It was our great privilege to spend Shabbat Kodesh Parshat BeShalach / Shabbat Shira – in Tzefat Ir HaKodesh. This ancient city was once the foremost center of Torah in the Holy Land: the teachings of the Kabbalah were developed in the hills of Tzfat and Rav Yosef Karo "brought down the light" of halacha, the Shulchan Aruch there.
Shana Alef and Darkaynu talmidim kicked off the Shabbaton Friday morning with a visit to Meron: the Kever of the Rashb"i. Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai lived in this area during the era of the Mishna after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. He was one of the most eminent disciples of Rabbi Akiva, and is attributed with the authorship of the Zohar. In addition, the legal homilies of the Sifre and Mekhilta are attributed to him.
Our new group of MTA talmidim (from South Africa and Australia) met with Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Rav of Alon Shevut and founder Halachic Institute of Yeshivat Har Etzion followed by coffee, cake and a historical presentation in the Gush Etzion Winery.
MTA madrich, Elchanan Juravel led Kabbalat Shabbat, the prayer initiated by the Ariz"l in the shul of the Tzaddik HaLavan, and HaRav Mosheh Lichtenstein spoke before Maariv about being in Tzefat and our connection to Eretz Yisrael.
Special guest R' Eli Weber and Shana Alef talmid, Josh Botwinick delivered Divrei Torah at Friday night dinner. Despite the cold weather, dinner was followed by a moonlit tour of the city. Tzefat is actually referred to as Tzefiya in the Talmud, as in the word "Tzofeh," or "overlook." The moniker is apt, since Tzefat is located at the highest point in the Gallil. In face, Tzefat was one of the towns where fires were built to alert people that the new month or a festival was being welcomed. Upon this strategic location the Crusaders built an impressive citadel, "a fortress of very great strength between Acre and the Sea of Galilee." This is now called Metzudat Tzefat, and it is the very place that Shana Alef talmidim found themselves Friday Night of Shabbat Shira. The absolutely majestic view inspired a shared moment of pure "shira" as talmidim sang lichvod Shabbat kodesh.
After the tour, Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Mosheh Lichtenstein, Rabbi Danny Rhein, Rabbi Moshe Aberman, and R' Eli Weber hosted a tish. Eli Weber and his family are spending a year in Israel and Eli (who is an alumnus from 1981) is learning in the Beit Midrash this year. At the tish, talmidim asked questions regarding Jewish education and challenges facing Modern Orthodoxy.
On Shabbat morning, talmidim had three parallel options for Shacharit and shirat hayam. Some talmidim woke early to daven with the Breslover Chassidim. Others joined Rabbi David Yehuda in Beit Knesset "Noam Yehuda". Noam Yehuda z"l was a talmid of Yeshivat Har Etzion who fell in service of his country. Every year Yeshivat Har Etzion talmidim honor his memory by joining his family Shabbat morning for davening, in the shul bearing his name. The third group davened at the Beirav shul which is a Carlebach style minyan.
Davening was followed by a choice of Siyurim or a Shiur by the Rosh Yeshiva. We would like to thank tour guides Reuven Lavi and Asher Altshul for sharing their knowledge and love of the land of Israel. HaRav Mosheh Lichtenstein spoke about the mitzvah of yishuv eretz yisrael.
Rabbi Rhein and Darkaynu talmid, Brendan Stern delivered Divrei Torah at lunch. Talmidim were invited to the Breslov shul for Mincha. Before davening, HaRav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlit"a, Manhig of Kiryat Breslov in Tzefat praised talmidim for their level of learning and spoke with them about the importance of preparing oneself before learning.
At Seudah Shlishit, Rabbi Aberman spoke of the unique magnetism of the holy city of Tzefat – the city's seeming ability to unify and bring together all kinds of Jews.
On Motzei Shabbat, talmidim enjoyed Pizza from the local "Mystic Pizza" store and had the opportunity to share their Melave Malka with Yeshivat Har Etzion alumnus from 1989, Rabbi Simcha Mirvis, now a Breslover Chasid. Rabbi Mirvis reflected on his experiences in Yeshivat Har Etzion's Beit midrash as and his learning in the Breslover Beit Midrash. Rabbi Mirvis concluded that we definitely share more in common as a community of learners than we differ.
With our warm regards,