This piece was written about Shabbos pre-Corona. Until it's safe to do so, please follow all of the directions your program has given regarding going out/staying in for Shabbos. For the previous piece in the series, see here.
Once again, we come across the age-old question. Stay in or go out? Seemingly, this is a simple, no-big-deal decision a boy in Yeshiva makes every week. But in reality, it is an essential part of a gap year. Part of a successful Yeshiva year is being productive and making sure to maximize every day. Weekends are no exception to that rule; thus, it can make or break the yeshiva/Israel experience. Well, then the question becomes, if Shabbos is so important and impactful on my year, where should I spend Shabbos? What should I be doing on Shabbos? Obviously, the answer isn’t going to be every week in or every week out, but I believe that there is an ideal balance.
What is the main reason a young post-high school boy comes to Israel for the year? To learn. Plain and simple. Yeshiva is about learning. That being said, the best way to improve your Hasmada is through being disciplined and consistent. A great way to ensure you are disciplined and consistent is to fuse two weeks of learning together. By staying in for Shabbos, you add Friday, Shabbos, and Motzei Shabbos as three extra learning days to the week. Not only does this give you more time to learn, but it also strengthens the quality of learning by creating a direct flow from one week to another. I’ve certainly felt that, especially if used for chazara, this extra time helps me remember the things I’ve studied the previous week and allows me to prepare properly for the upcoming week. Granted, it is possible to go away for Shabbos and still learn, but most would agree that staying in over the weekend enhances both the quantity and the quality of their overall learning in yeshiva.
Anyone who has experienced a Yeshiva-wide Shabbos can tell you that it is one of the most beautiful parts of Yeshiva. Whether it’s the davening, the zemirot, or just the overall atmosphere, there is truly nothing like it. Shabbos is a time of the week when friends reflect, schmooze, and bond over the things they value. It is a time when peers feel a sense of achdut and when the Yeshiva can express itself as a unit in its fullest form. As a result, the Chevra’s bond is exponentially strengthened. This is crucial to a successful year in Israel not only on an individual level, but also on a broader Yeshiva-wide level. Any Yeshiva alumnus can tell you that the friends they made in Yeshiva, through sharing meaningful experiences with them, are their strongest and longest-lasting friends. In the long run, developing a stronger relationship with the Chevra in Yeshiva is far more rewarding than spending several more Shabbosim touring our beautiful country.
So nu, what’s the answer? Should I stay in or go out? Like the answer to any good yeshiva Q&A shaila, try to balance the two. Don’t spend all your Shabbosim in Yeshiva, and definitely don’t spend them all out of Yeshiva. It is crucial to spend time in different places around Israel, as it will likely help you gain an appreciation for Eretz Yisrael as well as increase the types, sects, and Hashkafas of Jews you will be exposed to in your life. On the other hand, connecting the two weeks of learning and keeping that consistency we all strive for in Yeshiva, topped with the tremendous impact a good Chevra can have in life, makes it seem that one should spend the majority of Shabbosim in Yeshiva itself.
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