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.

2 comments:

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!