May 25, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 25, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Part 2

(Continued from last week)

There is a very beautiful and detailed description in Newsletter #31 of Khal Adath Yeshurun-Jerusalem dated March 20, 2012, and I take the liberty of quoting it:

“On the past Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh, R’ Chayim Shmueli was made a Chover. After Chazoras Hashatz of Shacharis, Moreinu Harav spoke about the reason Talmidei Chachomim are called Chaverim, and about the idea of giving a title of Chover to people. He mentioned that Rav Shmueli is a Talmid Chochom, our Ba’al Koreh, and extremely devoted to the Kehilloh. Next, KAYJ’s choir sung the majestic Boruch Habo of Epstein, and then R’ Chayim Shmueli came up to the Rov, and received the Kav Chaverus from the Rov. This was the first time the title Chover was given in KAYJ, and it was also the first time it was awarded in one of the Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz affiliated shuls.”

A totally different angle is given in “Hirhurim-Musings” published February 17, 2010, and written by Rabbi Gil Student. As part of a general heading, “A Brief History of Rabbinic Ordination,” under a subheading, “Institutions,” the publication states:

“Following the Black Plague in the 14th century, there was a severe shortage of qualified Torah scholars. In such a situation, many underqualified scholars attempted to fill the holes, leading to a situation that had the potential for improperly conducted marriages and divorces. In response to this problem, R. Meir HaLevi of Vienna established a system of two-level ordination. A scholar can be certified as a “chaver” to function as a rabbi but only one with a higher certification, that of “moreinu,” could perform marriages and divorces. We have an ordination certificate written by the Terumas Ha-Deshen in the early 15th century, in which he notes that his ordainee had already attained the title “chaver” and was now attaining the title “moreinu.”

The most current explanation came to me from Rabbi B.S. Hamburger, head of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz in Bnei Beraq. He is considered by many to be the foremost expert on Ashkenazi Minhagim. He writes:

“Till the 19th century when the old yeshivohs still existed in Germany, it was customary to grant the Chover title to yeshiva students who advanced in their studies and who conducted themselves ethically. Usually, this required a minimum of three years of yeshiva study. A student who continued his studies and excelled in them received the title Moreinu, but this still did not give him the authority to be a decisor of Halakhic questions unless his document also mentioned: Yoreh Yoreh Yadin Yadin.”

The Chover title was granted by the community’s rabbi who also headed the local yeshiva, usually upon the student getting married, or when he left to study in another yeshiva. The recipient received a document stating that he had sufficient knowledge of Torah and Talmud. The recipient had to pay a certain sum for the document. Part of the proceeds went directly to the rabbi.

In those days the recipient had to pass a test to prove his knowledge. After passing the test he was given a letter granting him the title. The granting of the title was made public, by calling the recipient up to the Torah with the new title on the following Shabbat. In some communities, the recipient distributed schnapps and lebkuchen to the members of the community on this occasion.

In more recent times the Chover or Moreinu title was granted by the rabbi of the community upon getting recommendations from the lay leadership of God-fearing members who served the community voluntarily. The document granting the title did not have a uniform formula, and each rabbi could use his own words in granting the title. In general, a certain occurrence caused the title to be granted, such as a 60th birthday, or some other significant anniversary.

Whatever I state here is not from my own knowledge, but opinions and writings of others.

By Norbert Strauss


Norbert Strauss is a Teaneck resident and Englewood Hospital volunteer. He frequently speaks to groups to relay his family’s escape from Nazi Germany in 1941.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles