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Yeshiva is a Mindset (Elul 5779)

Written by שלמה מאיר, 20/9/2019


(This idea was adopted from Rav Efrem Goldberg’s Siddur Snippets #95)

There’s this line that my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Isaacson, stresses a lot towards the end of the year when people get ready for the summer or to head off to college – “Yeshiva is a mindset.” And while this idea certainly applies to bein hazmanim, it is truly just as pertinent during zman as well. 

I would like to explain this “Yeshiva Mindset” very briefly by looking at a line of Tehillim that we say twice a day for the entire month of Elul. In the Tehillim (27) “L’Dovid” there is a line that may be most associated with a song, but it also ought to be known for its crucial message about the scope of Avodas Hashem.

That is: אחת שאלתי... שבתי בבית ה׳ כל ימי חיי – There’s one thing I ask of You... I want to sit in the house of Hashem all the days of my life.

As nice as that may sound, practically how could we possibly sit in the house of G-d, the Beit HaMikdash all the days of our life!? First off, halachically most people cannot sit in the Beit HaMikdash (listen to Rav Goldberg's shiur for details), plus we have responsibilities: we have to eat, we have to sleep, we have to shower, we have to go to the bathroom. We have all kinds of responsibilities! It’s impossible to achieve “שבתי בבית ה׳ כל ימי חיי!”

So, the Slonimer Rebbe Zt’’l explains that if everywhere I go and with everything I do I’m looking to grow towards Hashem, then I am in fact "sitting" in Hashem’s house wherever life takes me!

Yeshiva, comes from the language of Yashav, to sit, but just as the Rebbe of Slonim explains our pasuk metaphorically, Yeshiva too is a metaphor. It is a mindset, like Rav Isaacson explains, not a physical location. Our religious identity is not reserved for the beis medrash. No matter how hard one shuckles or how long one learns, if when one leaves the confines of the beis medrash and is inconsiderate of others in the lunch room, or when on the basketball court their speech is vulgar, or when in the supermarket they are rude, then that person isn’t living a life where Yeshiva is his mindset, a life where his religion isn’t left behind as he leaves the shul or beis

Rather, we should be שבתי בבית ה׳ כל ימי חיי, wherever we go we should feel and act as if we are in the Beis Hashem, we should feel and act as if we are in Yeshiva. The gym is Yeshiva, the courts are Yeshiva, the dorms are Yeshiva and anywhere we travel is Yeshiva. 

Lastly, I want to add the most obvious of all, the beis medrash is Yeshiva and should be treated as one. If we see garbage on the floor we shouldn’t leave it for the next guy to pick up, because that next guy may never come. More than that, we should want to clean up the beis medrash! It is a zechus to clean the House of Hashem – to not just be שבתי but to also actively participate in preserving its beauty both through physically cleaning – that is, not leaving water bottles, walking by garbage, or storing the Yeshiva’s sefarim by our personal areas – and enhancing its beauty spiritually, by learning and turning those hours of Talmud Torah to positive actions outside the beis medrash.

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