Friday, December 4, 2009

Happenings at the Yeshiva

Things have been busy at the yeshiva as the learning continues and students begin preparing for a week of chazara and then finals before the break at the end of December.

This week we had the wonderful opportunity to host a group of lay leaders from Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, a large 1500- family member synagogue where two of our musmachim, Rabbi Adam Scheier and Rabbi Yonah Berman, serve as rabbi and assistant rabbi, respectively. The group heard shiurim from Rabbi Weiss, Rav Nati and myself, and spent time speaking to students over lunch. The group was quite impressed with the yeshiva and the students, and will be sharing their experiences and excitement with their friends.

It was exciting to be able to welcome these guests to our beit midrash, and I would like again to extend an invitation to each of you to come visit our yeshiva and our beit midrash when you are in the area.

Also this week, on Tuesday night, YCT, together with the IRF, sponsored a lecture by Rabbi Chaim Drukman at the HIR. Before the lecture, Rabbi Drukman met with a group of YCT students and a number of IRF rabbis over dinner, and gave a shiur regarding the saying of v'ten tal umatar livrakah, which we begin saying this motzei Shabbat in ma'ariv. He discussed the ruling of the Shulkhan Arukh, following the famous responsum of the Rosh, that even when an entire country needs rain later than Pesach, it still cannot say "vi'ten tal umatar" after Pesach. He explained that this was because the birkat hashanim, the blessing in Shmoneh Esrei where this addition is inserted, is specifically a brakha for Eretz Yisrael, and our tfillot for rain ultimately connect to the needs of Eretz Yisrael. Although we begin asking for rain on a date later than when they begin to ask for it in Eretz Yisrael - we wait until we are in need as well, which has halakhically been set as 60 days after the Julian autumnal equinox - we will, nevertheless, not ask at a time when there is only need in the Diaspora and not in Israel. This is an important reminder of how our tfillot have to always connect to the Land of Israel, and - in our contemporary times - the State of Israel, its people and its needs, and how we must always see ourselves as part of that collective.

After the private dinner, Rav Drukman spoke to a packed house of over 200 people on the state of geirut in Israel, where he is working hard within the Chief Rabbinate to make the process of geirut somewhat more tolerable within that system. The audience turned out in support of him and his efforts, although it is a difficult and uphill battle that he is fighting. May he continue to have strength and be able to make a difference.

We also had the opportunity this last Thursday to welcome to our yeshiva Rabbi Joel Tessler of Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, where our musmach, Rabbi Nissan Antine, serves as assistant rabbi. Rabbi Tessler spoke to the talmidim about the challenges and the blessings of being a rav, and of the opportunities to be present to help people in the critical moments of their lives. He also spoke about the crucially important work that the yeshiva, its students and its musmachim are doing, and how much so many lay leaders and rabbis support us and look towards us as the one hope for a true and vibrant Orthodoxy. It was inspiring to hear him talk, and we are blessed to have such a friend and supporter.

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