Two Shana Alef boys were sitting in their room. After landing early in the morning, bussing to the Old City, going with their Yeshiva to the Kotel, and beginning to unpack, they were wiped. The summer heat didn’t help, either; they had changed into shorts once they started unpacking to try to cool off a bit. One suggested to his friend that they go out and buy a cold drink from the nearby Makolet. The other thought that was a great idea, and they turned to leave. At the door, he turned to his friend and said, in all seriousness, "Are we allowed to wear shorts in the Old City?"
Welcome to Israel! This year will be different than anything you've experienced til now. The beginning has an inevitable 'onboarding' period that you just need to get through.
From a purely physical perspective, you're adapting to a more intense daily schedule, likely getting less sleep every night. You're eating different food and may even be speaking a different language.
Potentially for the first time, you’re on your own, without parents looking over your shoulder and setting a curfew for when you need to be home at night. You may be dealing with homesickness, or swept up in the sense of freedom that comes with being so far away from home.
Socially, you’re with a new group of people and you need to figure out friends, Chavrusos, mentors and Rebbeim.
The standards or assumptions are different from what you've grown up with in your school or community, and that will take some getting used to: Maybe collared shirts and pants for more than just Davening, how much time is normal to spend on leisure/“chilling out,” and expectations of more refined speech are a couple of basic examples. And just when you start adapting to the new schedule, Slichos roll around and knock you out!
Basically, Elul is for getting used to your new environment while preparing for the Yom HaDin. You’ll get a sense of the daily schedule, hear some Mussar about the goals of a year in Yeshiva, and figure out that Sunday isn’t considered a day off in Israel. By Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, you’ll hopefully have an idea as to how different this year can be, and what you can hope to accomplish between then and Shavuos. That’ll give you something to think about while you’re Davening all day. After Sukkos Bein HaZmanim, the hope is you’ll come back to Yeshiva ready for the new schedule, ready for the new environment – and ready for growth.
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