Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chodesh Tov! Kislev 5772

Chodesh Tov!!!
Here's some of the recent Mechina news which should hopefully add to what your son has
been sharing with you from the past few weeks.

Bet Midrash!
Learning has been going strong b"h, as the guys have found their spots in the different
morning tracks, choosing between in-depth Jewish theology, and in-depth Gemara.
A few days ago we had a siyum on the books of Yehoshua and Shoftim which we have
completed by learning a chapter or two every day. We had a quiz at the Siyum and bli
ayin hara, many of the students showed a basic fluency in the various figures, stories and
events, described in the two Sefarim.
In addition to all the shiurim we've been having, we also had a special class dedicated
to the subject of celebrating thanksgiving from a Halachic standpoint. We saw
some interesting and perhaps less known facts about the "birth" and background of
Thanksgiving and the different Halachic approaches as to celebrating it or not.
Additionally, we have recently begun optional studying at 5:30 in the morning (!) for
students who wish to start the day nice and early, learning "secrets of the Torah" with Rav
Erez. So far a nice number of guys have been attending.

A little over a week ago the Mechina traveled to Yerushalayim for an intensive four days
of educational touring.
*On the first day we focused on the First Beit Hamikdash period.
We toured the City Of David (make sure to go there when you visit, it is truly amazing,
as every few weeks they discover new artifacts and archeological finds!) including the
underground water tunnel which the guys eagerly and joyously hiked through in the dark
and almost waist high water.
We had a tour of the Old City with a strong emphasis on the Jewish homes, Synagogues
and Yeshivot, in what is called the Muslim quarter. We also had the opportunity to have
a truly breathtaking view of Har-HaBayit (temple mount) from very high up, where we
could actually feel that we were almost standing on the mount itself.
We davened all the teffilot at the Kotel which were often accompanied by singing and
dancing, a short shiur or two, and sometimes a brief lecture from people who spend much
of their time there.
*On the second day we focused on the Second Beit Hamikdash period as well as the
beginning of the galut.
After Shacharit, a Shiur, and some breakfast we started the day with a visit to the Ariel
institute where we enjoyed a light and sound show describing the second temple period
and its destruction.
We heard a captivating story about the importance of Yerushalayim as portrayed by a
(fictional) worldwide conflict with Tokyo, N.Y, and Yerushalyim.
We visited the Machon HaMikdash-the Temple Institute where the students partook in
a fascinating tour of new and old Temple Vessels, and got to see and touch clothing and
vessels that were built and are waiting for the third Beit Hamikdash.
After that we had the privilege to hear a talk from Rav Nachman Kahana, a profound
Talmid Chacham who is currently finishing his explanations and commentary on the
Tosafots Gemara commentary, called Mei-Menuchot. He is also the rabbi of the Young
Israel Beit Knesset of the Muslim quarter, and had many fascinating stories to share in
conjunction with his Torah insights on the book of Bereishit, and its relevance to us today.

Later that day we had a meeting with Rav Mordechai Sheinberger, a very unique scholar
and Kabbalist who shared his thoughts about our goal and purpose in this world.
We also had a tour of the Kotel Tunnels, and Davened Tikkun Chatzot in the bet Knesset
of the kabbalist Rav Yehudah Getz tz"l, the former Rabbi of the Kotel.
Also during that day, we toured the "Burnt House," and held a discussion regarding the
different factions and divisions amongst Am Yisrael at the end of the second temple

*On the Third day we focused on the Galut.
We had a captivating tour of Yad Vashem led by the grandmother of one of our
students, Ari Shachar. She has a vast knowledge of the holocaust period and shared that
information in a very interesting and attention-grabbing way.
This was followed by a tour of Mt. Hertzel where we visited the graves of some of
the "founding fathers" (and mothers) such as Hertzel, Jabotinsky, Channa Senesh, and
various prime ministers.

*The fourth day was dedicated to the present, the rebirth of am Yisrael.
After discussing our feelings and thoughts about the previous three days, we had a tour of
the Knesset, watched a session taking place, and had a personal talk from a young Knesset
Member Uri Orbach, a member of "HaBayit HaYehudi" party, who also answered
questions any of the students had.
Later that evening we headed back home to Avnei Eitan.
All in all it was very informative and fun, and from the feedback we received from the
students they all enjoyed.

The grape harvesting is over and the olive season has begun!
This past week we took about 4 hours to help a local olive grower in Avnei Eitan, an
adoptive father of one of our students, harvest his trees.
This helped clarify for many students the importance of farming in Israel and gave them a
chance to appreciate how hard of a job it is, and how much works goes in to it.

A few weeks ago we started having our academic courses about Middle East Politics
through Bar-Ilan University.
The professor’s name is Dr. Gidi Netzer. He's an IDF Colonel and an international expert
in counter-terrorism and conflict crisis management and is a member of the International
Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
The students enjoy his lectures and each student received homework and projects to do
concerning the Middle East.

Among other interesting meetings we have had were, a lecture by an English speaking
Psychologist from the Golan, as well as the beginning of a series of classes where the
students learn how to navigate and find their way in the wilderness based upon stars,
maps, topography, the scenery, and more.

That's basically it, the students are on a laid back easy Tiyul right now here in the Golan,
hiking the beautiful green trials of the southern Golan, and I promise Bli Neder to send
you some pictures soon. Once again if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to
share, please do so.

Kol Tuv!
R' Asher

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