Did Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally receive semicha? From whom? I recall reading that he studied a great deal with his father, and that his first responsum was written "at his father's orders."

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    He gave s'micha. Does that not mean he had it? (I know we don't have the real s'micha nowadays, but I seem to think the same only-one-who-has-it-can-give-it rule is in use for what we call s'micha. I could be totally wrong, though.)
    – msh210
    Dec 6, 2011 at 19:49
  • @msh210, that's what makes it all the more curious. Though if his father ordered him to write responsa that's clearly a license to render halachic decisions; just wondering if they ever put something in paper as we're used to.
    – Shalom
    Dec 6, 2011 at 19:56
  • Are you asking whether someone gave him Semichah as (LeHavdil) a degree/certificate? Or are you asking whether someone gave him authority in the eyes of Halachah to render Pesak?
    – Seth J
    Dec 6, 2011 at 20:10
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    How is this "Judaism not Jews"??? Mar 6, 2018 at 5:21

1 Answer 1


He (Rav Moshe) studied with his father and also in yeshivas located in Slutsk, Shklov and Amstislav, before being appointed rabbi of Lubań where he served for sixteen years. (Wikipedia)

He (Rav Moshe)joined the yeshiva of R' Isser Zalman Meltzer in Slutzk at the age of twelve, where he also learned under the tutelage of HaRav Pesach Pruskin, zt"l. When the latter opened his own yeshiva in Shklov, R' Moshe went with him and recounted that at the grand opening ceremony of the new yeshiva, R' Isser Zalman himself was present. Dei'ah veDibur

There seems to be no lack of Rabbis that would have/could have given Reb Moshe smicha aside from his father, however I was unable to find an establishment that would have given him smicha, however I am not even sure how many establishments of that nature existed during his early years.

  • When Pruskin sought to break away from Slutzk and start his own yeshiva, the dispute was adjudicated by R' Dovid Feinstein of Uzda (R' Moshe's father), who authorized a certain number of Slutzk students to join the new yeshiva.
    – Shalom
    Dec 7, 2011 at 7:46
  • R' Moshe's older brother had died in his college-age years while studying away from home; hence Moshe was sent to various yeshivas as a younger teen, but spent his next years learning with his father. Regardless of brilliance, it's incredibly rare to ordain someone less than 18 or so, just as a matter of maturity. He could have gone around to someone for an individual semicha in his late teens or early 20s (he received a personal blessing from the Chofetz Chaim for instance), but I'm not aware that he did. Then again he was hastily given a pulpit to dodge the Russian draft.
    – Shalom
    Dec 7, 2011 at 7:56
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    I heard that the Chafetz Chayim didn't receive Semikhah until he was more than halfway finished with his Mishnah Berurah. Can anyone verify? Jan 10, 2012 at 17:03
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    @AdamMosheh I heard he only received it (through a telegram from R' Chaim Brisker) when he needed it for a passport late in his life. Mar 23, 2012 at 3:01
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    @AdamMosheh I believe it was R' Chaim Ozer Grozinski, who was a posek; not R' Chaim Brisker, who was a theoretician (and deferred to the town dayan R' Simcha Reiger for practical psak.)
    – Shalom
    Mar 23, 2012 at 17:48

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