This past week I had the opportunity to visit Eretz Yisroel, which is always a treat, but my visit was primarily to see our graduates, visit their schools, and get up-to-date information on their schedules and programs. I also had the opportunity to advocate for students applying to seminary for next year and bring back a number of seminary acceptances.
This week’s parsha, Vayechi, depicts the beginning of the exile in Mitzrayim that had long been forecast. Our current golus and the one in Mitzrayim are actually similar in certain ways. Egyptian society was known to be one of the most immoral and decadent of societies, one that was certainly not conducive to the growth of the twelve shevotim and their families. In a similar way, we live in a time when the values of the world often contradict those of the Torah and are not at all in sync with the values we are trying to teach our children.
The Nesivos Sholom comments that Hashem always creates the refuah before the makah – the cure before the disease. In this case Hashem decreed that the Jewish people would spend 210 years in Mitzrayim. They would need to be fortified and immunized in order to survive and to ensure that the values of Mitzrayim did not seep in. Hashem first sent the tzadekes, Soroh Imeinu, and later Yosef Hatzaddik down to Mitzrayim so as to lessen the evil challenges that His children would face. Their tzidkus would rub off minimally on the Egyptian people and allow the Jews some level of protection during their stay. We know that Klal Yisrael actually survived the golus, perhaps not easily, but in the merit of never changing their style of clothing, language, and names.
I can’t help but think that our success in today’s world is very much in the merit of all of the children and adults studying Torah in our yeshivos, schools, and seminaries. I must share with you the wonderful comments that resonated in my discussions with the six seminaries I visited. The principals in these schools raved about the level of preparedness of our girls academically, their middos, and their overall success. They asked me to please continue sending them young ladies at this level. Their words are a testimony to our school and teachers for imparting to our students a high level of academic skills and sterling middos.
I had the opportunity to meet with all our graduates from last year, as well as with a number of married alumni, who look back fondly at their experiences at PHDS/NEAT. Let us hope that the light of Torah that emanates from the school and its graduates will continue to shine for us even in these challenging times.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman