Israel – 14-Year-Old Petitions Court for Right To Be Rabbi

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    Moshe 'studied day and night for test' (Photo: Ido Erez)Israel – A 14-year-old boy petitioned the High Court of Justice to force the Chief Rabbinate to check his ordination exam, so that he may be able to be ordained as a rabbi.

    After being tested over the course of a year by 10 senior rabbis, Moshe Raziel Sharify of Netanya had filled the necessary forms and was invited by the Department of Examinations and Certifications of the Chief Rabbinate for the rabbinate’s written exam in July.

    However, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who came to wish the examinees luck, noticed the young face and ordered that his form not be checked and graded in line with the rabbinate’s policy that the minimum age for ordination is 22.

    In a preliminary meeting of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate over Sharify’s ordination, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger had been in favor of allowing the young man to become a rabbi. However, as director of Metzger’s office Rabbi Haim Hemdinger told The Jerusalem Post in August, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi’s opinion did not win out, with Amar leading the opposition.

    All the same, the invitation for the exam was sent to Sharify, but according to sources in the rabbinate, only out of the desire to encourage his exceptional skills and ambition, without the intent to actually consider his candidacy. The rabbinate later said that the invitation was a mistake.

    Following the incident, Sharify’s father Nissan, who has a doctorate in law, said he would petition the High Court of Justice to have his son’s examination marked and counted, like the examinations of all other candidates.

    On Sunday the court received the petition, filed by Nissan and his firm, which demanded that the young Sharify’s test be checked, and to overrule the rabbinate’s policy that determines 22 as the minimum age for ordination, or at least to order the forming of a committee to examine exceptions to the rule.

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    28 COMMENTS

    1. Let him take the test and then let a Rabbinical Board decide if he has the requisite maturity. If he does, he should be restricted in not sitting alone for a Din Torah and be required to sit with at least 2 others. If he is an Ilui, why not encourage him?

    2. There is a reason they want a ‘rabbi’ to be 22 years old. Taking out the who gets “smicha ” from the government aspect of this, the 22 year old rule makes sense.

    3. I admire the fellows tenacity, however I do question his preparation. How much time have you had to experience life here on Earth in 14 years? How many topics have you sat up late at night pondering? What is your degree of understanding of Torah and life. Just learning the words of the first 5 books and some talmud does not mean you are ready to make decisions in families lives. I do believe he is on to a good career path, however I would be lax to consider him a Torah leader at the age of 14.

    4. I think that the fact that he went to secular courts alone should disqualify him immediately.

      Besides, he would have had a much better chance in din torah. According to Halachah there is no difference between a 13 year old boy and a 70 year old man. Both have to be accorded all right available under jewish law.

      On the other hand, todays days there seems to be a requirement for all gedolei yisroel to go to court. Perhaps this kid is smarter than we thought.

    5. Why can’t the father and he understand that you have to be 18 to drive, and the reason is that even thou you may be the best driver, there is still the need for maturity. One can be the greatest talmid chochom but there is still a need for maturity

    6. Wow, a lawyer stoops that low to make his son sweat his way through all that and make a public embaressment of himself just to get a case. Talk about ambulance – chasing. I am starting to believe the lawyer jokes.

    7. Let him keep learning until the age that his intellect meets the emotional intelligence that is achieved from personal experience. Being a Rabbi is not only sorting the black from what. It is about understanding and appreciating the complexities in between. It takes years of maturity and personal experience (being around the block long enough) to really qualify as a rabbi. EY has no shortage of rabbis….. Keep learning until you’re old enough…….

    8. If the determining factor for becoming a rabbi is a test to be taken, then once one is bar mitzvah, passing the test is all that should be necessary – not marriage, not age, not connections. If age were the issue, he should have been eliminated from the pool of test takers immediately, not pointed out after the fact (much like driving – you can even sit for the test until you reach the age requirement). If the issue had been smichah, then it would be up to the beit din to decide.

    9. He is obviously very far from learning Torah lishmo, if he had to sue a beis din he is “lomed lekanter” and in gods eyes it’s best if he never learned!(Mishna Ovos)

    10. Maybe his father can sue the Begatz and make his son the head. I don’t know anything about the son but I feel for him since his father is CRAZY. Don’t get your way sue in the Begatz

    11. He needs a fraask from his parents then he needs to learn the halochos about respect for elders, then he needs to be able to stay at his friends house with out calling his mommy after 2 hours that he wants to go home, then he needs get points on the chart for being a good listener to mommy, then he has to wait about ten years (with good behavior), then he needs to get married get retested and then well talk about it.

    12. Tennis dads, rabbi dads, anything to show off a little.

      I feel bad for this kid.

      I had a very high IQ as a child (not saying I could have done this) but certainly possible.
      And I am so glad and thankful my parents let me develop normally. Let me play sports, have fun, play videogames (oldtime ones), and just be a normal teenager.
      They didn’t pressure me to be super-performer. I only got serious about studies at 18, and developed into a nice Lamdan, and have been b’h a source of great nachas to my parents.
      Had they presssured me to live
      up to my illui-ness, I definitely would have burned out.

      Thanks Ta and Ma

    13. Vilan Gaon memorized entire tanach when he was 3. And started addressing halachic questions when he was a teen while other rabbis could not. Rabbis settle their issues in secular courts all the time. The Satmar saints are not shy about running to secular courts so why can’t this kid? The kid already understands the politics of Bes Dins at such a young age!! If we believe that at bar mitzva you become a man then you should trust that. 10 rabbis tested him and he meets the qualifications. I doubt an average kolel student of 23 will perform better than this kid for smicha exam. You can’t question his maturity because we don’t know him personally to even pass judgment on that. And hearing about some of the crazy shenanigans from our adult rabbis these days this kid can’t be a worse rabbi.

    14. Enough of these games. A 14 year old prodigy, no matter how much ta’nach and talmud he may have memorized, is not qualified or fit to be a rav who may be asked to paskin on the most intimate aspects of a person’s life. Anyone who would to to a 14 year old with a shayla, also need professional help on a deeper level.

    15. The reason he has to go to the secular courts is that the Israeli Rabbinate, as part of the ‘official’ and secular government apparatus is FORBIDDEN by the State from using a Beis Din for any cases they may have (believe it or not). Thus nobody can take the Rabbanut to a Beis Din!

      He is clearly not interested in paskening shailos which are obviously not suitable for his age and maturity. Quite a lot has been written about this case in Israel. In fact, he already has been tested baal peh by many choshuve rabbonim, who were all quite astounded by his bekius. All he wants is for the rabbanut to allow him to have his written examination. He was allowed to sit the examination (in order not to upset him) but was then told it would not be given a grade by the examiners.

    16. There is plenty of precident in Europe where teenagers were Rabbonim. I can’t understand why they won’t give him smicha. Taking the smicha exam won’t qualify him to answer bedikot so you have nothing to worry about there. Having smicha in and of itself won’t make him a Rav.

    17. Does the child actually want to be a rabbi, or do his parents simply want to brag that their child is the youngest rabbi ever? Moreover, just how much do we want to cheapen the title? A “rabbi” is someone who (in theory!) should not only have a solid understanding of Shulchan Aruch, but also enough wisdom to apply those rules to life. At 15, this young man may well be extraordinarily intelligent, and he may well have an extraordinary amount of Torah knowledge. That said, he’s still 15, and he just hasn’t lived enough time to be able to answer shaylas about peoples’ actual lives. Besides– what’s the rush? Maybe he can learn a bit more “lishma” before he starts parading around with a title.

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