By David Tanner
Back in November, MTA’s Rabbi Danto kicked off the special Bein HaSedarim Raffle program, available to students in all grades. The idea was to encourage talmidim to learn in a beis midrash environment during the off-time each week between Thursday night and Sunday morning for at least one hour and fifteen minutes. For each learning session, a raffle ticket for a $180 prize was earned, and students who learned enough times had access to the grand raffle, which carried with it the prize of $1,000.
Nearly 50 students participated, and those who submitted their learning time even once were invited to a wrap-up lunch this past Wednesday, April 15, where the winning tickets would finally be drawn. The event started with pizza for everyone. Afterward, Rabbi Taubes gave a brief introduction to the special guest speaker, Rav Aharon Kahn, shlita, a rosh yeshiva at YU whose many talmidim over the years include Rabbi Taubes himself. The boys were honored to have Rav Kahn address them on a timely topic–the nature of sefirasha’omer. Rav Kahn spoke about how the Sefer HaChinuch discusses the mitzvah of sefiras ha’omer, and explained how the sefirah is both a countdown and a “count up;” that is to say, that even though at this time of the year our eye is on Shavuos and Matan Torah, we must understand that each one of these days is also a day of growth which has inherent value in and of itself. This is one reason for counting up–one day, two days, three days–and not down. When one counts down, the concentration is only on the end result; when one counts up, every step of the way is crucial. (Rav Kahn’s shiur is available on YU Torah.)
After Rav Kahn spoke, the raffles were drawn. Dani Gruen of West Hempstead won the $180 raffle, and Yisrael Friedenberg of Passaic won the grand prize–$1,000! While the boys wish mazal tov to them both, they all recognized that the money was just an incentive, and not the central point of the program. The focus was to gain an understanding that even when they are out of the four walls of MTA, it is still their responsibility to keep up their status as bneiTorah. On all accounts, this year’s bein ha’sedarim program was an incredible success.