31 October 2005

YCT Returns, or YCT's Day of School in October

Chovevei Torah got back in session today. After a hiatus of a month due to the middle-of-the-weeks placement of the holidays, we came back for the 31st - our one day of school for October. It was good, though it'll take a few days to get back into the swing of things.
What struck me today was how both the students and faculty played with the school's myth structure. In other words, we were, at points, having fun with how we perceive ourselves. Don't get me wrong, the mood of the day was not lent to levity, though it was full of seeing our fellow students and rebbeim whom we had not seen for a month, so it was that reuniting that marked the day.
But to get us back into the proper mood and orientation our Rosh haYeshiva, Rabbi Dov Linzer, spoke after מנחה (afternoon prayer service) about the holiday of שמיני עצרת (Eighth day of rejoicing before God after seven days of Sukkos). Although I take the holiday as a gift of God for God's people, Israel, to celebrate before God, Rav
Linzer didn't feel satisfied with such a simple answer as that. He offered the תרגום (Aramaic translation composed in early antiquity) for the verse in the Torah introducing the holiday, which speaks of bringing in one's vessels in from one's sukkah on the eighth day. He then proceded to say how this is a transitional holiday, which is meant to help us to try to take the message(s) of the ימים נוראים (high holidays) with us into the rest of the year. And that has some connection with now as we get back into the swing of things regarding learning Torah. I thought it was a nice drash and, although I didn't buy his understanding of the holiday(/season), I certainly appreciated the appropriate message that was clearly meant to motivate us.
Anyways, back to the myth structure thing. Although I overheard a couple of guys mentioning things upon this topic, it was something that Rav Linzer said that stuck out to me. A guy had just returned this morning on a plane and had lost his kippah (he had a ballcap, which made it loseable) after having gone through a metal detector and grabbed a "bar mitzvah" kippah from the first floor of the Columbia Hillel. As he was sitting in the בית המדרש (study hall), Rav Linzer came over and the fellow joked saying something to the effect of saying he was interested in checking out the place and the Rosh haYeshiva joked, saying that this is Chovevei and we're open, etc., finishing off with a hug. That we acknowledge ourselves as a huggy yeshiva/rabbinical school, our open acceptance of fellow human beings, and warmth is something that I found amusing and interesting.
It's true that many times, both in and out of school we make light of our being an Open Orthodox yeshiva, as it sounds kind of vague, and interpreting it in amusing ways.


In the Lee of the Wind said...

I kinda get it, but I don't...huggy yeshiva?

Sounds so israeli

Drew Kaplan said...

Yeah, we're known for our hugging. It starts with our founder, Rabbi Avi Weiss, who is a very warm man who likes to hug. And as part of the environment and culture of YCT which is fostered is this hugging. It's cool. But it's not like we go around hugging, but we're comfortable with it.

Lab Rab said...

I have yet to have a meeting with R. Weiss (and I've had quite a few in my day) that didn't begin and end with a hug.

So you're huggy! Enjoy it! We all love YCT precisely for that aspect of it.