This week we began our Fall zman at the yeshiva. We begin our professional classes only in the Fall, so that Elul can be devoted completely to talmud Torah and preparing spiritual for the chagim. Elul had been quite intense - the yeshiva learned HaKones, the sixth perek of Baba Kama, which is somewhat of a distillation of the early five chapters, and covers a range of topics on mamon hamazik, property that damages others. Students also had a bekiut seder in the afternoons during which they covered the second and third perakim of Baba Kama.
There was also a range of machshava and Elul-related classes in the afternoons. I gave a class on Rambam's Iggeret HaShemad, focusing on Rambam's approach to kiddush haShem, and who to deal after the fact with those who did not choose martyrdom. In addition to exploring Rambam's halakhic innovations, we read and analyzed Dr. Chaim Soloveitchik's and Dr. David Hartman's warring articles on this topic, which debate to what degree Rambam was doing policy or halakha with this letter. Rabbi Katz gave a course on the Zohar on Yamim Noraim; Rabbi Love on the Vilna Gaon's commentary on Mishlei; and Rav Nati on the aggadata of mesekhet Yoma.
It was a tremendous month of learning for all the students, and it ended with a wonderful extended Night Seder / Leil Iyyun devote to Yom Kippur and Sukkot. We opened the Night Seder to the larger community and had a great turnout - more than 60 people participated. Many people told me that it was just what they needed to bring them into Yom Kippur.
With the beginning of Fall zman this week, the Yeshiva began its morning Halakha sedarim. Years 1 and 2 are learning hilkhot Shabbat with Rabbi Katz and Rabbi Love, and Years 3 and 4 are learning Hilkhot Kashrut with myself and Rabbi Love. This week we focused on fundamentals of bitul, and covered the topic of bitul yavesh bi'yavesh, nullifying of dry mixtures.
We also began all of our professional classes this week. Joining Michelle Friedman in our Pastoral Counseling classes, is Miriam Schachter, who is supervises and mentors the students in their chaplaincy and pastoral field work, as well as teaching pastoral counseling courses. This is the third year that Miriam is with us, and her wisdom and insight, combined with a loving forthrightness, have been a gift to the yeshiva and its students. We are also thrilled to welcome Rabbi Marc Angel, Rabbi Emeritus of Shearith Israel, and head of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, to our staff. Rabbi Angel will be teaming up with Rabbi Marder in the teaching of homiletics and sermons to 3rd and 4th year students. It is a true blessing to have him on our staff.
Finally, as this year is a machshava year, we began our afternoon Fall machshava classes this week. Rivka Haut and Adena Berkowitz gave their first class in a course on the History of Orthodox Jewish Feminism. Rabbi Nati Helfgot began his two courses as well - one on Sefer Shmuel and the other on Fundamentals of Jewish Thought. Our regular Parsha class, was guest taught this week as Rabbi Shmuel Klitsner - father of our new student Yisrael Klitsner - gave a fascinating shiur on the parallels between the story of Noah's drunkenness and his sons and the story of Lot's drunkenness and his daughters.
It was an intense week of talmud Torah and we look forward to another wonderful year of growing in Torah, in avodat Hashem, and in serving Klal Yisrael.