Ordination Ceremonies Bestow Honors Upon 131 (Vol. 21, Issue 11)
“Both the crown of knowledge and the crown of warm spirit must be worn tightly by the ordained rabbi if he is to fulfill his holy mission,” asserted Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik, professor of Talmud and Jewish Philosophy, at the traditional smicha exercises of R.I.E.T.S. held Sunday, March 4 in Lamport Auditorium. The class of rabbis consisted of 131 graduates of R.I.E.T.S.. fourteen of whom are now chaplains.
The exercises were opened by Dr. Samuel Belkin, president of the University, who expressed the great need for a “United Nations of the spirit” in this modern age when industry and technology reign. Dr. Belkin reiterated the necessity of smicha and of keeping alive the notion of the talmid hacham, the wise and devoted student. “For,”’ he said, “now, more than ever before, is there a great need to strengthen the fountainheads of spiritual and moral training so as to encourage the creative genius of man for peace and good will.”
Qualities of a Musmach
Speaking in Yiddish, Rabbi Soloveichik listed the essential qualities that a musmach should possess. He emphasized the vital role the teacher plays in the training of the rabbi. “It is the
warmth in the hand of the teacher that is transferred symbolically to the head of the student, and which contains that pure spirit not found anywhere else.”
The Professor of Talmud envisioned the heavy burden that is placed upon the shoulders of the young rabbis as the task of keeping watch over a most valuable possession entrusted to them by the mightiest of owners. However, even more important than their responsibility to God, declared the speaker, is their responsibility to their fellow man. For God does not forgive sins committed directly against Him unless man first has obtained forgiveness for civil sins committed against his neighbors.