In the inaugural program of the most recent initiative of OU Kosher in the field of kashrut education, senior rabbis from OU Kosher welcomed the Gaon HaRav Asher Weiss, Shlita, who delivered a shiur at OU headquarters in New York that encompassed a broad overview of the halachic principles that relate to the consumption of medications and non-food items. The audience, all of whom are themselves experts on kosher law, heard Rav Weiss expound on numerous sources from a wide range of rabbinic authorities.
Rav Weiss, based in Israel, is Posek for Shaarei Tzedek Hospital; Av Bais Din of Darchei Horoah; Rosh Yeshiva of Darchei Torah and Rosh Kollel of Minchas Asher, all in Jerusalem.
The new initiative is the Harry H. Beren ASK OUTREACH program, which takes its place among the numerous OU kosher education programs made possible by a grant from the Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood, NJ. They include the Harry H. Beren ASK OU8 Kosher Training and Internship Programs; the Harry H. Beren ASK OU Channel on OU Radio, www.ouradio.org; the Harry H. Beren ASK OU Nikkur Seminar; the Harry H. Beren VISIT OU program for Jewish Youth; the Harry H. Beren Community Lecture Series; and the Harry H. Beren Three-Day ASK OU Los Angeles Halachic Adventure. All of the programs are under the supervision of Rabbi Yosef Grossman, OU Kosher Director of Kashrut Education, and each has its own distinct audience.
The distinct audience for ASK OUTREACH is not the usual OU constituency; that is why the play on the word “OUTREACH” is key to understanding why the program was created. According to Rabbi Grossman, “The purpose of this initiative is to bring the highly successful ASK OU programs to the sites of yeshivot and kollelim and to build bridges to, and have a relationship with Bnei Torah and the yeshiva world, which would be mutually beneficial. The OU would like to bring about more interaction between its rabbonim and poskim and Roshei HaYeshiva. Rav Weiss is the first Rosh HaYeshiva to address us a part of this new initiative, which spans the range of the yeshiva world. In this case, Rav Weiss came to OU headquarters for his shiur; in other cases, we will go to the yeshiva or kollel to strengthen our ties with the institution.”
“Rav Weiss is a very special person,” declared Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, in his introduction. “He is not only a great Talmud chacham. He communicates to a wide range of the Jewish community. He knows that the joy of Torah must be a shared experience, and he has shared it with so many.”
Rav Weiss grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, then moved to Boro Park in Brooklyn before making aliyah prior to his Bar Mitzvah. When Rabbi Genack declared that Rav Weiss speaks many languages, he wasn’t referring merely to English, Hebrew and Yiddish, but to the Rav’s “ability to speak to the different types of Jews there are, bringing them closer to the Torah and the Almighty.”
The program was recorded and sent to OU Kosher rabbinic field representatives across the world, and is expected to be made available to the general public in the near future on the ASK OU Channel on www.ouradio.org. In his belief that Torah should be transmitted in the language people understand best, Rav Weiss delivered his shiur in English, rather than his usual Hebrew or Yiddish, Rabbi Grossman explained, “so that the worldwide OU family could clearly understand the Torah Rav Weiss was transmitting to them.”
“Rav Weiss’ dynamic and even electrifying shiur was a wonderful way of initiating the ASK OUTREACH initiative,” Rabbi Grossman said. “We look forward to more opportunities to interact with the whole range of Torah institutions and their Roshei HaYeshiva and other leaders.”