Dear Aish Family,
These past few weeks have been the start of a new year for our beloved Yeshiva Aish HaTorah. Traditionally, Yeshivas (Academy of Talmudic Study) start a few weeks before Rosh HaShana (The Jewish New Year). There are many reasons for this start date. One prominent reason is for students to be able to enter into Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur (The Day of Judgment) with a few weeks of having studied the Almighty’s Torah.
This year our Yeshiva has been so full that we have had students studying in the lobby adjacent to the Beis Medrash! The sound emanating from the Yeshiva is overwhelming and beautiful. If one pays careful attention they can hear studying taking place in English, Hebrew, and Spanish!
While the Yeshiva has multiple programs for Jews on all levels, one of the most recent and successful programs is Aish Gesher. Aish Gesher is a post-High School gap year program meant to solidify a young man’s Judaism before they enter University. This year we have 60 students attending Aish Gesher.
As I have mentioned many times, I cannot go anywhere in the world without meeting someone who has studied at Aish HaTorah. I was recently in New York when a young man stopped me off on the street. He asked if I was Rabbi Burg the CEO of Aish HaTorah. I said that I was. He then told me that he had recently attended Aish Gesher and that it had changed his life.
He related that he had attended Jewish schools his whole life and that along his journey he was taught many of the different Jewish laws. Although he had full Judaic knowledge he simply did not believe in G-d. As he put it “His mind was full but his heart was empty.”
Aish Gesher altered the trajectory of this young man’s life. He said that it wasn’t just about learning Torah at Aish, it was studying about the “Author of the Torah” which changed his life. For the first time, he started to pray and he felt as if the Almighty was listening.
This is the power of Aish HaTorah. We are not just an intellectual institution where Jewish thought is studied. We are a movement which brings Jewish hearts closer to the Almighty. There is no doubt that it is the torch of Torah which lights the way to the Almighty. Still, there must be a connection between the heart and the mind or else Judaism simply does not work. In these last few days before Rosh HaShana let us all come together to work on connecting our hearts and minds to the Almighty.
Warm regards and good shabbos!