Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits
Rabbi Yitzchak BerkovitsPhoto: PR

If my friend deeply upsets me, do I have to speak to him about it?

My acquaintance didn’t come to my simcha, so now I don’t feel like coming to his – is that considered taking revenge?

My cousin just lost his job and is in need for charity but my best friend is in a much more desperate situation – who do I help more?

Is it sheker to write the time of my wedding one hour before it will really start?

Can I give my secular relative food even though I know that he won’t make a bracha?

When we think of relevant Halachos, our minds generally turn to Shabbos, Brachos, Prayer, Kashrus and so on. Halachos relating to Bein Adam Lechaveiro might be looked upon as being straightforward and easy to understand. Rav Yitzchak Berkovits shlit’a, Rosh Yeshiva of Aish HaTorah, and Rosh Kollel of the Jerusalem Kollel and of Linas Hatzedek says that this is a mistake. The laws of Bein Adam L’chaveiro are just as intricate and involved as those of all areas of Torah, and they are in fact more relevant to our daily lives than anything else.

Says Rav Berkovits: “The majority of positive mitzvos that are applicable today when there's no Beis HaMikdash, are Bein Adam L'Chaveiro - between man and man… People think … [that] basically means be a good person. Surprise! They're not just using your seichel and deciding what a nice thing to do is. Until you learn the halachos of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro you don't have a clue as how to behave with other people.”

Now, his close student, and well-known educator Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen, has undertaken the task of translating Bein Adam L’Chaveiro Hebrew sheets of Kollel Linas HaTzedek created by Rav Berkovits into English. Prior to creating this Hilchos Bein Adam L’Chaveiro program (www.HilchosBeinAdamLChaveiro.com), Rabbi Gefen has done the same with Hilchos Shabbos sheets adding numerous cases and opinions of poskim which turned into ‘The Kinyan Hilchos Shabbos’ online program’ drawing talmidim from around the world.

He has now focused his efforts in teaching Bein Adam L’chaveiro in a similar fashion. The program is using the highly successful curriculum of Kollel Linas Hatzedek as a basis for its learning program and this will be part of what students are provided. Kollel Linas Hatzedek is a division of the Center for Jewish Values, a premier international Bein Adam L'Chaveiro resource, whom we thank for giving us permission to use its curriculum.

Here is what some of his students had to say about Rabbi Gefen’s Hilchos Shabbos Program: “The material [that Rabbi Gefen’s programs cover] starts from Gemara and Rishonim and brings it down to the Halacha l'Maaseh. It's great. I feel like I know what's going on. The kids also see what the father is doing and it sets the tone for what's important in the family" says Dr. Eric Leibowitz who is a dentist in Brooklyn, New York.

“Rabbi Gefen ran his program for our Kollel in Johannesburg. We achieved tremendous clarity … both in sugyas and in psak which is what you want when you learn halacha.” Says Rabbi Micha Kaplan who is an avrech in the Maharsha Community Kollel in Johannesburg and the Menahel of the Maharsha Boys High School.

Shlomo Gross who is originally from London and is a lawyer in Yerushalayim shares his experience: “For people like me who are working full-time, this program was ideal. [It] transported my learning to a completely different level.”

Over five hundred past and present participants in our programs come from six continents and range from working Bnei Torah to full-time Kollel avreichim from Yerushalayim and Lakewood, as well as people who are still developing their Gemara skills,” says Rabbi Dr. Yakov Pesah, co-founder and director of the Hilchos Shabbos and Bein Adam L’Chaveiro programs and also a musmach of Rabbi Berkovits. “Our vision is to enable Bnei Torah to learn sugyos and halacha in a structured way and make it doable for any motivated person.”

Topics that are covered in this program include v’ahavta l’recha kemocha, honesty, onaas dvarim (hurtful words), dan lekaf zcus (judging favorably), lifnei iver, tzedaka, halachos of relating to secular Jews, lashon hara, kibud av v’em, returning lost objects, and many other topics.

The program includes a live Zoom shiur once a week and a discussion forum for pilpul chaveirim. In addition, Rabbi Gefen is available for any questions by phone and email. To solidify the material, participants can take tests. Anyone who undertakes the course, will receive a Certificate of Completion signed by Rav Berkovits.

Rabbi Berkovits adds: “The only way that one can really mekayem the mitzvas of bein adam l’chaveiro is to learn them first. And the study of them - learning the sugyos - is absolutely fascinating. Come learn them with us. Come know how to behave. Come appreciate Ribono Shel Olam's beautiful mishpatim. And then become a v'halachto b'drachav. Become like Ribono Shel Olam himself the way he describes Himself in the Torah with all the wonderful middos, keeping the halachos according to the yesodos that the Torah gives us.”

The first shiur of the new cycle of the Hilchos Bein Adam L’Chaveiro program is on October 19th. For more information, tuition, and to apply go to: