May 30, 2024
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Yeshiva Students Make Their Case at Model Beis Din

(Courtesy of Touro University) How far can an individual go toward protecting his property from a thief? Would he be justified in setting a trap that could result in severe injury for the guilty party? And could such preventative measures even be considered a mitzvah?

Students from seven yeshiva high schools debated this question at the annual Model Beis Din Competition, hosted by Touro’s Lander College for Men (LCM) at the Lander campus in Queens this past Sunday. The one-of-a-kind tournament offers high school students a chance to match wits on oft-debated halachic dilemmas. Each year the participating schools are provided with a specific halachic quandary in the weeks before the competition, and the teams spend hours working feverishly to out-argue each other. This year the question was about whether one would be allowed to put poison in a sandwich for the sake of identifying a thief who routinely steals someone’s lunch.

After all the research was completed, the various sources cited, and the arguments defended, the team from The Mesivta High of School of Greater Philadelphia was declared the winner, with Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) and Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh coming in second and third place respectively. Other participating yeshivas included Ezra Academy in Queens; Rambam Mesivta in Inwood; Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie; and Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis.

 

The Impact of Halacha on Daily Life

“My hope is that the program inspires you to realize that Toras Hashem has the ability to impact and influence and inform every aspect of our lives,” said HaRav Yonason Sacks, shlita, esteemed rosh hayeshiva of the Beis Medrash L’Talmud, who directs the program, when he addressed all the participants. “Halacha has something to say about every new or modern-day issue, and it informs us of how we should integrate it into our lives.”

The Model Beis Din program included several hours of actual debating and the opportunity for one-on-one time with HaRav Yonason Sacks, who tested students on their knowledge of the topic. An award ceremony followed, and the winning team received Rav Sacks’ seven-volume set on Pirkei Avos; the second-place team received a three-volume set of Minchas Chinuch; and the third-place team received a set of Tefillah Le’Moshe by Rav Aaron Lopiansky. All participants received a copy of Rav Sacks’ Haggadah, Chazon L’Yomim.

Rabbi Dani Meisels from Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh who accompanied his students said,

“The Model Beis Din program gives our students the opportunity to explore the depths of halacha and appreciate the vastness of Torah, ultimately building a love for its study. An opportunity they otherwise may not have,” said Rabbi Meisels.

According to Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sokol, the dean of LCM, the Model Beis Din program  creates an opportunity for young men to experience Torah study at a high level. “Each year our goals for the Model Beis Din program are to demonstrate to the talmidim how their learning can be applied to real-life moral issues, while they deepen their understanding of the chosen topic,” said Dr. Sokol. “The learning and preparation for this program sharpens the student’s thinking and deepens their appreciation for the depth and wisdom of our Torah.”

 

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