CHIEF AMONG OUR CAUSES FOR COMMUNAL REJOICING is the vibrant world of Torah learning that has been built over the past half century, almost from nothing. There are hundreds of avreichim in Israel today, many of them virtually unknown outside a narrow circle, with a mastery of much of Shas. I know one avreich in his early ’20s, who has not only completed Bavli many times but Yerushalmi as well.
Every Shabbos afternoon, I have to walk no more than two minutes to hear a still young gadol hold a large audience, including many maggidei shiur, spellbound for nearly two hours (four on Chol HaMoed), as he speaks without notes, quoting dozens of sources in their exact language, on his way to his dazzling conclusion. He is unique, but not alone. Numerous works of lomdus produced by young talmidei chachamim still in their ’30s or early ’40s have sold thousands of copies.
Our families are another cause for celebration. Travelling around the Gallilee or the Golan during bein hazemanimm, one is surrounded by large frum families wherever one goes. The summer vacations or day trips of many of these families may be no frills, bargain basement affairs, but the commitment to doing things as families testifies to the strength of our familial bonds.
ONE ASPECT OF THE TORAH COMMUNITY that never ceases to amaze me is the number of those who are driven by a desire to reach out to help others. Last week, in the space of a few hours, someone called me up to discuss the possibility of using the economic clout of the community to force a reduction of bank charges that cost poor chareidi customers thousands of desperately needed shekels a year. Someone else wanted to discuss what can be done for the new immigrants from France to ensure that they do not lose all their traditions as part of the absorption process.
And yet a third had an idea for creating special phone chavrusos to prepare non-religious Jews for the Yom Noraim by familiarizing them with the Machzor. With such preparation, he is convinced many secular Israelis who have an impulse to daven on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but who are held back by their lack of familiarity with the services, would actually go to shul.