Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah

Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah[1] (Heb.: מועצת גדולי התורה ("Council of [great] Torah Sages")) refers to the supreme rabbinical policy-making council of any of several related Haredi Jewish organizations.

The component words of the name are transliterated in a variety of ways. This is frequently done as Moetzet[2][3] and less frequently as Gedolai[4][5][6] and ha-Torah[4][6] or ha Torah[5]. The phrase is regularly shortened to Moetzes or The Moetzah.

Rabbis sitting on the various Moetzos are usually either one of the more prestigious rosh yeshivas ("heads") of yeshivas or Hasidic Rebbes who are also regarded by many ultra-orthodox jews to be the Gedolim ("great/est") sages of Torah Judaism.


In Europe

Prior to World War II, only one such body existed, the World Agudath Israel organization in Europe.[7]

In the United States

The Moetzes of Agudath Israel of America serve as religious decisors, leadership, and political and policy liaisons with state and federal government agencies on behalf of many American Haredi Jews.[1][8][9] The council, consisting primarily of rosh yeshivas and Hasidic rebbes, directs Agudath's policies and leadership. Formerly known as the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, the body was started in 1941. It sets all major policies and guides the organization according to its precepts of Da'as Torah.

In Israel

The Moetzet (usually transliterated with an ending "t") of Agudat Yisrael likewise constitutes the Israeli Ashkenazic haredi community's religious policy leadership, and exercises strong control over political matters for strongly observant Israelis, such as joining government coalitions.[10][11]

Prior to Degel HaTorah's late 1980s break from Agudat Israel (because of the dominance of the Hasidic groups), there was only one Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah in Israel.[12] With the breakaway (led by Rabbi Elazar Shach), two separate, yet at times complementary, councils were created.

The Haredi Sephardi Jews of Israel had also at one time followed the leadership of the Moetzet of Agudat Yisrael when it was still a body that spoke for most of Israel's Haredim. Eventually, however, the Haredi Sefardim broke with their Ashkenazi counterparts and established the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah ("Council of [wise] Torah Sages"), which in turn became the source for the formulation and expression of the policies and agenda of the Shas political party in the Israeli Knesset.[13] Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef became the main leadership figure of this council.

Past members

Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer (Chairman)
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin (Chairman)
Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (Chairman)
Rabbi Yisrael Alter (Chairman)
Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter (Chairman)
Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Alter (Chairman)
Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Elazar Leiner
Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
Rabbi Boruch Shimon Schneerson
Rabbi Yisroel Don Taub
Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel Twerski
Rabbi Binyamin Zilber
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz
Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz
Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel

Current members belonging to Agudath Israel

Rabbi Mayer Alter Horowitz, the Rebbe of Boston (Hasidic dynasty) (Chairman)
Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, the Rebbe of Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach (II), the Rebbe of Belz (Hasidic dynasty)
Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the Rebbe of Vizhnitz (Hasidic dynasty)
Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman, the Rebbe of Sadigura (Hasidic dynasty)
Rabbi Chaim Shaul Taub, the Rebbe of Modzitz (Hasidic dynasty)
Rabbi Yochanan Sofer, the Rebbe of Erlau (Hasidic dynasty)
Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Halberstam, the Rebbe of Klausenburg (Hasidic dynasty)

Current members belonging to Degel HaTorah

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (Co-Chairman)
Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva (Co-Chairman)
Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, the Rosh Yeshiva of the yeshiva Torah Ore
Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Maalos HaTorah yeshiva
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva
Rabbi Meir Tzvi Bergman, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva Rashbi

Members in the United States

Past members


Current members

Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld
Rabbi Yitzchok Feigelstock
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein
Rabbi Aharon Feldman
Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky
Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler
Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levine
Rabbi Yaakov Perlow (Chairman)
Chacham Yosef Harari Raful
Rabbi Aaron Schechter


  1. ^ a b Schloss, Chaim (2004) [2002]. 2000 Years of Jewish History (Fourth Revised ed.). Jerusalem, Israel: Feldheim Publishers. p. 294. ISBN 158330214X. Retrieved July 6, 2010. "The final resolution declared that Agudas Yisrael would serve to resolve all difficulties facing Jews and Judaism on the basis of Torah, without any political considerations. The Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, the Rabbinic Council, would be the supreme governing body and final authority in all decisions." 
  2. ^ Elazar, Daniel J. (1989). People and Polity: The Organizational Dynamic of World Jewry. Wayne State University Press. p. 129. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "The chief pasekim of the ultra-Orthodox are organized in the Moetzet Gedolei haTorah (Council of Torah Greats)." 
  3. ^ Baumel, Simeon D. (2006). Sacred Speakers: Language and Culture among the Haredim in Israel. Berghahn Books. p. 34. ISBN 1845450620. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Following the tradition begun by his father, R. Israel Alter was active in developing and leading the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah (Council of Torah Sages) of Agudat Yisrael, which was the guiding force and deciding board behind the decision of the Haredi Agudat Yisrael political party in Israel." 
  4. ^ a b Kranzler, David; Landesman, Dovid (1998). Rav Breuer: His Life and Legacy. Jerusalem, Israel: The Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Foundation. p. 37. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "R. Eliyahu Meir Bloch - one of the members of the Moetzes Gedolai ha-Torah with whom Rav Breuer maintained a close relationship - also decried the failure to offer instruction in Tanach... ." 
  5. ^ a b Tikkun. 6. 1991. p. 62. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Agudath demanded insularity and an authoritarian organization. The Agudath founded the Moetzes Gedolai Ha Torah (the Council of Torah sages), a group of renowned rabbis, the interpret the problematic areas of modern life according to Torah law." 
  6. ^ a b Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 123. ISBN 0313243166. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Kotler emerged as one of the most significant Orthodox rabbinic leaders of the time, not only in America, where he was Chairman of Agudath Israel's Moetzet Gedolai ha-Torah (Council of Torah Sages), but in Israel as well." 
  7. ^ Amsel, Meir (1986). Encyclopedia Hamaor: Perpetual Memoirs and Responsa in 4 Divisions. Congregation and Yeshiva Hamaor. p. 278. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "He was one of the founders of Agudas Israel in Czechoslovakia, and after the Holocaust, of Agudas Israel of Central Europe, and was one of the leaders of the Moetzes Chachmei Hatorah in the area." 
  8. ^ Hunter, Isaac (2007). Katz, Steven T.. ed. Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 557. ISBN 9780195300147. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Yeshiva and day school principals from across the nation posed the above question to Rabbi Yitzchok [Isaac] Hutner, head of the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin-Aryeh and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages) of Agudat Israel or [sic] America." 
  9. ^ (pamphlet) Daring to Dream. New York, NY: Agudath Israel of America. May 2003. p. unnumbered. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Through the years, Agudath Israel has been guided by its Torah leadership, mainly through the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages), comprised of many of the country's leading rabbinic authorities. Aside from the focus put on their decisions and policy statements, regarding most every major issue confronting American Orthodoxy..." 
  10. ^ Goldberg, David H.; Reich, Bernard (January 2009). Fatton, Jr., Robert. ed. Religion, State, and Society: Jefferson's Wall of Separation in Comparative Perspective. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan / St.Martin's Press. p. 224. ISBN 9780230612303. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Established in 1912 in Kattowitz (Katowice), Poland, Augda was to be a Torah movement directed by Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah (Council of Torah Sages), a group of rabbinical scholars who represent the various factions of the Aguda movement and are chosen for their scholarly merit and prestige in the realm of Orthodox Jewry. Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah continuse to be the supreme decision-making body for Aguda adherents and its decisions are sovereign in all questions affecting the membership, including religious and political matters such as joining or remaining in the government coalition." 
  11. ^ Baumel, Simeon D. (2006). Sacred Speakers: Language and Culture among the Haredim in Israel. Berghahn Books. p. 34. ISBN 1845450620. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Following the tradition begun by his father, R. Israel Alter was active in developing and leading the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah (Council of Torah Sages) of Agudat Yisrael, which was the guiding force and deciding board behind the decision of the Haredi Agudat Yisrael political party in Israel." 
  12. ^ Baumel, Simeon D. (2006). Sacred Speakers: Language and Culture among the Haredim in Israel. Berghahn Books. p. 41. ISBN 1845450620. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "Unlike the dynastic succession of Hassidic courts, which usually allowed for one central rabbinical authority per sect at any given time, the Mitnagdic world often had several Gedolim (Great Torah Scholars) to turn to in one generation. From the 1970s until the late 1990s R. Shakh functioned as the major authority in terms of various issues, and his political machinations were instrumental in creating a new form of Mitnagdic separatism. Having broken away from the heavily Hassidic Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah in the late 1980s, Shakh founded a new Haredi political party (Degel Hatorah), started a new Haredi newspaper, Yated Ne'eman, and created the She'erit Yisrael kashrut authority." 
  13. ^ Bick, E (Winter 2007). "A Clash of Authority: Lay Leaders and Rabbis in the National Religious Party". Israel Affairs. Retrieved July 8, 2010. "In Shas there is a single hierarchy, with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef the unchallenged leader of the party. He sits at the head of the party's Council of Torah Sages (Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah), which is subordinate to his authority." 
  14. ^ a b c Hapardes, September 1941, p. 16

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