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Difference between Religious-Zionist Yeshiva programs


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Shevat 24, 5778
What is the difference between: 1 - Religious Zionist Yeshiva (Yeshiva Tzionis), 2 - Yeshivas Haseder, 3 - Yeshivas Hakav, and 4 - Yeshivas Techuniot?
There are several hundreds (!) of Religious-Zionist yeshivas (that’s a general term which includes all of the following programs or frameworks: a. Yeshivot Hesder- a Yeshiva Gavoha (for ages18 and up) which merge high level Torah study with Israeli army service, which are both very important mitzvahs. They spend 1.5-2 years in yeshiva, then 16 months in combat units in the army (unless one is physically unfit), then they return to the yeshiva for another 1-2 years. Altogether the program is 4-5 years, depending on the yeshiva. b. Yeshivot “HaKav” is slang for those Religious-Zionist yeshivot gvohot which are relatively dogmatic, stressing a very particular way of teaching the writings of Rav Kook. Most Zionist yeshivas teach (in addition to gmara which is always the main topic) the writings of Rav Kook, but in a more open way. Har HaMor is the classic “kav” yeshiva, which in turn was copied by some others, like Mitzpeh Yericho, Elon Moreh etc. who are also relatively wary of going to universities and speak against certain liberal yeshivas and certain modern (even religious) commentaries. c. Just to complete the picture, there are also “Mechinot” which are one year programs, geared to spiritually prepare and motivate the less studious yeshiva high school graduates before their army service. In addition to gmara, these yeshivas put a strong stress on learning Tanach, philosophy, mussar, chassidut, and practical halacha- especially those which they will need in the army (these topics are also learned in all of the Hesder yeshivot but there the stress is more on classic gmara). Usually these graduates end up enjoying the yeshiva so much that they decide in the end to spend 2 full years of learning before their draft, then they go for a full 2.7 years to the army, especially in commando and special-units, often spending several years afterwards as commanders. Most (!) of the commanders in combat units today are religious boys, usually from these Mechinot. d. There are also Religious-Zionist Yeshivot Gevohot where boys defer their draft to learn usually for 2-3 years, before doing a full 2.7 years of army service. Many offer the option of “Hesder Merkaz”, common in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav Kook, where the boys learn for 10 years, and in the middle, serve 6 months, usually in the artillery corps. This is especially common among those earmarked to be going into chinuch. e. Yeshivot Tichoni’ot are yeshiva high schools, usually with dormitories where they learn a regular morning seder and night seder, with secular studies and matriculation exams in the afternoon.
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