Elul zman began this week with great excitement. We have an amazing first year class of thirteen students - our largest class yet! - and each one of them is truly a star, with demonstrated academic and leadership ability and with a passion for serving Klal Yisrael. Among them are graduates of Harvard and other Ivy League universities, three lawyers, a Tikvah scholar, an AIDS care volunteer, an AEPI chapter president, and a Yeshiva University valedictorian. A huge welcome to this class, our future semikha students of 2017: Daniel Epstein , Daniel Goodman, Avishai Gebler, Koby Geller, Will Keller, Jon Leener, Paul Nahme, Justin Pines, Ben Shefter, Jacob Siegel, Garth Silverstein, Jordan Soffer, and Nate Weisel.
Students threw themselves into the learning this week, after many had participated - together with a great group from outside the yeshiva - in an intense Summer Zman learning the eighth chapter of Baba Kama and topics in medical ethics. For Elul zman, the yeshiva is learning mesekhet Rosh Hashanah together with Ramban's Drasha liRosh Hashanah, a drasha that explores both the halakhic and theological themes of this yom tov.
On Monday, our first day, I delivered an opening shiur klali on the nature of Rosh HaShana: how do we know that this yom tov, which has no clear identity in the Torah, is a Rosh HaShana, a beginning of a year, and how do we know that is a yom ha'din, a day of heavenly judgment. The regular shiurim began the next day with the learning of the third chapter of the mesekhet and a focus on the object of the shofar.
Afternoon classes this zman are likewise devoted to the Yamim Noraim, and students had the opportunity to hear classes and shiurim on the Aggadata of the eight chapter of Yoma, Schar v'Onesh and the book of Iyyov, Chasidut on Yamim Noraim, and Beiur Tefillah of the tefilot of the Yamim Noraim. Students also participated in sessions devoted to spiritual reflection and personal betterment in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Finally, in the Mazal Tov department, a big Mazal Tov to Joel Dinin on his marriage to Sara Pernick and to Jacob Siegel on his recent engagement. Shetizku livnot bayit ne'eman bi'Yisrael!