As stated this is frm the perspective of a baal teshuvah or a non yeshivah bachor.

Can someone who has NOT attended a prominent yeshivah but learns on his own obtain a smicha? If so what areas should/could he focus on, and how would he go about preparing for an exam if one is given. This is with understanding that there are different levels of Smicah.

  • One could get smicha from being proficient in countless areas, kind of like a thesis in college. It depends on what course you take.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 16:46
  • 5
    Possible duplicate of Earning semichah with just a test Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 17:18
  • 1
    @RobertColumbia That asks for programs. This asks for curriculum. The questions overlap but aren't identical
    – b a
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is possible.

He should be fluent in the following areas:

  • the fundamentals of Judaism

  • the essentials of Talmudic learning and ability to arrive at the conclusion of a sugya(section of Talmud)

  • the following sections of the Shulchan Aruch: hilchot shabbat, yamim tovim and mo'adim, daily prayers and the synagogue, niddah, ketamim, tevila, brit mila, gerut, kashrut, issur v'heter, chupa v'kiddushin(additional subjects include mikva'ot, eruvin, gittin, choshen mishpat to be a dayan; these are not required to be a Rabbi of a congregation in many places).

Different exams will require knowledge of the underlying material by studying the Beit Yosef and the opinions of rishonim and acharonim on the subject to demonstrate a firm grasp and understanding of the material.

Attaining semicha is a valuable goal even if one doesn't wish to enter the rabbinate as it will prepare them to be a better Jew and help others fulfill their obligations.

Another requisite is that one is a practicing Jew in good faith that is aware of the weight of the role of being a Rabbi that will guide others on the straight path of emet v'tzedek without concern for personal respect, honor, or financial gain. Some semicha programs are conducted on a personal basis to eliminate this issue and may not require a written exam.

I'm not a Rabbi and this is based on my experience and firsthand knowledge with the process at the Midrash Sepharadi and the Rabbinate in Jerusalem.

  • One can get smicha for learning to slaughter chickens alone
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 17:19
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    @Shmuel Then they're a shochet; not a rabbi. Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 18:29
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    Ah but they get the title Rabbi!
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 18:30
  • @Shmu do they? How do you know?
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:18
  • 1
    It depends on the program, I know a guy that did that years ago @DoubleAA
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:38

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