Elul Newsletter 5776


I’m pleased to share with you a few highlights of Holistic Torah from the Land and give you the opportunity to partner with us in offering women of all ages and from all walks of life a unique integrated Torah experience which will strengthen their Jewish identity and prepare them for keeping a Jewish home.

We look forward to an exciting year of learning with a great group of students who are truly searching for spirituality and ready to immerse themselves in the wellspring of Torah. Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin offers them the opportunity to find their personal connection with the Torah, identify with their roles as Jewish women in order to be prepared to raise Torah families in Israel.

Many of our students who are not from observant families, lack parental support and do not have the financial means to pay full tuition. As our policy is to never close our door to sincere suitable students, we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to be part of their spiritual journey and support Holistic Torah for Women on the Land generously!

May Hashem bless you with health, happiness, love and abundance from Above and below!

שנה טובה תכתיבו ותחתימו
Shana Tovah, Tikateivu v’Tichateimu!

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life!
With Blessings of the Torah & the Land,
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

A D’var Torah from Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

The Shofar on Rosh Hashana Calls Us to Complete Sarah’s Cries

We blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana to remember Avraham’s near sacrifice of his favorite son. The ram’s horn is an allusion to the ram that he sacrificed in Yitzchak’s place. Avraham’s merit in the near sacrifice of Yitzchak is well-known, but what about Sarah? Did she play any part whatsoever in this self-sacrificing act? Did she even know about it? Sarah and Avraham always worked as a team, and Sarah stood by her husband’s side throughout all of his great accomplishments. Yet we never hear anything about Sarah’s merit in the Akeida, could it be that she had no part in her husband’s greatest most exemplary deed?

The Midrash explains how every verse in the Woman of Valor (Mishlei 31:10-31) was Avraham’s eulogy for Sarah (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Chaye Sarah, chapter 4).

When it states, “She rose while it was still night” (Mishlei 31:15), it indicates that when “Avraham rose early” (Bereishit 22:3), Sarah rose even earlier and went on the way to escort them (Etz Yosef). The Torah describes Avraham rising early twice: when he sent away Yishmael with Hagar and at the Akeida. Perhaps this implies that Sarah accompanied Avraham not only when he expelled Yishmael but also on his way to sacrifice Yitzchak.

The name, ‘Sarah’ comprises the initials of Shofar Rosh Hashana, signifying an intrinsic connection between Sarah and the Shofar. The Midrash, in fact, links Sarah’s death cries with the sound of the Shofar. Satan went to Sarah and asked, “Did you hear what happened?” She answered, “No.” He said, “Avraham took Yitzchak, his son and slaughtered him, offering him up on the altar as a sacrifice.” Sarah broke down and cried out three wails corresponding to the three blasts of the Shofar, then her soul burst forth from her and she died (Midrash Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 31). The Rosh Hashana Shofar is meant to help us re-enter the state of Sarah’s pain. She died in a cry that bridges the ecstasy of grief and celebration. When we hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashana we are called to enter into Sarah’s state of mind and complete her cries.  

If Sarah already intuitively sensed the Akeida when she rose in the middle of the night, to prepare the provisions for Avraham and Yitzchak, why would she die from shock when she heard about it? How is it possible that this righteous woman, an even greater prophet than Avraham, could so easily fall prey to the tricks of the Satan?  

Sarah’s death was not the result of shock but rather she deliberately handed over her soul at the very climax of the Akeida. Sarah perceived the great holiness of the unification at Yitzchak’s near sacrifice. Since she was unable to walk from Hebron to the Temple-mount in Jerusalem, she decided to participate from afar by giving over her soul in love and purity in the moment of this great holiness (Sefer Avodat Hashem, Parashat Chayei Sarah).

The Zohar explains that Yitzchak was born with a feminine soul and an essential attachment to his mother Sarah. During Yitzchak’s near-death-experience, at the Akeida, the feminine aspect of his soul departed and he received his masculine soul, which enabled him to detach from his mother and become ready for marriage (Shem M’Shmuel, Parashat Vayera 5681). Since Yitzchak’s feminine soul was intrinsically attached to his mother, therefore when his feminine soul left him, Sarah’s soul also had to depart from this world. This explains why Sarah had to pass on during the split second before Avraham was told to put down his knife.  

Perhaps we may venture to say that there is an aspect of Sarah’s role in the Akeida that was even greater than Avraham’s. While “Avraham got up early in the morning,” “Sarah rose” even beforehand “while it was still night.” In a super-conscious way, Sarah “knew” even before Avraham. While Avraham was willing to sacrifice his favorite son and allow him to die, Sarah was willing to sacrifice her own soul to enable her only son to live and procreate. Through her death, she birthed his masculine soul, giving over her life for the sake of letting Yitzchak beget life and become his independent ultimate married self, raising his own family. In this way Sarah’s cries, from which we model the sounds of the Shofar, link the wails of mourning for the dead with the ecstasy of birth. They emanate from the very deepest place where life and death are one.

You have the ability to continue Sarah’s self-sacrifice for the sake of building Torah families in the Land of Israel. You can make a great difference without having to give over your own life. Through your generous donation to support Women’s Torah learning in the Land of Israel, may you merit life both in this world and the next. By donating to Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin you are supporting the Jewish families of tomorrow.

The name, ‘Sarah’ comprises the initials of Shofar Rosh Hashana. Sarah’s cries link the wails of mourning for the dead with the ecstasy of birth.

B’erot Student Experience by Ariel Abolitz

A piece of my heart is buried in Bat Ayin. Among the natural springs, between the abundant fig trees, a piece of my heart remains, patiently pulsing, waiting for me to return to the place which made such a lasting imprint on my soul. Wherever I am, wherever I go, a bit of Bat Ayin, stays with me, close and comforting, forever giving me strength and purpose.

For the past nine months, the hillsides, paths, and winding streets of Bat Ayin became my familiar and encouraging home. I arrived mid-August, stepping a tentative toe into what would become my most sanctified learning space, shelter, and home. It was a place to explore, a place to water the garden and watch it grow, along with the seeds of my incessantly searching Jewish neshama (soul).

My goal was short term, to prepare for the High Holidays by immersing myself in B’erot’s Elul program. This experience turned out to be an incredibly enriching exploration of the meaning of teshuva (repentance), a spiritually enlightening reflection and chance to look back over the past year, just in time for the climax of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Yet, when the holidays passed, I yearned for more. More questions arose and I could not deny that I was learning a tremendous amount, shedding light on many neglected topics. I extended my stay, working my way through the year, finding my voice along the rollercoaster of the Jewish calendar.

Living at the midrasha, in caravans, just steps outside the classroom, I finally had permission to live the simple life that enabled me to focus on studying Torah. Without distractions, I was able to fully connect to the ancient texts and history, learn from inspiring and diverselyknowledgeable teachers, and delight in the rich community life present in Bat Ayin. As my understanding of Judaism deepened, every day I caught glimpses of the captivating jewels wholly observant life has to offer.I found the source of all sparks, stoking my desire and continuedpursuit of Jewish learning, reflected in the bright and flowing scarves of Bat Ayin women, through the uplifting Friday night kabbalat Shabbat, and at the beautiful shabbat tables of many generous Bat Ayin families.

It was the unexpected and unpredictable that made my experience so meaningful. Unique relationships and lasting support were formed with every fascinating and bright-eyed woman who joined us. Every corner of my life felt like an encouragement on the path to finding myself, within Judaism, and within the breathtaking Holy Land.

At B’erot Bat Ayin, I learned about the immense potential of the Jewish soul anda deeper perspective of our ancient mystical history. I learned how to read the commentaries such asRashi, Rambam andRebbeNachman and how to properly bless over my food. I even learned how to take trumot and ma’aserot(tithes) before tasting our homegrown produce. I learned how to connect to the G-d-given land and take part in a pride, so often forgotten among my people. I learned about myself, whilehearingthe wisdom-laced stories of so many others. I learned that I am never alone and that to be a part of Am Yisrael is a lifelong gift, we can be grateful to unravel at every chance.

Farewell to Rav Benarroch & Welcome to Rav Zeff

We are never truly aware of everything that one person does and gives to our students, especially in B’erot’s many-faceted work environment. The effect of a single staff member – a single teacher are completely incalculable. Over the last 15 years, in addition to serving as our conversion Rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Benarroch has been one of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin’s core rabbis, educators and advisors. As he departs to accept a rabbinical post in his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada, we want to extend our deep gratitude for everything he has added to the B’erot family over the years.  Although Rabbi Benarroch’s presence will be sorely missed, we at B’erot Bat Ayin wish him only success on his next journey in the Torah world!

With his ever-present smile, whether teaching Parashat Hashavua, halacha, or Pirkei Avot, students of all ages are inspired and grow closer to Torah and mitzvot in one way or another partly due to his influence. He is tirelessly dedicated to students who wish to convert through B’erot Bat Ayin, advocating for them in so many ways – multiple direct phone calls to the Beit Din, early morning runs to the conversion offices to inquire about conversion files, personal meetings with students, just to name a few.  

Beyond his direct functions as an educator, Rabbi Benarroch could often be seen making frequent runs around Jerusalem to “pick up just a few things” at the print supply store, dropping off or collect luggage for incoming students travelling from Jerusalem, delivering or picking up books from the publisher…the list goes on and on!

For all of the things we know he did and for all the things we never knew he did to support B’erot without being asked, we really cannot say thank you enough!

rabbi-joel-zeffAs Rabbi Benarroch departs, we are excited to welcome Rabbi Joel Zeff back to B’erot as Dean and Rabbi of our Conversion Program. For many years, Rabbi Zeff enhanced our program greatly as a popular teacher. In the past, he has held several key positions in David Shapell College of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and as the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaMivtar, Israel.

We are honored that among his many job offers, Rabbi Zeff chose Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, as he truly believes in our vision.

Mazal Tov! Mazal Tov!

Weddings

Raphaela Ades Carnevale (Berman) | Tzippi Bell (Citron) | Murielle Hadid (Ben David) | Sarah Lizer (Solomon) | Hadar Eliraz Bergman (Joseph) | Ra’ayah Devorah Blackman (Katsch) | Sarah Teller (Epstein) | Rachel Frazin(Sofaer) | Sarah Heiman (Friedlander)  | Rachel Esther Grayson (Goldstein)

Births

Liba Rosen | Jackie Kirsch | Benita Zive | Eliana Royzen | Leah David | Alyssa Wernick | Shirli Boroda | Daniela Chaya Madai | Gavriella Motta Ramirez | Ines Cindra  Levin | Gani Goodman | Ziesel Miriam Rahimi | Erika Orli Mandel | Chaya  Komar | Michal Kleinburg

Aliyah

Sara Katsof  |  Miki Taylor  |  Hannah Furie

As the year is coming to a close, open up your heart and hand, to support Holistic Torah for Women on the Land!

As the year is coming to a close,
open up your heart and hand,

To support Holistic Torah,
for Women on the Land!

Join our Chai Club (monthly donations) & help us build the mind, bodies and souls of our students ($18, $36, or $54 per month) or make a one time donation…

Sponsor a

Caravan Renovation $10,000

Assisted Student Scholarship $5,000/$2,500/$500

Flower & Herb Garden $3,600

Two Weeks of Torah Classes $1,800

One-Week Seminar $1,000

Torah Class for month $360

One Day Seminar $150

Rosh Chodesh program $180

Dedicate a Parsha Magazine $36

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