Yeshiva High School Students Face Off in National Halachic Debate
Mesivta of Greater Philadelphia Wins First Place at Lander College For Men Model Beis Din
When is it okay to share a secret with which you were entrusted? The answer may seem obvious but consider the stakes. What if breaking your promise saves a life, avoids embarrassment or protects someone from financial malfeasance? Students from six yeshiva high schools debated this question at the Model Beis Din Competition hosted by Touro’s Lander College for Men (LCM) at the Lander campus in Queens this past Sunday.
This one-of-a kind, annual, tournament offers high school students a chance to match wits on oft-debated halachic dilemmas. Teams of students spend hours working feverishly to out-argue each other. At the end of the day, Mesivta of Greater Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd was declared this year’s winner, Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) took second place and Fasman Yeshiva High School in Chicago came in third. Other participating yeshivas included Ezra Academy in Queens, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and Davis Renov Stahler (DRS) Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere.
“The Model Beis Din guides students to fully understand the dynamic nature of halacha—how the Torah can inform and confront contemporary moral and legal challenges in the most sophisticated way,” said HaRav Yonason Sacks shlita, esteemed Rosh HaYeshiva of the Beis Medrash L’Talmud, who directs the program. “My goal is to validate the students’ learning and to inspire them to learn more.”
The Model Beis Din program included close to three hours of actual debating, an awards ceremony and the opportunity for one-on-one time with HaRav Yonason Sacks, who tested students on their knowledge of the topic. All participants received two volumes of Rav Sacks’ sefer on Pesach. The winning team received a set of Mishna Brura, second-place team received a three-volume set of seforim from Rav Sacks on Talmud Torah, Middos and Mitzvos and third-place team received Sefer Ishei Yisroel.
Rabbi Dr. David Weiss, a rebbe at the Mesivta of Philadelphia added that this program is one of the best ways to engage students through in-depth learning leaving them inspired, accomplished and ready to learn more.
The program also gave students a chance to connect with each other and learn about Touro’s Lander College for Men. It began with a Shabbaton where the boys enjoyed a Friday night Tish, a sushi-making activity, met current students and experienced Shabbos on the Lander campus.
The model Beis Din program is the brainchild of Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sokol, the dean of LCM, who wanted to create an opportunity for young men to experience Torah study at a high level. “The Model Beis Din program inspires high school students to deepen their understanding of the chosen topic, while they challenge themselves by competing with other outstanding young men from across the country,” said Dr. Sokol.