The Darchei Torah Experience
Inculcation of Jewish Values
As Talmud Torah is the highest value in Jewish life, a successfully implemented Limudai Kodesh curriculum is, by definition, a successful inculcation of Jewish values. Our experience and observations indicate that our students acquire a love and passion for their Torah studies during their years at Yeshiva Darchei Torah and that, accordingly, their learning is by no means limited to school hours and school classrooms.
In addition, many other Jewish values are emphasized, both within the curriculum and in extra-curricular programs. (Due to the nature of a Yeshiva, there is no sharp line drawn between the two.) These include:
Chessed – Students are encouraged to do volunteer work through several organizations including Chai Lifeline, Tomchei Shabbos, and Friendship Circle. Students also raise thousands of dollars annually on Purim for a number of local and foreign institutions.
Tefillah – The daily Minyanim are run by student Gabaim and are led by student Ba’alei Tefillah and Ba’alei Keriah. The pace is deliberate and the mood is serious. To enhance understanding classes in Biur Tefillah are regularly offered and ArtScroll Interlinear Siddurim (both Sefard and Ashkenaz) are provided. Special Selichos, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur programs raise the bar to even higher levels. (Alumni often join on these occasions.) Our students are active participants and leaders in the Youth Minyanim of their respective Shuls on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
Shabbos and Yom Tov – Despite the fact that Yeshiva is not formally in session on Shabbos, much effort is exerted in this area. Rabbeim frequently host their classes and individual students for Seudos Shabbos, Oneg Shabbos, and/or Melaveh Malka. Incentive programs promote diligent preparation for Shabbos, presenting Divrei Torah at family Seudos, participation in Zemiros, learning Hilchos Shabbos, as well as devoting extra time to Torah learning on Shabbos. (Darchei Torah students are strong participants in Friday Night learning programs offered at various Shuls across the city.) Most Fridays, the last forty minutes before dismissal is devoted to “Oneg Shabbos” (either a joint gathering for the entire Yeshiva or separate class parties). These will include Zemiros, Divrei Torah, and Shabbos cuisine and serve to create a spirit of anticipation for Shabbos (in addition to ending the week on a high note). Yomim Tovim are all prepared for and celebrated appropriately. For weeks before each Yom Tov, the Yeshiva as a whole and each class individually will turn its attention to the Halacha and Hashkafa of the coming events. For Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Simchas Torah (morning Hakafos), Purim (night Megillah reading), and Shavuos (morning Vasikin), the Yeshiva conducts its own Minyanim as well as elaborate Mesibos for Chanukah and Purim – perhaps the highlight of the year.
Ikrei Hadas and Mussar – Every morning the Rosh Yeshiva offers a fifteen minute talk to the entire student body. Over the course of the four years an individual student spends at Darchei Torah, he will have been exposed to a range of topics based on various classical sources such as fundamental principles of Judaism from Rambam and Ramchal, Ta’amei HaMitzvos from Sefer HaChinuch, Rambam, and Rav Hirsch, Minhagei Yisrael, Bi’ur Tefillah, and History of Torah Authorities and Literature. Currently, the study is focused on interpersonal relationships having begun with an in-depth study of Tomer Devorah and having proceeded to the Halachos of various Mitzvos Bein Adam L’chavero. Every grade incorporates a Mussar component in its curriculum; here the learning can be better directed for maturity level of the class and the unique challenges it may face at a given time. A casual inspection of the tables of the Bais Medrash will show that many students are inspired to pursue Mussar study on their own – both from classic texts such as Mesilas Yesharim and Sha’arei Teshuvah and from modern works such as Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh and Sheva Yipol Tzaadik.