Sunday, January 28, 2007

It Takes a Generation!

Last week, I picked up Rav Yuval Sherlo's new book on the topic of Nevua. As I leafed through the introduction, Rav Yuval pays homage to the Tanach methodology of Yeshivat Har Etzion and in particular Rav Yoel Bin Nun.

Now, for any of you who know me, Tanach is my speciality and the Gush is where I learned. One of my teachers was Rav Yoel bin Nun. Rav Medan, Leibtag, Samet, Sabato all taught me Tanach. And so , whenever I read about the influence of the Yeshiva, it pulls a beloved heartstring.

Let me get to the point. When I came to the Gush, in 1985 I was greatly impressed by the Rashei Yeshiva and the entire learning methodology and the unique Hashkafa. And I was puzzled that the Yeshiva had produced few sefarim. It seemed that the Yeshiva had a clear derech, so where was the literature, the scholarship, that could spread the Torah beyond the Yeshiva walls?

The publishing began with the Megadim journal in 1982. In recent years there has been a burst of publishing by the Yeshiva, its Ramim and talmidim. Rav Amital and Rav Lichtenstein have published books on lomdus and Machshava. Rav Samet's books are a bestseller. Rav Medan and Rav Yoel have published. Rav Sherlo is prolific; so is Rav Chaimi Navon. Rav Amnon Bazak and Rav Y.Z. Rimon have published books. Rav Moshe Lichtenstein published a unique fusion of chumash, drash. The Tanach study days at Herzog College draw thousands of participants annually, and now it has spawned an American copy in the form of YCT's Yemei Tanach in Teaneck (run by Rav Nati Helfgot.) In English, Rav Leibtag's Torah has been on the web for a while, Rav Yitzchak Etshalom's book represents the Yeshiva's Tanach style.

In short, the past five years have produced a phenomenal wave of writing. What happened? When I read Rav Sherlo's introduction it occurred to me that it takes a generation for an institution to mature to the point at which it can effectively spread its Torah in writing. It takes 30-40 years! The Rashei Yeshiva have to build the institution, teach talmidim, but then those Talmidim teach too. It takes some time for the Torah of those teachers and those students to mature to the point that one wishes to publish. After years of teaching and formulating ideas, it is time to write books and to publish. Something that I realised here is just what an immense project an institution of this type is. And that sometimes you embark on a project and you see fruits only FORTY YEARS LATER! May that be a lesson for us mechanchim.

In the past, when I had "down moments" as a mechanech, feelings that many of my efforts and messages had passed students by, my boss would always talk about how we as teachers plant seeds, and we never ever know when and how these seeds will bear fruit. Frequently it is in the most unexpected of situations that the seeds flourish and flower! And sometimes many years hence.

It is incredible to think that it takes a generation for an institution to reach its fulfillment. In certain ways, the initial years have such energy, such excitement and youth, and in later years one sometimes feels that the institution has become "middle aged". So suddenly when you realise that time has distinct benefits, it gives a totally different dimension.

And so, on this exciting note, I look forward to an entire library of books published by Talmidei Har Etzion. I am happy that today's Torah community can read much of the Torah of Gush and the unique derech limmud and philosophy of this special Yeshiva.

1 comment:

Reb Yudel said...

Let me add one book to your list: the YCT Tanakh Companion to the Book of Samuel, edited by Rabbi Helfgott and based on a dozen y'mei iyun presentation about, yes, Sefer Shmuel.