In an inspiring kickoff to a new year of fruitful learning at Yeshiva University, students in the batei midrash [Jewish study halls] spent much of the morning of August 28 learning b’chavrusa [small study groups] as part of the One Yeshiva program.
Following that, deans, rebbeim [rabbis], faculty and students came together in the Glueck Beit Midrash to hear Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, deliver a fascinating shiur [lecture] on the yetzer hara [evil inclination].
Referencing various sources, he discussed the narrative of the Akeda [the binding of Isaac], which illustrates that the yetzer hara is not simply viewed as an “evil force” but rather represents the physical world – and how this outlook encourages us to incorporate our full selves, the physical and the spiritual, into the service of G-d.
“This is the message that YU preaches and thrives in. That is, bringing our whole selves into our relationship with others, the world, and G-d,” said Rabbi Berman. He encouraged the students to “bring all of their talents to spreading our values” and that “the University’s greatest resources to do so are its rebbeim and faculty.” He stressed to his audience that it’s important to “not just study our values but to live our values.”
Other speakers included Rabbi Yonason Shippel, director of the James Striar School of General Jewish Studies, and Yoni Broth, president of SOY (Student Organization of Yeshiva). Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, dean of the men’s undergraduate Torah Studies program, also addressed the gathering and expressed “how fortunate those attending the University are to be a part of it.” He also encouraged the students in the room to keep their fellow students in their thoughts and to pray for one another, especially focusing on how their connection with Yeshiva University fits within the context of the broader community.