/MatmonimSeries or my app for iPhone or Android.

[2] Rabbi Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein of Nevarhodok, (1828-1908)

[3] Rabbi Eliyahu Mishkowski      (1917-1980)

[4]Rabbi Yechiel Yaacov Weinberg (1884-1966)

About the Author
David Lapin, Rav of KBA, Raanana, author, speaker, and founder of Lapin International, a leadership and strategy consultancy, is dedicated to transforming leaders and restoring dignity and sanctity into the workplace. His life changing ideas and solutions to complex life issues move people into new paradigms of thought and action. He lives in Raanana, Israel, with his wife, has five children and fifteen grand-children. He is the author of Lead By Greatness, CEO of Lapin International, Inc. and teaches Torah on www.RabbiLapin.com
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