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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: Goodbye, But Not For Long

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Goodbye, But Not For Long

I and quite  few other bochurim will be returning to Chutz La'aretz in just a few days. I just can't wait for that flight-NOT- tons of bochurim all on their way home. Boruch Hashem, it is mostly bochurim on this flight. The families are traveling in the opposite direction- from America to Eretz Yisroel, and those others are already here and don't go home for Yom Tov. So we really do have an easy flight.

As I start preparing myself for the flight home, though, I can't help but feel...sad. I'm gonna be leaving. Yes, I'll be coming back, iy"H, but still- I'll be leaving the land of my forefathers. My land.

I'm transported to a hot, sticky summer day...

Its 4PM on a sweltering summer Tisha Ba'av afternoon. Hundreds of us 8-12 year old boys are gathered in the main Bais Medrash of the camp, which also serves as a rec room/auditorium. Our Learning Director, a Holy Jew with a long brown beard slightly sprinkled with flecks of white is standing in front of the Aron Hakodesh. We're all here to hear a little bit about Tisha Ba'av and the Churban Habayis. And there's no question about it, this is the Rabbi to give it.  A fire and brimstone type of guy, he'd have been at home in any Southern church, lecturing lava about the hazards of drink to a sleepy audience in a fly filled sanctuary.

As he thunders on to the mostly bored kids, I remember being mostly unimpressed, and far more interested in the Mario game I was secretly playing while pretending to pay rapt attention. And then, for some reason, his voice started breaking. And things began to get interesting.

He was speaking about Eretz Yisroel, and that fact that our aveiros brought about our Exile from it. Soon, he was telling us about a recent trip of his to our country. Tears were streaming down his face, soaking his long beard. My Mario forgotten, I was completely focused on the scene in front of me. This guy was real. Live. And then he said something I've never forgotten since. Describing a trip up north, he was saying; "As we traveled, we went through many Arab settlements and villages. All over, they were. And It's my land. Don't you see, it's MY LAND. My land". This last was a broken, screaming cry, almost desperate. As if he were begging us, little kids all, to help him, to understand and share in his pain. We all sat stunned. Quiet. Game Boys aside. And perhaps, just a little...

Ever since then, I've thought of Eretz Yisroel, in some ways, as my land. Not in a Tzioni, Rav Kook way (chas v'shalom), but in a nice, pareve type of way. Like this Rabbi, perhaps. And when I have to leave it, I feel like I'm parting with a something I own and love, without any contact until my next visit. No phone calls, pictures, or shmuessen. Because really, you need to be here to schmooze with the land. And even when you're here, most people don't know the language to be able to properly speak with our land. But if you do know the shprach, you can have the most wonderful conversations.

I'm reminded now of a story that took place in the Russian shtetl of old. A Jewish peasant was tilling the soil for his Russian nobleman; backbreaking labor. As he plowed and sowed the land he would frequently see his master in the fields. Bending over, the Russian would take a fistful of the soil, and let it slowly run through the cracks between his fingers. Then, he'd put his ear to the earth, and slowly, a beatific smile would spread across his face. After watching this scene play itself again and again over the years, the middle-aged Jewish farmer finally gathered the courage to ask his master what he was doing...what he heard when he'd put his ear to the ground. "Ah Yankel, I'm listening to the music. The music of the beloved Russian motherland."
Music?, thought the Jewish fellow wondrously. He too, put his ear to the ground, to listen and hear the music. The Russian nobleman began laughing uproariously at the Jew. "Yankel, don't you know- you'll never hear any music. It isn't your land".

Many years later, as the story goes, Yankel made aliyah. And now, when old man Yankel puts his ear earthward, he hears music. Ah, what music he hears.

Yes, I'll be going to America for Succos Bein Hazmanim.
But Boruch Hashem, I've heard the music. And although we won't be having any shmuessen, Eretz Yisroel and I, I'll be listening to the music. Once you've heard it, you see, it's always playing itself over in your a stunning symphony that you can't get of your head. And just when you think you're about to forget it, when the last strains are echoing away, you see some random sight on the street-  a Jewish vendor checking his fruits, or a meshulach in Shomer Shabbos, or even a few words of Ivrit- and the niggun crescendoes. And the nostalgia sets in again.

So goodbye, Eretz Yisroel. Arrivaderci, people of Israel. But although I go,
fear not...

The music plays on.

And finally, as the immortal MacArthur said,
"I shall return".

And IY"H, one day, we all will.

"V'Shavu Vanim Lig'Vulum."

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Blogger Chana said...

It's beautiful that you feel such a love and connection to Eretz Israel. However, I am curious about this statement: "Not in a Tzioni, Rav Kook way (chas v'shalom), but in a nice, pareve type of way." What's chas v'shalom about loving the land as R' Kook did? Also, while your Rav was inspiring, I think it's wrong to claim it's *our* land and that means everyone else has to get out. The problem he should be lamenting, if anything, is that certain sects of these people are not acting in accordance to the rules of Ger Toshav (hence the suicide bombings, etc) but not the very fact that they are *there.*

Also, in a previous post you mentioned that you couldn't (or wouldn't) sit next to a girl on a flight back to Israel. Out of curiosity, where is that rooted in halakha? Or is it that yeshiva students cannot sit next to a girl because she will automatically have such a profound effect on them?

September 25, 2009 at 1:40 AM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...


I will address your valid Rav Kook question via email.

Re "Our Land":
I don't think he meant, at all, that everyone else should get out, or anything remotely similar. This guy was a seriously Yeshivishe Rov...I think he meant it in a simple way. In the way a Yid cries out to Hashem- it's our land, give it back.

Re Ger Toshav:
This is not my thing, my I seem to think that Ger Toshav etc. is not applicable today. Am I wrong?

Final comment re YG's sitting next to ladies etc.; again, via email.

September 25, 2009 at 6:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really concerned about that statement of 'Not in Tzioni-Rav Kook sort of way"...and I'm wondering what they're teaching you.Nebach...Please explain

September 25, 2009 at 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Vicki said...


This is a great post describing a yearning many Jews (including me) feel about Israel-longing and an intense connection.

However, you write, describing the rabbi,
"Describing a trip up north, he was saying; "As we traveled, we went through many Arab settlements and villages. All over, they were. And It's my land. Don't you see, it's MY LAND. My land". This last was a broken, screaming cry, almost desperate."

Is this implying that he believes that the Arabs living on the land should get out to keep the land pure for Jews? It's their land, too.

September 25, 2009 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...


If you don't mind, could I trouble you to explain your question a bit more precisely? Specifically, what concerns you here?

September 25, 2009 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...


To be clear about this. No, he doesn't- the most ultra-orthodox (hareidi) Jews -like him- do not believe that we own this land...yet.

But in all fairness, when Moshiach comes, iy"h, the land will revert to our control. And the fact of the matter is that the land was given to us, according to the Torah, etc. If you would like more sources re this please feel free to Twitter/Email me and I'd be glad to provide them.


September 25, 2009 at 7:25 PM  
Anonymous E. Fink said...


It is interesting because I have a very similar feeling about Eretz Yisrael.

To explain the "non-Tzionish" part I feel that whoever is in charge of the Land of Israel my feelings remain the same. In other words, the government, settlements and politics play no role in my approach to EY.

To be able to see and experience our storied history "first-hand" and see the beauty of the land is more meaningful to me than politics.

Also, I love that wherever I go in EY I am surrounded by my brothers and sisters. That is what means to most to me.

September 25, 2009 at 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Hey YG,

Thanks for the response. I think we can agree to disagree here because I am coming from a secular perspective, one that acknowledges that Jews have a clear claim to the land based on some archaeology that verifies that some events in the Tanakh did happen and that it is our homeland; but, at the same time, just because it is ours doesn't mean it also isn't the Arabs', who also have lived on it for generations.

September 25, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...

E. Fink:

"Also, I love that wherever I go in EY I am surrounded by my brothers and sisters."

Me too. Its pretty cool, this extended family of mine!

September 25, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...


Oh- didn't realize. Obviously, w/o that point being agreed on there is very little to discuss as far as control when Moshiach will come, etc.

But before then, so you know, I'm a big fan of everyone who wants living in Eretz Yisroel. The more the merrier!

September 25, 2009 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger SIS said...

How does one learn the language? How does one hear the music?

September 30, 2009 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...

"The Heavens and the Earth sing His praise."

The language and song are one, really. The song of all creatures, the song of creation. Torah. Shir Hashirim. Etc. Need I go on? To a fellow YG "also" acquainted with the Toras Ha'Olah etc., no doubt I need not elaborate here.


October 2, 2009 at 7:44 AM  

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