Radio Interview on Headlines With R. Dovid Lichtenstein

Please click here to listen to an extensive interview with Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, as he discusses the school and the movement it represents. (I was interviewed during the last 10 minutes of the program, but Rabbi Lopatin is the main feature here.)

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21 Responses

  1. Reader says:

    The program introduces the guest as the President of Yeshivas Choyvevei Toyrah.

    Do they have the wrong institution?

    Reb Lopatin is actually the President of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

    Maybe you could tell the host to correct that in his next installment.


  2. Reader says:

    I  listened to the program with interest.

    The people seemed to be bending over backward to not raise their voices, and so on (I realize that that tone was set by the host).

    In such cases I feel the absence of someone like Rabbi David B. Hollander z”l. If he would have been there, I suspect the program would have been more ‘lively’, shall we say, without gloves.

    IMHO, way too much deference was given to the YCT side. Reb Lopatin displayed some Olympic type acrobatic skills in trying to explain away the terrible statements of some YCT/OO people (maybe he should get a job with some political campaign. ūüėČ I don’t buy his spin though.

  3. mycroft says:

    Attacking people with ad hominem attacks does not influence people-it may make a minority believe you and get friends in ones Amen corner but will not make friends and influence people.Look at what techniques work in convincing those not already in your camp. Note the RCA stayed a member of the SCA until the SCA disbanded in 1993. The OU also stayed as a member.

  4. Dr. Tzvikah Emet says:

    I approached Rabbi Lopatin’s interview with an open mind and, frankly, it was cringeworthy.

    The real gem was “What does fiction mean?” which was up there with Bill Clinton’s “It depends upon what the meaning of ¬†the word ‘is’ is” in terms of sheer laughable disengeniousness.

    • dr. bill says:

      Surprisingly, i find that much of what some YCT graduates and even leaders discuss publically or on short blog posts ought be left for private and much deeper conversation. (it is at least as dangerous as Kabbalah.) IMHO, i could do a better job than rabbi lopatin talking about how the meaning of words like author, copier, scribe, fiction, history, etc. have changed over the last 3000 years.  but that would require an audience well read on topics rarely discussed outside academic circles.

      imho, yct leaders are better served addressing social issues, where they have a more understandable leg to stand on.

      For example, the issue about a BD observing a women ger’s tevillah, that Rabbi Gordimer brought up, has technical solutions that are a great deal more reliable than an eye witness, trying not to observe too much. ¬†(i assume he mis-spoke when he said 50 yards??)

      • Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

        You really think that OO philosophy is so deep, as deep as Kabbalah, that it should not be discussed publicly?

        What, precisely, is “Open” about it if only the most elite can discuss hush, hush amongst themselves.

        Thank you for proving conclusively, yet again, the sham that OO is.

        Thank you for clearing up any possible misunderstanding.

      • dr. bill says:

        not OO – read before commenting. ¬†i think biblical criticism and the like should not be discussed casually; social issues like breastfeeding in shul or men observing a woman’s tevillah or women rabbis, etc. belong in the public domain. ¬†biblical criticism and un-sanitized kabbalah are both not topics for public blog discussion.

        which is deeper, has nothing to do with the issue.

        since almost all jews i have ever met are not bothered by anything that is fundamental/elementary observation to an academic bible scholar, why just raise questions?

  5. Steve brizel says:

    Listen carefully.R Lopatin had no source as to the OO voiced critique that Avraham Avinu failed a test at the Akeidah and all but sanctioned same gender couples being members as “families”


  6. Yaakov Menken says:

    Several months ago, of course, Ysoscher Katz — with the full backing of Asher Lopatin and others at YCT — threatened Cross-Currents with a lawsuit in order to muzzle Rabbi Gordimer, while Katz simultaneously told his adoring public (on Facebook) that he welcomed Gordimer’s postings and a free and open debate. This interview merely demonstrates that this same dishonesty pervades every aspect of the movement.

  7. Jake says:

    He tried too hard. He should have just said, yes there are some YCT members with questionable approaches to things and only they can explain themselves. Sort of like saying: “YCT does not speak for the ¬†personal views of individual Rabbeim.”

    The question would be, of course if they actually teach this stuff in the Smicha program or if it is just the private views of the Rabbeim. I think that is an important issue here. (I was under the impression that they just learn Halacha, mostly, but I might be mistaken).

  8. Tzuri says:

    There are a few things that I noticed in this interview that I feel the need to bring up.

    1. Rabbi Zev Farber is not listed as a board member of the IRF (

    2. “I think most Orthodox would have an issue with saying that we don’t come from the Avos.” While this may or may not be true socially, Rabbi Jeremy Wieder, one of the Roshei Yeshiva of YU, has notably said on numerous occasions that one can say that the Avos did not historically exist and still be considered Orthodox. In the same shiur, Rav Wieder also said that the only reason that that can’t extend to the leaving of Egypt is slippery slope. (

    3. The quote from Rabbi Katz about the retelling of the Exodus story being fiction was about the Haggadah. He does not say that Moshe and Aharon are fictional characters or that the Exodus itself was fictional.  Those who he says are fictional characters are the four sons of the Haggadah. The retelling of the exodus to them is fictional.  (

    4. While Maharat and YCT may not be technically affiliated, it is interesting that they do share a building.

    5. Rabbi Farber writes that “the simplest explanation for these differences between the accounts in Exodus-Numbers and Deuteronomy is that they were penned by (at least) two different authors with different conceptions of the desert experience.” This, if taken entirely by itself, is not something that is particularly heretical. Anyone who has taken a class that looks at the bible historically knows that this is indeed the “simplest explanation”. The question is whether or not the most simple answer is always the correct one. I, and several peers of mine, are not convinced of that.

    6. Most of the arguments regarding to Homosexuality in this interview seem to come from an ideological perspective over a halakhic one. As such, both sides have validity in their arguments. My only comment on any of those would be that there are rabbis far more centrist and (lowercase “C”) conservative than YCT who support gay civil marriage in the US and the inclusion of homosexuals in Orthodox communities. (

    7. Saying that Avraham Avinu or Hashem could have failed tests does not (to me) sound like divrei kefira as much as they sound like modern day midrashim. As long as the people who read those perspectives are already well-versed in the traditional interpretations, I do not believe there is any reason to suspect that they will take it as any more than an interesting alternative way to think about things.

    8. Many of the criticisms of the Avos (Avraham Avinu being a bad father, etc) that Rabbi Gordimer brings up are interpretations that I learned from objectively Orthodox Rabbis through NCSY back in the day.

    • tzippi says:

      What do you mean by “modern-day midrashim”? How do they compare to classic medrash? I can’t help but think of Allegra Goodman’s creative medrash class in her book¬†Kaaterskill Falls.

      And about the avos and parenting: Check out Rav Hirsch on Yitzchak and his sons ¬†(Breishis 25:27), and how he should have discerned their different traits earlier and worked with them accordingly. But don’t read that without going back to Bereishis 12:10 and¬† how to view and learn from their imperfections.

    • mycroft says:

      That Dvarim has a different author than the rest of Chumash is traditionally accepted- the rest of Chumash is Gods language-Dvarim is Moshe Rabeinus language.

      Probably the greatest critic of certain actions of the Avos in the past two centuries is the supposed hashkafic model for KAJ SRH.

      the modern Orthodox pioneer in advocating Genesis not be read literally is Rabbi Shubert Spero a Tora Vadaas musmachim who made Aliya over  two decades ago.

      My understanding of Rabbi WIeder’s lecture¬†is that if we said Shemot is not literal we have nothing left-thus no yiziat Mizoram, no Mayan Torah but clearly I agree for Genesis he had no problem.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        You can find critiques of the Avos ( on their level, as opposed to contemporary pychobabble) in Midrashim and almost any major traditional commentary. Mai Kah Mashmah lan?

    • dr. bill says:

      my primary quibble with your well researched list, is the issues around homosexuality.  i think beit hillel did a remarkable job drafting their statement, better imho than rabbi lopatin.

    • Hannah says:

      As far as #7, the commentaries of Radak and Ramban on Chumash are filled with psychological, nuanced pictures of the Avos in which they don’t always do the right thing.

      • dr. bill says:

        hannah, don’t you acknowledge the current orthodoxy – they were allowed, we are not. ¬†a right leaning friend of mine said it differently. ¬†i sent him a u-tube of a non-jewish woman of academic renown talking about a dramatic story in shemot. ¬†he told he to re-record it in yiddish, with a male voice and it would be accepted as deep chassidic torat hanistar.

  9. Meir T says:

    “R. Dovid Lichtenstein” – Does he have smicha? Will he issue a retraction on the false quotes he brought up about Rabbi Katz?

  10. tzippi says:

    With Rabbi Gordimer on OO hiatus, will there be a column dedicated to part 2 of the interview? I didn’t hear part 1 but heard part 2 and am profoundly unimpressed, but will withhold commenting here till I find out if appropriate.

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