That’s right – it’s already January 2015. Where have the last 4 months gone? When you’re in an environment such as Orayta, time can move at frightening speed.
Every day here is a new experience. With the blend of overflowing inspiration, mind-blowing chiddushim, and the life changing perspectives that Orayta offers, it is difficult to find a dull moment in the Beit Midrash. With their dynamic personalities, and beyond intriguing teaching styles, the Rabbeim at Orayta are simply off the charts. The atmosphere of an IN Shabbat at Orayta is indescribable – you really must come and experience it for yourself. The Chevrah this year is so special and I have never been so excited to get to know so many people. I am so blessed to be part of such a remarkable yeshiva.
Throughout my years as a student in the modern Orthodox Yeshiva high school system, I often felt that there was something absent from my Jewish identity. Living a religious life was a struggle for me because I viewed halachot as a burden. There was no spark to observing daily mitzvot; rather, they were just empty acts which, I had been told, had significance behind them. The schools and camps I attended tried to educate and inspire me to perform mitzvot with rigor and excitement, but it was difficult to find an appreciation for the actions when I could not see the meaning behind them. It is especially tough to follow the prohibitions of Judaism without an awareness of the goal behind them. I found this to not only be a personal struggle, but I think that many of my peers did not find even the most essential and identity driven mitzvot (i.e. Shabbat, tefilin, kashrut) to be meaningful.
At Orayta, I have found that if you attempt to tap-in to your inner self, and actually see mitzvot and Halachah in a different perspective, you will live a more meaningful, halachic life.
The derech hatorah (way of the Torah), according to the Ramban, is to articulate details, and then place them in context. For example, the mitztvah of “kedoshim ti’hiyu” (be holy) is not just another mitzvah. It is a meta-mitzvah that is all encompassing of almost all the daily mitzvot. It is contextualizing a category, a goal of mitzvot. This includes positive and active mitzvot, as well as prohibitions. This idea of looking at the bigger picture and analyzing the experience of a mitzvah applies to all areas of Torah and Halachah.
However, it is important to note that even if one were to deeply investigate all angles of a particular halachah/prohibition, but came up with no overall goal or purpose to the halachah, that is not a reason to abandon it. The perspective in this case should be “I cannot find a meaning or reason that makes sense to me for this mitzvah, but I am okay with that because I trust that there is a meaning that I am not aware of. Or because it is not up to me to pick and choose what I observe.”
People can become so consumed with the details of the mitzvoth, that they miss out on the bigger picture. Halachah then becomes a burden because the purpose of the prohibitions and mitzvot are lost. We are unfortunately moved away from the Torah’s ideal, if we are not aware of the greater goal. People today often follow the Torah out of fear, and not because they actually embrace the values.
Instead of viewing religious life as a burden, I now see it as a blessing and opportunity to bring good to the rest of the world. If you investigate Halachah in the proper way, it will become clear that every detail and prohibition in the world of Halachah does in fact have a reason/value/greater purpose attached to it. You just have to find it.