Dozens of participants recently completed a yearlong course in advanced contemporary halacha, and interest continues to grow in this revolutionary and comprehensive program. Led by Rabbi Faitel Levin, author of the three-volume index Hamafteach Hagadol, and a Rov for over thirty years in Australia, the participants joined a series of online classes in areas of halacha that are vital in the present time, and essential to Jewish life.
Participants in the course noted Rabbi Levin’s unique care for—and dedication to—each and every student, giving them the tools they needed to succeed, and tailoring the course to ensure that each individual had all the information they needed, whatever effort it took.
“Towards the beginning of the second course, I lost my father, and I lost the cheshek, the desire to learn for some time. When I was ready to bounce back, Rabbi Levin was there for me,” said Rabbi Levi Avtzon, Associate Rabbi and Director of Outreach at Linksfield Shul, Johannesburg, South Africa. “That specific course — electronics in halacha — was particularly challenging to me, as I did not have a grounding in the principles of physics required to understand it. While the lessons were clear, I was really struggling to make sense of the foundational principles. I reached out to Rabbi Levin and he sent me 30 or so WhatsApp voice notes, each explaining one basic point, in small soundbytes, so I’d be able to listen to each one over and over. I had incredible hatzlacha because Rabbi Levin gave his time and attention to explain each nekudah. I was able to not only pass the test but actually enjoy the experience. Halacha had always seemed to me to be a very dry subject; as I grew up, I had always been learning by rote. Thanks to Rabbi Levin for the entire year of learning that introduced me and brought me into a world that I’m grateful to be a part of.”
The course attracted rabbonim, shluchim, anash, and post-smicha bochurim, all of whom found the courses challenging and enriching.
“As a shliach and especially as a rabbi, there’s a lot of information I learned that is vital to know,” said Rabbi Aharon Laine, Head Shliach and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Panama, who recently completed the course. “We learn in yeshiva, we get smicha, but this is information we don’t get within the system, and Rabbi Levin explains it in a very interesting, very thorough way. As a rabbi, it will help me in the future to have a broader understanding of many of the issues that we deal with daily. It was worth all the time and effort I put in.”
Topics covered in the program include lifecycle events, electricity and technology, halachos for shul, Choshen Mishpat and Even Haezer (civil law, marriage and divorce), and medical halacha. Rabbi Levin draws on his encyclopedic knowledge of historic and contemporary poskim, as well as cutting-edge science, to formulate courses that are practical and wide-ranging in application. A typical lesson will lay down the scientific foundation for a specific topic, and then proceed to overlay the halachic rulings of poskim, resulting in a thorough understanding of each subject.
The many post-smicha bochurim and kollel yungerleit who joined the course say that it was an excellent way to expand upon their knowledge of halacha and to provide a comprehensive curriculum they could follow successfully.
“After finishing smicha, a lot of bochurim come out with a feeling of, ‘Now what?’” said Eliyahu Citron, talmid in Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim 770. “You could go back to learning Gemara, but there’s a feeling that there’s a lot more to halacha, and some of that might be very practical. Additionally, at that age there can be difficulty finding guidance in what to learn and forming a successful seder. These are some of the reasons I joined, and I feel that the program has given me these things I was looking for.”
This past year, approximately 50 people joined the various tracks: some were tested and certified on the topics covered in the class, others were also tested on some 200 teshuvos over the course of the year, and some just joined the online shiurim and discussions. Rabbi Levin expressed his thanks to all those who partook in this comprehensive and practical course.
For more information or to sign up for the course for the coming year, visit: beismedrashhalacha.com.