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One often sees that individuals' have smicha from R' Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. The smicha exams are typically considered more theoretical than that of the Israeli rabbinate, which requires more memorization. Nonetheless, it would appear from this discussion that individuals from the States can take and pass his exam on issur v'heter by paper exam alone.

Is this the case? Is a formal learning program (e.g., in yeshiva) required for this smicha? Also, does that discussion list his correct exam? It's the only such source I could find online of the exam... it appears from this prep book advertisement that R' Goldberg also gives smicha for Niddah as well as Issur v'Heter? How about Shabbat? Are there available exams for these?

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Shalom u'Vracha,

Thanks for your interest in Sefer Iyunei Deah/Procedure for semicah by R. Z.N. Goldberg, shlita.

Below is a standard response I prepared based on many people's questions. Not everything below may pertain to you, but hopefully your questions will be among those addressed. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in further information.

I know that people who live outside of Israel do seek and receive semicha from the Rav.

He generally requires at least one letter of recommendation from an established rabbi such as a Kehilla Rav, Rosh Yeshiva or Rosh Kollel saying, for example, that he knows the candidate, for how long and in what context while also attesting to the candidate's experience and seriousness in learning as well as his intentions for requesting the semicha and his plans for the future.

Since getting semicha through him involves both a written and oral bachina, people may fax, mail or otherwise deliver the written bachina ahead of a planned visit to Jerusalem in order to allow time for the Rav to review it before meeting him for the oral bachina.

The nature of the oral bachina depends on a person's stated purpose for wanting the semicha. For one who intends to go into chinuch or kiruv, the oral generally covers only some of the main points covered in the written. For those who are testing toward hora'ah and poskening, the oral is significantly more thorough and rigorous.

As far as I know, one must test on an entire topic at once - like all of Isur v'Heter - melicha, basar b'chalav and ta'aroves - together.

One planning a longer visit might do both (submit the written and make an appointment for the oral) while here. Perhaps there are other ways of doing it as well.

It is possible to contact him directly and speak to him in either Yiddish or Hebrew in order to finalize the procedure for your specific case.

For the most up-to-date details regarding R. Goldberg's bachinos or other questions, you can call his home at 02 538 3162. His address is Elkana 12.

B'hatzlacha.

  • 2
    Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ulman, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for supplying this information! I hope you'll look around the site and find other material of interest, perhaps including our 15 other questions about semicha. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. – Isaac Moses May 8 '13 at 13:41
  • shalom, received semicha Rabbi Leibele Landsmann, the Yeshiva pirchei Shoshanim. My question is if I can take exam to receive ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, as could contact with Rabbi Zalman? Rabbi Yochanan – user11164 Oct 6 '15 at 3:19
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I am a personal Talmid Of Rav Goldberg Shlit"a. I have been attending his Shiurim for over 8 years and had the pleasure of driving him over a 4 year period. He has also attended all of my family simchas (e.g. bris, wedding). We are very close. I have semicha from him as well, yet never advertised it.

Readers should be aware that his semicha means absolutley nothing in any Jewish world. That is not to denounce Rav Goldberg's stature. He is, in my eyes, the Gadol Hador and we're in touch on a day to day basis. It's just that his semicha has become a real circus. There are those who don't even take the test; They present him with a recommendation from any rabbi that they learn seriously and then receive semicha. There is no oral test. These tests are given to students at their own will and many of them just copy out of other summary books.

I am a witness to the fact that Rav Zalman Nechemia never checks the tests unless someone insists on it. (I saw this on at least 15 occasions.)

The semicha used to be more serious but that's another issue and not for this forum. One might ask why would Rav Goldberg do such a thing? We've had long conversations about the issue and Rav Goldberg told me that from what he understands people just need some kind of certificate to teach or get a job but he never ever expects students to give psak or act as rabbis.

Bottom line: it does not make anyone a proper rabbi. I also mentioned to him that there are those that misuse his semicha and he keeps telling me that he tries and should try to be more careful; of course any semicha can be used in dishonest ways. However there are individuals who purposely inquire about his semicha so they can pretend to be rabbis. I myself am in the middle of finishing the Israeli Rabbanut Semicha. There is no question that it is real and very serious: 6 tests, 6 hours apiece and each test has at least 10 S.A. questions.

My post is not here to hurt anyone, just for people to be more careful and put things into proportion. In the end the most important thing is that Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg's image is not damaged. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years the semicha circus has not done my Rebbe any good or Am Yisrael any good.

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    When and where does he give shiurim? Are they still happening? – Yehoshua Oct 29 '16 at 18:21
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I live in the U.S. and have Semicha from R' Zalman Nechemia, so I feel qualified to share my experiences. I will preface that Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman was a tremendous help in providing information and assistance in terms of preparation and getting in to a meeting with the Rav. His Sefer on Basar v'Chalav and Hilchos Niddah, Iyunei De'ah, is built around R' Goldberg's tests, and goes through the complete Sugyos far beyond what the test requires. Highly recommended for preparing for the test, as well as for thorough looks at some of the main Sugyos in Basar v'Chalav and Niddah. He also provides the official Semicha tests for Niddah and Basar v'Chalav right on his website.

In terms of the actual Semicha test, I was required to come in person to meet with the Rav, after sending in my written test (72 questions on Basar v'Chalav, or 28 on Niddah. He has tests on other subjects available upon request, but you will probably need to have someone pick them up from his house). I happened to be visiting Eretz Yisrael at the time, so that was convenient enough. We met for around 20 minutes, during which he took a cursory look at my written test, and asked me a few questions about Hilchos Niddah. He also asked me whether I attended Chovevei Torah, since that is apparently a big impediment to receiving his Semicha. He did require sufficient "haskamos" (I brought two letters) from recognized Rabbi's, vouching on your Torah commitment and grasp of the material. He also asks what you intend to do with your Semicha (i.e. to Pasken, or just to be called a Rabbi for educational purposes etc.). I have heard from other Musmachim that if you tell him you intend to Pasken, he will question you more thoroughly. At that point he takes out the standardized Semicha document, and fills in the name, date and subject material you were tested on, then signs it and you're on your way.

I am sure everyone has a different experience with him, but that was mine.

  • I just updated some dead links on your answer. If you think dead links on our website negatively affect user experience, check out this feature request, and upvote (if you think it is a good idea) and comment: judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3816/… – Menachem Apr 5 '18 at 14:34
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As I understand it from friends who have received this ordination, it is the case that non-Israelis who want to can in fact take the exam and send it in. It will be graded, and the test-taker ordained if he passes. I am not sure what is done to prevent the fraud of having someone take the exam for you.

In order to pass the exam, obviously one must have learned the material. However, I do not believe that yeshiva attendance is required, given that a friend who studied with Pirchei Shoshanim took the exam or is planning to do so.

I don't know if the test there is the correct one or if other exams are available online.

  • Cheating on a test to get Rabbinic Smicha, sounds like you get an extra share in the world to come for that one. An additional question is that if this is how the ordination is done, is there a initial interview? Does he keep tabs to make sure these new Rabbi's are Yiras Shamoyim and also holding to the proper Torah standards? – user1292 Sep 7 '12 at 19:11
  • I've heard that to get the test you have to submit a letter of recommendation from a rabbi/yeshiva you've studied under/in. – Double AA Sep 7 '12 at 19:20
  • Do you know how to get a hold of his tests? – Shmuel Brin Sep 7 '12 at 21:40

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