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THE ARK AND THE TENT

THE ARK AND THE TENT

Adapted from the Speech of Rabbi B. Horovitz at the 5th Anniversary

Dinner of the

Jerusalem Academy, October 7, 1975

I begin by giving thanks to Hashem for having granted us this great occasion, the fifth anniversary of the Jerusalem Academy. Our sages teach us that if a person has studied for five years and he sees a sign of success, then he should continue. Baruch Hashem, we have reached this stage. It has been a difficult road, but filled with Nissim from Hashem.

I wish to express thanks to all my beloved colleagues, without whose help this would not be possible. I wish to express thanks to all our supporters who have given us the material possibility and the moral encouragement to continue building up this vitally unique Yeshiva. I wish to thank all the previous speakers for their kind words concerning the work which Hashem has helped us to do. Above all I wish to express thanks to the Hubert Family, without whose initial sponsorship, constant encouragement and support, we would not have been able even to begin or to continue with this undertaking.

Noach and Avraham

Yeshivat D’var Yerushalaim represents the difference in principle, if not in actuality, between Noach and Avraham. In the corrupt generation of the Deluge, Noach walked with G—d rn inr ‘p’ nc (Bereshit 6:9). He saved himself and his family whilst everyone else drowned. In a morass of immorality, he was able to protect himself in a tightly sealed ark filled with light (ri:’n nvn ,ri) but was not able to save others. Avraham, from whom Am Yisroel stems, walked in front of G—d &7 rnr (Bereshit 17:1); he went out to the idolators and the corrupt nations and called upon the name of Hashem. This was symbolised by the tent of Avraham, which had a door on every side, open for all. The Teva (Ark), on the other hand, needed to be closed and secure.

Here we have the same parallel. The majority of Yeshivot fulfill the principal and important task of keeping our youth close to Torah and away from the negative influences of the secular environment. We must have a solid basis of Noach before we can progress to Avraham. We must be able to protect those who have been brought up with the light of Torah from childhood and see that it remains pure and protected from the weakening influences of permissive and atheistic society.

At the same time, we must not forget that the People of Israel were created to become a Kingdom of Priests (Shemot 19:6). It is out duty to progress from this stage and to concern ourselves with those who are drowning. We must have closed Yeshivoth so that nothing of the impurity of the environment will enter into the minds or hearts of our children. But we must also have open Yeshivoth so that those who are in danger of becoming lost entirely to any Jewish identity will find their way back. Avraham Avinu kindled a light in front of Hashem, a fire that warmed him, but was able at the same time to bring the warmth and the light of Hashem’s teaching to those who were still out in the cold darkness.

The Task of a Modern Yeshivah

Whether they come from Russia, the capital of materialistic-atheism, or from western society, a center of permissiveness, the majority of Jewish youth today are over-satiated at an early age with materialism and seek for some spiritual meaning in life. Therefore, there must be a place of warmth and light which will be open to receive them as they are and gradually bring them back to intellectual, emotional and practical involvement with the perfect program of life — the Torah — revealed to us by our Creator.

This is the program of Yeshivat D’var Yerushalaim, the Jerusalem Academy of Jewish Studies. We purposely keep the two names. The barrier today is so great that most of “the outsiders” who are in the cold, once they hear the name “Yeshiva” immediately identify it with the concept of the ark, which is closed to them. In order that they can find their way over the threshold, we have to keep the name “Academy”.

The late Ponevezer Ray, 7”T, once asked the question why is it that we find today that so often a young person from a totally assimilated background comes to a Yeshiva and, after a very short time, the Torah is something natural to him. So often we are amazed by our own students. We see what a natural love they have for Torah and Mitzvot although they have had no background. Where does this come from?

He answered that in the holocaust one million Jewish children were killed. What happened to the souls of those children? Most of those children were born and reared in very religious families. Those Neshomas are hovering in the atmosphere, and they are waiting for young Jews who will be ready to receive them, who will be ready to continue the holiness which was placed into them from birth and which they had for the first few years of their lives. Thus, we see in many of the young people such a natural love for Torah and Mitzvot that it is like watching a constant miracle.

We hope that the time will come when this miracle will be a total one that will cover the whole of our people and that we will be able to participate in a spiritual return involving the youth in Eretz Israel, the young Jews who come from Russia, and the young who come from the western world, and thereby we will all together witness the coming of the Meshiach. For it is not just we, the People of Israel, who wait for the Meshiach. The Meshiach is waiting for the youth of Jewry to return to G—d, and then the final redemption will come.