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This past Sunday, photographs began to appear on social media of a sports stadium, the Wells Fargo Center just outside of Philadelphia, full of haredi men—some 27,000 of them. The name of the gathering was Adirei HaTorah, a Hebrew phrase that means “warriors of Torah.” All those people were convened in order to honor a small group of men: hundreds of relatively anonymous adults engaged in full-time Torah study at Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey.

Beth Medrash Govoha is one of the most interesting Jewish educational institutions in the world. It’s the largest yeshiva outside of Israel; thousands of students are enrolled there full time. Most if not all of them are married, which means that there are also thousands of wives, and many thousands of children, amounting to an entire world of Orthodox Judaism.

What does the decision to honor the adults who dedicate themselves to Torah study reveal about the spirit of the Lakewood world ? To answer that question, the rabbi Eli Steinberg, a 10-year veteran of the Lakewood yeshiva, formerly on the professional staff there, joins Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver on a tour of the Adirei HaTorah celebration last Sunday, and of the society built around a school of which that celebration is a fascinating expression. Together, they also ask if there’s something there from which all Jewish communities can learn.

 

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.