EREV ROSH HASHANA - It Will Never Be The Same

We await the arrival of Rosh Hashana knowing that without Rav Amital zt'l, it will never be the same.

Klal Yisroel has lost a person whose monumental contribution has affected the entire nation across all sectors. Yet not even one percent of those benefactors will ever realize it.

I share these thoughts, not as a maspid, but rather as a boche, someone in grief looking to express and thereby share his feelings.

I first met Rav Amital 33 years ago. I was 16 on my first trip to Israel.

I came to learn with my brother Shalom in Gush for two weeks in zeman kayitz. He was getting me acquainted with the art of tremping to Gush when an old Peugeot pulled up and we got in. Shalom whispered to me 'This is Rav Amital, my rosh hayeshiva'. From the back seat, I stared in disbelief. To me, at the time learning in a chareidi high school and just a few hours in Israel, it was a curios sight just to see a bearded man with a black kippa, in short sleeves driving a car, but that a rosh hayeshiva drove himself was simply unheard of!

Little did I realize at the time how fitting this first encounter was. Rav Amital zt’l was as comfortable in the driver’s seat as he was sitting in the beit medrash not through willful adaptation, but because that is who he was, a man whose ideals and aspirations soared the heavens while his feet stepped confidently on the ground.

Rav Amital zt'l, was the initiator, teacher of a whole generation of heads of yeshivot hesder to follow, who would see combining army service with yeshiva learning as a lechatchila. That perfect combination of idealism and pragmatism complemented one another in many areas he dealt with.

Not long ago, Rav Dor, rosh hayeshiva of Horev, shared this story:

One morning during the first week of marriage I davened at Rav Amitals minyan in Givat Mordechai. The rav approached me after davening and said,” Do you know why you got married?” I looked at this curious question and shrugged. He continued. “You are a kollenik now, but one day you will be a talmid chacham, maybe a rosh hayeshiva. People will call you HaRav HaGaon. After a while you”ll start to believe them. That’s why you got married, so that when you get home at night, you have a wife to remind you who you really are!”

Vetaher leebeinu ... B'EMET!

The midda of emet was a standard that Rav Amital held the world to, but most of all he held it up to himself.

Rav Amital, do you know why we needed to hear your incredible shiurim and tefilot???

Because after so many of your self-effacing, depreciating comments, I am embarrassed to say I started actually asking myself 'Maybe he IS a pusheta yid'. Then, I would hear a shiur or ask a quick shayla and be blown away by the awesome intellectual depth and breadth of this 'pusheta yid'. OR I would hear him utter 'VeTaher leebeinu, leebeinu, leavdecha, leavdecha, leavdecha, leavdecha,......B'EMET! My knees would go weak as I witnessed this adam gadol pleading with Hashem from the depths of his soul for divine help to achieve the purity of true inner truth for the purpose of serving Him.

Rav Amital would say one needs a sense of humor in order to hope to achieve closeness to Hashem. I believe the explanation to this is that a good sense of humor trains a person to develop a sense of perspective of his subject matter, audience and most of all himself. So often a person becomes locked into seeing an issue or person in only one way. So often, a person with a mission takes himself SO seriously he completely loses the ability to step back and REALLY see himself. Yet those who have this sensitivity run the risk of a self cynicism which chocks off any aspiration to reach to accomplish truly great missions. I know few people whose sense of humor paralleled Rav Amital's and at the same time I know few people whose sense of mission paralleled Rav Amital's.

The other evening I was dancing at a Bar Mitzvah when I found myself dancing with two young children. I really got into it as I made an effort to connect with the youth by projecting myself to be one of them.

Shortly afterwards I started to reflect on the fact that everyone at times attempts to project himself in various persona. These projections are at times a selected facet of our true selves. Often however, they are false facades.

It reminded me of a thought that I must have once heard from Rav Amital. On Rosh Hashana we find ourselves standing before The Yode'a Ta'alumot, The Knower of Hidden Thoughts.  If we fully comprehend our nakedness before God we have a chance of being truly honest with ourselves about who we are.

Yehe ratzon, that despite the gaping hole that we will feel for some time to come, we should all be zoche to connect with what Rav Amital has taught us and experience the Yamim Noraim to our full potential.

Shana Tova,

Mordechai Friedman


The Annual Tanakh Yemei Iyun - virtual this year - was a spectacular success. Hope you enjoyed!

RABazak Starting Point210

In Starting Point, Rav Amnon Bazak, a leading figure in the contemporary renaissance of Tanakh study, presents hundreds of short studies in the peshat of parashat hashavua. Each parasha has about seven units. These enable a basic understanding of the parasha and serve as a basis for meaningful discussion of the central ideas within each parasha. The book is both an aid to preparing divrei Torah as well as an introduction to the study of peshat in general. Many of these studies have been presented before in different formats. They have been edited and collected here in a new, expanded edition. Kodesh Press is offering this title  now at 20% off, and is offering that discount on all the books in their catalog at the same time! Go to to order with code GUSH2020. The entire transaction and delivery process is being handled by Kodesh Press. Please note that, at this time, the book is available only in North America.


Let us know and we will update our records!



65 Har Etzion Hesder Talmidim alongside other chayalim packing boxes of essential items for the elderly and those in isolation quarantined in their homes, at the outset of the Corona virus. After the national two-minute Yom HaShoah Siren - they paused to sing Ani Maamin. 



ShanaAlef2019 web

Gush Shana Alef Talmidim Elul 2019 
sitting near our favorite tree - The Oak of Return - symbol of The Gush!

(30 CHESHVAN) NOV 28, 2019


(5 TEVET) JAN 2, 2020.


VBMDigest 5779 icon

Digest format of weekly divrei Torah,
especially designed for
in your local synagogue.
Click here to register...

WE ARE HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE an updated version of The Writings of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l is now available on the VBM.

RALichtenstein Return and Renewal new book web2

Does your library
include these titles? Contact Ktav and Koren Publishers.

RAL titles268

a life steady and whole

Recollections and Appreciations of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, zt"l
Edited by Elka Weber and Joel B. Wolowelsky

Available online here. 

    "In his absence, as in his lifetime, we continue to ask ourselves what he would think about the way we contend with our everyday challenges and what he would say about our struggle against torpor and faithlessness." - Rabbi Shalom Carmy



We have created a playlist for you of the yeshiva's niggunim!

  ברון יחד - נגוני ישיבת הר עציון

beron yachad playlist

library celebrates web

Yeshivat Har Etzion Library Celebrates 35 Years!

In Memory of Harav Yehuda Amital zt"l
(movie prepared by Har Etzion talmidim
Yehonatan Weinberger and Ehud Roth)