Monday, March 21, 2016

Dear fellow bogrim,

I hope all is well with you.

My previous recaps of yeshiva events got me some positive feedback, so I decided to give an unofficial recap of Shabbat Zachor and some recent yeshiva events.

First, I want to make sure that you all received the latest edition of the Etzion Update.  If you did not receive it, a) you can read it here, and b) please email me with your correct mailing address.

Second, the Gush Dinner in New York is fast approaching.  The dinner will take place on Wednesday, April 13th at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  At 6:15 PM there will be a program in memory of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l.  It would be a very worthwhile tribute to Moreinu to have as many alumni as possible already at that part of the event.  In order to encourage mass participation of alumni in this event, the yeshiva is flying in Rosh Yeshiva Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein, Rosh Yeshiva Rav Baruch Gigi, and Rabbi Daniel Rhein, Mashgiach Ruchani of the Overseas Program, to greet alumni and friends.  Please sign up to attend the dinner.  In addition, if you are available to help contact your fellow classmates to encourage their attendance, please be in touch with Emily Dauber from the NY office.

I emphasize: Rabbi Rhein is coming to the dinner and would love to see you.

Now on to the recap…

1) On Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet, the yeshiva began Masekhet Sukka, the masekhet we will be learning during Zman Kayitz.  Shiur Peticha was given by Rav Medan.  On top of his mekorot sheet the following disclaimer appeared:
השיעור ביום ב' בשעה 11.00 עד 12.30. משעה זו עד 1.00 יגיב מו"ר הרב יואל בן נון, יפרוך את דבריי ויאמר את ההבנה הנכונה.
(In short: after Rav Medan’s shiur, his rebbe, Rav Yoel Bin-Nun, will give the rebuttal and the correct answers to the issues raised in the shiur).

It was viewed by all in attendance as a wonderful example of kevod ha-rav.

The shiur included an analysis of this famous story from Rav Amital zt”l:

Moshe Dayan came to visit the Yeshiva one Sukkot.  During the visit he and Rav Amital sat down in the Sukkah.  Moshe Dayan asked Rav Amital whether a Sukka is similar to a Shul or a home.  When Rav Amital replied that it is similar to a home Moshe Dayan promptly removed his kippa.

2) As usual, a beautiful, fun, and inspiring Shabbat Zachor took place in Yeshiva.  The yeshiva was packed with over 100 visiting alumni.

Friday night featured tefilla with a choir, as has been the tradition for over 20 years.  This year the choir was led by Doron Chitiz, and the impression made on the packed Beit Medrash was that it was run professionally well, leading to a leibedig and ruach-filled tefilla. As he has done for the last 3 years, Rav Medan ended the tefilla Friday night by leading the choir in Adon Olam.

Late Friday night, the yeshiva ramim gathered in the chadar ochel for a tish.  The tish featured Torah and Purim Torah from many of the Ramim, as well as a lot of jokes, singing, and dancing.

Per a Yeshiva tradition of longer than 30 years, on Shabbat morning the students auctioned off the aliyot and various kibbudim throughout the day.  This included Havdala, which the choir bought.  See the video of their beautiful havdala here.

Among the kiddubim, Shana bet honored new Ra”m Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb with an aliya, and they danced him to the aliya while he was riding a (cart converted into a) throne.

The auction also included Mincha.

For about the last ten years, the British students in Yeshiva have chipped in to buy Mincha, and they take advantage of the control they have to recite a prayer for the Queen as well as sing many tunes they sing in their shuls.

During the week leading up to Shabbat Zachor there were intense plans put in place trying to stop this from happening.  Signs were put up around yeshiva, including this pashkevil (if it doesn’t show up in your email it is attached):

Nonetheless, the British students still managed a winning bid of 3600 shekel and continued their tradition.

This year the students also auctioned off a chance to go jogging or biking with Rav Medan.  The auction managed to raise over 17000 shekel for the interest-free loan gmach run by Rav Shlomo Brin.

The chadar ochel was decorated by shiur aleph students.  In addition to streamers and balloons, there were many memes and funny signs hung up around the chadar ochel.  

3) The special Purim edition of Daf Kesher came out.  It of course included many quotes from the Ramim (taken out of context).  Here is a small sampling (translated) of 3 quotes by Rav Ezra Bick:

“The Ritva says that anyone who marries a woman acquires a master for himself.  I would have liked to meet the Ritva’s wife.”

“I never say an explanation of the Gemara that I can’t pin on someone whose name is Roshei Teivot, or minimally the Shita Mekubetzet.”

“The Nimukei Yosef was the last of the lamdanim in Spain.  I guess after that they must’ve learned Tanakh”

Wishing you all a joyous Purim,

Yonatan Shai Freedman

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Yeshivat Har Etzion - Training Community Rabbis

Yeshivat Har Etzion's Semicha Program emphasizes Gemara and Halacha and trains its students for the Israeli Rabbanut Semicha exams. Semicha candidates must pass a series of six written tests on Shabbat, Marriage, Family purity and Mikvaot, Kashrut, and Aveilut. 

In Yeshivat Har Etzion, the training of Community Rabbis goes beyond the daled amot of the Beit Midrash. Community Rabbis are charged with many responsiblities in multiple fields.
Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon's Merkaz Halacha works within Yeshivat Har Etzion to assist in giving Rabbi's-in-training practical halachic issues.  
Yonatan Shai Freedman is studying for Rabbanut smicha in The Yeshiva.  

Yonatan Shai Freedman with Shiur Alef talmidim in The Gush Beit Midrash

He attends Rav Rimon’s “shiur ba-kehilla,” a weekly shiur discussing community shaylahs and how to deal with them.  Kashrut Supervision is an important contribution of a Community Rabbi and Yonatan Shai  travelled with Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon to the chicken slaughterhouse in Or Yehuda.  

The rabbis saw the practical side of shechita, learned firsthand the positives and negatives of that particular slaughterhouse, and even got trained on how to check shechita knives. 
Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon with the
Community Rav of  Of Yehuda who met the group.
Yonatan Shai Freedman, "I learned that there are numerous issues at play in a slaughterhouse, and that the differences between the regular hashgachot vs. the mehadrin or badatz are vast. Am Yisrael really relies on knowledgable rabbanim and shochetim who are yarei Shamayim."
Rv Yosef Zvi Rimon fourth from right
Yonatan Shai Freedman second from right
Bein Kotlei HaYeshiva
Yeshivat Har Etzion 
Gush Etzion 
July 2014/Tamuz 5774

Sneak Preview: Sefer Shemot
Ari Bar-Shain

This Dvar Torah  is based on a Sicha given by Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Baruch Gigi shlita last year.

ספר שמות is crammed with exciting episodes. If one were to write a preview of the book it would be incumbent upon them to include life-threatening decrees, Heavenly plagues, liberation, flaming revelation and the construction of a transportable Divine home.

When the רמב"ן takes his stab at introducing the volume, he makes a puzzling remark.
ונתייחד ספר ואלה שמות בענין הגלות הראשון הנגזר בפירוש ובגאולה ממנו.”

ספר שמות deals with גלות and גאולה from this גלות. This is consistent with what we know from the first four פרשיות of the ספר. בני ישראל are enslaved, given painstaking labor, and liberated by ה'. But why would the רמב"ן emphasize such an all-encompassing purpose if it seemingly leaves out seven additional פרשיות? After פרשת בשלח we’re done with מצרים. בני ישראל were taken out of servitude and actively praised God for His miraculous method of doing so. The rest of the ספר occurs entirely in the מדבר.

In שמות ו:ו-ז we see the famous ארבע לשונות גאולה:
ו  לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲנִי ה', וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם, וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם; וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה, וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים.
ז  וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם לִי לְעָם, וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹקים; וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי אֲנִי ה' אֱלֹקיכֶם, הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם, מִתַּחַת סִבְלוֹת מִצְרָיִם.
The first two talk about release and salvation from physical enslavement. The last two introduce a second aspect to גאולה that helps answer our question. Part of גאולה is being taken as a nation and accepting a mission. מתן תורה is an essential extension of the redemption process. If we lack purpose and don’t have a national undertaking, then we aren’t really free.

Then, the question arises, what’s the difference between slavery to פרעה and slavery to ה'? Before we engaged in strenuous work for the מצרים and now we toil over God’s commandments?

ר' יהודה הלוי helps us distinguish between the two types of bondage. As opposed to acting according to the will of your master as you did in מצרים, ".עבד ה' הוא לבדו חפשי" When ה' gives us מצוות they are for our good. דברים ו:כד spells this out:
כד  וַיְצַוֵּנוּ יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-כָּל-הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה, לְיִרְאָה, אֶת-ה' אֱלֹקינוּ--לְטוֹב לָנוּ כָּל-הַיָּמִים, לְחַיֹּתֵנוּ כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה.
24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
When we are עבדי ה' we help ourselves. This isn’t to say the job is easy-it’s still difficult to worship ה'-we just have to understand that it is for our good.

Our query on the רמב"ן still lingers. We slightly solved our conundrum as what we’ve said explains how פרשיות יתרו ומשפטים fit into the greater scheme of things, but we are still left with five פרשיות that thematically don’t fit!

To find our answer we can look within the רמב"ן’s words. As we know, the ensuing פרשיות detail various aspects of the משכן. The רמב"ן claims that the משכן is a recapitulation of מעמד הר סיני and מתן תורה. ה' wants the גילוי שכינה to be perpetuated within עם ישראל. “ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם,” after assembling the משכן, ה' won’t dwell בתוכו, within the משכן, rather he will dwell בתוכם, amongst בני ישראל.

גאולה is not just about leaving מצרים and מתן תורה doesn’t suffice either, for we also need ה'’s Presence within our camp. שמות is not a book of Exodus, of exiting somewhere. The English name is extremely flawed. Rather it is a ספר of entering. A book in which we enter our pact with ה' and are charged with our mission. This explains how each and every פרשה fits with the רמב"ן’s statement.

ספר בראשית told us how to live our lives. ספר שמות tells us how to live our lives as עם ישראל. Let us internalize this message of being עבדי ה' and recognizing our national purpose as we begin the next chapter of the תורה.

שבת שלום!