These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Red Light, Green LIght

Posted on October 15, 2014 by David Gutbezahl

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DSGWhen I arrived at Pardes in 2012, I had already been out of college for two years. I have to admit, during those two years between college and Pardes I was pretty lazy. I spent a few hours teaching at religious schools, and a few hours applying for jobs while living with my parents. It was relaxed. So, when I came to Pardes, where we spent sometimes up to 12 hours a day studying, it took quite a bit of adjusting. Of course, this is true for almost anyone, being that college is also quite relaxed compared to a schedule devoted to Torah study. I got used to it though, and began to discover just how much I loved it.

After Pardes, I took a very long pit stop. I began working as a freelancer, which I thought was wonderful. I could sleep in until 1pm, work my own hours, and only take the jobs I was interested in. I spent most of my time in a local coffee shop, befriending the many interesting characters who were regulars there.

My parents, of course, were shaking there heads. In their eyes, I stopped at “Go”, and was refusing to collect my $200. I just assumed they were being typical parents, doubting my life choices. As is often the case, my parents were somewhat right. One day, a thirst for something more hit me, I needed my Torah fix, and so I decided to return to Pardes. I’m pretty sure aliyah and Pardes don’t actually satisfy their definition of moving forward.

I arrived a month before Pardes began, my foot ready on the gas pedal, yet still idling while I waited for things to begin. Then, the flags went up, Pardes began, and boy did it feel like a mad dash. Going from 0-120mph in just a few seconds is intense. I hope I’m not being a bad fellow by admitting this, but like many of my peers I was feeling extremely overwhelmed by the Pardes schedule. 7:30 shaharit, classes all day, constant holidays, and a Shabbaton are a lot to fit it into a life that has grown used to sleeping late. I found myself praying, on top of my usual requests for parnassa, for a little break, a little more sleep.

Then it came, Sukkot break. I was so excited. Vacation! I completely embraced it, and within the first few days I had completed a book, and beat a computer game I always wanted to play. After this, I started a new website for my freelancing, and began networking to find clients. Wait, a second… that sounds almost productive.

I didn’t know what to do with my time, I had grown used to being constantly busy. I filled it with all manner of activities, but there was something missing. My inexplicable desire to study Judaism, the Torah withdrawal that had drawn me back to Pardes after a year, returned after only a week away. I found my prayers changing, from “Hashem, please help me get more sleep,” to “Hashem, please let Pardes start already.”

It’s like driving, with a coffee, from a kosher Dunkin Donuts, while in a hurry. You really want to take a sip, but unless you want scalding liquid all over you, you need a red light. You see the yellow light, and get excited for the chance to enjoy your coffee, but in the end you’re stuck waiting for the red light to end. You find yourself cursing all red lights.(Perhaps I just have road rage/am an impatient driver)

We’re in the homestretch now, the Israeli equivalent of the yellow light that follows the green, we only have 4 more days until it starts up again, with Simchat Torah and Shabbat filling them. Soon we’ll all be back in the Pardes beit midrash, zooming on a smooth newly paved highway of Torah learning.