Louis Sachs

Louis Sachs

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
I have spent the past nine months, living in Jerusalem and absorbed in the history of the Jewish people. Through Masa Israel Journey, I am a student at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, where I engage in intensive Jewish textual study each day. Sunday through Thursday, I take classes on Chumash, Talmud, Rambam, Modern Jewish Thought, and many other subjects. In these classes we look at the texts in their original language, often Hebrew or Aramaic. While this has been tremendously difficult for me, it has been exponentially rewarding as I have witnessed how much my abilities have progressed throughout this program. What has been even more incredible is realizing how important and relevant these ancient texts are to my modern life.
One of the things I have noticed in our tradition is the importance of tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.” The belief that we need to look out for those around us and not think only of ourselves comes up again and again in our people’s vast literature. “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Hillel famously said in Pirke Avot 1:14, Over 2,000 years ago Hillel, one of the greatest rabbis of our tradition, understood the importance of looking out for the needs of others and not only of our own.
In his renowned work, the Mishnah Torah, Rambam taught that eight levels of charity exist and that each is above the other. The lowest is giving grudgingly and the highest is helping someone become self sufficient. Rambam lived in Spain over 800 years ago, and not only understood the importance of helping others but saw that there were distinctions in how one helps another. For Rambam, the greatest form of tzedakah was not a temporary fix, but a permanent solution. He understood that tikkun olam went beyond helping those in need, but addressing the problems cause it, as well.
In Bereshit 6:9, we are introduced to Noah and the text states that he walked “with” God. Rashi, one of the greatest commentators in our tradition, notices the difference between this verse and Bereshit 17:1 about Abraham, which tells us that our forefather walked “before” God. Rashi explains that Noah required God’s support for his righteousness, while Abraham had this strength within himself. Many other commentators have also wondered why Noah walked with God and Abraham walked in front of God. While they give many interesting explanations I am particular to one we discussed in my class.
Noah himself was a good person; the text even describes him with the same word later used for Abraham, “tamim,” often translated as “pure,” “perfect,” or even as, “blameless.” There is however, one important difference between the two: Noah was himself tamim, while Abraham sought to lift up those around him as well.
Over and over throughout the story of Abraham, we see him go out of his way to help those around him. When a powerful group of kings comes from the East to wage war against the local kings near Canaan, Abraham gathers the men of the household to help the local kings. After he saves the day, he takes nothing for himself from the loot they collected in the war. Not only did he go out of his way, but he expected nothing as a reward for his actions. Also, when God plans to destroy the city of Sodom, Abraham argues with him until God agrees not to destroy the city for the sake of 10 righteous people living there.
As opposed to Noah, Abraham set himself apart by focusing on helping others in any way he could. He walked before God, because he carried God’s message into the world through acts of tikkun olam. Noah may have been a good guy himself, but when the flood came, he did his duties but didn’t go beyond them to help anyone else. This quality explains why Abraham, and not Noah, merited being the father of the Jewish people.
At Pardes, I’ve learned that it is our responsibility as Jews to be like Abraham and to go beyond what we are told to do. Whether it is with money, time, or even just treating our fellow human being with dignity, it is our duty to perform acts of tikkun olam, and repair the world, by helping others in any way we can.
Next year, Louis will begin rabbinical school at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

All mitzvas great and small

<div class="masa-blog-title">All mitzvas great and small</div>

By Leor Kushner
The months I spent at Masa Israel’s Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Zion were the most unbelievable ones of my life.
Soon after our arrival last August, we entrenched ourselves in Jewish learning. But a few weeks later, the yeshiva announced that Sept. 14 would be devoted to hesed work: helping underprivileged people build sukkas.

Safety and security

Safety and security

FAQ Weight: 
The safety and security of Masa Israel Journey program participants, staff and partners is our top priority.Masa Israel Journey maintains strict standards for safety and security on all program sponsored activities.
As a joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Masa Israel programs receive updated information regarding safety and security regularly and are able to respond to official recommendations.

Jewish Studies

Masa Israel journey offers a range of Jewish Studies programs designed to deepen your connection to our traditions and to the Jewish people.
Programs range from rigorous interdisciplinary studies of the Jewish people and civilization at some of the world’s top universities to Torah instruction and study at Israel’s leading yeshivas and seminaries.
Delve into the history of the Jewish people, explore your own Jewish identity, gain familiarity with a wide variety of Jewish texts or study to become a Jewish communal professional.
Your Jewish Studies experience in Israel awaits. Find it here.



Shaalvim for Women


Program Description

At Sha'alvim for Women, young Orthodox women are empowered to become independent Torah learners and Torah thinkers and prepared for a life dedicated to Torah, Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael. In a caring and warm environment infused with ruach and excitement, you will develop the study habits, learning skills, and middot to shape your character and guide you throughout your life.
Sha'alvim for Women provides a warm and caring environment that engages your mind, your heart and your soul and helps you grow in yirat shamayim, ahavat HaShem, derech eretz and avodah shebalev (tefila).

J.C.T. - Tochnit Mechulevet


Program Description

Combining a schedule of Jewish studies and academic courses in the fields of technology and business, this program is equivalent to a first year of college enhanced by a strong support system of professional staff. Students are fully integrated with their Israeli counterparts both in courses, dormitory life and extra-curricular activities.
Students choose courses from all the departments at Machon Lev; in Jewish studies, they participate in the Beit Midrash learning program, and for academics, they choose courses from the various departments to include Engineering, Computers, Biochemistry, Electro-Optics, Applied Physics, Management, Marketing, Accounting, and Education.

Hamaor Hagadol


Program Description

Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim, located in the rural and pastoral village of Kfar Chabad—far from the hubbub and commotion of big city life (yet located in the center of Israel)—is the perfect place to spend a year of study and growth in Israel.

Yeshivat Heichal Eliyahu - Chana Chekoula Torah


Program Description

Yeshivat Hekhal Eliyahu offers an intensive program of study for young men who want to learn Torah, enabling students to study independently and discover the key texts for understanding the basics of Emunah. Not only will you obtain knowledge, but also to receive training and personal spiritual tools needed to face the world with the true values ​​of the Torah.
The Yeshiva is for young people who already have the basics and have the will to pursue futher study. Teaching is in Hebrew, with some French courses offered. Rabbis who speak French will work with the students who need additional help.

Bnei Akiva - MTA


Program Description

On MTA, you’ll have a year of learning Torah in some of the best institutions that Israel has to offer. During the times when you are not at Yeshiva or Midrasha, we’ll provide a full schedule of activities letting you really live and feel the pulse of the Land of Israel. Various volunteer options, together with seminars about current Jewish and Israeli issues, will complement the educational goals of MTA.

For more information, contact:

Michael Rainsbury

Betar - Shevet Achim

Program Description