In Celebration of Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Ninetieth Birthday

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3 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    I have always marveled at the collections of insightful sermons he gave even at a very young age. I am sure he was proud that a protege, with a Ph.D. written under the guidance of Prof. Moshe Halberthal, is following him at Yeshiva University just as he followed him as Senior Rabbi of the Jewish Center.

    I do take some exception to attempts to compare Rabbi Lamm to either of his distinguished predecessors. Lives and environments and challenges are different. Without wanting to go into details, each was driven to enhance Torah and the Jewish people.

    • Mycroft says:

      I essentially do not want to get into a discussion about Rabbi Lamm, but the false attack on his predecessors is not one that a mentsch would make.
      It is Dr Revel who founded the first Yeshiva HS in America which for better or worse has been the essential model that Yeshiva HS have followed since. Dr Revel founded Yeshiva College which essentially is the model until the present.
      Dr Belkin for better or worse expanded Yeshiva to university status. As far as scholarship goes, one can’t forget that Dr Belkin in his twenties was the Rosh Yeshiva with the highest level shiur before the Rav became a RY at YU. Dr Belkin encouraged his best students to go the Ravs shiur when that happened.How many Roshei Yeshiva would tell students don’t stay in my shiur go to someone else’s. Dr Belkin was a legitimate scholar too . His scholarship was in various fields Philo, philosophy see eg In His Image.
      One thing is obviously true Rabbi Lamm was granted arichas yamim, much more than either Dr Revel or Dr Belkin.
      As a makom Torah to pretend that YU was not a great makom Torah before Rabbi Lamm is ludicrous. In Dr Revels time, RavShimon Shkopp for a year, Rav Moshe So,oveichik, in Dr Belkins time, even leaving aside Dr Belkin as the Illui of Radon, the Rav, Rav David Lifscitz, RShatzkess many others including Rav Lichtenstein. Certainly I remember the Bochen Rav Mendel Zaks the son in law of the Chafetz Chaim.
      Rabbi Broyde engaged maybe unintentionally in a slur against people who were fighting and spreading Torah when YU was the dominant. Yeshiva in America, see eg Charles Liebmans study in the American Jewish Yearbook in his article around 1985 when he discussed the numbers of people studying in each Yeshiva.
      Unlike Sr Bill who is more diplomatic stating ” taking some exception” I find such statements as unnecessary. Rabbi Broyde wishes to celebrate 90 years of Rabbi Lamm. He has accomplished a lot, but no reason to attack his predecessors.

  2. Nachum says:

    Even as a student at YU, I marvelled at his accessibility. I interviewed him once and found the experience fascinating. (Granted, the fact that we share first *and* last names- only a distant relation- may have helped.)

    But more than personally, he was there. He regularly addressed the students in all sorts of fora and on all sorts of occasions. Once every month or so there were hashkafa talks in the dormitories, and R’ Lamm would lead them every second or third time. I think university presidents do that very, very seldom. And sure, we were cynical about the school and its leadership, as all students can be- but people would line up as he walked out and stop him, asking him all sorts of personal dilemmas he would try to work out with them. I particularly remember the time that he’d just spoken at a yahrtzeit event for one of the colleges. On his way out, one of my classmates stopped him and said that he had a kid in his NCSY group, a vegan, who refused to wear tefillin. What would R’ Lamm advise he do? R’ Lamm paused, thought for a moment, and then delivered a brilliant short summary of how the kid should be approached and talked with.

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