10 September 2005

Coming in...

I walked past the blue fence at the entrance to Bat Ayin Yeshiva this past Friday and realized that it was the first time I had left the yeshiva since I had arrived on Sunday morning. I want to give you a taste of what it's like out here, just a small sweet taste.

The yeshiva is a beautiful place. It's situated on the western edge of the range of hills that Jerusalem sits on, and commands a view over the foothills and plain of Israel. At night, you can see the lights of Tel Aviv. When the sun sets, it sets into the blue band of the Mediterranean, providing one of the only ways to tell sea from sky.

The yeshiva consists of a collection of prefab housing units that we on this side of the world call 'caravans.' In between the caravans are dirt paths, stone steps, grape vines, and fruit trees offering figs, pomegranates, and apples. I commented about the environs of the yeshiva that, 'It doesn't hurt that it's beautiful out here.' Barya responded, 'you can eat breakfast off of the trees.' And we do.

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from my living quarters, and I didn't get a whole lot. I'm not complaining at all; I just want to paint the picture. When I walked in to the caravan where my room was supposed to be, I mistook the door to my room for a couple pieces of broken wood leaning against the wall. I think my room used to be a bathroom or a kitchen, because there are pipes coming out of the floor. There are a small handful of holes in the ceiling, and the walls are makeshift leanings of boards at strange angles. I love it. Avi commented that my room is something that Reb Zusia would be happy to live in.

What happens in this place doesn't depend on luxurious surroundings at all. It could be that the lack of luxury filters out those who haven't quite figured out the correct priorities in such matters.

Every yeshiva has classes in Talmud, some have classes in Bible, Jewish Thought, Prayer. Bat Ayin doesn't differ dramatically in this regard, but it is different. I'm trying to put my finger on what the difference is. Is it the passion that the students have? Is it the way prayer here can jump and spark like a flame? Is it the way that some of the Rabbis faces are always on fire with joy? Is it that the yeshiva gets together for a Thursday night shmooze, and someone mentions that they have some wood, and 10 minutes later we're all around a camp fire? Is it the way the honest search for meaning, for joy, for God, is respected and encouraged?

What it comes down to is a feeling of life - real, honest, painful, searching, joyous, life. I'm diggin' it.

It's been one week, and I only have a few weeks left.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

MC Aryeh said...

I want more...would daily missives be possible? AM tells me the place is much more mesudar these days. How to get in touch with you? Would love to hear a voice to your words....