2 Tammuz 5766
Bringing Seminary Home
I am back in America after a very inspiring year in one of the seminaries of Yerushalayim. I was able to grow and change in ways that I never imagined possible while I was in Eretz Yisroel.
That was then. Now, I find it very challenging being back in America. Things are so different here, everyone said it, but it is different experiencing it for yourself. I have chosen to get my degree through a frum women’s college in the city that I live in. This seemed to be the right way for me to get my education. However, things aren’t turning out the way that I thought. I didn’t expect that the hashkafos would be the same like in seminary, but I thought that it would be similar. I find myself in classes, where the main discussions are about movie stars, movies, and singers. Sometimes, the discussions move on to other topics, which are inappropriate in the extreme!
I am not sure what to do. The classes that I am taking are required for my degree, and I can t not take them. I don t want to become desensitized from all that I learned in Eretz Yisroel, but, I feel like I am fighting against a lot.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Thanks for your time, it is really appreciated.
Name and sem withheld
Dear JemSem Reader,
The first thing that it is helpful to know is that there are many many girls who are going through the same thing as you are. Sometimes understanding this makes a person not feel so alone.
You seemed to have a wonderful year in seminary. There it is easier to grow, things appear to be clear, and to make sense. All those around you are working on themselves, making similar geddarim, and striving. Now you find yourself back in America where the host culture churns out depravity, superficiality, and falsehood. Life out there can be cheap, and you are wondering if you can survive. You have changed, but, exactly how much are those changes a real part of you? To add insult to injury, you have made a very good choice by deciding to go to a frum women’s college and yet you are faced with issues there that you did not think you would have to deal with.
The answer is already inside of you. You have the life experience to draw from right now. Maybe it is harder in America, but a person can truly be who they need to be anywhere that they are. It has to be this way. The level of the nissayon may vary, but it is all doable and passable. As a matter of fact, when we get really hard nissyonos, it shows how much Hashem loves us and how very special we really are. Hashem may not bother much with people who are doing just fair, but if you have made yourself into something special, then the yetzer harah really works hard to get you to crash, exactly because there is so much at stake. So the fact that you are struggling is a great sign, you are alive, and that is what to fight for!
So what can you do? As I said, draw from what you know. Being that the values of the world are not our values, strengthen in your own daled amos that which is ours. Do in a similar vein what you did in Eretz Yisroel.
1] Surround yourself with the right type of friends. Girls that want to continue growing and striving, girls that will be a good influence on you and you on them.
2] Do what is contributive to your spiritual health. Don’t make ruchniyus compromises. Obviously, stay away from things that are antithetical to Torah. Remember that first and foremost is being determined every single day to live as an eved Hashem. If you set your focus on this, it will help to make the right decisions as you go through your day. The wonderful question of /what does Hashem want from me right now?/ is superb for getting in touch with reality.
3] Make sure that you go to shiurim. Choose shiurim that you are excited about, that you like the subject and you like the teacher.
4] Make a chavrusa with someone. Again, choose something to learn that you are interested in and excited about.
5] Always be in the middle of some English Judaica book on whatever topic, it helps keep your mind in the right place. If you have a few minutes till friend picks you up you can read a few pages, etc.
6] Try to create inspiring Shabbosos, either at your home or somewhere else. Get to know families that can be role models for you and hang out there from time to time.
7] Find chessed to do. Either with an organization, or perhaps to help a family with a special child. Giving always helps a person continue to grow.
8] Listen to Torah tapes, in the car, on a power walk.
Do you get it? All of these ideas help recreate to some degree your environment in Eretz Yisroel. You have been given the tools, open your tool box and use them!!
You re not helpless!! It s time to be proactive and take the initiative!
A word about the classes. When those discussions come up, you can try to tune out for a bit, perhaps bring a sefer, or English Judaica. [ choose something small so it is less conspicuous ] Or you can take charge and change the topic, or try to actually bring it back to the subject of the class! Or you can utilize this time to take a bathroom break. Just keep in mind that this stuff is all peripheral to your real life, and let it take its appropriate place as back seat to what is important. If you take advantage of these guidelines, it ll be easier to see this as so.
And as always Daven! It keeps the lines of communication clear and open
And will help you be directional in your life.
Haba L Taheir M Sayin Oso, yes, even in America!!!!
With Warmest Wishes,