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Sammy Shefler

Just like most yeshiva students, I came into Orayta with fears, doubts, and questions. Would I be able to handle the long days of learning? Will I connect with the students and Rabbis at the yeshiva? What will I gain from my experience here?

Even though I have only been here for a week, I feel confident that this is the perfect place for me; and, I am gaining an experience that I could have never imagined.

In the short amount of time that I have been here, Orayta has already exceeded my expectations. The students and Rabbis are open, honest, smart, and passionate. We not only learn about each other, but we learn from each other. We have started learning gemara, chumash, philosophy, and mussar and have heard many personal stories from the Rabbis. This fascinating and exciting material has tapped into the depths of my mind and has enabled me to examine myself, relate the Torah to my own life, and discover what I want to improve and achieve.

Living at Orayta triggers many thoughts and questions in everyone’s minds. Being a part of Orayta is an opportunity to understand and be self-aware. The Rabbis’ dvar Torahs, teachings, and the conversations I’ve had with them have helped me perceive ideas about Judaism and life in fresh ways. I remember on the first day, Rav Binny spoke about the meaning of education. He mentioned that the Hebrew word for education is chinuch, and the root of this word is chen, which means grace, charm, and inner beauty. He suggested that the meaning of chinuch is the process of discovering our inner beauty, to learn about ourselves. Learning in the Old City of Jerusalem has sparked the beginning of this process for me.

Another impactful idea that I learned from Rabbi Aaron this week is that Judaism is a struggle. You must embrace and love it. I am beginning to learn and understand what it means to love Judaism. Being here allows me to observe myself, to consciously look inward, and to figure out how I want to live my life and what goals I want to conquer.

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