• June 15, 2024
  • 9 5784, Sivan
  • פרשת נשא

The WebYeshiva Blog

Rabbi Paul Terman is one of the WebYeshiva.org's first recipients of semicha. Born in California, he grew up in Florida and it was during his time at the University of Miami where he became increasingly interested in Jewish observance. "Jewishly I was only armed with a basic Sunday Hebrew School education, but while I was at university I found myself yearning for more knowledge. I found myself endlessly asking campus rabbis questions and growing in my observance. I found value in learning Torah as a means of connecting to God, as catching a glimmer of the Divine," Rabbi Terman explained. Although he found the campus rabbis knowledgeable he also found himself yearning for a greater understanding of the Torah and what it means to be a Jew.  "Naturally, this brought me to Rabbi Chaim Brovender's Yeshivat Hamivtar and where learning how to learn was essentially their motto," he said. "I found myself drawn especially to learning halacha, its foundations and the processes by which it is derived. The legal structure and the logical foundations of halacha fueled my ability and desire to study it." After moving back to the US in order to pursue a PhD in Physics from Texas A&M University he began learning at WebYeshiva.org which seemed a fitting extension of the kind of learning he had done at Hamivtar, as the WebYeshiva staff included several Hamivtar rabbis. Eventually, he joined the Halacha Mastery Program. "The Halacha Mastery Program seemed to be the culmination of much of my previous learning and desires for growth which included understanding many of the details of halacha and the processes by which we arrive at it, and furthering my foundation to allow for truly independent study," Rabbi Terman said. Rabbi Terman lives with his wife in New haven Connecticut. He has a BA in History and BS in Physics and Mathematics. A researcher of dark matter, he is currently working on an experiment looking for a specific type of dark matter called LUX.  
Rabbi Allan Goldenberg is one of the WebYeshiva.org Halacha Mastery Program's first recipients of semicha.
Rabbi Goldenberg was a prosecutor in the Cook County, Illinois, State Attorney’s Office and worked in a variety of areas including as a felony trial lawyer and also on the executive staff.
"The Halacha Mastery Program provided an online platform for learning practical halacha at an advanced level. It was an opportunity for me to engage in very meaningful halachic learning online in live and interactive classes with excellent and amazing teachers," Rabbi Goldenberg said.
"Learning halacha at the conceptional level allows one to travel throughout the generations and I enjoyed the creative thinking and problem solving the rabbis brought to situations throughout time," he said.
Rabbi Goldenberg added, "Torah learning is a lifetime endeavor and having an advanced knowledge of practical halacha will allow me to, in time, teach and help others and ultimately make the world a better place."
Rabbi Jeffrey Green is one of the WebYeshiva.org first semicha recipients. Rabbi Green began his formal learning in the mid-1980's at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem under the spiritual guidance of Rav Meir Schweiger. It was at that time he made a commitment to fully understanding both practical halacha and the fundamental principles of its development. In the ensuing decades he constantly pursued avenues to further his Torah learning – independently, with various chevrutot and in more formal classes. "Along the way," Rabbi Green explained, "I was guided by Avot 1:6 which says, "Asey L'cha Rav (make a rabbi for yourself)," which according to one interpretation means "Asey L'atzmecha Rav (make yourself a rabbi)." "In other words, anyone committed to fully observing halacha should take it upon him/herself to understand halacha and be able to reasonably respond to halachic questions and situations as they arise -which is exactly what the Halacha Mastery Program prepares you for." In 2013, just as Rabbi Green finished going through his first Daf Yomi cycle, WebYeshiva.org's Halacha Mastery Program was launched. "It offered a wonderful opportunity to expand the depth and breadth of my knowledge and understanding of halacha within a structured framework suited to someone with a full-time day job," he said. "The program helped me reach a new plateau of Torah learning from which to continue on to Semicha." For Rabbi Green, having all of the shiurim recorded and available on the WebYeshiva.org archive meant two important things. First, never missing a class and second, being able to review classes one attended to better absorb the material. "Of course, the technology would be irrelevant if there weren't excellent teachers and challenging content to make the experience so valuable," he added. Rabbi Green works at Ben Gurion University and lives in Be'er Sheba with his family.
Rabbi Dr. Bernie 'Baruch' Kastner is one of WebYeshiva.org's first semicha recipients. Rabbi Kastner is a graduate of Yeshiva University and Columbia University. He served as an administrator at the Mount Sinai Medical Center and later on as an associate director of the AVI CHAI Foundation. His family made Aliyah from New York in 1994 and he currently lives in Jerusalem with his wife and five children.  All five of his grandchildren also live in Israel.  Rabbi Kastner also holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology and is a certified Graphologist.  In addition to his private practice in psychotherapy, he is also the published author of five books. When asked why he decided to join the Halacha Mastery Program, Rabbi Kastner said, "Learning on a regular basis became a necessary ingredient for me for sustenance once I understood that I also have to feed my neshama.  The body and soul are a team and rely on each other to grow and develop both physically and spiritually." He went on to explain how the Halacha Mastery Program and the semicha track at WebYeshiva.org provided him with a wide range of understanding of halachic principles and its underpinnings, and as a result, now enables him to explain to others what may not otherwise have been obvious or properly understood. "The areas of leniency vs. being strict on various issues was especially important for me to understand," he said, "as many decisions arise on a daily basis that require an understanding of when and how to be either more lenient or strict, all within the framework of halacha.  Often, this defines one’s hashkafa as they go through life, toward finding that all important simchat chaim," he said. The semicha certificate is signed by Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Rabbi Dovid Fink.
Rabbi Nathan Davidovich is one of WebYeshiva.org's first semicha recipients. Rabbi Davidovich spent most of his life in Denver, Colorado until making Aliyah to Efrat in 1994. A 1963 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law, he has since practiced law as a trial lawyer even commuting from Israel for court hearings, trials and depositions after moving to Israel. In 2013 he was honored by the Colorado Bar Association for 50 years in the practice of law. At the same time, learning Torah has always been an important element in Rabbi Davidovich's life helping him get from one point to the next. "Torah is an owner’s manual to life as a Jew," he explained. "Just as you cannot operate a piece of machinery without understanding the owner’s manual, the same is true in navigating life. The Torah adds richness, fulfillment and purpose to life."

From Denver to Efrat

Growing up in Denver, his Torah study included learning with his father, Rav Chaim Davidovich, Z’L, and Rav Shlomo Twersky, Z”L. Later, he organized and started teaching daf yomi at the Denver Talmudic Research Institute, which was under the leadership of Rav Mordechai Twersky. Since coming to Israel he has studied at the  Magen Avraham Kollel in Efrat and Yeshivat Hamivtar. He enjoys learning Chassidut, specifically, the Netivot Shalom and Rebbe Nachman saying for him, "They stress the importance of joy in life and joy in serving our Creator."

Learning Torah Online

In 2013 Rabbi Davidovich joined the Halacha Mastery Program to improve his core knowledge of halacha. Prior to that he describes his study of halacha "haphazard." "Most of my time before that was spent studying Gemara and Chumash with the meforshim, but not specifically concentrating on halacha. The program gave me a way of really being able to delve into halacha by learning about many of the sources in addition to the Shulchan Aruch, and learning how to apply halacha to daily life," he explained. He added, "It was also informative to be able to learn about the varied halachic opinions on a particular subject and how to apply them to unique situations."