Back to Normal: Soldiers’ Morale Strengthened by Machanaim Visits
The IDF recently restored permission to Rabbi Shlomo Vilk, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva, to resume visiting the yeshiva’s soldiers on base – the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 over a year ago.
Over the course of four days, Rabbi Vilk and a delegation from Machanaim gave classes on Zionism and morality to students serving in elite combat units, tank units and the Israeli navy, connecting Torah values to the soldiers’ daily work on bases dotting Israel – from Eilat up to Haifa.
Recognizing the importance of these visits, the IDF asked Rabbi Vilk to open up his shiurim to all soldiers. While his own students were excited to see their Rosh Yeshiva, about 300 other young men also took part, with several approaching Rabbi Vilk afterward to inquire about learning at Machanaim on completion of their IDF service.
“It was so wonderful to see our boys again,” enthused Rabbi Vilk. “They are happy and proud of the work they are doing on behalf of Am Yisrael, and they also know that we are here to take care of them. Clearly, the army also sees the value of these visits in strengthening morale, and I will continue to go as often as they allow.”
Home Away From Home
While there are many hesder yeshivot across Israel, students choose Machanaim for the combination of intensive Torah learning with real world knowledge from a variety of disciplines. They know that the skills and worldview they gain at Machanaim will benefit them during their army service, and that Machanaim will remain a home base for them to visit on weekends off, on longer furloughs, and long after their IDF service and official yeshiva studies end.
“The perspective I gained at Machanaim infuses my daily work and when I return to the yeshiva, my Machanaim ‘family’ is always waiting for me,” attests Yonatan, a Machanaim solder doing intelligence work for the IDF Southern Command.
Says Rav Vilk: “We are here for our students from the moment they enter the yeshiva doors, throughout their entire army service – and beyond.”