Ohr Somayach "THE OTHER LIGHT" of the story!In this letter I would like to address some of the points that "Seth" raised, presenting a distorted picture of the Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in the article calledthe "Dark Light." Let me tell you a little about myself, since I think it is crucial for the reader to understand my point of view. I am not here to argue with "Seth" about how he feels about Ohr Somayach. To be honest, I felt that a lot of the statements made were not only not true, but quite silly in nature. (as will be explained below)My name is "Emit Pinchus", although this is not my real name, if anyone wants to contact me they may do so via email, or they can ask the administration who I am. and I am currently attending Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in Jerusalem. I have been here for 2 years. I recently got married and am living in Jerusalem. Prior to coming to Ohr Somayach, I earned my BS in Commerce, and then went on to complete my J.D. Every summer between the academic years at law school, I would go to Ohr Somayach to learn more about my Jewish heritage. I found the classes to be intellectually stimulating and informative. During each summer the Rabbis made it a point to express their positive feelings about my goals, referring to my desire to become a lawyer and yet taking the time to learn about our Jewish tradition. Never, and I mean never, did a Rabbi tell me or even hint to me that I should leave law school to pursue solely Jewish studies. After I came back the second time, I really felt that I wanted to set aside time after the completion of law school to study the Torah on a serious level. When I got to Ohr Somayach after taking the Bar exam, which I passed, I was pleased to find beautiful living arrangements in a Maalot Dafna apartment, with 8 other guys. Let me tell you the make up of the guys: an investment banker; an accountant; a security analyst for a major mutual fund; a professor of German-Jewish studies; a trader for another major mutual fund; a political science graduate on his way to law school; and a biomedical engineer. (I don't remember the last one's occupation.) They had all been religious for a few years, and decided to come to Ohr Somayach to strengthen their skills in learning as well as build their connection to Judaism. All were very lively guys, with upbeat personalities and were a real joy to live with. That first year gave us a chance to become friends and grow in our observance of Torah. Some people were more religious then others, and the Rabbis made it a point to have a lecture about how students should never tell other students how to live their life or keep mitzvoth. They said that theses are all personal decisions, which should be left up the individual.When someone asked the Rabbinic head of our department, about whether he encourages the students to leave Universities and their careers, he said and I quote, "Absolutely not, staying in Yeshiva and learning is a completely personal decision, where many factors have be taken into account, like financial stability, family, potential job and the like.”He advised one of my friends, who had a sick father, to go back home and help his mother to take care of his father.In my case, I really wanted to stay and learn because I felt a need to acquire the skills to learn Jewish texts independently. We learn in an intensive program dedicated to getting the student on his feet in terms of his learning and observance level. The Yeshiva never told me what type of kippa I had to wear, or whether I should wear blue shirts, or white shirts. That type of stuff is not within their scope of education. They are teaching us how to grow in our religious observance, like keeping Sabbath, wearing Tzizit, and being able to learn from a Gemara. My Rabbis never mentioned anything bad about any other type of Jew, whether it is secular or modern orthodox, or chassidic. Their goal was to help us get a foundation in learning and keeping mitzvoth, and not to get into the political issues of our times. A student might ask aRrabbi his opinion on some political issue and the Rabbi would answer him privately, but, in my experience, each Rabbi has his own mind and answers accordingly. Never did I hear anyone mention anything against the Rav, J.B. Soloveitchik, Ztl; on the contrary, Rabbis were quick to say that he was a Gadol b'Torah...In regards to Ulpan, we have an amazing teacher who’s name is Rabbi Gogak. He transformed my Hebrew from literally nothing into a level where I am able to read difficult Jewish texts by myself, a goal that I have always dreamed of attaining.In regards to newspapers, I don't know who reads newspapers and who doesn't, but I know that there are students who subscribe to secular newspapers and receive delivery at the Yeshiva. The statements made by Seth that the Yeshiva says that everything in the secular world is bad and wrong is both mistaken and silly. I have heard many Rabbis discuss the greatness of technology in the past 150 years. Many Rabbis ride buses, drive cars, use computers, use cell phones, etc. So, to imagine that they would say that nothing in the secular world has ever produced good is absurd. In regards to the point that there is aRrabbi here who tries to disprove science, is even more laughable then the last statement. I think he is referring to Rabbi Dr. Gottlieb. Rabbi Gottleib prior to coming to Ohr Somayach was an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University. He has a Phd. in mathematical logic, and is well versed in Physics and all the Natural Sciences. One of his classes discusses the problems with the evolution theory. He never once said (and I have his lectures recorded) that evolution is wrong. He does maintain that there are scientific problems with it. He is not the only one. There are secular Biology professors at major universities who also raise questions about the theory. I am not a scientist by profession, I am a lawyer and I think that it is wrong to mention theories without also providing the problems to those theories. Some of the sources that Rabbi Gottlieb quotes are as follows: --Johnson. Phillip, Darwin on Trail, 2nd ed., Intervarsity Press, 1993.Shapiro, Robert, Origins - A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Bantam, 1986Behe, Michael, Darwin's Black Box, Free Press, 1996Raup, David, Extinction - Bad Genes or Bad Luck?, Norton, 1991Stanley, Steven, The New Evolutioniariy Timetable, Basic Books, 1981Crick, Francis, Life Itself - It's Origin and Nature, Simon and Schuster, 1981All of the sources stated above are of a secular nature. No one at Ohr Somayach wants to make a person into some type of cookie cutter Jew; everyone is different, and the Rabbaim work hard to cater to all of the issues that each student has. It's quite sad that a person like Seth had a bad experience, but it would be even sadder if people take his point of view as fact. I feel very grateful to have been a part of this Yeshiva. In a few months I will be moving to back to New York as an attorney. The one thing that I learned from this place was that each Jew has a lifetime full of mitzvoth to fulfill, and Ohr Somayach was the stepping-stone for me in terms of my Jewish observance. As for my roommates from the first year, I can tell you that they were sad to leave the Yeshiva, but not because they were thrown a guilt trip by the Rabbis, but because they felt this place was a place of growth for them, a place where they met people and formed friendships. Out of the eight of us, two of us were the only ones to stay for an extra year. The others went back to their respective careers. Whenever there is a reunion in America, all the guys make it an effort to attend. If anyone wants to contact me via email, please feel free to do so. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.All the best,Emit
>> I was pleased to find beautiful living arrangements in a Maalot Dafna apartment, with 8 other guys. living with eight other guys is not my idea of a beautiful living arrangement.>> Some people were more religious then others, and the Rabbis made it a point to have a lecture about how students should never tell other students how to live their life or keep mitzvoth. They said that theses are all personal decisions, which should be left up the individual.That's great (if its true.) I was at a Brooklyn beit midrash once and when my yamica "Wasn't big enough" a hundred people tried to correct me. Imagine if I was apart of the community and I didn't keep shabbos as well what would happen. As it is, I am not apart of the community and I am not shomer shabbat.>> The Yeshiva never told me what type of kippa I had to wear, or whether I should wear blue shirts, or white shirts. Yeshivot never allow jeans. That is one reason why yeshivot will never get my money.>> My Rabbis never mentioned anything bad about any other type of Jewa) I know of at least two yeshivot in Brooklyn where I know for a fact that disgusting things are thought about Reform Jews in the holocaust theodicy of the orthodox.b) I have heard orthodox rabbis say terrible things about Ariel Sharon.c) I have heard orthodox rabbis constantly disparage jews that are not orthodox.>> In regards to Ulpan, we have an amazing teacher who’s name is Rabbi Gogak. He transformed my Hebrew from literally nothing into a level where I am able to read difficult Jewish texts by myself, a goal that I have always dreamed of attaining.A sizable amount of Brooklyn orthodox jews seems to feel that modern hebrew is too sacred to be used in conversation and should only be a language to be used between man and God. The result of that is institutionalized mispronunciations such as shabbos instead of shabbas and chasana instead of chasuna.To me their arguement can go both ways. One can say that Hebrew is sacred and should not be used in everyday speech because of it and come up with reasons and one can say that Hebrew is sacred and should be used in everyday speech because of it and come up with reasons. The reasons for both views I think is obvious enough and my view is the latter, that Hebrew is sacred and should be used in conversation.>> Many Rabbis ride buses, drive cars, use computers, use cell phones, etcThey just rant against television.I like watching Star Trek, Smallvile, Stargate Atlantis. etc. >> There are secular Biology professors at major universities who also raise questions about the theory.Correction. These professors raise questions about science's view of evolution. The Torah itself does have a view of evolution. Adam Hareshon lived for 930 years and the human species changed into humanity's present lifespan in a gradual change. A change like that can only happen by a change of genome and hence a form of evolution.Evolution is a law. If someone God forbid gets cancer, chemotheraphy does not always finish the job because some cells may mutate and then become more resistant. Evolution. The fossil record shows a gradual development of the homo genus into homo sapiens. Evolution.I should note that because evolution is a fact it does not disprove God, it just disproves literalism in reading the first chapter of Genesis.>> No one at Ohr Somayach wants to make a person into some type of cookie cutter Jew;That is exactly the purpose of the orthodox dress code.
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