In what has become a two-decade-old tradition, Rambam graduates and their rosh mesivta, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, joined together for an amazing and inspiring Shabbaton in Israel.
As soon as talmidim graduate, plans begin for the annual Shabbaton to continue building on the kesher that is the hallmark of Rambam and its talmidim. Talmidim anticipate and look forward to this event because spending a Shabbat together is a special bonding experience . . . one that cannot be captured through a simple “get together.”
This year’s Shabbaton had been scheduled to held at Yeshivat Har Etzion, with talmidim travelling from Yerushalayim, Kerem b’Yavneh, Bet Shemesh, and Shaalvim from their respective yeshivos to take part in this much-anticipated event.
Despite the unusually stormy weather and the snow that had been predicted, talmidim had planned to brave the elements and make it to the Shabbaton. However, the snowstorm prevailed. Close to 36 inches fell in the Gush Etzion area, and 23 inches in Yerushalayim, and all roads were closed.
But the group was undeterred. Plans were quickly drafted to reschedule for the following Shabbos. By Monday night, another location had been found and, thanks to the generosity of Rabbi Samuel Wagner of Yeshiva Ohr Yerushalayim, the dorm and the kitchen were made available.
So, for parashas Sh’mos, the boys reshuffled their Shabbos plans and made their way to Beit Meir. A mini-reunion was held Friday afternoon and the cameras were out in full force as talmidim took group shots and shared experiences.
The boys welcomed Shabbos with a rousing and beautiful Lecha Dodi in the yeshiva beis midrash. Rabbi Friedman followed this with divrei berachah and divrei Torah on the topic of kavod Shabbos and kabbolas pnei HaShechinah, before Ma’ariv.
The Friday-night seudah was filled with zemiros, divrei Torah, chevrah and ruach. Talmidim asked for updates on Rambam and heard about the nighttime and lunchtime Masmidim program, which attracts approximately 80 boys a week, the recent chaggigah, the rally outside the home of a Nazi war criminal living in Queens, the winning sports teams, and so much more! At the conclusion of the meal, an impromptu tish, lasting late into the night, was held in the dormitory.
Not long after, boys reassembled in the beis medrash for Shacharis, Kiddush and a discussion on the parashah. The ensuing seudah featured more of the same with many talmidim sharing divrei Torah, zemiros, and ruach. After a brief break for Shabbos menuchah, the boys participated in an interactive afternoon shiur given by Rabbi Friedman on the topic of krias Shema and what we do zecher yetziyas Mitzrayim, based on the teachings of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik, zt’l.
Minchah and Shalosh Seudos followed with a third dose of Torah, ruach, and chevrah, which continued long after the sun set.
With the conclusion of Shabbos and Havdalah, the boys broke out in spontaneous singing and dancing, reluctant to part ways, before beginning their trek back to their respective yeshivos, inspired, enlightened, and energized by a Shabbos they will long remember. v