My past weeks at Orayta and in Israel in general have been jam-packed with excitement, inspiration; nothing less than incredible. We experienced Chanuka in the Old City which is completely different here than in the rest of the world. In Israel we say “nes gadol hayah poh”, and that means something stronger when we say it in Jerusalem and even more so in the Old City! Walking through the dark passageways illuminated by the lights of the Chanukiyas in little clear boxes and just smelling the oil around you was such a warm feeling. It felt remarkable to be able to light Chanuka candles all together in the dorm by the window facing the path to the Kotel, and actualizing what was merely a dream of past generations. The Yeshiva Mesiba and the relating of personal miracle stories was amazing; and leaving that energy to go into Chanuka break was very hard. However, it was great to get some sunlight and heat in Eilat (something we’ve greatly missed here in Jerusalem) on top of the light and spiritual warmth we acquired from the Chanuka candles at night.
Coming back from break, we went straight on a Tiyul to the Bar Kochba caves and to ruins from the times of both Temple Periods in Maresha and Beit Guvrin. As we were standing in the center of a Roman coliseum, we noticed that the sun was soon going to set so we davened Mincha. All of a sudden, the thought crossed my mind that the last time we davened Mincha at an ancient ruin was on the Tiyul to the ancient city of Gamla. But that was in the ruins of a 2000+ year old shul. Then we performed the same action and continued the legacy of ancient Jews in the appropriate place. However, this time was in the ruins of a Roman coliseum in which the activities done there were the complete opposite of spirituality and G-dliness that we aspire to during Tefillah. Yet, I could not help myself but think of the wonderful act that we were doing. We brought spirituality to a place of such physicality and immorality. The Romans are rolling in their graves; while the Jews that were brutally murdered there are smiling that their children and Judaism are alive. That was a truly unforgettable experience.
Last week we were graced by another addition to our Yeshiva, though a very unexpected one. Mr. Stu Williamson from London has joined Orayta for a couple of weeks to learn alongside all of us. He brings a different perspective and great wisdom to each and every class. By coming to learn in a Yeshiva in Israel for a few weeks rather than vacationing around, he has taught us about how the study of Torah is timeless. He also diligently attends everything from davening to night seder and he even joined our “childish” Pajama Party Vaad (which was of course the holiest thing in the world because of Rav Yair). Mr. Williamson’s touching story and desire to learn has already inspired so many of the students here and we are looking forward to learn so much more with him and from him in the coming weeks.
Inspiration at Orayta is not hard to find. I cannot even begin to describe the relationships I have created with every Rabbi and how incredible they are. You’ll just have to come visit and meet them yourself! Thank you to every parent for sending your child here, for each and everyone is so special to me! Can you imagine a place any more amazing than this?
Shabbat Shalom everyone!