Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yisrael Meir HaKohen

Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yisrael Meir HaKohen

Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yisrael Meir HaKohen, also known as Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim: Rabbinical Seminary of America (RSA), and often referred to as just Chofetz Chaim (חָפֵץ חַיִּים) is a major Orthodox yeshiva in the United States based in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York. It is primarily an American, Lithuanian-style Talmudic yeshiva.

Rabbinical Seminary of America.jpg

The yeshiva is named in memory of Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, who was known as the Chafetz Chaim (חָפֵץ חַיִּים) after the name of his book with the same title. Chafetz Chaim means "Seeker/Desire [of] Life" in Hebrew.

The yeshiva was established in 1933 by Rabbi Dovid Leibowitz, a disciple of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel ("The Alter of Slabodka"). Rabbi Dovid Leibowitz also studied under Rabbi Naftoli Trop and the Chofetz Chaim in the Raduń Yeshiva. Both of these yeshivas were in Lithuania. However, for a time Radin was governed by the Polish.

After its founder's death in December 1941, the yeshivah was headed and developed by his son, Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz (d. April 15, 2008). Today, it is led by two of Rabbi Henoch's close disciples, Rabbi Dovid Harris and Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt. [1]

RSA also has a branch in the Sanhedria Murchevet section of Jerusalem, and many affiliates located throughout North America and beyond.

An Alumni website is located at



The yeshiva was established in 1933 following a dispute between Rabbi Dovid Leibowitz and the administration of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. The cause of the dispute is not known. At the time, Rabbi Leibowitz taught the "top shiur," or most prestigious class, at Torah Vodaas, and when he quit to create his own yeshiva most of his students left with him. The new yeshiva was named for his great uncle Yisroel Meir Kagan, who had died that year.

The Yeshiva's first building was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; later it relocated to Forest Hills, Queens, and more recently, to Kew Gardens Hills, Queens.

Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim houses a boys' yeshiva high school, an undergraduate yeshiva, and a rabbinical school that grants ordination. Rabbinical students at Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva often spend a decade or more at the Yeshiva, studying a traditional yeshiva curriculum focusing on Talmud, Mussar ("ethics"), and Halakha ("Jewish law").


There are four primary characteristics of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim of Queens that distinguish it from other Yeshivos:

  1. An emphasis upon unfolding the latent processes of reasoning within the steps of the Talmudic sugya ("section") being studied. The methodology places emphasis on the notion that the initial assumptions of the Talmud must be highly rigorous, and that the movement between the initial thought process (known as the hava aminah) of the Talmudic sugya to the final thought process (known as the maskana) must be fully unfolded and understood.
  2. An approach to ethical and Biblical texts and its commentaries that emphasizes a rigor that other yeshivas of this genre generally accord to Halakhic or Talmudic texts alone. The yeshiva promotes the idea that ideally a deduction from these texts should be muchrach meaning "logically and textually compelling." This approach yields a convincing discourse on Torah that is "well-grounded".
  3. The study of Mussar ("ethics"), both by attending and reviewing semiweekly lectures (that are presented in the well-grounded method described above) and through daily individual study of Mussar texts, is strongly emphasized. Rabbi Dovid Leibowitz founded the Chofetz Chaim yeshiva in the footsteps of his rebbe, the Alter of Slabodka, and Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, the founder of the Mussar movement. Through the study of mussar one may hope, over many years, to improve character traits by increasing self-awareness and self-control. Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz would continually remind his students that as important as it is to become a lamden ("analytical scholar") and a great pedagogue, it is even more important to become a mentch ("a good human being").
  4. An emphasis on propagating the ideals and values of Judaism. Upon completion of a rigorous term of study, students are encouraged to seek employment in the field of Jewish education, often launching their own educational institutions themselves or with a partner. Hundreds (possibly thousands) of alumni have gone on to become religious instructors, synagogue rabbis, education and outreach coordinators, community leaders, and organizational officials.

Affiliates and branches

  • The Mesivta of Roslyn also known as the Joseph Grunberg Torah Academy or Yeshiva Ateres Yitchok opened in 2000 with a small student group. In June 2010 it ended its final school year and closed its doors[2] due to mounting financial issues.

Affiliates and branches by state


See also

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