Thursday, July 9, 2009

Living and learning.

Hey all,

I'm currently learning at Machon Shlomo in Har Nof, Jerusalem. It's absolutely incredible, and gets better daily. It's hard to categorize and describe the learning environment. A brief and accurate description of the nature of Yeshiva is certainly hard to come by. But to give you a day in the life, here's my daily schedule.

6:40 to 7:10 a.m. I wake up, wash up, brush teeth, etc.
7:15 to 8:15 I daven Shacharis (morning prayers) with the Yeshiva students.
8:15 to 8:35 I read and try to understand the week's parsha from the Torah.
8:35 to 8:55 I eat breakfast with the guys.
9:00 to 10:00 My tutor and I read through and understand the morning's gemara assignment. This generally constitutes learning how to read and understand Aramaic and how to parse the logically serpentine statements of the Talmud.
10:00 to 11:00 I review this assignment with my chavrusas (the other students).
11:00 to 12:00 The students and I participate in a shiur (lecture/class) from a rabbi who flushes out the superficial arguments as well as the deeper ideas, intricacies, and understandings.
12:00 to 12:15 I use this time to read and meditate on works of Mussar (Jewish ethics and character development).
12:15 to 1:15 We receive a lecture on a particular topic from different unparalleled and brilliant rabbis, or a lesson on Halacha (Jewish law).
1:15 to 1:35 I daven mincha (afternoon prayers).
1:40 to 3:00 (sometimes 4:00) I have a siesta to eat a home cooked lunch. I usually play a game of chess with my friend Seva (who is also my chess teacher) over lunch and then devote the rest of the siesta to taking care of logistical necessities such as filing forms for ulpan, and aliyah. I also use this time to work on art projects or drawings. I read more Mussar and take care of any shopping I need to do.
3:00 to 4:00 I have an ulpan in which we learn the underlying structure of Hebrew, (very fascinating for a mathematician).
4:00 to 7:15 I do the same as in the morning but a different section of the Gemara. In the morning we learn Baba Kama which deals with understanding and classifying property damages (much more intriguing than it admittedly sounds) and in the evening we learn the second perek of Brachos (literally: blessings). This deals with all the situations that arise from times to pray and if someone misses their opportunity.
7:20 to 8:20 I eat dinner with the guys and relax in this interim.
8:20 to 8:40 I daven Maariv (evening prayers).
8:40 to ~12:40 I answer correspondences, take care of more business, read the news, read books, read achewood, exercise, launder my clothes, shower, apply for citizenship, or draw (usually some combination of most). If there is nothing else taking place; there are sometimes weddings to attend. Two nights ago we made a kumzitz (bonfire) where we sang, roasted potatoes, told stories, smoked hookah, drank, etc.

As one can see from the schedule, I'm learning how to make as much of my time as possible. It's amazing what a person can accomplish if they just devote five minutes here and there. e.g. Every time I go to the bathroom, I read a page from Vitruvius's De Architectura, a seminal text on Architecture. I've already experienced the benefits from this approach and recommend it for anyone wanting to start anything.

A few weeks ago, I woke up before Shacharis and happened to catch a glimpse of this cloud nestling in the valley of Har Nof. This is the first and only time that I have seen it happen, so I snapped a few pictures of it.

Last Shabbas, we went up North, and on the way I decided to sketch some of the scenery.

We also went hiking and I took this short video of these fish diving after the pieces of bread we tossed in the water.

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