The Roslyn Synagogue has a tradition of participating in the education of the next generation of modern orthodox rabbis. The Roslyn Synagogue and Rabbi Block annually host a rabbinical intern. The rabbinical intern, at regular intervals, provides sermons and educational activities to the Roslyn Synagogue congregation, while getting real life rabbinical experience.
Our current rabbinic intern: Ari Schwab
Ari Schwab is a third year semikah student in Yeshiva University, where he is also pursuing a Master’s in Bible. After two years in Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), Ari attended Yeshiva College, where he graduated with a major in English Literature and a minor in Jewish Studies. Having just spent their first year of marriage back at Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, Israel, Ari and and his wife Rachel currently reside in Washington Heights and are excited to join the Roslyn family.
Words of wisdom from our rabbinic intern:
The Torah imparts its messages through stories and personalities. By studying these various characters, we can glean important lessons. One of the first things we learn about Noah is that he is a righteous and pure individual. He defies the norms of an entire generation, standing firm in his beliefs against the surrounding decadence and evil. But the end of his life reflects a different Noah – our last image of Noah is a drunk and naked man, cursing some of his children. He lives out the last three hundred years of his life in silence, doing nothing of notable mention. How are we to understand this transformation?
Noah exemplifies a type of religious service that the Rambam termed “lo l’shma” — “not for its own sake.” Noah’s righteousness didn’t stem from a desire to do what was right or good simply because it was right or good, or because it was what Hashem intended. He was motivated by a false destiny, one imparted to him at his birth. One of the first generation born after the death of Adam, Noah’s parents tasked him with undoing the primordial curse of the soil. It is for this reason that Noah followed God’s commandments — because he felt he had a simple job to accomplish. Noah exits the ark and achieves a new covenant with Hashem, one where God will no longer curse the land because of man – a seeming fulfillment of Noah’s purported destiny. Now, Noah becomes drunk not because he made one innocent mistake, but because he was no longer interested in the world or in God’s commandments. Having accomplished what he set out to do, Noah now wipes his hands and retreats into his tent, into a hedonistic carpe diem.
This model displays the blueprint of how a true oved hashem — a true servant of God — acts. We are not righteous for some ulterior motive; our religion is not a mere list where we can check: “accomplished.” We constantly strive to be good people because that is a value in and of itself; it is what God wants, and it is a lifelong mission, one that continues both after missteps, and after great accomplishments.
For additional D’var Torah (words of Torah) from Ari Schwab, click here.