Friday, September 25, 2009

Happenings at the Yeshiva

As part of our regular learning this zman, we have been continuing our practice of students giving a five-minute dvar halakha after mincha (they are timed for exactly 5 minutes, and they must sit down when their time is up even if they are in mid-sentence!). Last year we covered hilkhot tfillah, following the Shulkhan Arukh in Orakh Hayyim. This year we are doing hilkhot ben adam lichavero, interpersonal and ethical laws. We have so far covered Ahavat Yisrael, Ahavat HaGer, and Hakhnasat Orchim. We will be continuing with other ben adam lichavero topics that do not relate to monetary issues, including revenge, ona'at devarim, lying, tochakha, lifnei iver, lashon hara, kibbud av v'em, kibbud chakhamim, bikkur cholim, and nichum avelim. Next year we will be returning to Orakh Hayyim halakhot, and the year after that addressing ben adam li'chavero in the monetary realm (business ethics, interest, theft, and the like).

There have also been a number of special shiurim and lectures this week. On Monday (Tzom Gedalya), Dr. Michelle Friedman spoke to the entire yeshiva on the challenges of forgiveness - how we as individuals can struggle with whether, when and how to forgive another person for wrongs that they have done against us. On Tuesday, she spoke to a large group of students about the realities of adultery in today's society - addressing the central theme of this zman's mesekhet, Sotah, from a contemporary and pastoral perspective.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Weiss gave a powerful sicha on Unetaneh Tokef and confronting adversity, which was followed by reflection and discussion moderated by Rabbi Blanchard. Immediately after his sicha, Rabbi Weiss left to participate in a rally (which he had played a key role in organizing) of 200 rabbis against Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN. A number of the students participated as well, and they were all arrested (and later released) for this important act of protest and civil disobedience.

The week ended with final shiurim in the morning on mesekhet Sotah and classes in the afternoon on Kohelet, Pachad Yitzchak, and Chassidus on the Yamim Noraim.

We ended our Elul zman powerfully this Thursday night with a mishmar that lasted until 11 PM. There was a full beit midrash with our students and guests from Columbia and Barnard. There were shiurim, chaburot, and chavruta learning throughout the night, focusing on teshuva, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shmini Atzeret. It has been a zman of intense and powerful talmud Torah, and this mishmar was a wonderful way to end the zman and to enter into Shabbat Shuva and Yom Kippur.

Refuah Shleima

Please have in your tfillot Elnatan Strosberg, Elnatan Meir ben Devorah Ze'eyva, nephew to Saul Strosberg (a musmach) and Ruthie Simon (our Director of Student Services) and cousin to Josh Strosberg (a student). Little Elnatan was rushed to the hospital erev Rosh Hashana for emergency brain surgery to remove a tumor that had just been discovered. Thank God, the tumor was benign and it was fully removed, but little Elnatan has yet to regain consciousness, although he is showing some responsiveness. Please keep him in your tfillot.

Also, I know that many of you have been praying for Rachel Minkove, who had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma. Thank God, the transplant was a success and she is in remission. I have spoken to her recently, and she deeply appreciates everyone's support and tfillot.

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