Tuesday, April 10, 2007

After Pesach .. Catching Up! Part 1.

You might have noticed that my blogging has become rather sparse lately. First I had a trip to the UK and U.S. There was preparation for the trip and then the (very successful and enjoyable) speaking tour/ visiting students / teaching Torah. I then walked back into the full swing of Pesach cleaning and preparations with my childrens' school holidays added for fun! And then Pesach itself! So – I'm back now!

Here is a quick update in three parts.

The Trip to חו"ל: Ki MiZion Tetze Torah

The trip was fabulous in many ways. Four cities and 11 shiurim in 7 days! Apart from all the travel and Torah, I managed to see the Monet exhibition at the Royal Academy in London! But if one spiritual insight stands out, I would say this. Upon reflection, I believe that this thought made its impression upon me because I didn't quite expect it. It wasn't a conscious understanding as I prepared my visit, and it dawned on me as each shiur and meeting transpired.

The main purpose of my travels was to spend a very special Shabbat as scholar-in-residence in Chicago. But a secondary aim was to visit some of my students who I have taught in Israel on various programs – Gush, Midreshet Harova, Eretz Hatzvi, Lindenbaum, Orot. My stopovers in London, NYU and Penn were specifically a response to many students who complained: "Why don't you come and give shiur to us?" or challenged me: "You better come and visit." Well, a teacher-student relationship is a powerful one and I do feel strongly attached to my talmidim/ot, and so I felt a desire to respond to the request.

I arrived in these places, and I could see, as I interacted, and taught Torah, that in some way, I was bringing a little bit of Yeshiva/ Midrasha, a little glimpse of Eretz Yisrael and Torat Eretz Yisrael with me. In many faces I saw the feeling (and some talmidim/ot articulated the thought) that "This is the Torah that we miss from Israel." Even my comments above, about the depth and strength of the teacher-student bond are in some way, realizations that penetrated my thinking more fully as a result of my trip.

When I was in University in London, my teachers would visit and it would bring the feeling of Yeshiva flooding back, recalibrating me, reorienting me. In some small way, I feel that my meeting with my students achieved this for them, and for even for that, it was worth it.


Sara Hammerschlag said...

So, Rav Alex, when are you coming to Brandeis?

Alex Israel said...

OK Sara , I asked for that!
I'll see what I can do! It is always a job financing and working the logistics on these trips. If you know of any communities who want scholars in residence, I am always happy to teach Torah... and to visit my students on the way!

At present, I can't see a potential trip until November!