June 12, 2024
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June 12, 2024
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Eytan Sheinfeld Balances Torah Learning at Yeshivat Har Etzion

MTA alumni pose with their PTA cakes.

Eytan Sheinfeld lives in Teaneck, where he attends Congregation B’nai Yeshurun. He went to Congregation Darchei Noam and MTA before deciding to continue his studies at Yeshivat HarEtzion (known as Gush) in Israel. After finding his balance and his path in life at Gush he will be continuing his studies at Yeshiva University’s honors programs.

Why were you drawn to Gush and what makes it different from all the other programs you considered?

Crazy to think it was one year ago, but last Thanksgiving, I went to visit different yeshivas to see which ones spoke to me. In terms of the learning, a lot of other places had good learning, but I really connected with the Brisker methodology of Gush. Rather than just learning a wide variety of sources and trying to fit them in, the logical progression of Brisker methodology just makes sense. But also the environment was great, and I really felt like a member of the Gush family in just a few hours. There happened to be a Gush alum wedding that night that I was able to attend, and the ruach was incredible. I also liked the beit midrash feel, unlike other places where the Israelis and Americans get scrambled, and it creates a more cohesive setting. The Gush beit midrash used to have 500 to 600 people, but now we are down to 200 because of the war. It’s a bit emptier now, which is harder for sure.

Pizza with some friends during bein hazmanim.

How do you think Gush fits your personality and your own philosophical outlook?

Everyone here shares my nerd humor, which is great! But also philosophically, being well rounded is important. Just intensely focusing on one thing makes you lose sense of the broad picture. If I have a full day devoted to learning I might as well learn all that I can. If I am lucky I’ll be able to do Daf Yomi and night seder later in my life but I should take advantage of the opportunity I have right now. I want to do all I can to get a good grasp of a lot of different areas. Balance is important.

Is there any particular rebbe you personally connect with?

Rav Moshe Taragin. He really puts his all in, and you can feel it. Due to the war he’s spread very thin. In addition to all his effort for the yeshiva he is also taking care of his grandkids. But he is still putting in all he can and getting to know all 30 guys in our shiur. He sits down one-to-one with us and creates a personal relationship with every student. He’s very involved

Gush Talmidim making sandbags for securing security posts.

What were your expectations going into Gush and how have they differed from your actual experience at Gush?

I came late in the day last year and didn’t get to do seder or shiur. I didn’t realize that all the Israelis speak perfect English, which is helpful for sure. But also everyone is really in it together, to create the best learning environment we can. Once a week we have Shiur Klali where everyone in the yeshiva learns the same sources and we have one big shiur from the one of the roshei yeshiva. Even with what I experienced last year I didn’t expect it to be so overwhelmingly connected. Also, we have more fluidity in our schedule than I expected. You can learn whatever you want as long as you have the independence to do so.

On that point, what’s a goal you had coming into the year?

Grow Gemara skills and learn some more topics. The way Gush teaches is atomize, conceptualize, globalize. The more you learn the more you realize it’s all interconnected. But we also have a lot of personal responsibility to be on top of ourselves to maximize our time. Rav Taragin says that self-responsibility is important, and if you can do it at Gush you can do it anywhere.

Shana Aleph Efrat shabbaton.

What is your favorite shiur that you attend in Gush?

Rav Taragin’s mussar shiur is incredible, but I really enjoy Rav Leibtag’s Tanach shiurim. We don’t get much Tanach in American high school so it’s really nice to have an in-depth Tanach shiur. And for halacha, we do a deep dive on topics that will come up in your life. Like halachot of Shabbat and Yom Tov. The Yom Tov Sheni shiur was a really big one.

Outside of learning, what else do you enjoy doing in Israel?

Right now for the most part Gush is encouraging us to stay in Alon Shvut, our gated community, unless going to a chesed opportunity in Kfar Etzion. Shlomit, a Yishuv near the Gaza border, came to Alon Shvut and there have been a lot of chesed opportunities helping them get set up. Gush also has a very beautiful campus, and I love to go on walks with friends. Big on nap time too.

What does a typical Shabbat look like for you now?

Every third Shabbat is an “out-Shabbat” while the other two are “in-Shabbats.” In-Shabbats are really nice; we do all the davening, meals, tisches, shiurim, Melava Malkas, everything together. That’s really nice, but then even on “out-Shabbatim,” we still get a good group together. Those Shabbats with the small chevra are the ones you’re gonna remember. You really get to connect with a specific group of guys, and it’s so nice.

Eytan and his chavruta on their first out Shabbat.

How do you think this year will prepare you for the rest of your life?

Living on my own is making me learn general responsibility and time management skills. Being at Gush is expanding my curiosity. But most importantly, this year (along with possibly more) will shape my general outlook on life.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The food is actually pretty good. Also thank you to the MTA PTA for the cake they sent us!

Sam Savetsky of Bergenfield, is a Shana Bet student currently studying at Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah in Modi’in.

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