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Rabbi Moshe Weinberger to Join RIETS Faculty as Mashigach Ruchani

According to an e-mail sent on January 30th by Rabbi Yona Reiss to the men of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, current Rabbi of Congregation Aish Kodesh of Woodmere, NY, will join the RIETS faculty next semester as Mashgiach Ruchani. Rabbi Weinberger will be “present at the yeshiva for two extended days each week from morning until evening, in addition to several Shabbasos throughout the year,” Rabbi Reiss wrote in his e-mail. Rabbi Reiss later told The Commentator that Rabbi Weinberger could use his time in whatever capacity he chose, whether to “give shiurim on Inyanei Machshava or meet individually with students and help them on a personal basis.” Rabbi Weinberger declined to comment for this article.

Rabbi Weinberger is well known within the Orthodox community at large as a speaker and author, with a focus on Chassidic thought and philosophy. In addition to his position as Rabbi of Congregation Aish Kodesh, he has authored Jewish Outreach: A Halachic Perspective, as well as an English translation of Rabbi Kook’s Orot HaTeshuva. Rabbi Weinberger holds an MA in Jewish philosophy from YU’s Revel Graduate School and an MS in educational administration from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Rabbi Reiss was among those most instrumental in hiring Rabbi Weinberger, and cited “a general desire to expand our hashgacha resources.” Rabbi Yosef Blau, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshiva, expanded on the topic: “Neo-Chassidus is very popular in Israel where 85 to 90 percent of our students study before YU. The administration said that if this moves many of our students, let’s give it a try.”

Many students interviewed had only glowing praise for Rabbi Weinberger. “I think he’ll bring some much needed warmth and spirit,” Naftali Nunberg (SSSB ’15) told The Commentator. Rabbi Reiss expressed similar sentiment: “He’s one of ours. We’re a big tent. (…) I think that everybody is very positively inclined towards him joining the Yeshiva.”

Some students interviewed expressed worry that Rabbi Weinberger’s “neo-Chassidic” ideology represents a departure from a Yeshiva University traditionally characterized by the intellectual “litvishe” approach. David Errico-Nagar (YC ’15) told The Commentator: “There is a right-wing minority within YU that’s screaming for attention and taking over the Yeshiva. Rabbi Weinberger represents a move to placate this minority.”

Rabbi Blau also voiced apprehensions of some of the faculty: “When all is said and done, you take the Yeshiva and the University and they’re both intellectual endeavors. There always will be some concern if we’re moving away from focusing on intellectual growth.”

Whatever the case, students and faculty are in agreement that Rabbi Weinberger’s addition will have a profound impact on Yeshiva as a whole. “When he came here last time to speak, people were dancing in the Beis Medrash,” said Naftali Nunberg. “How often does that happen?”