A Zal Where Bochurim Can Excel

Following the publicity of a new “Yoshvim” program for Zal bochurim in Kingston, PA, Anash.org sat down with Rabbi Shimon Hellinger to find out what it’s about and who it’s for.

By Anash.org writer

Following the publicity of a new “Yoshvim” program for Zal bochurim in Kingston, PA, Anash.org sat down with Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shimon Hellinger to find out what it’s about and who it’s for.

What is the Yoshvim program and what made you think of it?

Rabbi Hellinger: As someone involved in the world of yeshivos, I have watched how a significant segment of good bochurim aren’t having their needs met in current yeshivos. They go through the years in Zal and even attend seder for the most part, yet they lack a sense of accomplishment or drive in learning. Naturally, this leads to wasted time and other distractions.

The problem is that many bochurim aren’t personally invested in their growth, and they are just looking to “go through the system.” If these bochurim could be empowered to take ownership of their life, then instead of floating through, they could develop aspirations and personal goals in learning and Yiddishkeit.

That sounds good, but how do you plan to do that?

The saying goes that Yeshivos are like the ‘beds of Sedom’: if you don’t fit, they stretch you or cut you short. For the people in the middle, Yeshivos are great and they can grow a lot. But for those who don’t fit the box perfectly – whether they learn faster, slower or prefer a different material – Yeshivos can be frustrating.

The systemized Yeshiva as we know it is only two hundred years old and wasn’t the only model for learning. Before the invention of Yeshivos and in many communities up until WWII, bochurim learned in groups in a Beis Medrash. Chaburos on varied topics were led and guided by senior talmidei chachomim. This allowed bochurim to learn at varying paces and styles, so that each one mastered what he learned and saw success.

In fact, the Zal of Tomchei Temimim in Lubavitch had groups on separate tables learning different mesechtos and areas of halacha. (In a letter regarding the Zal in Lubavitch, the Rebbe Rashab encouraged independent learning with appropriate guidance over shiurim, since the value of shiurim is largely missing nowadays.)

With this in mind, we are creating a program where bochurim can learn and grow in their learning. A primary chabura for Iyun will learn a practical Masechta “aliba d’hilchesa,” and bochurim will have options to pursue other learning interests.

Any bochur who has the drive to learn will receive the support and guidance he needs to succeed. And when a bochur feels that his success is in his own hands, he will be driven to make the most of his time.

How does this fit in with the Rebbe Rashab’s goal in establishing Tomchei Temimim to inculcate bitul and mashmaas?

It’s self-understood that Tomchei Temimim demands dedication to the ratzon and horaos of the Rebbeim. But that of course doesn’t mean the bochur should choose a yeshiva that doesn’t work for him so that he can have more bitul…

We can and must create a yeshiva where a bochur can put in the effort and see real hatzlacha.

What type of bochurim do you seek to attract?

The yeshiva is geared for mature bochurim 18-20 years old who are motivated to learn. They must be able to learn on their own and have aspirations and goals in learning. Of course, they should be chassidishe bochurim who appreciate the arum of Chassidus.

What’s the idea of having them learn alongside younger bochurim?

In many letters to parents, mechanchim, and even students themselves, the Rebbe recommends influencing others as a means to achieving a sense of accomplishment.

In our generation, young people want to have an impact. Influencing others reinforces the bochurim and motivates them to do more themselves. We see this often when a bochur becomes a counselor or shliach and when he goes on mivtzoim.

Learning with younger bochurim for a little bit each day will give the older bochurim a boost and a feeling of satisfaction.

To learn more about the Yoshvim program or about the Kingston Mesivta, contact Rabbi Hellinger at (570) 212-9408 or email office@KingstonMesivta.org

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