By Harry Salter, Rosh Nivchar
Turn the clock back eight years and little Harry Salter was sitting in an art class in Hasmonean. As art isn’t my forte, I decided that I need to get out of the class. I called the teacher over and told her my thoughts: “Art should be optional.” As you can imagine, she didn’t take this well, and threw me out of class, ordering me to come back at lunchtime to sharpen pencils! Since then the only time I put my artistic skills to the use is on Machane (most recently on H-Course Machane as my achrayut was “poster making”).
This past Sunday, I attended a UJIA screening day for madrichim applying for Israel Machane (Tour for the other youth movements). During one of the programmes, the session leader tipped out a box of pens, paper, glue and general arty things. Using these objects, we had to make something that describes our movements ideology. I grabbed a pen and paper and started to draw a Torah (until I had to start again as it didn’t look like a Torah!). Putting my artistic creativity to use, I then started to draw an Israeli flag within the Torah, trying to depict our ideology of Torah and Eretz Yisrael.
תורה צוה לנו משׁה, מורשׁה קהלת יעקב
“The Torah that Moshe charged us with, it is an inheritance (morasha) for the congregation of Yaakov.”
The other time the word morasha features is in my bar-mitzvah sedra, (this week’s parasha of Va’eira). The Torah says[iii]:
והבאתי אתכם אל הארץ אשׁר נשׂאתי את ידי לתת אתה לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב, ונתתי אתה לכם מורשׁה אני ה
“I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and I will give it to you as an inheritance (morasha), I am the Lord.”
Rav Perez comments that the Land of Israel and the Torah are clearly part of who we are and form the basis of our identity and purpose. This is exactly what Bnei Akiva stands for. We are a movement that believes in the Torah and Eretz Yisrael.
Last Friday night, I attended a Shiur given by Rav Hershel Schachter, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (Yeshiva University), about the meaning of being a Modern Orthodox Jew. He said that being Modern Orthodox does not come at a compromise to the Torah, rather it is a way of life whereby we observe all the Mitzvot in the Torah but allow for nuanced Halachic decisions based on new circumstances and events. A youth movement develops and changes over time whilst keeping its core values intact. In Bnei Akiva we must continue to be the leading voice of Modern Orthodoxy and Religious Zionism, sticking to our core beliefs of Torah and Eretz Yisrael whilst continuing to move with the modern world.
After coming from the highly successful Winter Machane, I saw how powerful our movement can be. Over 200 chanichim were on machane, creating one massive Modern Orthodox community. Even though this specific kind of community lasted for less than two weeks, this sense of togetherness should be illustrated throughout the year, not just on Machane.
We should come together in the Tnua to create this togetherness all year round, supporting our local Svivot, attending the Bnei Akiva Beit Midrash and the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations, getting involved as much as we can because we get back as much as we put in. Bnei Akiva should be a part of our lives, not just to give back to the movement, but because of the ideology we all believe in. Over 200 chanichim were a part of our community but not nearly enough madrichim decided to volunteer, and this is a recurring theme throughout recent Bnei Akiva events. Bogrim must step forward for what they believe in, because we have a great opportunity to teach our Torah, our ideology and be a part of our community.
We would all come up with something similar if asked to draw our ideology, but if asked to draw the movement itself, for me, it would not look as I would hope it would. As a Tnua we must come forward, stand up and continue to be successful in creating a space for Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist Jews to come together and share the ideology of Am Yisrael, B’Eretz Yisrael, Al Pi Torat Yisrael.
Please feel free to get in contact with me if you have anything you would like to discuss: 07504807393
[i] Rav Doron Perez, Leading the Way. Article on: Are we Missing the Boat of Jewish Destiny? P45.
[ii] Devarim 33:4
[iii] Shemot 6:8