The World of Eternity
There are many posters of quotes around campus. The people quoted range from President John F. Kennedy to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks; all espouse the greatness of YU. I feel that many of them come across as cheesy. But despite their usual corniness, there is one that continues to leave an impact on me every time I ponder it. It comes from the Rav himself:
“When I enter yeshiva I am at home because I am grounded in the world of eternity”.
The quote is reflective of the Rav’s typically complex vocabulary choices and really got me thinking about the differences between my time in yeshiva and my time in YU. In yeshiva, you can fly. You fly to a different country, to a different world, your personal capabilities flourish. Things you never thought possible become possible. There is an energy there that uplifts you into a stratosphere of spirituality that you never thought reachable. When it ends, the plane flies back and you are grounded. Initially, being on the ground is strange. You think things should be like they were up in the air, but it seems as if you are the only thing that has changed.
For many, the adjustment is not easy. We are given more responsibilities and to some it can feel like Israel was its own little world. The people we were there seem to be irrelevant to who we are now. But from my experience, I have found that both serve a profound purpose. Yeshiva is about the building blocks of your life. What is important to me? Who do I want to be?
If yeshiva is about questioning who we will become, YU is about the act of becoming. I am becoming a doctor, one student says at YU. I am becoming a lawyer, says another. To me, the world of becoming — YU — offers so many unique opportunities that the yeshiva, the world of questioning who we will become, does not. When we are just beginning to realize who we want to be in Israel, the choices of becoming are irrelevant. We are not picking our careers in yeshiva, most are not dating, we are immersing ourselves in what is important. But in YU the choices we are making and the people we are becoming have eternal reverberations, and there are an endless amount of ways to get there.
The majors we choose will determine our career. Some of the biggest decisions of our lives are arriving. These decisions will ground us. We are asked to make sacrifices that we didn't have to make in yeshiva.
The decisions and their impact never fades. It lasts for eternity. While the transition may be tough, when walking in the beit midrash in the morning and at night it's inspiring to see students in this incredible eternal world. There, talmidim are investing time just when time is pulling them in other directions. They are becoming who they wanted to be in yeshiva. Although they are grounded, it is not in a world that is stagnant — it is in a world of eternal possibilities.
Photo Caption: A poster in the YU plaza quoting Rav Soloveitchik.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Koffsky