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!