"Serious And Busy"
Yeshiva Shalom Rav is one of the many men's Jewish seminaries located in the ancient city of Safed, one of the cities considered to be holy according to Jewish tradition. Shalom Rav's unique spirit lies in its ability to attract disaffected Jewish youth who may have lost their way in the more traditional Israeli learning institutions. "The goal of this Yeshiva is less about imparting knowledge than about stirring the soul of young Jewish men", according to the manifest of the institution.
The Rosh Yeshiva, or head of the institution is Rabbi Rafael Weingot who follows the path of the late Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld. Rabbi Weingot attempts to individualize the process of connecting each student's soul to his own brand of spiritual labor with the goal of bringing students closer to God. There is a distinct lack of pressure in the air of the Yeshiva, but Rabbi Weingot describes the atmosphere of the Beit Midrash (study hall) as "serious and busy." He believes that freedom is the path through which a craving for learning can develop.
While the atmosphere may seem a bit Bohemian at first, the courses on offer are standard classic Torah fare such as Talmud, the redacted oral law, bible, and Jewish law, but with philosophy, ethics, and contemporary issues thrown in for good measure. The Yeshiva prides itself on its open attitude which embraces all Jewish people and supports the Land of Israel.
Yeshiva Shalom Rav specializes in providing personal attention and sees each student as a separate individual. Personal tutors and mentors are available to each student. The Yeshiva strives to inculcate a deep love and appreciation of the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.
Not every student at the Yeshiva is ready for a classic course of Jewish study and the Yeshiva offers a full array of introductory classes for these fledgling students. These introductory courses include classes, tutorial sessions, and personal reading time where students can explore topics through the resources of the yeshiva's cassette tape and English library. At this level, there is an emphasis on Jewish philosophy. Shalom Rav feels that allowing students the leeway to probe these varied topics can help them break through the emotional and spiritual obstacles they may have encountered as they learned in the more classic settings elsewhere. Rabbi Weingot feels that this freedom of study allows such students to become mainstreamed into the regular learning schedule quite fast.
Shalom Rav also offers other perks that can help motivate a lackluster student. The yeshiva boasts some really wonderful field trips including kayaking and rafting on the Jordan River, off-Road all terrain vehicular trips (ATV), overnight camping, a hike from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean Sea, trips to the burial sites of famed rabbis and kabbalists, a customary camping trip to Meron on the holiday known as Lag B'Omer, bicycling around the Sea of Galilee, camping and bird watching in the Hula Valley, a hike from Safed to Tiberias, the Jerusalem Discovery Seminar, group Sabbaths known as Shabbatonim in various parts of Israel, and barbecues and sing-alongs (kumtzitim).
In addition to all this, the Yeshiva has a music room. Rabbi Weingot feels that music can be a key feature in putting young men in touch with their inner spirituality. Shalom Rav teachers and students enjoy making music together which helps foster close student/teacher relationships.