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A Change In Focus

Yeshiva University is a great institution. It affords the student an oppourtunity to study Torah at a high level while at the same time receiving a college education.

Recently a number students complained to me that most of the conversations that take place among many of the students concern either: Money, Girls or Lashon Hara. This is very disturbing. Many of these same young men only a short time ago were in Yeshiva in Israel immersed in Ruchniyus.

Now it could be that they meant that people are discussing Dinei Mammonos, Seder Nashim, and Sefer Shmiras Halashon.

Maybe. But since many of those who walk down the "Alleyways" are YU students I was very interested in hearing your comments. [Not ONLY willworkforfood. All are invited to to offer their perspective.]

It is neccesary for a parnasa

Depends on who you chose in קנה לך חבר. I am almost never involved in conversations like that and avoid going to homes on שבת where I know that will be the topic of conversation. That it not to say that one should cut off all contact with people who do talk about those things, as that may lead to a further deterioration. Sometimes one can be at a safe distance but at the same time touch base with those people and have the opportunity to be מחזק them.
While anathema to me at this point since it is all-pervasive, I assume that the reference to 'girls' is about shidduchim. It is very hard to avoid conversation about it when people you know are dating: it becomes a main focus of their lives and rightly so.

Is learning in a yeshiva in Israel a realistic life occupation for everyone? It's not real life. You need to pay the bills and not everyone is cut out to learn full time.

I try also to avoid conversations that are lashon hara

This is funny. People view this as a purgatory to expunge their Jewish guilt. I was more amused by this comment by Reb Alley:

"Recently a number students complained to me that most of the conversations that take place among many of the students concern either: Money, Girls or Lashon Hara. This is very disturbing. Many of these same young men only a short time ago were in Yeshiva in Israel immersed in Ruchniyus."

isn't posting hearsay of what happens in the YU hallways also B'geder Lashon Hara??

Sweetest Michael amud hatorah vhachesed,
My intention was litoeles. I harbor no ill-will towrds YU students. [My closest childhood friend was editor of the Commentatator. Plus, most of my friends attended YU].

My purpose was to blow a litte shofar "lhaeer yeshenem mishinaschem".

Also notice that the students who commented didn't deny it. Ihave many many friends presently in YU and they are unanimous in their opinion that YU is a yerida [tarti mashma] from Israel.

Sorry if I offended you. And baruch Hashem they didn't close Revel. You know I'm related to him through marriage!

Shavua tov!!!

Rav Ally-

It is a ירידה only in the sense that you are not in the fortified bastion that is the בית מדרש.
In terms of putting one's experience in Israel into perspective and seeing where one is really holding, helping one to be זורה בורר ומרקד the chaff from the kernels of personality-truth, it is possibly one of the best opportunities. In other words, for those who will not live their lives as אברכים it is tamed exposure back to the world in which many Jews live. While one may claim that since it is tamed it is more insidious as it cannot be identified as "the enemy", I think that the point is debatable.

It has taken me a nice long while to figure this out, but I believe that as one's year(s) in Israel becomes more distant one gains better perspective on what actually occurred. Going to Israel is a unique experience, but what exactly occurs there and the pros and cons are not what are being discussed here now. The point is that I believe that, as I myself am of late coming to understand, people need to come to terms with who they really are, not the people they "pretended" to be in Israel. This is not to say that people do it בכוונה, it's the insipirational environs of ישיבה, etc. etc. that are the cause.
As Rav Bina is wont and fond to say, the people who leave the ghetto and are successful are more impressive in his mind than those who do not. (Though I must admit that I am not sure if he really and truly believes this or says it to be מחזק his audience, which generally consists of those entering the business world.)
YU is a test of what one acquired in the so-called ghetto. Most people lose some ground that they won in Israel, some, ר"ל, lose it all. I do not think that the shocking reality from which we left and to which YU returns us makes YU a bad place. In fact, YU can be a place of tremendous growth, after one comes to terms with who he really is and who one wants to become.

To put some flesh on the bone:
In חסידות there's the idea of an incredible גילוי at the פסח סדר, the idea that one reaches incredible heights. After the סדר, however, one loses it all. Barring the epistemological question of how one can be attuned to recognizing what heights one reached, one can regain that level by working throughout the ספירה period until שבועות.
I think that something similar to this is the YU experience. People reached great heights in Israel, or at least felt and appeared as if they did. I'm not sure that people can really skip all the in-between levels and retain that high level; it's like putting down two vertical beams and building the top floor. Many goals that they attained were done so through meticulous self-growth, building a commitment that was all of the middle floors of their spiritual tower. But some levels weren't really reached, it was a conscious or subconscious facade. When they come back to America the top floor simply falls off and they lose a lot more than just the roof.
But YU affords the opportunity to see which structures are shaky, which do not have solid ground, and gives the materials with which to rebuild.
THe problem is that most people do not want to confront their real self and simply run from it. They do not want to rebuild, especially if they feel as if they are a failure. This is made even more acute when they return to Israel and their rabbonim think them to be the person they were in Israel, which they are not.
I think this is something that needs to be addressed while תלמידים are still in Israel. I am not exactly sure how this can be done and whether it can be done at all, it is very hard to describe a state that people cannot even imagine. להבדיל, when our נביאים describe the imminent destruction of the בית המקדש the people are in denial, they cannot believe that something can come to pass. They are currently enjoying such a highly spiritual situation (or so it appears) such that they cannot understand a state of low spirituality. It is very difficult to tell guys what they will go through and how they should cope with it, they don't understand that the state in which they currently reside will ever come tumbling down. It's a real חכמה to help people with this, and אשרי האיש who can effectively equip guys with the correct skills, who can make them realize that שבע יפל צדיק וקם.

I apologize again for an inordinately long post. But the nature of YU and the blame game is something that really gets my goat. For those who "hate" YU: Don't blame YU, blame yourself. Realize who you are. Life is not perfect, and neither are you. Cope with it. Build from it. Become better from it. Go to a different ישיבה if you think you are ready. But if you are not then you are just prolonging the self-deception.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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