Chapter #6: Yeshiva Gedola

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12th grade is the first year of Yeshiva gedola. Literally the big leagues, this is the first year of the rest of your life. You enter a study hall that could literally be the place you sit for the next 50 years. My classmates are still there 12 years later.

Now your hours go until 11 oclock at night, so if you live outside the neighborhood, you definitely need to live in a dorm and come home to visit every couple of weeks.

In yeshiva gedola, all structure drops out from under your feet. No one gives a shit anymore if you are there or not. It’s at this age that wayward yeshiva bochurim start getting into epic trouble because no one is preventing them from doing anything, they just get caught and punished after the fact.

I was not prepared for this total lack of structure. I was not disciplined enough, nor did I enjoy studying enough, to just do it on my own. So I spent a lot of time in my bedroom playing guitar licks and avoiding my mother’s reproachful questions of “don’t I have school?”

Eventually, it became apparent that “it was time for change”. For years my parents had mentioned how one day I would move from my unusual information-focused school and into something more “conventional” where logic and conformity are key.

I’d held out at my school, despite some rocky patches, for 11 and a half years, but now it was time to transition to a “mainstream” school where I would certainly be happy because “I’d get my questions answered”.

Apparently, my entire dissatisfaction with school, according to my parents, was that I was not stimulated enough. If I would only go to a place that studied “B’iyun” surely there I would fly. A bunch of “experts” told them this, so there was no doubt this would be the case. I believed it as well.

In fact, remember Reb Avrohom Cohen from Chapter 2? He, and several other people over the years, was hired to study with me at nights, to prepare more for “mainstream” yeshivas. In those places, they spent years stretching their minds to the extremes of logical debate, and I needed to be up to par with all that practice.

I remember exhaustedly blinking at the page evening after evening as some rabbi tutor enthusiastically tried explaining to me the nuances of in-depth study. It’s only years later that I realize that the exhaustion had nothing to do with physical tiredness.

It was time to move schools, and once I started wandering, I never stopped.

Full chapter list (Available in eBook Form)

  1. Kindergarten
  2. Cheder
  3. Mishna
  4. Good and Evil
  5. Gemara
  6. Yeshiva Gedola
  7. Ramat Shlomo
  8. Beitar
  9. More of That
  10. The IDF
  11. Mitzpeh
  12. Darkness
  13. Independence
  14. Shitting on the Parade
  15. Light
  16. Detox
  17. Spreading Wings
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