Sivan 5770 / May 2010
Are we really an "impulsive people" for declaring our acceptance of the Torah before knowing what was expected of us?
Can we be accused of the same lack of caution because of our readiness to learn and teach Torah despite all the hardships involved?
Both these questions and the answer to them form the dialogue described in Masechet Shabbat (88a). A heathen scoffer observed Rava learning Torah with such intensity that he was oblivious to the fact that he was sitting on the fingers of his hand, causing blood to rush to the surface.
"Impulsive people that you are," he taunted the Sage. "You were impulsive when you put your mouths before your ears (when you declared at Sinai na'aseh before nishma), and you are impulsive now in your self-neglect. You should have first determined whether the Torah you were being offered did not demand more of you than is possible."
Rava well understood that his seemingly superhuman concentration was being misconstrued as evidence that the Jewish people had bitten off more than they could chew in accepting the Torah that had been rejected by all the other nations as being too difficult a challenge. His response was to explain the difference between the non-Jewish attitude of suspicion towards Hashem's offer of the Torah and the Jewish approach of total trust.
This is how Rashi so eloquently translates the response of Rava:
"We related to Hashem with total trust in the manner of those who act out of love, and we relied upon Him that He would not impose upon us any responsibility which we were not capable of fulfilling."
The message of Rava is so relevant to all of us as we prepare for the Yom Tov of Kaballat HaTorah.
…to those newcomers to Torah life and learning struggling to adjust to a new world
…to the Bnei Torah struggling to make ends meet while growing in their Torah knowledge and commitment
…to the yeshivot and kollelim struggling to survive in an extremely difficult economic climate
…to those like yourself who struggle to find some time to learn Torah and some resources to show your gratitude to the yeshiva where you gained so much.
The common denominator is that, like our ancestors at Sinai and like Rava with the blood rushing to his fingertips, we have the confidence in Hashem that He will help us succeed in all of our undertakings for Torah.
New Staff: Ohr Somayach welcomed the arrival to our senior educational staff of Harav Yitzchok Breitowitz who made aliya to Eretz Yisrael after a brilliant career as a Rav in Silver Spring, Maryland and a world-renowned lecturer and rabbinic authority.
New @ OS: Ohr Somayach has just launched our exciting one week Executive Renewal Program (ERP), which has been set up by alumnus Yisroel Leskin. We are also sending you an email with further details about this new learning opportunity for outstanding laymen and women. Why not come back yourself and recharge your spiritual batteries with a week filled with Torah? Additionally, if you know any men, ladies or married couples who might come on this program, then please forward that email. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Reunions: The annual reunion of Mentor Mission participants, a follow-up of the Mentor program initiated by Danny Lemberg, took place in Lakewood. The more than 120 participants included people who had been on JLE summer and winter programs, and students from campuses in North America where Ohr Somayach representatives are active. The scholar-in-residence for this Shabbaton was Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb.
Reunions of alumni were held by Derech in the JLE in London and by the Center Program for its products in the US and for its South African alumni at Ohr Somayach in Johannesburg.
Kennes: Two symposiums, one for men and one for women, on Bein Adam Lechaveiro, were organized by the Derech Program, and attracted large audiences which were inspired by lecturers from Ohr Somayach and guest lecturer Rabbi Yisroel Reisman of the Agudath Yisroel Congregation of Madison in Brooklyn. The opening talk at the men's session was given by the Rosh Hayeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel. Recordings are available for download from audio.ohr.edu/topics/tag=ahavas chinam
Yom Iyun: The annual Yom Iyun for the Chicago community, featuring Ohr Somayach's Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb and Rabbi Akiva Tatz along with Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, was a smashing success.
Ohr Lagolah: The Ohr Lagolah Hertz Institute for International Teaching Training of Ohr Somayach is nearing a quarter century of producing rabbanim, teachers and kiruv professionals and is now interviewing candidates for next year. For more details see www.ol.ohr.edu or email email@example.com
AND IN CONCLUSION
All of your rabbeim join us in wishing you a meaningful Kaballat HaTorah and a Chag Somayach from Ohr Somayach.
Rabbi Nota Schiller / Rabbi Mendel Weinbach