By Tuli Urbach
Historic. Bold. Unique. Innovative. These are some of the words that come to mind when describing the latest initiative undertaken by Yeshivas Nishmas Hatorah. This past motzaeiShabbos,bachurim from various yeshivos in the tri-state area assembled at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in New Jersey for a mini-retreat/convention that continued throughout Sunday morning.
The idea was the brainchild of Rabbi Pinchus Weinberger and Rabbi Yissachar Blinder, rosheiyeshiva of Yeshivas Nishmas Hatorah. As they are involved in being mechanech bachurim who are in the post-Eretz Yisrael/dating stages of life, they realized a tremendous need to address the difficulties and challenges that this turbulent stage of life presents for Klal Yisrael’s young men. How do I continue my growth in ruchniyus back in the U.S.?How do I know when I am ready to date?How do I know what to look for in a wife?How do I juggle all my responsibilities?
These questions and many more are at the forefront of these bachurim’s minds. More often than not, the yeshiva experience in itself is not answering them. Thus the idea was conceived to host a retreat that would feature speakers and workshops geared specifically to these sensitive topics. The undertaking had the warm and encouraging berachah from Rav Elya Brudny, shlita.
The first speaker to kick off the event was Rabbi Doniel Frank, director, M.A.P. Seminars, Inc., and a noteworthy licensed marriage and family therapist in the frum community. Rabbi Frank spoke about the essential factors that one needs in order to be successful in his relationship, career choices, and even in his observance of Yiddishkeit. He focused on motivation, developing essential life skills, and being authentic, and how these effect dating and marriage.
Following Rabbi Frank’s presentation, the bachurim were given the opportunity to hear from Rabbi Yosef Viener, shlita, rav of congregation Shar Hashomayim in Monsey. Rabbi Viener spoke about the delicate halachos of how to conduct and respond to questions in regard to research on shidduchim. The rav couldn’t emphasize enough the severe ramifications of misinformation and the importance of asking she’eilos. The bachurim were given the opportunity to ask their own questions and hear Rabbi Viener’s candid and often unexpected responses. They walked away with the understanding of the tremendous achrayus that they carry and how when one sticks with halachah, only good can result.
Following Rabbi Viener’s speech, all attendees gathered for a delicious melaveh malkah and inspiring kumzits led by the very talented Nagelberg brothers of Lawrence. At the kumzits, Rabbi Blinder spoke about the infinite potential that every person has to transform moments of yeridah into opportunities of attaining great levels of kedushah and aliyah just by asking the most basic of questions: “Where are you, Hashem?” It was heartwarming to see the achdus and camaraderie develop amongst bachurim who did not know each other previously.
After Shacharis and a delectable breakfast, Sunday morning’s first session began with a roundtable question-and-answer panelist discussion. The panelists featured three young balabatim who, after leaving their years of yeshiva, had transitioned, at least partially, into the working world with much success and wished to share their insights into what it takes to make this transition as a benTorah in today’s working environment. R’ Yehuda Zachter ascribed his unforeseen journey from “Merkaz guy” to kiruvrabbi at Columbia University to a private-wealth manager at Morgan Stanley as being open to see the yad Hashem in every step of one’s life.
R’ Zvi Reider, a talmid of Rav Tzvi Kaplan, underscored the importance of a solid foundation in Torah learning and Jewish values as key to continued growth. Rabbi Abi Goldenberg, who is also a rebbe in Yeshiva Nishmas Hatorah, reminded the chevrah that plans change. One can chart a course only to see it change drastically. One must be prepared for that eventuality and try to thrive from it.
The panelists all stressed the responsibility of making a kiddushHashem in the secular world and improving the image of the frum businessmen. This was so powerful as the presenters were young, “with it,” and refreshingly candid.
The final speaker of the retreat was Rabbi Y.Y. Rubenstein. Rabbi Rubenstein focused on the imperative for one to have a relationship with a rebbe throughout life, and to maintain one’s core identity as a ben Torah no matter where life takes him. He captivated the audience with his own personal astounding experiences and his good-natured humor. It was a perfect dose of chizuk and hadrachah, giving the bachurim the opportunity to encapsulate and build upon that which they had gleaned over the past 15 hours.
A tremendous yasherkoach to Rabbi Pinchus Weinberger, Rabbi Yissachar Blinder, and Rabbi Abi Goldenberg, as well as Mordechai Fuchs, for enabling the success that this event achieved.
Tuli Urbach is a talmid at Yeshiva Nishmas Hatorah and a division head in Camp Munk. He authors a blog geared towards Jewish youth at www.hearthustlefire.com.