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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How Do You Blog a Yarchei Kallah?

During the past 4 days--Friday to Monday--I participated in a Yarchei Kallah sponsored by the Agudath Israel.

So, what is a Yarchei Kallah?

Rabbi Shraga Simmons of Aish HaTorah gives a brief description:
"Yarchei Kallah" is a study program for people who generally do not have too much time during the year to study. It is set up during the months of vacation, throughout the year - throughout the world.

The idea was founded by the illustrious preeminent rabbi - Rabbi Shlomo Kahaneman OBM, the late Rosh HaYeshiva of the famous Poneviz Yeshiva in Bnei Braq, some 50 years ago.

The word "Yarchei" literally means "months." "Kallah" is the Torah speech given Shabbat (Shabbat being compared to "Kallah" - source: Talmud Shabbat 119a) before holidays to teach the working people the laws of the upcoming holiday - (source: Talmud Brachot 6b; "Rashi" s.v. "Igra D'Kalla" there).
This was the first Yarchei Kallah that the Agudath Israel has held here in the US; for the past 7 years they have been holding them only in Israel. This year, the Yarchei Kallah was held at the Newark Hilton in Elizabeth, which I found out afterwards has accommodated itself to Orthodox Jewish guests: the lower floors have rooms that use regular locks as well as electronic ones so that there is no problem using the rooms on Shabbos. I blogged about it a little bit, posting the schedule for men and women. Among the Rebbeim who spoke were Rabbis Ushera Weiss, Uren Reich, Avrohom Schorr, Yaakov Perlow, and Matisyahu Salomon shlita--all speaking on topics relating to Purim and the Megillah.

It was a tremendous opportunity to sit and learn in a way that I have not done in a long, long time--and it was not until I started that I realized how much I missed it. Starting Friday afternoon and finishing Monday afternoon, the schedule of learning had you either hearing a shiur or preparing for it--when you weren't eating.

There is an indescribable feeling about being able once again to so thoroughly immerse yourself in learning, without having thoughts of the "outside world" or any external concerns intrude. The organizers put together a choveret of over 230 pages that not only had the Marei Mekomos--the sources assigned for preparation--but also xeroxed copies of various Rishonim and Achronim that you might want to also access while preparing for the shiurim.

This was no dry learning. There was a vitality and camaraderie behind the learning and a passion behind the davening that animated the room--and that I think is one of the components necessary to revitalize Judaism and what it means to be a Jew. It is not enough here in Galus to talk about Jewish--and claims that living in Israel is enough to be a Jew just don't cut it--especially when there is an overriding sense of passivity that often seems to be behind such talk. More than passivity, there is a lack of both identification and pride these days that ultimately have led us to where we are today.

We must recognize that there are many components that make up who we are which need revitalizing and different kinds of Jews.

How do you blog a Yarchei Kallah?
I don't know--
I can't share all the beautiful Divrei Torah and insights.
But I wanted to share a little about the experience and where it can lead us.

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