14 Sep 2010


As the new Jewish year gets underway, the Orthodox Union has mitzvot on its mind, and Proverbs as well. Immediately following Simchat Torah, which falls this year on Friday, October 1, the OU’s website,, will introduce two long-running series: a daily commentary on the mitzvot (commandments), to be taught by Rabbi Shalom Rosner, and a shiur (lesson) on Mishlei, the Book of Proverbs, to be presented by Rav Aharon Kahn.

The two new programs will enrich an already-strong Torah component of the newly redesigned OU website, supplementing a wide variety of audio and written programs. The Torah section already presents The Person in the Parsha, the unique commentary by OU Executive Vice President Emeritus Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb; Rabbi Yosef Grossman’s The Good Vort; the most-listened to Daf Yomi shiur on the Internet, with Rabbi Moshe Elefant; and the daily Nach Yomi, commentary on the Prophets and Writings sections of the Hebrew Bible. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Bernard Fox of Seattle also provide popular Torah commentary.

Rabbi Rosner is well-known to visitors to the OU website for his weekly shiur on the Torah portion and for his Daf B’Iyun, an in-depth look at topics in the week’s Daf Yomi. Having made aliyah to Israel, he is a lecturer in Reishit Yerushalayim and Shaalvim, two leading Israeli yeshivot.

Rabbi Rosner’s new series will be based on Sefer HaMitzvot by the Rambam (Maimonides) and on Sefer HaChinuch, a medieval text expanding upon the ideas put forth by the Rambam. In his shiur, Rabbi Rosner will analyze the 613 mitzvot, one at a time, six days a week, for up to a half-hour a day. The Rambam organized the mitzvot topically within the categories of positive (248) and negative (365) commandments; the Sefer HaChinuch, by an unknown author, is organized by the order in which they appear. Rabbi Rosner will follow the chronology of the latter work. He will also utilize more modern sources, the acharonim — that is, rabbis from the past 300 years — such as the 19th-century work Minchat Chinuch.

The series will supplement another new OU Torah program, Taryag (the acronym for 613), which began following the holiday of Shavuot in May and transmits daily emails on each of the commandments. That series is authored by Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, OU Torah Content Editor and Director of Online Education for NCSY, the OU’s international youth program.

In its choice of Rabbi Rosner to teach the mitzvot series, the OU is calling on one of the finest young Torah teachers in the world today. “Rabbi Rosner is a world-class talmid chacham and a world-class orator as well,” said Rabbi Steven Weil, OU Executive Vice President. “He’s one of the rising stars on our website, with a fan base all over the world. “

“The objective of the series,” Rabbi Weil explained, is “to give us an understanding of the mitzvot, the philosophy of each mitzvah, and a conceptual analysis of the axioms and postulates underlying the mitzvah.” He termed the shiur “unique,” in that “it will appeal to the beginner and scholar alike and it will provide an all-encompassing understanding of the 613 mitzvot. “

The series will run for two years, with the amount of time devoted to each mitzvah depending on the commandment itself. “There are certain mitzvot you can’t cover in a day,” Rabbi Weil said. “You may need three or four days.”
Studying Mishlei

Mishlei, written by King Solomon and perhaps best known for its concluding section, Aishet Chayil, the paean to the woman of valor recited over the Friday night Sabbath table, will be analyzed, verse by verse, by Rav Kahn, utilizing the commentaries of Rashi, the Vilna Gaon and Rabbeinu Yonah, among others. Rav Kahn, a world-renowned talmid chacham, is a Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS, the rabbinical seminary of Yeshiva University, and the Rav of the synagogue Bais Keneses Avigdor of Flatbush, in Brooklyn, NY.

“Mishlei has been called the ‘greatest mussar sefer (book on morality) ever written,” said Rabbi Weil. “Rav Kahn will be using Mishlei as a springboard to analyze life lessons, Jewish philosophy and Jewish values.” According to Rabbi Abramowitz, Mishlei, which has 31 sections, will be divided into a few verses for study each week; every new program will be accompanied by a source sheet and a written explanation of what will be covered in that shiur.

“Rav Kahn’s shiur isn’t a passive lecture. This isn’t something one can fully appreciate while driving. Together with the written materials that will be provided, the presentation really simulates the interactivity of a live shiur,” Rabbi Abramowitz said.

More OU programs on mishna and halacha are now in the planning stage and will be announced shortly. “We are trying to develop a website, both in terms of the written and oral Torah, that feature high quality shiurim that not only provide information but that develop the mind of the learner as well,” Rabbi Weil declared.