Rav Avigdor Miller on The Learner and The Posek

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Q:
Should one aspire to obtain s’micha, rabbinical ordination?

A:
And I say, absolutely not. Because to get s’micha you have to waste a big part of your life on Yoreh De’ah. And I say that it’s a waste of time for you. Because you have to know the fundamentals of Torah, and with Yoreh De’ah, you’re going to give away a part of your life on details. Now, if you’re a posek, you can’t help yourself. You have to know Nat Bar Nat, and all the little details, and details of the details, and the chumros of the acharonim. All of the chumros of the Rama you have to know, which are only minhagim in many cases. And even that, the chumros upon chumros, you have to study, because this posek said this, and you have to be חושש for him.

But when you learn lomdus in the gemara, you can allow yourself the luxury of skipping many little details, and you can learn all the big principles of the gemara, all the big machlokes of the tannaim and amoraim. And if you want to go further, there are shitos and Tosfos and Ramban and so on.

The time that you must give away to learning piskei halachos is a very big expenditure. And therefore, it doesn’t pay to aspire to s’micha unless you have a purpose. If you need to learn s’micha in order to get a better shidduch, fine. However, the truth is that today, if a bachur is a lamdan, then even without s’micha they’ll recognize he’s worthy. Therefore, I don’t advise people to study for s’micha, unless they’re interested in becoming poskim.

TAPE # 810 (November 1990)