Alumni Corner

Pure Connections

The parshiyos that are read this time of the year, Lech-lecha, Vayeira, Chayei Sarah, and Toldos, are all having to do with the Avos and there is so much to be said. But one thing to note is that we start shemoneh esrei - three times a day - by discussing the Avos. However, when we discuss them we say "Elokeinu, V'Elokei AVoseinu, Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, V'Elokei Yaakov..." The questions jumps out at us - Why are we starting by saying "Elokeinu"? Wouldn't it be more fitting to jump straight into discussing the Avos and the connection that they had directly to Hashem. If we are trying to elicit the zechus avos over here, why start with Elokeinu - Our G-d? At such a pivotal time as the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei, which the sages teach is perhaps the most important blessing of the entire Shemoneh Esrei - Are we trying to contact him through our own connection, or that of the Avos? If he was just our G-d, that's all very nice and good. However, for our own sake, we need Him to be much more than our preconceived notions. We have to be connected to him and access spirituality, but if it was left to our own devices to connect to Hashem, who knows where we might end up? For all we know we would be doing Yoga in the Himalayas and fasting for months at a time. We think we understand spirituality, and we know we want to connect with Hashem - So we may try to find a way to access that which fits our own, occasionally skewed and misunderstood, approaches to spirituality. However, at the end of the day, we need Avraham - to represent Chessed. We need Yitzchak - to represent Tefillah. We need Yaakov - to represent Torah. We need not only their zechus, but we also need what they stood for. Hashem needs to be our G-d, of course, and the main point is having a relationship with him. But without understanding the true connection points that the Avos created, we may very well be lost in how to properly connect with Hashem. We need the Yira'ah and the Ahava. We need the Torah, Tefillah, and Chessed. The Avos taught us how to not only connect to Hashem, but how to make it last. If you just have pure love of Hashem, without Avraham's chessed, without Yitzchak's tefillah, and without Yaakov's Torah - the relationship we may try to build will simply fizzle out within ourselves and not truly last. Have a good Shabbos!

Yoni ~ Yoni Schuster is originally from Far Rockaway, NY. After spending two years as a student in Lev Zion, he returned for a third year to become an amazing Dorm Counselor that all the guys looked up to, and to help them grow and connect to their Yiddishkeit. He is currently learning in Rabbi Stauber's Kollel and finishing a bachelor's degree.

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