Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We Survived Survival Week!

Time to get ready for Purim :-)

Survival Week: Trooping Through the Mud

A walk in the park

Testing the students' strength
Almost at the end.

Survival Week: Going with the Flow

Due to the pouring rain and snow we are not authorized to continue as there are mud slides and slippery trails. We are forced to stay put and survive the bitter cold and hunger in the wilderness

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Survival Week: Day 4

It rained a lot. With temperatures near freezing, some of our equipment turned icy. Without the warmth of fire, we had to turn to alternative methods to stay warm. We are currently grounded at base camp, waiting to get the green light to move ahead. Let's see how today treats us. 

Avoiding the cold.

Continuation of Day 3: Survival Week

Dinner at the end of a rainy day.


Mission to get more food.
Group 1 in action

Strong and beautiful.

LYA navigators

Survival Week: Day 3

Day Three: all teams are doing well. We started with fifteen guys and now we're down to eleven. Last night we overcame the challenge of sleeping without our tent. Let's see what today has in store. 

What's left of team 2

The mountains that the students from LYA had to climb during survival week 

The end is in sight. We see mount Chermon.   

Only two days and 25 kilometers to go.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Survival Week has Begun!

Group One: Aviv Spialter, Zack Lowy, Gabe Kohn, Ac Silverstein, Ariel Weiss 

Group 2: Yaacov Steinberg, Ari Wolf, Jake Koenigson, Josh Rubin, Daniel Zargary
Group 3: Evyater Steinhert, Tzuri Tshuba, Ari Shachar, Yosef Groner, Ezra Freidman


Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Refua Shleima for the Clouds

Parashat Mishpatim – R' Asher Smith

"And Moshe came within the cloud, and he went up to the mountain, and Moshe was on the mountain forty days and forty nights." (Shmot 24:18)
"וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה בְּתוֹךְ הֶעָנָן וַיַּעַל אֶל הָהָר וַיְהִי מֹשֶׁה בָּהָר אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה."
To paraphrase the above, Moshe received, "digested" and studied the Torah from Hashem for forty days and forty nights, on the top of Har Sinai, in a cloud.
A few questions jump out.
  1. What's the deal with 40? Why not 39, or 45, why did this Chavruta with Hashem take exactly 40 days? And why did Moshe need so much time in order to process and study the Torah, it's not as if the Torah is a packaged and  labeled product which requires a 40 day period of training, and after that, you're done, you get Smicha. It's infinite! Takes our whole life to start to even slightly understand what's goin' on, so what is Moshe exactly accomplishing in these 40 days and nights, and not a day more or a night less?
  2. Why does the Torah emphasize forty days AND forty nights?
  3. What's the deal with the cloud?
Important note: the Abarbanel, as he classically does, asks similar questions, and of course develops them with much depth and many twists, and answers them in his unique way, if you have a moment, it's worth a peak.
We can use the golden rule, that whenever a concept, a passuk, or a statement, appear which are not so clear, it's always a smart move to try and find if and where and in what context, did that exact term come up for the first time in the Torah, which will then often shed light on the difficulty at hand. (Try it, it works).
So we don't have to be the Gaon of Vilna to know that the first time, this exact phrase of "forty days and forty nights" comes up is in describing how long it rained in the beginning of the Mabul-the flood. "וַיְהִי הַגֶּשֶׁם עַל הָאָרֶץ אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה"
"And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights" (Bereishit 7:12).
All we have to do is to cut and paste this description, with its "hyperlinks," to our passuk, of Moshe receiving and studying the Torah.
The world was destroyed as Hashem wanted, and the way in which his will played out, was through water, with an emphasis on rain water, (as well as deep spring water etc…).
Bottom line, the rain whose sole purpose was and is to bring life in to the world, H2O for the earth, animals, and people, was now being used for the exact opposite purpose, as a bearer of destruction and death. True, this was Hashem's plan and will, yet nonetheless the rains had to do a very "dirty" and cruel job. Now where do the rains come and fall from? The clouds. Meaning that, the physical origin of the destruction of the earth at the time, were the clouds.
So here comes Moshe, who we already know is a super sensitive guy, compassionate and caring about his fellow Jews (saving the beaten Jew in Egypt), mankind (saving Yitro's daughters at well), animals (saving runaway lamb in desert), and the inanimate (not wanting to hit the Nile or the sand which "assisted" him), goes and takes this care, concern, and sense of responsibility for all of creation, to a whole new, and incredible level.
Moshe in his concern for all of creation takes time to heal and clean up the "blemished" clouds.
You know the feeling, when you really want to take a shower, like right after you get off a long flight, and you still have to wait a few good hours till you get your luggage, catch your ride, and get home for  the shower? Every single second feels like eternity.
Now that's nothing, nothing, compared to how long these clouds have been waiting for to "take a shower" and be cleaned off all the death and pain they brought the world…
792 years!
Comes Moshe Rabbeinu, and delves in to the Torah, starts "pounding" Torah into the clouds, the "Torat Chayim-living Torah," and for 40 days and 40 nights gives the clouds back their life, restores them back to their former and proper health. A Torah day for a flood day, and a Torah night for a flood night, forty days and forty nights…
A complete and soothing Refua Shleima…
He aint called "איש האלוקים-the man of G-D" (Dvarim 33:1), for nothing…
This message is so so important, especially in this Parasha which deals so much with the laws of people, that at the end of the Parasha, one might be so caught up in caring and worrying about the little (and extremely important) details of how to treat another human being, a slave, a thief, the poor, witches, etc… that they'll totally forget about the rest of the world.
Comes Moshe at the very last passuk, mamesh the last verse in the Parasha, and tell us "Whoa!  Slow down! Knowing how much to pay your friend if your ox gored him is very essential, but don't forget for one second the rest of creation… don't ever forget."
How many lifetimes would it take for us to reach such a level of sensitivity and concern for not only the physical wellbeing of all of the world around us, but also of its spiritual welfare???
At least we now have what to aim for, 'cause if we don't know where we're goin', there's no chance we're ever gonna get there…
I bless us all to make it at least part of the way, and to give each other a hand.
It's a long, and not so simple journey…
Good Shabbos!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Update from Tu B'Shvat 5772

Rosh Hashannah for the trees was celebrated in many beautiful ways in the Mechina.

We learned and studied about the importance of Tu B'Shvat from a halachik
standpoint and its many practical and spiritual ramifications on our daily lives in and
out of Israel. We also strengthened our connection to the land through a good trip
in the Golan, of waterfalls, valleys, and mountains. It was truly beautiful to see the
results of the recent heavy rains, as the mountains were truly alive, green and lush,
and the waterfalls were gushing with water. Also, as the famous Tu B'Shvat song
goes, many almond trees could be seen blossoming along the trails.
A few of the more daring students jumped in to the freezing water for a swim, after
which they warmed up with a small bonfire we made.

On Tu B'Shvat eve we had a beautiful Seder. We spoke about the Shivat haMinim-the
seven special species of Eretz Yisrael, and of course partook of them, in addition to
many other fruits and nuts, had four cups of wine, and sang throughout the Seder.
Many of the students also prepared Divrei Torah on various fruits and nuts which they
shared throughout the evening.
For some of our Talmidim, it was their first Tu B'Shvat Seder ever, and was a special
and extraordinary experience for them.

On Tu B'Shvat day we joined the Moshav for the "traditional" Israeli custom of
planting new trees. G-D willing when the students come back for a visit in a few
years, they'll be able to appreciate their sapling as a growing tree in our Moshav.

In the past few weeks we have been focusing on a few more new things in the

In the Beit Midrash the students have been engrossed in studying and researching
for their Purim articles which will G-D willing be published and mailed to you
just in time for Purim. We hope you enjoy their articles with their informative and
inspirational ideas for the Chag.
On that note, if there is somebody specific, a relative or a close friend perhaps, whom
you think would like to receive the Purim Dvar Torah booklet, please send us their
address and be'ezrat Hashem we'll mail them a copy as well.

We have also begun our First Aid courses given by a local paramedic of Magen-
David -Adom of the Golan. These are important courses since the Mechina is very
active outdoors, and is especially vital in preparation for our Survival Week, to be
held in a few weeks.

Another interesting guest we had a few weeks ago was a lady who lives on the
Moshav who has an amazing and inspiring tale of how she grew up as a non Jewish
Christian teenager in Croatia during the war, and ended up converting, marrying an
Israeli, and lives on our Moshav.

The students have also been volunteering lately through different venues such as,
offering their general help to anybody on the Moshav through a letter they sent out,
helping a family move homes, and planting flowers throughout the Moshav a few
weeks ago.

That's about it for now, we look forward to our Survival Week, and the Chevron
Shabbaton to be held in a few weeks and hope to share our experiences with you in
the near future.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tu B'Shvat 5772

On Tu B'Shvat we had a beautiful Seder. We spoke about the Shivat haMinim-the seven special species of Eretz Yisrael, partook of them, in addition of course to many other fruits and nuts, had four cups of wine, and sang throughout the Seder.
Many of the students also prepared Divrei Torah on various fruits and nuts which they shared throughout the evening.
For some of our Talmidim, it was their first Tu B'Shvat Seder ever, and was a special and extraordinary experience for them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We've Gotta Live Together

Win a Watch!!!

Bring a student and receive a limited-edition, tailored LYA Special-Forces watch

LYA will give you one watch for getting a student to attend Leadership Yeshiva Academy's 2012-13 program.

By bringing a student to LYA, you will not only provide him with an amazing opportunity to experience a real Israel yeshiva, you will also help him achieve the lifelong tools to learn and live as a strong Jewish man.

This Special Forces Diving watch, made famous as the watch preferred by elite IDF
Units, has become an icon of courage in Israel.