Okay, so you leave America, the UK, S. Africa, or Australia, and maybe you travel a bit in Europe or some other part of the world, and then, sooner or later, you find yourself in Israel. It's a destination, a place not to be overlooked. There are certainly enough interesting and beautiful things to see in Israel, like Masada, the Kotel, museusms, kibbutzim, to name but a few, and Israel is definitely on the tourist circuit. One might assume however that that will be it, end of story, because you have to get back home and start or continue college, or start paying the bills and college tuition loans.

And then, slowly you begin to discover that the place is growing on you. It's getting under your skin, the atmosphere, the great food, and most of all, the discovery that here is the place where you can actualize your Jewish heritage. Here is the place where you can feel alive as a Jew. Perhaps someone persuades you to have a couple of Shabbat meals here and there, a couple of lectures on Judaism and they turn out to be interesting and thought-provoking.

Then, the idea of yeshiva comes up. This, you tell yourself, is where you must draw the line. Your "real life," after all, is overseas, it's not here in Jerusalem. And you just can't spend more time checking out the scene here in Israel. Yeshiva is time-consuming, it's something which you dedicate yourself to, and your'e just not there right now.

Why should you check out yeshiva anyway? You should check out yeshiva because if Israel can give you a Jewish body, yeshiva can give you a Jewish head. If Israel can turn you on with its physical and spiritual beauty, yeshiva can turn you on with its creative spiritual intellect. And that's important to know, even if your game plan is to return to your home outside of Israel. Only if you understand where your feeling of excitement and commitment is coming from can you replicate it and build upon it.

In addition, yeshiva teaches you how to think like a Jew. You cannot expect to be a good representative of Judaism if you cannot open the primary sources of Judaism (the Tanach and Talmud) and read from them by yourself, in the original language. To learn to do that, you need yeshiva. Jewish learning isn't linear thinking, it's exegetic thinking. It starts with premise that whatever is said in the Bible is absolutely true, yet open to queries. Then, the question becomes how do we interpret what the Bible (written Torah) is saying. One rabbi of Talmud will interpret it one way, and another will read it another way, and a while discussion ensues. The rabbis will suprise you with their originality, their candor, and their creativity. All of these sages were in touch with the spiritual world, so all of their opinions are informed not only by human intellect, but also by some sort of G-dly influence which permeated their interpretations of the Bible.

What rests on the outcomes of these Talmudic discussions is nothing less than the maintenance of the universe itself. And if it interests you and you go to the appropriate yeshiva, you'll learn that the rabbis were referring not only to actions determined by Jewish law, but also the deep spiritual structure of creation and of the Torah itself, as described in Chassidic philosophy, and especially within Chabad Chassidut. The bottom line is that yeshiva study doesn't only teach you skills. Even a short stay in yeshiva can help one find meaning and direction in life. Some yeshivas offer abbreviated courses of study for one or more weeks, and even this relatively short stay can change a person's life. If you let it, the yeshiva experience will reveal to you the depth of Jewish learning for the last several thousand years, and that's something no university course can do for you.

Yeshivas fall into three general categories. Chassidic, Lithuanian, and Modern/Zionist.