We got off to an exciting start this week as the whole yeshiva, students and rebbeim, transplanted themselves to a campsite on Lake Sebago, in upstate NY, for a two-day retreat. This was the second year in a row that we had such an Elul retreat, and what made it particularly special this year was that students were the ones to shape and run it. This was a special opportunity for students and rebbeim to connect deeply to one another and to spend time in spiritual reflection and in preparing themselves for the Yamim Noraim. Hiking, shiurim, open-space reflection and sharing, kumzitz,kayaking, and powerful tefillot in nature and by the lake, all combined to make these two days and intense and uplifting experience for all. A special thanks to YCT students Aaron Potek, Sam Klein, David Bookbinder Jacob Siegel, Dan Milner, and Raif Melhado for all their hard work in planning and executing this phenomenal retreat. May we be lifted by its energy during these Yamim Noraim and throughout the year.
When we returned to the yeshiva on Wednesday, Students continued their learning of Mesekhet Rosh HaShanah and Ramban's Drasha li'Rosh HaShanah. On Wednesday all students heard a shiur from Rabbi Love on the sounds of the tekiah,shevarim, and truah, and the question of exactly how those sounds are made, their length, and how they are meant to sound, and issue of intense debate between the Rishonim. For the rest of the week, students in Rabbi Linzer's shiur turned to the topic of the nature of the mitzvah of tekiat shofar - is it to blow or to hear, and theberakhot of malkhiot, zikhronot and shofarot and their relationship to the mitzvah of the shofar. Rabbi Katz's class covered this sugya as well, and began the topic of adding piyutim during the davening, and the tension between a fixed structure and a desire to introduce hew poetic elements, in a certain way what is now called kevaand kavanah, finding ways to connect to fixed prayer and make it meaningful.
Finally, in the Mazal Tov department, Mazal Tov to Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz (YCT 2010) on his receiving his PhD in Moral Development and Epistemology from Columbia University. And Mazel Tov to Rabbi Saul Strosberg and Daniella Pressner on the birth of a baby girl this past week. Shetizku li'gadlah li'Torah li'chuppah u'li'ma'asim tovim!