May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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Eli Rubin Makes Great Strides at Mevaseret Tzion

Teaneck’s very own Eli Rubin (TABC ’21) is hard at work during Shana Alef at Yeshivat Mevaseret Tzion, going the extra mile every day. Eli plans on attending Mevaseret for another year before joining the IDF and attending law school. His family davens at Congregation Keter Torah.

What attracted you to Mevaseret and what do you find unique about it?

Rav Isaacson told us that he wants the yeshiva to be a place for authentic guys. As in, when you meet a guy in yeshiva, what you see should be what you get. How it is at the beginning of yeshiva should be the same as at the end. I was considering HaKotel for a long time, and I decided that as much as HaKotel was a very tzioni yeshiva, and really what I was looking for in terms of making aliyah, I felt that in terms of my growth as a person, Mevaseret is by far the best place for that, and that’s really what I’m seeing.

So far my assumptions about how Mevaseret would be have been correct. The guys are really authentic, the level of learning is very high, the rebbeim are warm people, they’re really relatable, and I feel really at home. More so than I felt in high school or elementary school or middle school. The guys are very similar to me, the rebbeim are very similar to me, with similar backgrounds and Torah matters.

What’s something you wish you knew before coming to Israel?

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is I wish I remembered the extent of the dust all over the country because I have really bad allergies. Whenever I come to Israel I’m up all night coughing, and then I forget as soon as I leave, so I have no idea it’s like that. But to get a little deeper, I came to Israel having very little family in the country, not really knowing anyone here, and I’d rarely ever been here, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m the oldest in my family, so nobody had been to yeshiva before me. I came with so few expectations that there isn’t really anything I wished I had known. I feel like the way I came to Israel and the way I’ve experienced it so far has been so great that there’s nothing I wish I had done differently.

I think that segues nicely into our next question. What’s your favorite part about being in Eretz Yisrael?

Well, Israel matters very much to me as a person and as a Jew. I’m very Zionistic and I feel like (and there are rebbeim who talk about this, too) you choose Israel when you could learn the same amount of things and get the same out of it in America. But when you’re in Israel, you’re in Israel, and that’s our home, and there’s a lot more to it when you’re actually in the home of our people and learning Torah. We have mitzvos that are relevant in Israel that you can’t really get anywhere else, so that’s one thing. It’s so connected to the Torah that we learn that it’s hard to fully appreciate mitzvos without being in Israel. I think it was Rambam who said practicing the mitzvos in Chutz La’aretz is just practice, and not the real thing.

But I’m also very interested in archeology, and whenever I read an article I can either look out the window or take a bus, and in 15 or 20 minutes be at the location that was the center of a major battle or a kingdom 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. It’s really great. I’m in Mevaseret Tzion, which is five minutes away from Motzah, and in Mesechet Sukkah it talks about how they would get the Aravot from Motzah. I could look out the window and see that. Our people were there 2,000 years ago, and I can appreciate that a lot more in Israel.

Tell me some of the goals you have for this year and how they’ve been going so far.

Well, not to brag, but I’ve always been better than average at Gemara. Probably because my dad influenced me, given that he’s a lawyer, in terms of asking questions constantly and never taking anything as fact until it’s actually proven to be fact. I’ve been able to get very good at learning Gemara, so I came to yeshiva mostly looking for role models and looking for tidbits of information or things to notice that will improve me as a person, that will really shape me into who I am. I really think that’s what the year in Israel is for.

I thought in high school that it wasn’t just for the grades and academics but for the friends that you make, and I think that Israel is really about shaping you as a person. I think that’s what the rebbeim are here for, and I really have been successful in that. I think my Iyun Shiur rebbe Rabbi Isaacson and I have a very similar hashkafa, and I admire him very much. I think I’ve learned a lot from him, and he’s impacted me very much in the way I think of myself as a person and as a Jew, so I think I’ve been successful in that. I mean, obviously there’s also the extended horizons of learning, and not just learning the things I’m interested in, which I’ve also been successful in. For instance, I’m not very interested in Hilchos Shabbos but I’m pushing myself to learn it. I try to expand my knowledge and horizons of appreciation for halacha.

Sounds like those goals have been going well.

Yeah. I’ve definitely exceeded my expectations for the year.

So what’s an aspect of being in yeshiva that you find difficult?

There’s not enough time. We only have from 9:30 until 12:30, three hours of morning shiur, then we have one afternoon shiur, two and a half hours of Bekiyut, and two and a half hours of night seder. And even though that’s a lot of time, I feel like it’s just not enough. In my spare time I’m trying to write a sefer on Korbanos and Kehuna and the Beis Hamikdash in general, and I feel like I don’t have enough time. There’s so many things I want to accomplish but I can’t do it all. I can’t be able to do Shneim Mikra and Rambam and learn about korbanot and do chazara without enough time. And I think it’s really a bracha that that’s what I find most difficult. I wish there was more time.

Can you tell me a little more about this sefer?

Yes. So I’m a Kohen, and I’ve always been interested in the Beis Hamikdash, because it’s so central to the religion. Most of the Torah is about avodah and korbanot and such, and it’s really not relevant to our lives, or so we think. There’s a lot to be learned from korbanot. Hashem didn’t just give us the Torah and have another section, “Oh, these are the laws of korbanot,” He put the laws of korbanot in the same Torah that he put Lo Tirtzach and Lo Tignov. So I think it’s important to understand the importance of korbanot and how they could be relevant to us. I’ve learned a lot of seforim on avodah and the Beis Hamikdash, and I feel like as great as many of the seforim that Rishonim and Achronim have written are, I feel that there’s a lot more that could be said.

So what I’ve been trying to do is take any source on a given topic from Mishnayos, Gemaras, Pesukim, Toseftas and Midrashim, and explain the topic in depth as much as possible. Right now I’m writing about the ranks and organizational structure in the Beis Hamikdash, like the Kohen Gadol, the assistant Kohen Gadol, the treasurers, the heads of each family that would do avodah, the Mishmaros, and there’s a lot to talk about. When I read certain seforim, I feel like there’s so much more that could be included, but they try to be very brief so that they don’t go on tangents. But I’d like to codify all these halachot because they’re not really practical to us. I remember learning that the Chofetz Chaim once said when Mashiach comes, Eliyahu isn’t going to reveal things to us when we could have understood them and learned them ourselves. Really, it’s up to us to prepare for Mashiach by understanding the avodah on a practical level.

That sounds amazing. Last two questions: What are you learning right now, and what have you enjoyed learning the most?

In Iyun shiur we’re learning the second perek of Kidushin, in Bekiyot we’re learning the first perek, and in night seder we’re learning a mix of Even Ha’ezer relating to Kidushin and sugyas in Shaas relating to Peru U’revu, Talmud Torah, and chiyuvim of parenting. Outside of shiur, I’ve been learning a lot of Kadshim for my sefer. Mishnayos at night and Gemaras during my free time in the morning, and I’ve just started doing Rambam Mishneh Torah after Mishnayos.

I’ve definitely enjoyed learning Tanach the most. The only English book I brought to Israel was a Hebrew-English Tanach. Whenever I’m tired, I read Tanach. I learn so much Tanach in English that when I read it in Hebrew I generally know what’s going on. I just love Tanach. It’s the most concentrated form of Torah. Compare it to alcohol: Tanach is like rubbing alcohol or 100 proof, whereas most shiurim are like Bartenura. Tanach is the closest you can get to Hashem. Everything, every word, every letter, is there for a reason. So I absolutely love it.

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