During January, I had to go back to England and take exams for university. Over that time, I wondered whether the term “out of sight, out of mind” would come to light; I was concerned that the boys would forget that I went to the yeshiva. Upon returning to Israel the night before the Negev Tiyul, it became clear to me that I had nothing to worry about.
I sometimes hear how some people don’t get along with all their peers. Fortunately, in Yeshivat Orayta this is definitely not the case. During the Negev Tiyul—when the rooms were being sorted out at the hostel in Mitzpeh Rimon—no-one was left out. It was clear to me that everybody would have been happy to room with each other.
This truly represents how special the environment between the guys is. Through the shiurim that the Rabbis teach us, we learn that a person has to treat every other human being, Jew or not, as they would like to be treated. This embodies the true essence of Bein Adam L’chavero within us. Being the only student from England, I can personally attest to the manifestation of the aforementioned principle. I have been welcomed with open arms by every student hailing from Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, epitomizing the familial experience that one gains at the yeshiva.
On the first day of the tiyul, we climbed a mountain called Ardon. At the top of the mountain we davened mincha together. Praying to G-d while looking at this wonderful sight inspired me and made me happy. In Orayta, we are given the great opportunity to go on many tiyulim around Israel. It would be discomforting to miss out experiencing a spiritual davening through appreciating nature’s beauty. There is plenty of value to breaking from learning for a moment in order to experience G-d through looking at the picture perfect view.
I once read a book by Harold Kushner titled, “Who Needs God?” In it, he explained how a person can see G-d by looking at amazing views such as a mountain or a lake. He relayed that when man first went to the moon, every street in America was empty, as everybody watched this amazing experience. However, after the second and third time that man went to the moon, it didn’t carry the same excitement. Man-made technology only fascinates the human eye for a short period of time. On the other hand, when looking at an amazing view, Kushner says that human beings can look at a mountain for hours on end. The world made by G-d intrigues the human mind for an endless amount of time.
On the second day of the tiyul, we went to David Ben Gurion’s grave. Our guide, Jonty, told us how schools in Israel fail to teach of David Ben Gurion. This truly upset me, as I really believe that the life of the Prime Minister, and how he fulfilled his mission of creating the state of Israel, is of utmost importance. One of the main reasons why Yeshivat Orayta is afforded the opportunity to teach students in the Old City of Jerusalem is due to Ben Gurion’s sheer determination. Therefore, when we went to his grave to pay our respects, it was an emotional experience and one that I will never forget. Before the Negev Tiyul, I believed that there was no point in climbing up mountains when one can just drive up to see the view. However, through the special friendships the Orayta students have with each other, my attitude towards going hiking seriously changed. This was achieved by merely speaking with the guys over the course of the hike and helping each other climb the fairly steep mountain. After deriving thorough pleasure from the hike, I learned the invaluable lesson that “the more you put into life the more you get out of it.” Similarly, it says in Pirkei Avot, “The more pain you put into something, the more you get out of it.” This represents how embarking on the physically tasking mountain climb can yield a sense of fulfilment both on a personal and communal level.