Learning continued full-force this week, with students delving into to their learning of Gemara and Halakha. Third- and fourth-year students completed their learning of siddur kiddushin on Monday, and began learning hilkhot Aveilut with Rabbi Love on Tuesday. They will be learning these halakhot through the end of the year, and in parallel taking pastoral classes on grief, death and mourning, and bereavement. They will also be taking practicum courses on doing a taharah and delivering eulogies, and next week will be spending a full afternoon at Riverside chapel, learning about all aspects of the funeral and burial. Students will emerge not only fully knowledgeable in the halakha, but also fully prepared to support and guide families during this difficult time.
On Wednesday, Yom HaZikaron, we continued our tradition of setting aside a table, draped with the Israeli flag, on which stood a lit yahrtzeit candle. Students took turns learning at that table, doing a "guarding of the lamp", that was lit in memory of all those who gave their lives to protect the State of Israel and the people of Israel. After mincha, Ari Weber (YCT 2015) spoke movingly about the role of silence in our tradition, and different types of silence. At the end of his talk, and in keeping in the tradition of the State of Israel, the yeshiva observed a moment of silence in memory of the fallen.
This mournful period gave way to the celebrations on the following day, Thursday. We began the day with a joyous davening. The Hallel was uplifting and the entire yeshiva was singing along with our wonderful shaliach tzibbur, Sam Klein (YCT 2015). Davening concluded with the reading of the Haftorah, and the prayers for the Tzahal and the State of Israel, and, finally, the singing of HaTikvah.
As our speaker for the day, we were blessed to have Rabbi Yitz Greenberg address the students on, first, the responsibility to see the hand of God in history, and second, the responsibility to take power and use it responsibly. He also talked to students about what it means to be a rabbi of a congregation, and how to strive to both inspire and challenge one's community. Students were moved by his words and his talk truly added depth and meaning to the day.
For the remainder of morning seder, students studied sources on the topic of Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, and then heard from a representative from the Israeli Embassy on the current political state of affairs in Israel. We had an Israeli lunch of falafel and schwarma, and ended the day with the singing of Israel songs and the sharing of vignettes of some of our favorite Israel experiences. It was a day of simcha and meaning, and we are thankful to Simon Livson (YCT 2012) for his help in shaping the day and its programming.
Let us pray for the ongoing fulfillment of chazeik yidei miginei eretz kadsheinu (strengthen the hands of those who protect our holy land) and for the ultimate realization of
vi'natata shalom ba'aretz vi'simchat olam li'yoshveha (Grant peace in the land and everlasting joy to its inhabitants). May it come speedily in our days.