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דף הבית / English / Rabbi Benjamin Lau

Rabbi Benjamin Lau

הרב בני לאו | רב קהילת בית כנסת הרמב
Rabbi Benjamin Lau | Congregational Rabbi, Ramban, Jerusalem

Congregational Rabbi, Ramban, Jerusalem

Biography

Rabbi Benjamin (Benny) Lau was born in Tel Aviv in October 1961. He is married to Noah and a father of six.

Experience

Rav Benny is a graduate of the Netiv Meir Bnei Akiva Yeshiva High-school in Jerusalem and of the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva in Alon Shvut.

Rav Benny served a full and regular army term in the Golani unit of the IDF.

He received rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 1993.

Rav Benny has a B.A. in History and Talmud from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Bar Ilan University. His doctoral thesis (under the supervision of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber) was dedicated to the study of Rav Ovadia Josef’s halakhic method.

Rav Benny served as the rabbi of Kibbutz Sa’ad and as a teacher in the religious Kibbutz Yavneh High School for ten years, two of which he spent as a religious emissary in London. He was also a rabbi in the Ein Zurim post – high-school Yeshiva, a part of the religious Kibbutz movement.

In 2000, Rav Benny and his family moved to Jerusalem, where he served as the rabbi of the Himmelfarb and Pelech high-schools.

In 2001, Rav Benny was appointed to the position of rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue community, in Katamon, Jerusalem.

Rav Benny taught in Beit Morasha of Jerusalem and served as the head of its Beit Midrash, together with Rabbi Judah Brandes, from 1998 to 2012. During his tenure he founded and headed the Beit Midrash for Women’s Leadership at Beit Morasha.

In 2005, Rav Benny (in collaboration with “Ma'aglei Tzedek”, a social justice NGO) founded the Beit Midrash for Social Justice at Beit Morasha.

Additionally, Rav Benny lectures widely and serves as an address for many halakhic questions on different topics.

From 2005, Rav Benny has been delivering the “Mibereshit” Friday afternoon television show (hosted by Avi Ratt) on the weekly Torah portion on Israel’s First Television Channel. The show has garnered much positive attention throughout Israel.

In 2013, Rav Benny began his work at the Israel Democracy Institute, as the overseer of the Human Rights and Judaism in Action Project. In this framework, Rav Benny accompanies public policy decisions made by government offices and social organizations in fields related to the project.

Family

Rav Benny Lau is the son of Naftali Lau-Lavie, a Holocaust survivor who also heroically rescued his younger brother, Israel Meir Lau, who went on to become Israel’s Chief Rabbi. The two brothers’ story appears in Naftali Lau-Lavie’s book, “Am Kalavi”, and in Rabbi Israel Lau’s “Do Not Raise a Hand against the Boy”. Rav Benny’s mother, Joan, is a British descendant of the Eisenman-Breuer family, one of the families most influential to the preservation of the legacy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. both in Israel and worldwide.

In 1985, Rav Benny married Noah Cohen of Kibbutz Sa’ad. Noah’s father, Yedidya Cohen z”l, was one of the most prominent figures in religious Zionist circles and one of the leaders of the religious kibbutz movement and of Bnei Akiva. The “Yedidya” Bnei Akiva tribe is named after him.

Immediately following their wedding, Rav Benny and Noah settled in Kibbutz Sa’ad, where they lived until moving to Jerusalem in 2000.

Noah is a teacher of Oral Torah in the religious girls’ high school, Pelech, and a halakhic consultant. She is the coordinator of the Keren Ariel Yoatzot Halacha (halakhic consultants) Program at Nishmat: the Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, is considered one of the leading women in this field and serves as a central address for many women seeking halakhic counsel.

Worldview/Doctrine

Rav Benny is focused on the building of the Ramban community, out of a belief that community is the key and the anchor for the creation of a Jewish society connected to its roots and traditions and acting upon the values of social justice and charity. The community is intended to be a center of activity for both its members and neighbors. Rav Benny therefore invests significant efforts into speaking to the general (religious and non-religious) public, and not specifically to Yeshiva alumnae.

Rav Benny’s educational approach is based on openness and listening, both on the halakhic front, on which Rav Benny takes care to be attuned to the situational nuances of any questioner’s life, and in his method of religious learning, which draws from both historical and Talmudic sources and integrates academic learning tools into the study of traditional texts. All of this in undertaken within the bounds of halakha and with attention to the preservation of the continuum of the Torah tradition. Rav Benny is widely involved in projects of social reform according to halakha and rabbinic tradition, and lectures widely on these topics.

Publications

  • From Maran to Maran [Hebrew]. Yedi’ot Publications, 2005. The book, based on Rav Benny’s doctorate, analyzes Rav Ovadia Jose’fs method of halakhic decision-making. The book was written in cooperation with Rav Ovadia and his disciples and received his blessing/approval before publication.
  • The Sages [Hebrew], a series published by Beit Morasha, the Elinar Library and Yedi’ot. The series presents an analysis of Tannaitic sages and their worldviews according to the mishnayot of Tractate Avot, and attempts to read these worldviews as guidelines for modern-day living. The first volume, on The Second Temple Period, was published in 2006. The second, From Yavneh to the Bar Kokhva Revolt, was published in 2007. The third, The Galilean Period, saw light in 208; and the fourth, From the Mishna to the Talmud, in 2011.
  • The Sages [English] – an English translation of the Hebrew series. As of 2013, the first three volumes have been translated.
  • Etnachta – Readings in the Weekly Portion [Hebrew], 2 volumes. An edited version of Rav Benny’s weekly column in the “Ha’aretz” newspaper, published by Yedi’ot in 2009.
  • Jeremiah – the Fate of a Prophet [Hebrew]. Yedi’ot, 2010.
  • Jeremiah – the Fate of a Prophet [English]. An English translation of the Hebrew book.
  • Esther – Readings in the Book of Esther [Hebrew]. A collection of historical sources pertaining to the Book of Esther and a reading of the book according to them Yedi’ot, 2011.
  • Isaiah – Like Flying Birds [Hebrew]. Co-authored with Rav Yoel Bin-Nun. Yedi’ot, 2013.
  • Hundreds of articles on various topics, all available on the Ramban Community’s website.