Posted on | December 24, 2006 | By Steve Brizel | 19 Comments
Steve Brizel is in Eretz Yisroel and he has been blogging his trip in the comments to this post. We’ve collected some of the comments here, but read the whole thread for the commenting back and forth.
For many of us in Chuz L’aretz, one of the best ways of cultivating and maintaining a love of EY in a physical sense is visiting our children who are learning in yeshivos and seminaries. We visited our older daughter back in 2004 and we are leaving for EY Bezras HaShem for two weeks, this Wednesday night.
Here are a few suggestions for any first time or returning visitor who is visiting a child. First of all, if your son or daughter invites you to sit in on a shiur or chavrusa or chaburah, do so and don’t pull them out of valuable time that could be devoted to Torah learning.You will be inspired by so many young men or women devoting their time to learning Torah.
Try to take walking tours around Yerushalayim, especially the Old City. Aside from the SOY seforim sale, there simply is no more remarkable place for Tashmishei Kedushah and Seforim. Try also to take a tour up north to Tzefat. You will see Kivrei Tzadikim from every age in Jewish history. If at all possible, take a tour to Kever Rachel and Chevron. IMO, my kavanah seemed more enhanced in the shul adjacent to the Meoras HaMachpelah than the Kotel. If your son or daughter can get you access for a bracha from a Gadol, run, don’t walk. I am especially looking forward to Chanukah in Yerusahalayim where Channukah has a special beauty without the weird “competition” and “comparisons” with other faith’s holidays.
— Posted Dec 11, 1:04 PM
One more point-as one walks and drives around Yerushalayim, one cannot help but be struck at the names of the streets and compare them with street names in ChUl. Street names and neighborhoods resonate with Neviim, Tanaim, Rishonim, Acharonim and Gdolim.
— Posted Dec 11, 1:17 PM
Rather than engage in discussion re the pros and cons of living in EY and what IMO is a very tired discussion of the halachic and hashkafic issues, I think that I just will mention what I have noticed and will be doing. We are staying with friends this week and with my daughter’s brother in law and spouse next week. The weather has been gorgeous. Our friend is the director of the Center for Ohr Sameach and invited me to its Channukah party. I hope and am sure that my visit there will have the same effect there as my visit a few years ago to the Mir. We will tour the excavations at Ir David and sit in with our daughter at her classes in Michlalah with Rav Leff, Rav Hartman and R Cooperman, just to name a few of the excellent Rebbes on the staff of Michlala. I hope to make my usual stops in Geulah and Meah Shearim as well for a few sefarim as well.
Channukah here is awesome. One sees Menorahs in every apartment window and even some outside as well. There are sbiurim and concerts for men and women.
— Posted Dec 17, 12:38 PM
One more point-This morning, we took a bus from Ramot into the center of town. A Charedi man invited me to sit next to him even though the bus did not appear to be Charedi in nature.I noticed that many of the Charedi men and women either were learning Mishnayos, Tehilim , etc. It was amazing not being the only person learning on a bus. IMO, the only comparison in ChUl would be the “Chasid buses” to NYC from Monsey or a similar bus to Lakewood.
— Posted Dec 17, 12:42 PM
While the facts surrounding this post defibnitely involve our visit to EY, I think that they also could be posted under either the future of kiruv or varieties of kiruv discussions as well. I leave that decision to our capable moderators.
A few years ago, I mentioned elsewhere on the web that I received a first hand tour of the Mir in Ywerushalatyim and spent the better part of an afternoon learning bchavrusa there. I walked out resolved with a determination and a resolve that noone should ever put down a Beis Medrash, Yeshivah , etc without spending some time on the inside.As I mentioned earlier, our host is the creator and director of Ohr Sanmeach’s Center program for post collegiates.
Tonight, I attended a Chanukah party for Ohr Samaeach’s Center Program which was addressed by the RY and Mashgiach of Ohe Samaeach. I was bowled over by their Divrei Torah from the RY and Mashgiach, humbled by an inspiring Dvar Torah from one of the talmidim as well and the many post collegiates who were atternding the program from the US, Candada, UK and S Africa.( In fact, if Mark could use any connections that he has with Ohr Samaeach, IMO, R Shlomo Weiner, the Mashgiach Ruachani of Ohr Samaeach, would make a fabulous speaker for a Scholar In Residence weekend!).
Contrary to some misinformed opinions, these young men were not engaged in looking the act without seriuosly growing in Torah.I saw no evidence of glazed brainwashing or similar factless allegations that some have raised here or elsewhere. These young men were learning Perek Hamaniach in Bava Kama.Their tables consisted of sefarim that one would find in any beis medrash of any yeshiva worthy of that name. Their attire ranged from classical yeshivish to collegiate attire. FWIW, none are allowed to wear a black hat in the first year of their program simply because they are not ready for such a statement as part of their lifestyle.IMO, Ohr Samaeach has successfully tapped the market of Jewish post graduates from all sorts of backgrounds and created a program that helps realize their potential as Bnei Torah who then progress to yeshivas across the Torah spectrum.Ohr Sameach deserves a major Yasher Koach for developing this program.
The question remains whether YU’s rebuilding of the long declining JSS program as the reconstituted Mechinah program will create an option for MO post high school youth. IMO, just as Ohr Samaeach found and created an option in the Center for Post collegiates, YU could and should focus JSS/Mechinah for post high school youth who want to learn how to learn, grow in their level of observance and get a college education Based upon what I have seen and read, YU had in fact remodeled and retooled JSS and is now actively marketing the program in the manner that I have mentioned and advocated here and elsewhere.
— Posted Dec 17, 5:02 PM
Today, we spent the better part of our day touring the archaelogical dig and park of Ir David ( The City of David). For anyone who has learned Navi, especially about how David HaMelech conquered the city ( via the water tunnels) , the annointment of Shlomoh HaMelech , the defeat of Sanncherib , Churban Bayis Rishon and Mei Shilocach-I cannot recommend this site highly enough. The Nach and many Mishnayos will take on an entirely new vistas. I also learned and davened Maariv in the mini Kotel ( which is adjacent to the left of the Kotel). There can be very few events as inspiring as learning Shekalim (which deals with paying for communal karbanos) and davening as close to Har HaBayis)as possible. There is a the equivalent of a wonderfully equipped Beis Medrash with minyanim and mispallelim around the clock and an ezras nashim that overlooks the mini Kotel. Tomorrow, we will be BeEzras HaShem visiting children of friends in Kiryat Sefer, a new city whose main insdustry is Limud HaTorah and Chesed on a 24/7 basis.
— Posted Dec 18, 2:45 PM
Today, we took a long bus ride to drop off some things that we brought with us for a daughter and son in law of friends who live in Kiryat Sefer, a brand new city that consists almost exclusively of Litvishe Kolleleit and their families.( FWIW, those who think that NY bus drivers are skilled at their work simply should compare their work with that of any of the bus drivers in Yerushalayim who navigate their buaes as if they were motorcycles!) The view of the Arei Yehudah was awesome.I thought of the verses in Tehilim that describe them in such amazing terms. When you enter KS, you are struck immediately by the simple fact that every street is named after a Gadol. There are tons of baby carriages, strollers and bicycles. Watching these families exit a bus is an exercise in seeing how the midos of chesed are instilled from a very young age. There are yeshivos, chaderim, BYs and beautifully built buildings with gorgeous views of the countryside. There are stores owned by residents who run them but manage to learn two sedarim a day in the same fashion ala the CC and CI. I would highly reccomend the community, Emmanuel or Brachfeld for any kollel couple that wants to live in such a beautiful atmosphere of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus CHesed but is financially unable to afford either Bnei Brak or Yershalayim.
We then returned back to Geulah. While Linda purchased some gifts and necessities,I was able to find a minyan for Mincha and Maariv in a seforim store ( not Manny’s which had closed already for Channukah).I was asked to be the Shaliach Tzibur among a minyan that comprised Litvishe, Chasidishe and MO/RZ. I thought after my silent Shemoneh Esreh of all of the talk here about integration of BTs and I thought that noone in that minyan even raised a boo aboout my serving as the Shlaliach Tzibbur.FWIW, I thought that the kavanah during those two tefilos was simply awesome. We hope to take in a few tours and return to Geulah and Meah Shearim for some serious sefarim shopping. This Shabbos, we will be in one of our favorite neighborhoods=Bayat Vagan, the home of YU’s Gruss/Torah Shragah campus. Michlala and Yeshivas Kol Torah. I hope that we will get a chance to sample the davening around the neighorbood and attend many shiurim with our daughter on Monday.
— Posted Dec 19, 4:22 PM
At the risk of going beyond a travelogue, I will preface and close this post with two stories, with a Dvar Torah interspaced in between them.
R Berel Wein relates in this week’s Dvar Torah that his father, a Litvishe rav, visited EY in the 1920s. When he returned, he talked excitedly about the cultivation and development of EY.When he was asked whether the farmers wore kipot, he responsed that his eyes were so wet with tears because of the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to see EY being developed and cultivated by Jews that he was blinded as to whether he could see the presence or absnece of kipot.This morning, we went to the Museum of the Palmach in Tel Aviv. It is an interactive museum that depicts the training and activities of the Palmach, the shock troops of the Haganah and the predecessors to the IDF. When I saw the young men and women who died for the protection of the entire Yishuv and their butchery by the Arabs, I thought of RYBS’s words that any Jew who died in those conflicts and in any of Israel war’s died Al Kiddush HaShem. On the way home, the tour guide, a frum Jew described how R Aryeh Levin ZTL , ustilized the Goral HaGra to identify the remains of fighters who had been killed and buried in a manner whereby it was otherwise impossible to identify the names of the victims. One can read more about this in the wonderful book “A Tzaddik in Our Time”, but I was brought to tears by the description of this incident. While one can call such a museum the secular Israeli version of Tom Brokaw’s books on the generation that fought WW2, IMO, the actions of R Levin ZTL and the statements of R Wein’s father as well as the words of RYBS place what could have been a totally secular Zionist museum into a Torah context.
Back to the travelogue. We then returned to Geulah and Meah Shearim. I bought some sefarim in Manny’s, an incredible store, and davened Mincha/Maariv in the same location . We then met our daughter’s roommate and her parents for dinner. Over dinner, we agreed that we enjoyed spending money on items that we might not be so ready to pay for in the States because it was a way of supporting Acheinu Bnei Yisrael BEY-a form of Tzedakah, so to speak.
— Posted Dec 20, 5:31 PM