When the founding Rosh Yeshiva, Moreinu VeRabbeinu HaRav Amital ztl was asked what's special about Yeshivat Har Etzion, he would tell the following story.
Many years ago, the Baal HaTanya was learning in his room. In the next room, his grandson, the Tzemach Tzedek, was learning and in the third room a baby slept. Suddenly, the baby woke and began to cry. The Tzemach Tzedek continued studying. The Baal HaTanya got up, walked passed the Tzemach Tzedek into the room with the baby. He picked up the baby and comforted it. When the baby was quiet, the Baal HaTanya said to his grandson, "If you learn Torah and don’t hear a Jewish baby's cry, there is something wrong with your learning."
In Yeshivat Har Etzion, our goal is to learn Torah AND hear the baby's cry. In every generation, a baby cries: some obvious, some hidden. Sometimes the child itself doesn’t realize its crying. It is our job, in Yeshiva, to hear even the hidden cries of our generation.
What is the typical Seder HaYom?
7:00 - Shacharit
7:45 - Breakfast
8:30 - Shiur/Morning Seder
13:00 - Lunch followed by break
15:00 - Mincha
15:15 - Afternoon Seder
17:00 - Revava: The Riva Koschitzky z"l Torah Enrichment Program (Chugim including: Halakha Seder, Tanach Seder and Machshava)
19:15 - Ma'ariv
19:30 - Dinner
20:15 - Musar Seder
20:30 - Night Seder
What is the Yeshiva's approach to learning?
The primary goal of Gemara learning in Yeshivat Har Etzion is to refine talmidim's Gemara learning skills while instilling a passion for talmud Torah. To truly love Torah, a talmid must be equipped with the tools and skills to master its learning. The Yeshiva stresses that talmud Torah is a vital and indispensable instrument for a relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. The study of Gemara in the Gush Beit Midrash trains talmidim to analyze, explore and evaluate differing opinions in the hope that they will grow to be discerning individuals, sophisticated thinkers and great leaders.
Yeshivat Har Etzion has a staff of over 25 rabbeim who serve as teachers and mentors. Eleven of the ramim are talmidim of HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik ztl and all are alumni of the Yeshiva. Through their shiurim, a talmid has the opportunity to explore Gemara conceptually in the structured manner known as the Brisker derech.
What are the shiurim like? What if I am not fluent in Hebrew?
An hour and a half shiur yomi is given during morning seder. A talmid will spend an intense three to four hours a day preparing for this shiur bechavruta delving through parallel sugyot and the rishonim on the daf. Almost all of the shiurim are given in Hebrew. The ramim are more than happy to clarify points after shiur, and there are also English speakers in the Beit Midrash willing to help with translation.
All students attend shiur klali, the weekly shuir given to the entire Yeshiva by the Roshei HaYeshiva. This shiur deals with a major topic in the massechet being studied. Review shiurim of shiur klali are given in both Hebrew and in English.
The Yeshiva offers Ulpan classes for talmidim who wish to refine their Hebrew skills.
How are talmidim placed in a shiur?
In Elul, talmidim are placed in a shiur for overseas students. These shiurim offer a supportive environment that fosters progress over the course of the year and encourage the unfolding of a Torah personality crucial to the Yeshiva experience. To enable greater access to Rabeim who serve as a primary source of guidance, the shiurim are kept small (shiurim typically have between 15-25 talmidim).
When talmidim have become acclimated to the Yeshiva and conversant in Hebrew, they will be encouraged to transfer to an Israeli shiur. There are shiurim that develop textual skills and begin to analyze concepts that stem from the Gemara to shiurim that focus on the rishonim and the sevaras of each rishon.
What is learned during night seder?
Evening seder is devoted to the study bekiut. Evening seder consists of small chaburot of approximately 10 talmidim guided by night seder Ramim. The overall goal is to finish an entire masekhta. Students may choose to learn with an older chavruta concentrating on different perakim within the massekhet.
Along with my Gemara study, does the Yeshiva foster growth in other areas of Torah?
While the intense study of Gemara is the central focus of the learning in Yeshivat Har Etzion, other areas of Torah knowledge such as Tanach, Machshevet Yisrael, and Halakha LeMaaseh are integral as well. The family of Riva Koschitzky zl have partnered with the Yeshiva and generously sponsor The Revava Program.
Revava: The Riva Koschitzky zl Torah Enrichment Program hosts daily shiurim or chugim given to strengthen areas of learning and spiritual development crucial to the development of a Ben Torah.
From 5:15-6:15 there are two learning tracts: Tanach and Halacha. The Tanach tract is a program run by Rabbi Menachem Leibtag of guided study and tiyulim. Rabbi Leibtag provides an analytical approach which focuses on teaching students how to study Tanach, and what better way to study Tanach then by literally following in the footsteps of the Avot.
The English language Halacha track is under the direction of Rav Doniel Schreiber and provides a structure for the advancement of this central area of Talmud Torah fundamental to a life as a complete, Halachik Jew. Rav Schreiber provides both a comprehensive overview and in-depth practical knowledge of halacha lema’aseh.
The Revava Program continues from 6:15 – 7:15 with Machshevet Yisrael. The Yeshiva views the excavation of each of its student’s inner potential as one of its defining features. A genuine Ben Torah’s growth in learning is matched by his growth in midot and as an Oved HaShem. Chugim are given on the thought and writings of the Ramcha”l, Rav Kook, Rav Soloveitchik, and The Kuzari, for example. There are chugim on Modern Jewish Thought, Inyanei Eretz Yisrael, Avot DeRabi Natan and much more.
What requirements and obligations do talmidim have?
Talmidim are expected to fulfill their obligations relating to their davening and learning (both in shiur and in seder). On a personal level, they are to conduct themselves in accordance with the standards of a Ben Torah. The educational philosophy of Yeshivat Har Etzion is that, insofar as reasonably possible, each bochur should be honored and trusted to work to the utmost of his capacity. In order that a talmid remain a dedicated Ben Torah after leaving the Beit Midrash, he must come to Ahavat Torah and Avodat Hashem through self-motivation and personal responsibility.
How much contact will I have with the Roshei Yeshiva?
The influence of the Roshei HaYeshiva forms the cornerstone of the Yeshivat Har Etzion experience. A year at Yeshivat Har Etzion, above all, offers students the opportunity to be inspired by these prestigious personalities. All are eminent Talmidei Chachamim and dynamic educators. They are entrenched in the Beit Midrash, yet sensitively and perceptively attuned to the concerns of the broader Jewish community.
Whether through a lively question-and-answer session, a sicha, or a spirited tisch, the Roshei HaYeshiva meet with all the bachurim on a regular basis. They are present in the Beit Midrash every day to answer questions in Torah study, or discuss any issue. Talmidim at the Yeshiva consider it a great privilege to have these gedolim so readily accessible to them.
What other sources of guidance will be available to me?
The Rebbeim and Mashgichim help each talmid maximize their unique talents, assist them in arranging chevrutot, and are available for guidance on any issue. Madrichim provide a further source of direction: a high level of motivation and a serious commitment to Talmud Torah.
There are talmidim who stay for a second or third year, talmidim who return during or after college, and talmidim who study in the kollel for several years. Many alumni also return to learn in the Yeshiva for shorter time periods, whether during Zman Elul, winter break or summer vacation. They, too, are an invaluable asset for their younger peers.
Married alumni who return to learn in the kollel often provide a "home away from home" for the younger students. This helps each student feel comfortable in what is likely his first encounter with extended learning away from home.
What is Shabbat like?
Shabbat gives talmidim the opportunity to hear sichot from the Yeshiva’s prodigious resource of learned Torah scholars. The sichot after Kabbalat Shabbat highlight elements in the parsha or attitudes on a current compelling issue. After dinner, talmidim attend tischim in the homes of a Ram or learn in the Beit Midrash. Kiddush on Shabbat morning is followed by a shiur in Parshat HaShavua and during the day, the Rosh Yeshiva or one of the Ramim will deliver a shiur on a halakhic topic. The culmination of Shabbat at the Yeshiva, Seudah Shelishit, features a second sicha on the parsha.
Talmidim are often invited to the homes of rebbeim, kollel families, or to families in Alon Shevut for a Shabbat meal. The Alon Shevut community warmly welcomes Yeshivat Har Etzion students into their homes. The Yeshiva and Alon Shevut communities join to learn together, to run joint chessed projects and to share events.
Will I learn with Israeli students?
Yeshivat Har Etzion's Overseas Program is a fully integrated part of the Hesder Program. This means that overseas talmidim learn in a Beit Midrash where the predominant language is Hebrew, and also have the opportunity to learn with Israeli chavrutot. Overseas talmidim live in a dormitory with Israeli talmidim, and when overseas talmidim reach an appropriate level, they are placed in Israeli shiurim.
The Yeshiva further encourages integration by running joint events like a Shana Alef/ Shiur Alef Melave Malka or a Shana Bet/Shiur Daled Shabbaton in Haifa.
Will I see the country while in Yeshiva?
There are numerous tiyulim (including afternoon tiyulim every few weeks) and Shabbatonim over the course of the year. Talmidim will find their shiurim in Tanach echoing in the hills as they walk in the footsteps of the Avot and stand in the battlefield where David slew Goliath. What better way to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut then a tiyul for the entire Yeshiva! The Yeshiva honors Yom Yerushalayim by davening at the Kotel and walking through its holy alleyways! During Bein HaZmanim, there are major hiking tiyulim to the Galil, Golan, and Negev. Other highlights include Shabbatonim in the Old Cities of Jerusalem and Tzefat.
Do talmidim volunteer while they are in Yeshiva?
By its nature, a talmid’s stay at the Yeshiva is concentrated and inner-directed. However, it is also a preparation for what lies beyond – a life of service to Klal Yisrael, in either professional or lay capacity. The Yeshiva is committed not only to molding individuals, but to developing communal leadership by stimulating both the ability and desire to serve.
Yeshivat Har Etzion is proud to be the home of Yeshivat Darkaynu. Yeshivat Darkaynu is a new and innovative program developed for religious young men with special needs who want to continue their learning, develop vocational skills, build independence, improve self-esteem and expand their love of Israel and the Jewish people. Though Yeshivat Darkaynu is a unique, "side streaming" program, chavruta learning is an integral part of study and students are paired with talmidim from Yeshivat Har Etzion for joint study.
The Yeshiva offers a wide range of chessed opportunities so that each talmid can choose a project that resonates with him. Volunteering opportunities include, Shabbatot in Children’s Homes, supporting our troops in the Pina Chama, acting as big brothers, as well as participating in Shalva (a home for challenged children). Talmidim also work with the needy, the elderly, families of victims of terror and new olim. The Yeshiva has a long-standing relationship with Beit Blumenthal (a foster home for children) in Geula, and overseas talmidim organize annual Chanuka and Purim mesibot for the children who are housed there.
Yeshiva talmidim graciously offer to learn with children in Alon Shevut, and the children in our host community embrace this opportunity.
What are the provisions for room and board?
Talmidim live in a comfortable two, three, or four-person room with a friend of their choice. The Yeshiva provides three meals a day and is open almost every Shabbat. During Bein HaZmanim periods, the Yeshiva is officially closed. Most students stay with relatives and friends. Arrangements can be made for students to stay with their Israeli peers.
Where is The Gush?
Yeshivat Har Etzion is located in the close knit and dynamic Torah community of Alon Shevut, which is approximately 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Talmidim are invited for Shabbat meals, and families host bi-monthly Vaadim (chaburot meetings) in their homes. This association assures that the talmidim have abundant role models and sources of inspiration for a life of communal cooperation and mutual assistance.
What facilities are available in the Yeshiva and in Alon Shevut?
Within a five minutes walk of the Beit Midrash, talmidim can find an array of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including an indoor swimming pool, basketball, and work out room. Alon Shevut has a bank (and cash machine), post office, and a grocery store. Local eateries deliver on request.