His favorite self-description these days is "spiritual artist."
I received Ordination many years ago from a well-regarded Orthodox institution in New York. Contrary to some rumors, that Ordination was never revoked. I retain a letter on my computer in which I wrote the president of the institution stating that our paths had parted in such a significant way that I no longer wished to hold Ordination from them.
I also passed a several-hour oral exam with one of the great Rabbinic minds of Israel today, representing the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and authorizing me to be a rabbi?particularly what is termed a Rav Yishuv. I retain that document in my records as well.
I have been asked whether I had, or have, Ordination from Reb Zalman Schachter. I retain in my records a document that Reb Zalman wrote for me several years ago. The document is not an Ordination, but rather an of my previous Ordination from the Orthodox institution mentioned above. When I returned that Ordination in 2004, Reb Zalman’s letter, which was based on my first Ordination, ceased to be valid. I have never held, nor do I seek, independent Ordination from Reb Zalman.
I am not a student of Reb Zalman’s nor have I ever been. I have in some very important ways benefited from his work, and I have publically and privately thanked him for all this. I appreciate and respect some important contributions that he made to Jewish teaching.
I have tried in many ways, large and small, to be of service to Reb Zalman and have sought a particular kind of relationship with him. I have failed in this respect. I have not been in substantive contact with Reb Zalman since March of 2006, other than a private exchange of two e-mails.
I feel very connected to a close friend and chevruta, Rabbi Gershon Winkler. Reb Gershon, with grace and dignity, gave me the transmission of his lineage’s rabbinic ordination, as a friend. This Ordination may be found here in both English and Hebrew.
I feel connected to the same soul root as Reb Gershon. His primary ordaining teacher was Rav Ben Zion Bruk of Jerusalem, a great Master of Mussar, whom I feel connected to both through Rabbi Hillel Goldberg’s transmission of his Torah and through Reb Gershon. At this time, I am working with Reb Gershon on a major work, which we hope will serve as a kind of Spiritual Code of Jewish Law for those who will seek its counsel.
Regarding academia: Virtually everything I have learned has been in the classic auto didactic manner. However, my B.A. is from Edison College (a completely reputable joke of a school, which gives credit for non-academic work). I studied for one semester at Yeshiva University and one semester at Queens College. Neither worked for me. Back then, I wanted to study only what I wanted to study. So, I followed my heart and dropped out. I only received my degree from Edison later on so my mom would be happy. Later in life, I earned a Master’s degree in Jewish Philosophy from Bar Illan University. And still later, I wrote a doctoral dissertation under the direction of Professor Moshe Idel and Professor Norman Solomon at Oxford University. My doctoral dissertation was approved by Oxford University on April 2, 2008.