November 5, 2015

FAQ’s for Sefer Iyunei Deah and receiving semicha from Rabbi Z. N. Goldberg


1. Does R. Goldberg know of Sefer Iyunei Deah? Does it have his haskama?

HaGaon HaGadol R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg shlita personally encouraged the publishing of Sefer Iyunei Deah, and granted his approbation/haskama knowing that the sefer would be used to prepare for receiving semicha from him.

2. To what extent does Sefer Iyunei Deah reflect what’s needed for the bachinos?

In most cases, the sefer contains more breadth and depth than is expected for the bachina and is not representative of what is required. Similarly, one should not view its sources, presentation or conclusions as necessarily the best way to submit one’s material.

3. Are the versions of the bachinos in Sefer Iyunei Deah currently accepted?

While there are various versions of the bachinos for Isur v’Heter and Nidah, the ones presented in conjunction with Sefer Iyunei Deah are standard and accepted.

4. Do you have bachinos for any of the other topics R. Goldberg’s tests for? Are there seforim like Sefer Iyunei Deah on any of them?

I do not have any of the other bachinos for which the Rav tests. One may use copies that are passed around or obtain one directly from the Rav (see contact info below). As far as I know, there are no seforim like Sefer Iyunei Deah on other topics.

5. May one test on the different parts of Isur v’Heter separately?

Generally, one must test on an entire topic at once, such as all of Isur v’Heter – melicha, basar b’chalav and ta’arovos – together.

6. Must one wait to answer the questions until after learning all the material, or may one answer the questions as he learns?

While the Rav ideally expects people to learn all of the material before answering the questions, many of which simultaneously involve different areas of the material, he realizes that practically, many people incorporate various combinations of answering the questions as they progress through the material.

7. What is the procedure for receiving semicha from R. Goldberg?

Usually, one first submits to the Rav a letter of recommendation (see 8) with his written bachina (9). After the Rav reviews the material, generally within a month, one makes an appointment for an additional oral bachina (10). Upon successful completion of the process, the Rav gives the recipient a letter of semicha (11).

8. What is required for the letter of recommendation?

The Rav generally requires at least one letter of recommendation from an established rabbi such as a Kehilla Rav, Rosh Yeshiva or Rosh Kollel stating, for example, how long he knows the candidate and in what context, while also attesting to the candidate’s experience and seriousness in learning, as well as his intentions for requesting the semicha and his plans for the future.

9. In what format, and how long, should the answers to the written bachina be?

The written bachina is “open book” and may be either hand-written or typed, but must be in Hebrew. It is not necessary to answer with more breadth and depth than required for the essential point in question. In most cases, answers within the length of one page will suffice.

10. How rigorous is the oral bachina?

The nature of the oral bachina depends on a person’s stated purpose for wanting the semicha. For one who intends to go into chinuch or kiruv, the oral bachina generally covers only some of the main points covered in the written bachina. For those who are testing towards hora’ah, the oral bachina is significantly more thorough and rigorous.

11. What does the letter of semicha say? What does it look like?

The Rav’s letter of semicha is pre-printed on his letterhead, which he completes by hand with the relevant details and signs and seals. A fully-typed example of the semicha appears at the beginning of Sefer Iyunei Deah before the haskamos and may be viewed HERE and in the extract of the sefer in the Publications section of RabbiUllman.com. It is possible to use the standard wording of the semicha to prepare a personalized version (layout, font, paper) for the Rav to sign.

12. How does someone who lives outside of Israel receive semicha from R. Goldberg?

Since receiving the semicha involves both a written and oral bachina (detailed above), one may mail or deliver (not by fax or email) a cover letter including one’s intentions and travel dates, the recommendation and the written bachina to the Rav ahead of a planned visit to Jerusalem in order to allow him time to review them before meeting for the oral bachina.

13. Is R. Goldberg available to contact directly about the semicha?

It is possible to contact the Rav directly, and speak to him in either Yiddish or Hebrew, in order to receive the most up-to-date details regarding the bachinos or for other questions that I may not have addressed. Similarly, one may contact him in order to finalize the procedure for one’s specific case.

14. What is R. Goldberg’s contact info?

Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, 12 Elkana st., entrance A, apt. 6, Jerusalem, 95310, Israel

Home phone:  +972-(0)2-538-3162