HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi and HaGaon HaRav Rafael Abuchatzeira to Address Massive Amud HaYomi Siyumim in South America and Mexico

“There has never been anything like this in South America! The size, the scope, and most importantly the excited anticipation for the first ever Amud HaYomi siyum on Masechta Brachos is just off the charts!” exclaimed Rabbi Daniel Cohen-Talgum, Dirshu’s South American Director. The excitement permeating Argentina, where the siyum will be held, as well as in Brazil, Panama and even Venezuela, is just amazing.

The siyum on Masechta Brachos in Amud HaYomi and Masechta Bava Kama in the Daf HaYomi program to be held on 25 Adar 1/March 5 will be held at the Luna Park stadium, a stadium that holds more than 5,000 people, is the largest single Torah venue ever seen in South America.

The fact that HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, shlita, venerated Rosh Yeshiva at the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, will be travelling from Eretz Yisrael expressly to deliver the keynote address, and HaGaon HaTzaddik Rav Rafael Abuchatzeirah, shlita, will give a main address, have filled South American Torah Jewry with a tremendous feeling of excitement and anticipation.

The Demand is Exceeding Our Expectations!

Rabbi Cohen-Talgum relates, “We recently started selling tickets and the demand has way exceeded our expectations! Requests have been pouring in, not only from the more than 1,000 people learning in Dirshu’s various programs, but also from a very wide range of people representing the Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities along with Orthodox communities in shuls at various levels of observance.

“It is clear to me,” Rabbi Cohen-Talgum continued, “that Dirshu’s efforts to enhance Torah learning and its various programs that appeal to Jews representing the entire cross-section of the South American community have struck a deep chord with South American Jewry. After all, where do you have an organization whose only goal is to help others learn Torah?! All Dirshu wants is to enhance the ruchniyus of every Jew in Klal Yisrael! People in our community are responding to that altruism and want to be part of it.”

The siyum in Argentina is not the only siyum being held for the Spanish speaking community. In addition to the 5,000 Jews who will gather in Argentina, there will also be a large siyum on Masechta Brachos in Amud HaYomi and Masechta Bava Kama in the Daf HaYomi, in Mexico, with an expected attendance of more than 1,000 people. That siyum, to be held on 23 Adar 1/March 3 at the Hotel Camino Real Polanco Hall,in Mexico City, will also be attended by Rav Ezrachi and Rav Abuchatzeira and the enthusiastic eagerness in Mexico in both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities is something to behold.

Exponential Expansion

Over the past decade, Dirshu’s activities in South America and Mexico have expanded tremendously. Aside from the test takers in Dirshu’s flagship Kinyan Torah Daf HaYomi program, there has been a massive increase in Daf HaYomi B’Halacha learners. With tens of shiurim throughout South America and Mexico, so many lives have been transformed through the daily learning of Halacha.

Nevertheless, Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein, a member of Dirshu’s Hanhalah who has been instrumental in facilitating and spreading Dirshu’s footprint in that region, relates, “As successful as we have been until now, nothing could have prepared us for the enthusiastic embrace of the Amud HaYomi program since its inception last October. Currently, there are more than ten shuirim in Buenos Aires alone! The shiurim are held at all times of the days starting from the pre-vasikin hours of the day, until late at night.

“There is a thirst for learning and a geshmak in the slower pace of the Amud HaYomi that affords a bit more iyun. The Amud HaYomi has become so popular that we are opening new shiurim for the start of Masechta Shabbos later this month. We were completely taken by surprise by the many hundreds of test takers who have signed up and take tests. The tremendous investment of time that goes into learning and chazara in order to take the tests is a testament to the dedication that South American and Mexican Jewry displays for limud haTorah.”

From “No Time” to Learn a Page of Mishnah Berurah to Earning High Scores in Amud HaYomi!

Rav Cohen-Talgum gives an example of the Dirshu revolution in South America. “Several years ago, I met a frum real estate developer here in Buenos Aires. He was a proud Jew and a philanthropist, but Torah learning was not at the top of his agenda. I urged him to start learning the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. He reluctantly agreed. After the first month of learning, I encouraged him to take the test. He responded that he is embarrassed to take a test because he knows he will not do well, so ‘what’s the point…?’ But I didn’t give up. I told him, ‘Please take it! Even if you get a low mark, you will see it will be a catalyst for more growth in learning.’ He agreed and indeed, his marks were very low at the beginning, but with time, he began to score higher and higher marks. Now he doesn’t get below a ninety.

“That is not the end of the story. When the Amud HaYomi began a few months ago, he decided to join. He became fully immersed in the Amud HaYomi and he now scores among our highest marks. This is from a man who told me that he was so busy that he didn’t even have enough time to learn an amud of Mishnah Berurah a day! Now, he utilizes every free second of his day to learn and chazer the Amud HaYomi. This is just one story of the transformative impact that Dirshu and especially the Amud HaYomi has had in our community,” concluded R’ Daniel.

Sold on Dirshu!

The siyum in Mexico will feature many highlights. Aside from the two visiting Gedolei Yisrael, Rav Ezrachi and Rav Abuchatzeira, the siyum will be addressed by Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Bezalel, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Porat Yosef of Yerushalayim, and numerous local Rabbanim.

The siyum in Argentina will also feature inspiring music from inspirational singers, R’ Shlomo Cohen and R’ Motty Steinmetz.

The Siyum in Mexico, will feature, R’ Baruch Levine, and Rav Shlomo Cohen.

Many Dirshu Rabbanim and learners will be travelling from other countries in South America to join the siyum in Argentina. These will include delegations from both Brazil and Panama led by local Rabbanim and maggidei shiur and many lomdei Dirshu. The Rabbanim recognize the spiritual impact that Dirshu has made on their communities and feel a deep sense of hakaras hatov to Dirshu.

Rav Cohen-Talgum relates, “This season in South America is one when many are on vacation. Initially, I was a bit worried about making the siyum to coincide with the end of Masechta Brachos because I knew that so many people would be away. Perhaps there would not be such a large turnout. Despite my worries, however, I am amazed! Why? Because despite everything, we can’t sell tickets fast enough! Shuls from all over the country are turning to us,” Rav Cohen-Talgum continues, awed, “even shuls whose members one would not automatically associate with intensive limud haTorah. I realize that when it comes to Torah, you don’t have to sell anything. Torah sells itself.

“South America is sold on Dirshu!”

Remarkable Achdus at Upcoming Dirshu Convention, as Gedolei Yisrael and Lomdei Dirshu Representing All Shevatim in Klal Yisrael Gather Together

Historic First Amud HaYomi Siyum on Masechta Brachos on Thursday Night

Every Dirshu Convention is a unique spiritual experience, but this year’s convention will have an added dimension - a special, Thursday night, historic Grand Siyum, the first siyum in the inaugural machzor of the new Amud HaYomi program. The Grand Siyum on Masechta Brachos, the first masechta in Shas, will be held at the Armon Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut on 13 Adar I/February 22.

This singular event to be held on Thursday night at the outset of the Convention, will be a first in Dirshu Convention history. The siyum will celebrate the new “Yomi” that has taken Klal Yisrael by storm with tens of thousands of participants the world over. Numerous leading Gedolei Yisrael will address the siyum.

There will also be a siyum on Masechta Bava Kama in the Daf HaYomi program on Motzoei Shabbos at the gala melava malka that will be held in the main ballroom of the Armon Hotel.

At the Amud HaYomi Siyum on Thursday night, the actual hadran and siyum will be made by HaGaon HaRav Hillel David, shlita,Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Umesorah, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, andRav of Kehillas Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Brooklyn. The venerated Rav David, one of the senior Gedolim of America, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Amud HaYomi. It was Rav David who delivered a historic pesicha shiur on Masechta Brachos several months ago when the program was inaugurated and it is thus eminently appropriate that he should make the siyum. At that shiur Rav David gave important advice to both lomdei Amud HaYomi and Amud HaYomi maggidei shiur as to how to make the most of every shiur and every amud.

There will also be a special guest Gadol from Eretz Yisrael gracing the siyum with a keynote address, HaGaon Hatzaddik HaRav Shimon Galei, shlita. Rav Shimon, who is himself a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur, will share his feelings of chizuk after personally witnessing the remarkable revolution in Eretz Yisrael where over 500 Amud HaYomi shiurim have opened across the length and breadth of the country.

Participants at that siyum will have the distinctive opportunity to hear from HaGaon HaRav David Ozeri, shlita, Rav of the Yad Yosef Torah Center of Brooklyn, and HaGaon HaRav Shimon Zev Meisels, Rav of Beis Medrash Yismach Yisroel in Kiryas Yoel and a son-in-law of the Satmar Rebbe, shlita, and the Nasi of Dirshu, HaRav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita.

A Convention that Defies Description

Of course, Shabbos itself at the Dirshu Convention is so deeply inspiring that it is difficult to encapsulate with words. A Dirshu Convention is unique. It is a microcosm of the achdus through Torah that symbolizes the most beautiful qualities of Am Yisrael. It is a convention where men and women representing the entire gamut of Torah Jewry – Chassidim of all kinds, Litvish Yeshiva types, Ashkenazim, Sefardim – come together for one reason: to give and gain chizuk in the limud haTorah that both the men and women who attend know has transformed their homes, their family lives and the chinuch of their children.

The excitement and anticipation felt by Lomdei Dirshu as they look forward to the biennial convention is indescribable. It is a breath of Torah oxygen as they meet like-minded “brothers and sisters in combat” who set aside large portions of time daily to learn, chazer, learn and chazer again, learning the material for the comprehensive tests that every lomed Dirshu aspires to take successfully. These multitudes of talmidei chachamim come together with their counterparts, talking in learning and exchanging tips on how to enhance yedias haTorah and retention of the vast amounts of Torah that they learn. One cannot quantify, the chizuk they derive from realizing that they are a significant part of a massive global movement of yedias haTorah.

With the addition of the monthly Amud HaYomi tests this year, thousands of new test takers have joined the ranks of Dirshu and have begun to feel the taam of life as a “Dirshu Yid.”

In addition, the wives of lomdei Dirshu walk away from Shabbos on a high. Not only are they deeply inspired by the special women’s programing but perhaps even more so, from meeting other distinguished wives and mothers who truly understand what it means to be part of Dirshu with the inherent thrill of witnessing the hatzlacha of their husbands and/or sons after a test; or upon completion of a masechta, recognizing how, through Dirshu, the entire family becomes elevated and closer to Hashem.

Phenomenal Achdus

One Dirshu Yid, who called to register on the first day of registration, related, “I called immediately because I have still not forgotten the last convention! Where else can one have Ashkenazim and Sefardim, Yeshivaleit and Chassidim, Yidden from Cleveland, Baltimore and Toronto talking in learning with Yidden from New Square, Lakewood and Williamsburg? Torah is truly the ultimate unifier and the Torah in which all lomdei Dirshu immerse themselves, day in, day out, week in, week out, year after year brings together all segments of Klal Yisrael in the most harmonious symphony of achdus.”

A Shabbos of Highlights

One of the highlights of the Dirshu Convention that the lomdim look forward to is the iyun shiur delivered by a prominent Rosh Yeshiva. In past conventions, shiurim were delivered by such luminaries as HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein, zt”l, whose shiur riveted the tzibbur Who can forget the shiurim of HaGaon HaRav Berel Povarsky, shlita, or HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Feivel Schustal, shlita, at past conventions? This year, the shiur will be given by HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Mesivta of Lakewood, and author of the magnum opus sefarim Gevuras Yitzchok.

At this year’s convention too, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Feivel Schustal will be delivering a shiur on Friday.

Another highlight of the convention in previous years has been the unique shailos and teshuvos sessions with two of the most prominent poskim of our times, HaGaon HaRav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Staten Island and HaGaon Harav Yeicheil Michel Steinmetz, shlita, senior Skverer Dayan of Boro Park. This year too, Rav Feinstein and Rav Steinmetz will be taking questions covering all aspects of halacha and hashkafa.

Celebrating Learning with Relentless Learning

One of the most incredible chiddushim of a Dirshu Convention is the fact that nothing, not even a Dirshu Convention itself, can stop the relentless schedule of learning and chazering of lomdei Dirshu! In fact, Dirshu consecrates a large double conference room in the main hotel as a beis medrash open for learning 24 hours a day.

During an earlier convention, Rav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, the venerated Skverer Dayan of Boro Park, pointed out how despite the oneg Shabbos ending very late on Friday night, early the next morning, the designated beis medrash was literally full of people learning before it even became light outside! Rav Steinmetz, who was learning in the beis medrash in the early hours of Shabbos morning, was amazed, “Where else do you have a convention where not only is learning talked about, but it doesn’t stop?! Where else do you find, after the seudah on Shabbos afternoon, the ‘taanug’ of sleeping on Shabbos being replaced by the even greater pleasure of learning and chazering another blatt Gemara and another seif in Shulchan Aruch?!”

This year’s convention will be graced by numerous Gedolei Yisrael that will also include, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Goldberg, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Eisenberger, shlita, Roshei Yeshiva of the Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland, the Kossover Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Choeuka, shlita, Rav of Beit Haknesset Ohel Simha of Deal, NJ, HaGaon HaRav Nissan Kaplan, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Daas Aharon, and numerous others.

At the Motzoei Shabbos Melava Malka Siyum on Masechta Bava Kama, Rav Dovid Goldberg, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe, the Kossover Rebbe, Rav Shraga Feivish Hager, Rav Nissan Kaplan, and Rav Dovid Hofstedter will address the massive crowd. The hadran on Masechta Bava Kama will be given by HaRav Moshe Mordechai Lowy, shlita, Rav of the Agudas Yisrael of Toronto.

On Shabbos, between Kabbolas Shabbos and Maariv, Rav Nissan Kaplan will address the massive assemblage in the tent erected to enable all participants to daven b’achdus comfortably. Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin will also deliver an important drasha at the Friday night seuda.

A highlight of the Shabbos promises to be the Sheves Achim on Friday night following the seuda where Rav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, Rav Shmuel Choueka, and Rav Yisrael Moshe Olewski, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Gerer Yeshiva in Boro Park, will address the crowd.

On Shabbos morning, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of Dirshu is slated to deliver a lomdishe shiur, both a hadran on the Daf HaYomi of Masechta Bava Kama and a haschala on Masechta Shabbos with the Amud HaYomi.

A Surreal Sight on the Women’s Side

There will also be separate women’s programming throughout the Shabbos and during the melava malka.

In the past, it was impossible not to be moved by the surreal scene on the women’s side of the mechitza, as the hallowed time of hadlokas ner Shabbos approached. It is a sight! Women of all types, women bedecked with white tichels atop their sheitels next to women with sheitels and yet others with tichels all united as they light the Shabbos candles and the first word of conversation is, “In which program does your husband learn?” They talk about how fortunate they feel to be part of a program that transforms their home into a bastion of Torah and how they happily juggle the early morning hours of getting their kids off to school without their husbands who are deeply immersed in learning their respective Dirshu programs or how they manage bedtime at night as their talmidei chachomim are reviewing another blatt Gemara and another Rashi or Tosafos!

The response from lomdei Dirshu has been so overwhelming. Thousands of reservations have poured in from people wanting to attend the convention. Dirshu has booked and sold out both the Armon and Marriot Hotels.

Those wishing to participate in the Amud HaYomi siyum on Masechta Brachos on Thursday night can still RSVP and attend.

Another highlight at previous Dirshu Conventions has been Shabbos Mincha. During the course of Shabbos, all aliyos are given to the prominent roshei yeshiva and marbitzei Torah who attend the Shabbos.

There is only one aliyah that is sold on Shabbos and that is the aliyah of shelishi for kriyas haTorah of Mincha on Shabbos. Now, anyone familiar with Dirshu knows that the legal tender in Dirshu language is not dollar bills, but rather blatt Gemara. The aliyah is sold for dafim of Gemara! In the past, the coveted aliyah was bought by lomdei Dirshu for many thousands of blatt Gemara!

Following Mincha the climactic shalosh seudos is held, during which time all the men gather to sit together at this most hallowed time of Shabbos and hear divrei chizuk. Concurrently, there is a special ladies’ shalosh seudos program.

This year, shalosh seudos will be addressed by HaRav Yitzchok Zalman Gips, shlita, Rav of Khal Birkas Avrohom of Boro Park. Rav Gips is a popular Dirshu Amud HaYomi and Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur.

Shmuessen will be delivered by Rav Shlomo Eisenberger, Rav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz and Rav Moshe Benzion Weinberger, Rav of the Agudah of Flatbush.

“How Can I NOT Participate?!”

One prominent American Rosh Yeshiva put it succinctly, “How can I not participate at the Dirshu Convention?! This is an event with no agenda other than increasing limud haTorah - no political agenda, no fundraising or organizational agenda. It is, simply put, a celebration of dedication to learning. We are just coming to celebrate with Yidden who have invested days and nights over many years to learn, chazer and be tested. How can I not come?!”

Senior Gedolei Yisrael from Eretz Yisrael, Europe and America, to Participate in Historic Amud HaYomi Siyum in Vienna

Siyum on Masechta Brachos and Haschalas Masechta Shabbos in Hall Where Knessiah Gedolah was Held

The Amud HaYomi has taken Klal Yisrael by storm. Tens of thousands of Yidden across six continents are poised to complete Masechta Brachos on Monday 10 Adar I/February 19. From taking note of the august group of senior Gedolei Yisrael who will be attending, one can begin to understand how important they deem this new “Yomi” to be for Klal Yisrael.

Leading Gedolei Yisrael such as HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron; HaGaon HaRav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, shlita, senior Skverer Dayan;  HaGaon HaRav Avrohom Salim, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Meor Torah; HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Meir Stern, shlita, Rav of Zichron Meir and Kiryat Vizhnitz, Bnei Brak; HaGaon Harav Aharon Schiff, shlita, Rav of Antwerp; HaGaon HaRav Chaim Peretz Berman, shlita, a Rosh Yeshiva at the Ponovezh Yeshiva and son-in-law, of HaGaon HaRav Berel Povarsky, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ponovezh; HaGaon HaRav Messoud Ben Shimon, shlita, Sephardic Rav of Bnei Brak and Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Elitzur; and HaGaon HaRav Binyomin Finkel, shlita, Mashgiach of Mir.

These are a sampling of the many Gedolim who will grace the siyum at the Sofiensäle Convention Hall, the same hall in which the Knessiah Gedolah was held in pre-war Europe.

Large delegations of lomdei Dirshu will be coming from Eretz Yisrael, the United States, Canada and all over Europe to participate in the historic event and to simultaneously daven for Klal Yisrael in the eis tzarah in which it finds itself.

Indeed, the ultimate antidote to the terribly difficult times facing Klal Yisrael with enemies raising their heads all over the world, is limud haTorah. Learning Torah and the toiling in Torah of tens of thousands of lomdim the world over, has the power to neutralize the gezeira, as Chazal teach us, “Torah, protects and saves.”

Of course, the highlight of the journey will be the beautiful siyum graced and addressed by numerous Gedolim, where Klal Yisrael will both celebrate the Torah while begging for rachmei shomayim in the zechus of the Torah.

There will also be deeply inspiring visits and tefillos at the kevarim of the Chasam Sofer and Ksav Sofer in nearby Pressburg, and in the beis hachaim in Vienna to luminaries such as the Chortkover Rebbe, zt”l, HaGaon HaRav Yosef Engel, zt”l, and others.

There will also be a special maamad of tefilla at the kever of Rav Yeshaya of Kerister in Kerister, Hungary.

An Appropriate Response to Today’s Tzaros

The trip that celebrates the protective power of Torah and that will be full of heartfelt tefillos on behalf of Acheinu Bnei Yisrael hanesunim batzara is an appropriate response to the times in which we live. At the same time, it will celebrate thousands of additional lomdim who will be joining the Amud HaYomi program and beginning Masechta Shabbos.

Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of the hanhala of Dirshu, related, “The very fact that tens of Gedolei Yisrael, Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbanim and Poskim will be taking time from their busy schedules in the middle of the zeman to participate in this special maamad is in itself the greatest testament to the importance of this new journey in limud haTorah that has encompassed all of Klal Yisrael.”

Meeting the Learning Needs of Today

As Rav Dovid Cohen, who will be giving a keynote address at the siyum in Vienna, said, “The daily learning of Daf HaYomi established by Rav Meir Shapiro is extremely necessary for Klal Yisrael because the fact is that every person needs a mechayev and a framework that obligates him and empowers him to learn, with a plan, in an orderly manner. Otherwise, the daily obligations get in the way and rob him of his time for learning. In Rav Meir Shapiro’s generation, people had more time for learning. They would spend hours in the shteibel every day and the Daf HaYomi was therefore an ideal limud.

“Today,” Rav Cohen continued, “people are much busier with the overwhelming obligations of everyday life and need a limud with more geshmak to engage them. Even bnei Torah need a certain geshmak to enable them to sustain their goals in bekius. The Amud HaYomi which gives a person more time to cultivate a real geshmak in learning addresses all these needs. That is why I have encouraged this program.”

Rav Cohen related that the Iyun HaAmud kuntress distributed by Dirshu is a critically important component of the limud because it brings much of the “reyd”, the main points of the meforshim and injects a tremendous geshmak in the learning. In today’s generation the spiritual delight of delving in a sugya is vital because that is what spurs people to learn even more.

At the siyum, there will be drashos from Rav Avrohom Salim, shlita, Rav Yaakov Meir Stern, shlita, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi Dirshu, Rav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rav Aharon Schiff, shlita, Rav Pesach Horowitz, shlita, Belzer Dayan of Ashdod, Rav Benzion Rabinowitz, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Boyan, Rav Nissan Kaplan, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Daas Aharon, Rav Yechiel Michel Steinmetz, shlita, and Rav Chaim Peretz Berman, shlita.

The Battle of Torah Prevents Physical Battles

Following the siyum, the entire delegation will head to Pressburg where a special maamad tefillah on behalf of Acheinu Bnei Yisrael will be held at the kever of the Chasam Sofer. At the kever, words of hisorerus will be given by HaGaon Hatzaddik HaRav Binyomin Finkel, shlita, and HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, shlita, senior Posek and Rav of Western Bnei Brak. A special “mi shebeirach” for lomdei Dirshu will be recited by Rav Messoud Ben Shimon, shlita.

This will be followed by a visit to the ancient beis hakevaros where the Ksav Sofer is buried and tefillos will be said at his kever.

The historic trip to Vienna, where the original idea of a daily limud for Klal Yisrael was instituted just over one hundred years ago by Rav Meir Shapiro, zt”l, promises to be not only a deeply inspiring trip, but much, much more!

It is a trip that heralds the fact that Klal Yisrael was mekabel, accepted upon themselves a new yomi limud that has the power to transform the daily limud haTorah of tens of thousands throughout the world.

In addition, the fact that this new limud that was instituted at virtually the same time as the war on Hamas broke out in Eretz Yisrael, perhaps is telling us that it has the power, zeh l’emuas  zeh, to neutralize the power of Amalek. Indeed, the Chasam Sofer wrote, “When talmidei chachamim spar over a fine nuance in Torah with each talmid chacham holding strongly to his opinion, just like the machlokes between Hillel and Shammai, this prevents other aspects of machlokes, of war and battle in the world.”

Amud HaYomi, the Ultimate Antidote!

At a Time that Klal Yisrael is in Need of Great Rachamim, Amud HaYomi Poised to Begin Masechta Shabbos

“Shall I tell you that the sun shines?” was the response of the senior posek, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, shlita, when asked what he thinks of the idea of Klal Yisrael coming together to learn Masechta Shabbos and hilchos Shabbos together in Dirshu’s upcoming Amud HaYomi and Daf Hayomi B’Halacha programs. The Gemara teaches us that if Klal Yisrael would keep two shabbosos, they would merit the geulah immediately. Perhaps two shabbosos can refer to the concurrent learning of Masechta Shabbos and hilchos Shabbos!

“We all know that Shabbos, limud haTorah and shemiras Shabbos are the ultimate shemirah, the ultimate protection from our enemies,” Rav Zilberstein emphasized. “How much more so is learning Torah and learning about Shabbos, a protection in these times when Klal Yisrael needs so much shemirah. Thus, it is important to tap into that shemirah and invoke rachmei shomayim on behalf of Klal Yisrael and enhance our limud haTorah, especially in areas of Shabbos, which is the mekor habracha, the source of all blessing.”

These words were said in advance of the upcoming siyum on Masechta Brachos and the commencement of the learning of Masechta Shabbos in Dirshu’s new Amud HaYomi program that has, in the short months since its inception on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, taken Klal Yisrael by storm.

Beginning in Vienna … and Circling the World

Siyumim will take place throughout the world, starting this coming 10 Adar 1 with a massive siyum being held at the Sofiensäle Hall in Vienna, the city where the original Daf HaYomi was inaugurated by Rav Meir Shapiro at the first Knessiah Gedolah. How fitting it is that this first siyum on Masechta Brachos, the first Masechta in Shas learned in this new “Yomi” program, the Amud HaYomi that has so successfully penetrated, becoming an integral limud of Klal Yisrael towards completing Shas, should be celebrated in Vienna and graced by Gedolei Yisrael from Eretz Yisrael, Europe and America!

There will also be a massive siyum in America at the upcoming Dirshu convention in Stamford, Connecticut, graced by Gedolei Yisrael and more than one thousand lomdei Dirshu. In addition, there will be large siyumim across Eretz Yisrael, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. All the siyumim in these varied global locales are a testament to the worldwide impact that the new Amud HaYomi is having on Yidden the world over as they connect with the unique geshmak of being able to comprehensively learn an amud every day while deriving a taste of the depth of the Gemara that they are learning.

Neutralizing Eisav’s [and Yishmael’s] Koach of War Through the Milchamta Shel Torah

The fact that the Amud HaYomi providentially began almost simultaneously with the difficult war that broke out in Eretz Yisrael is certainly no coincidence. As Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein pointed out, “The war situation demands something of us. We are on the frontlines in fighting this war. The more Torah we learn, the more dedicated we are to truly deepening our connection with Torah, the more Heavenly mercy rests on Klal Yisrael and its efforts.”

A fascinating Chasam Sofer (Drashos Volume I, page 183) explains that Hashem put everything into the world for a purpose. If we use it for its intended purpose, it is a great boon for Klal Yisrael and if we don’t… the opposite is the case. For example, he says that Hashem put the concept of machlokes, of fighting, into the world. When that fighting is used properly, then it will not be used in battles of war or other dangerous areas. What is the right way to use the concept of fighting? The Chasam Sofer answers that machlokes is beautiful and proper when it is a machlokes over Torah. When talmidei chachamim spar over a fine nuance in Torah with each talmid chacham holding strongly to his opinion, just like the machlokes between Hillel and Shammai, this prevents other aspects of machlokes, of war and battle in the world. That is what Chazal mean when they say that talmidei chachamim increase peace in the world. When talmidei chachamim fight over Torah, they ensure that the concept of “fighting” exists in the world the way it is supposed to exist thereby preventing other fighting, war and bloodshed.

The passuk says, “Hakol kol Yaakov v’hayadayim yedei Eisav – the voice is the voice of Yaakov but the hands are the hands of Eisav.” The Chasam Sofer then expounds on the famous words of Chazal on that passuk that, “At the time that the voice of Yaakov is found in the shuls, the hands of Eisav have no control over them, but if not, the hands of Eisav do control them…”

The Chasam Sofer says that when the voice of Yaakov, the talmidei chachamim are engaged in fighting and debating nuances of Torah and halacha in the beis medrash, the fighting and violence on the war front will be stilled and Eisav will have no control over Klal Yisrael.

The message is clear. The way Klal Yisrael will prevail in this terrible war against Hamas and the entire world that seeks to maim, kill and uproot Klal Yisrael is through our “warring” in the beis medrash over a sugya. This is the antidote of the Amud HaYomi. The pilpul in Torah that tens of thousands of Yidden the world over are engaging in, is the ultimate way to neutralize Hamas, Iran, the Houthis and all the many Jew haters who have come out of the woodwork since Simchas Torah. As a result of the milchamta shel Torah, we will merit to prevail in the other milchamos.

Invoking the Zechus of the Chasam Sofer on Behalf of Amud HaYomi Learners

The words of the Chasam Sofer take on extra urgency in our time. After all, it is the Chasam Sofer who teaches us that our milchama shel Torah is what neutralizes Eisav’s [and Yishmael’s] power of milchama.

That is why a Dirshu delegation led by Gedolei Yisrael will be going to the kever of the Chasam Sofer in Pressburg on the day of the first siyum in the Amud HaYomi on Mesechta Brachos, to daven on behalf of Klal Yisrael during these trying time. In addition, the delegation will place a special, “Sefer Gibborim” at the kever of the Chasam Sofer to serve as an ongoing source of rachmei shomayim and siyatta d’shmaya for lomdei Amud HaYomi and their families.

What exactly is the Sefer Gibborim? The idea is based on the Gemara (Bava Metziah 85) which teaches that one of the Amoraim, who was ill, prostrated himself at the kever of his rebbi and said, “I learn your Torah!” In that merit, he was healed.

Acting on that lesson, Dirshu’s hanhala came up with the concept of compiling a sefer containing the names of all current Amud HaYomi learners and their families, as well as the names and family names of any person who accepts upon himself to learn the Amud HaYomi.

The Sefer Hagibborim will be placed in a special, weather-sealed, locked receptacle next to the Chasam Sofer’s kever, to remain there as an eternal merit for those inscribed in it.

Now is the time to join Amud HaYomi! Now is the time to join the war to protect Klal Yisrael. Now is the time to tap into the unique koach of the Chasam Sofer.

To join Amud HaYomi please contact Dirshu at info@dirshunj.org or at 1-888-5Dirshu.

The Power of Shabbos Can Save Us!

Gedolei Yisrael Urge Learning of Masechta Shabbos and Hilchos Shabbos in Dirshu’s Amud HaYomi and Halacha Programs

“The Gemara teaches that if Klal Yisrael would keep two Shabbosos the geulah would come immediately. Perhaps we can say that this refers to the learning of both Masechta Shabbos and hilchos Shabbos,” said HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chevron, to a delegation of senior members of hanhalas Dirshu led by Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter who recently met with him in his home in Yerushalayim.

It was Rav Dovid Cohen who, even before the Amud HaYomi’s inception, ardently hailed the establishment of the program because he presciently saw that it would address an important need and fill a void for Klal Yisrael.

“Even I was Surprised by the Way Amud HaYomi has Conquered the Hearts and Minds of Klal Yisrael!”

Rav Cohen has been a major advocate of the program since its inception and has enthusiastically hailed Dirshu’s Iyun Ha’Amud booklets that infuse the Amud HaYomi with a unique geshmak in learning by endowing the Amud HaYomi learner with many of the foundational aspects of each sugya’s lomdus in a user-friendly way.

He explained that the limud established by Rav Meir Shapiro for Klal Yisrael is extremely necessary because by nature, every person needs a mechayev and a framework that obligates him and enables him to learn with a plan, in an orderly manner. Otherwise, one’s daily obligations get in the way and rob him of learning time. In Rav Meir Shapiro’s generation, people had more time for learning. They would spend hours every day in the shteibel and the Daf HaYomi was therefore an ideal limud. Today, people are much busier with the overwhelming obligations of everyday life and need a limud with more geshmak to engage them. Even bnei Torah need a certain geshmak to enable them to sustain their goals in bekiyus. The Amud HaYomi program, which gives a person more time to cultivate a real geshmak in learning, addresses all these needs. “That is why I encourage it,” Rav Cohen explained.

He added, “That being said, even I was surprised by the way it has conquered the hearts and minds of Klal Yisrael in such a short time! I can tell you,” he told Rav Hofstedter, “this is just the beginning. You will see in the future how many more people will upgrade their limud haTorah by joining the program and how it will literally take over Klal Yisrael.”

Masechta Shabbos Plus Hilchos Shabbos Equals a Golden Opportunity!

The Dirshu delegation also met with HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz, shlita, Rosh Yeshivat Ohr Hachaim and a member of the Shas Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah. Rav Elbaz focused on what he called “a golden opportunity” for lomdei Torah.

“I think,” he said, “that the fact that the Amud HaYomi is about to start Masechta Shabbos and that the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha will begin hilchos Shabbos in a few months offers a golden opportunity. One can learn Masechta Shabbos and thereby become familiar with all the concepts and sources of the halacha. Then, one can proceed to the next step to see how all those concepts and sources translate into halacha l’maaseh! It is amazing how Dirshu has ‘set the table’ for the lomdim by producing such wonderful sefarim. Their Iyun Ha’Amud booklets enables lomdim to easily access and understand the underpinnings of the sugya and the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah which helps every lomed truly understand the practical halacha as it relates to our times, gives us no excuse not to learn!”

Rav Elbaz added that he himself uses the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah daily and experiences remarkable to’eles, benefit from it.

Moiredig!”

HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, Rosh Yeshiva at the Mirrer Yeshiva and one of the elder Roshei Yeshiva of the generation, was simply amazed as he perused the Iyun Ha’Amud booklet, exclaiming, “Moiredig! Moiredig!”

He then expressed his fervent hope that the pace and schedule of the Amud HaYomi would give the learners a true geshmak in iyun, while enabling them to cover ground and complete masechtos on schedule. Indeed, Rav Yitzchok himself is scheduled to travel to Argentina where hundreds of lomdim have joined the Amud HaYomi program, to participate in the Amud HaYomi siyum on Masechta Brachos there.

“We are Living in Yemos HaMashiach!”

One of the most gratifying aspects of the Amud HaYomi is the way it has brought entire kehillos together, on the same page, literally! One such kehillah is Khal Adas Yerushalayim commonly known as Kehillas Hamasmidim led by Rav Elimelech Mintzberg. The kehillah has thriving branches in Yerushalayim, Bet Shemesh, Modiin Illit, Beitar and other places. The kehillah decided to adopt the Amud HaYomi as their official limud and soon, tens of shiurim will be established in each of their centers. Both kollel yungeleit and baalei battim are learning the Amud HaYomi. The kollel yungeleit have added it to their regular kollel schedule and the baalei battim had adopted it as their main limud.

At an event held together with senior members of Kehillas Hamasmidim and its Amud HaYomi Maggidei shiur, Rav Mintzberg spoke passionately about the limud haTorah revolution that he has witnessed in the kehillah since the Amud HaYomi began the cycle with Masechta Brachos on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.

“I feel,” he said, “that if my father, Rav Leibel Mintzberg who led the kehillah for decades, would be here, he would say that we are living in yemos haMashiach! Wherever I go I see our baalei battim and avreichim deeply immersed in the limud, learning, chazering and taking tests in a way that we have never witnessed before. Yes, yemos haMashiach is an age when everyone has the ability to become a talmid chochom! That is what I am seeing today in our kehillah. Everyone is so taken up with the limud. There are no words to describe our profound gratitude to Dirshu for being the catalyst for this revolution!”

The Antidote to The Difficulties of Galus

In his remarks at the Masmidim event, Rav Dovid Hofstedter noted the darkness of the galus in which we find ourselves and the difficult times facing Jews both in Eretz Yisrael and throughout the entire world.

“Hashem has given us the antidote to combat the difficulties of galus!”he exclaimed. “He has given us special siyatta d’Shmaya, He has endowed Klal Yisrael with the Amud HaYomi and the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. Even within this terrible galus Hashem has shown us ha’aras ponim. The way Klal Yisrael has embraced this limud, the night kollelim, the different programs in various kehillos where tens of thousands have immersed themselves in this limud and are taking tests, show how Hashem has sent us this antidote! Torah protects and Shabbos protects.”

The Largest Beis Medrash in the World!

Rav Aryeh Zilberstein, one of Dirshu’s most successful maggidei shiur, has hundreds listening to his Amud HaYomi shiur in person and many thousands throughout the world listening to the recordings of his shiurim. He inherited the clear, eloquent powers of elucidation from his illustrious father, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, shlita.

At a special gathering for Amud HaYomi maggidei shiur, Rav Zilberstein said, “We are part of what is certainly the largest beis medrash in the entire world! This beis medrash encompasses many tens of thousands of people who are learning the Amud HaYomi. Yes, everyone may, in practice, be learning in his own local beis medrash, but we are all connected. The Gemara teaches that the more people who learn together, the greater hashraas haShechina there is. I think,” Rav Zilberstein proclaimed, “this amazing new Amud HaYomi program brings the Shechina and so much bracha because, by its very nature, it pushes the lomed to keep on learning. It is relentless, yet doable. The monthly tests that create a tremendous feeling of obligation to not only learn the amud well, but to review it repeatedly until it is so clear in one’s mind that one can take a test on it.”

Indeed, the siyum on Masechta Brachos and the beginning of Masechta Shabbos will coincide this year with Dirshu’s Annual Convention this coming weekend of Shabbos Parashas Tetzaveh, February 22-25, in Stamford, Connecticut, to be graced by leading Gedolei Yisrael who will impart chizuk and guidance.

As Amud HaYomi Set to Embark on Mesechta Shabbos, Gedolei Yisrael Urge the Learning of Shabbos as the Ultimate Shemira for Klal Yisrael

“It is a time of war, a time when we need so much shemirah! How can we achieve shemirah? How can we invoke rachamei shomayim for all of Am Yisrael, for the soldiers at the front, for all those who live in Eretz Yisrael and for all Yidden around the world who are under attack?” exclaimed HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, shlita, Rav of Ramat Elchanan and one of the leading senior poskim of our time. “The answer is simple! It is staring us in the face. It is a one-word answer. ‘Shabbos!’ Yes, when we keep Shabbos, enhance our shemiras Shabbos, Shabbos keeps us, Shabbos guards us from difficulty and tragedy!” Those passionate words of Rav Zilberstein were said at a seminal meeting with leaders of hanhalas Dirshu, led by the Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita.

Rav Zilberstein was commenting on the hashgacha pratis that Dirshu’s two most popular learning programs will embark shortly on learning Masechta Shabbos - both Dirshu’s widely popular Amud HaYomi program and Daf HaYomi B’Halacha.

Shabbos is Shemirah!

Since its inception on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan of this year, the Amud HaYomi program has opened nearly 1,000 shiurim the world over with many tens of thousands of participants! The new daily limudyomi’ with which Dirshu has gifted Klal Yisrael has taken off in an unprecedented way, literally conquering the hearts and minds of Klal Yisrael - whether it is baalei battim seeking a limud that enables them to gain a kinyan and have a geshmak; whether it is kollel yungeleit seeking a systematic way of being koneh Shas while simultaneously learning it in a non-superficial way; whether it is bachurim¸ yes, thousands of bachurim, who have taken to the limud! There are even a number of yeshivos that actually have so many bochurim learning as part of the program that Dirshu has agreed to make those yeshivos into monthly testing sites, so that the bachurim do not even have to leave yeshiva to take the tests.

The Amud HaYomi will be beginning Masechta Shabbos in less than four weeks, 9 Adar 1/February 18, and it was about this that Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein and numerous other Gedolei Yisrael with whom Dirshu met have expressed their joy. “Shabbos is a shemirah,” is the message that came through loud and clear.

Not only will the Amud HaYomi begin learning Masechta Shabbos but Dirshu’s other massive program, its Daf HaYomi B’Halacha daily learning program will also embark on hilchos Shabbos, Chelek Gimmel of the Mishnah Berurah in a few months’ time. Thus, not only will lomdim be able to learn Masechta Shabbos with the Amud HaYomi, but at the very same time as they are deeply immersed in the sugyos of hilchos Shabbos they will also be able to learn the halacha l’maaseh of Shabbos with the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program.

Leading Gedolei Yisrael including HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, shlita, have urged the learning of hilchos Shabbos as a shemirah in response to the war that has been raging since Simchas Torah. Currently, anyone participating in Dirshu’s two flagship programs, has the opportunity to not only achieve a kinyan in Masechta Shabbos and hilchos Shabbos but also to bring rachamei shomayim upon Klal Yisrael who needs it so much during these trying times.

Twin Powers: Shabbos and Achdus

When hanhalas Dirshu met with the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, shlita in his home in Bnei Brak, Dirshu’s Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein asked the Rebbe, “In what area should we seek to be mechazek ourselves in light of the current matzav?”

“Shabbos is the mekor habracha,” the Rebbe responded, “The Torah was given on Shabbos.  Likras Shabbos lechu v’neilcha, when we come and meet Shabbos by engaging in learning about Shabbos and learning the halachos of Shabbos, we tap into the source of our bracha and that endows Klal Yisrael with a special shemirah.”

The Rebbe then turned his focus to Rav Hofstedter and highlighted another important ideal that brings Hashem’s shemirah on Klal Yisrael, the ideal of achdus, of bringing so much unity among Klal Yisrael. He said, “Dirshu has the zechus to bring tens of thousands of Yidden together in learning the Torah hakedosha. They are coming likras Shabbos, to greet the Shabbos by learning the Gemara and halachos of Shabbos. Embarking on this with so many Yidden together is a tremendous manifestation of achdus. Certainly, the twin powers of achdus and Shabbos contain within them the most important ingredients needed by Klal Yisrael to prevail in these difficult times!” concluded the Vizhnitzer Rebbe.

Siyum On Masechta Brachos In Vienna

History was made just over one-hundred years ago when the Daf Hayomi was established by Rav Meir Shapiro at the First Kenessia Gedolah in 1923 in Vienna. Now, history will once again be made on February 19 when the first Siyum of the Amud Hayomi cycle will be held in the same hall in Vienna on Mesechta Brochos. The Siyum in the Sofiensäle Hall will I”YH be graced by many Gedolim from across the world, commemorating this historical event.

HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky, shlita, venerated Mashgiach of Yeshiva Orchos Torah and a talmid muvhak of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, delineated the remarkable, unprecedented success of the new Dirshu Amud HaYomi program as it is poised to conclude Masechta Brachos and embark on Masechta Shabbos.

He asked a question. “Why was Yehuda chosen by Yaakov Avinu to go to Mitzrayim before the other brothers to establish a yeshiva in Goshen? We know that shevet Yissochor was a shevet of Gedolei Torah. Why couldn’t Yissochor establish the yeshiva?”

He answered in the name of the Nesivos Shalom of Slonim, that after a yeshiva has already been established, you can find many people who can give shiurim and help keep the yeshiva running properly. However, when it comes to starting a yeshiva, building a foundation for a new makom Torah, you need a ‘gur aryeh,’ a lion like Yehuda, a revolutionary leader who has the power, initiative and tenacity to make sure it happens in the best way possible. This pshat came to mind when I was thinking about the new, revolutionary Amud HaYomi program that Rav Hofstedter and Dirshu have gifted to Klal Yisrael,” Rav Mishkovsky continued.

“Just think when Rav Meir Shapiro established the Daf HaYomi, it was an extremely ambitious project. The program would not have caught on and become a Klal Yisrael limud without the support of the Gedolei Yisrael of that time, especially the support of the Imrei Emes of Ger. In this case, we have seen this program become a Klal Yisrael program in a matter of weeks or a few months!” Rav Mishkovsky exclaimed. “We see baalei battim who have so identified with the program because it allows for time to have a geshmak in learning. We see kollel yungeleit grabbing onto the program because it affords them a plan to learn Shas at a pace that they can understand and retain the knowledge. We see bachurim who have found such newfound energy in learning as a result of the program’s having caught on and even becoming an official seder in some yeshivos. Without a doubt this program is a tremendous zechus for Klal Yisrael!”

Perhaps Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein best encapsulated the Torah’s view on this by saying, “Everyone in Klal Yisrael must be involved in the battle for Eretz Yisrael. Torah is akin to our atom bomb. It is the ultimate shemirah for Klal Yisrael and when Yidden embark on learning Masechta Shabbos and hilchos Shabbos with diligence and complete focus, there is no better shemirah for all of Klal Yisrael!”

Dirshu Kinyan Yerushalmi Program Celebrates Siyum on Masechta Sheviis

Siyum Held at home of Rav Zelig Braverman Son-in-law of Rav Chaim Kanievsky

“I remember a few years ago I came into the home of my father-in-law, the Sar HaTorah, HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, zt”l, and I told him that I had met a yungerman who mentioned that he is learning Yerushalmi with the commentary that he himself (Rav Chaim) had written on the Yerushalmi. Rav Chaim’s entire countenance shone with simcha upon hearing this!” exclaimed his son-in-law, Rav Zelig Braverman. “He was so happy that there was someone learning Yerushalmi who was being assisted by his peirush. I know that there would be no end to the simcha he would derive today to see thousands of lomdei Torah learning from his peirush on Yerushalmi and even being tested on it!”

Those words of Rav Zelig Braverman, who collaborated with Rav Chaim in writing the peirush on Yerushalmi, were said with great passion at a siyum on Masechta Sheviis in Yerushalmi. The siyum was attended by the Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, and other avreichim who particpate in the Dirshu Kinyan Yerushalmi program.

Rejuvenating an Overlooked Chelek of Torah

The milestone siyum held at the home of Rav Zelig, who himself composes the Dirshu tests on Yerushalmi, attested to the quiet revolution transpiring in Klal Yisrael, where thousands are now learning Yerushalmi, a chelek of Torah shebaal peh that has, in many ways, overlooked in previous generations.

The Dirshu Kinyan Yerushalmi program was launched in Cheshvan of last year. Participants take monthly tests and are rewarded for good results. In addition to being tested on the Gemara, the participants are also tested on the peirush of Rav Chaim Kanievsky on the Yerushalmi.

 Moreover, there are thousands who are not officially part of the program but are also learning the Daf HaYomi Yerushalmi and it is not an exaggeration to say that in the wake of the Kinyan Yerushalmi program, the learning of Yerushalmi an integral component of Torah shebaal peh has undergone unprecedented rejuvenation.

Quenching a Thirst… For Torah! 

Rav Braverman related that it is well known that Rav Chaim Kanievsky wrote sefarim on many obscure areas of Torah that few had explored. When he wrote his sefer on Yerushalmi, the reason he wrote it was because Yerushalmi was also considered an obscure area of Torah. In fact, when his first sefer on Masechta Kilayim in Yerushalmi was published it barely sold any copies. Today, there is almost no one learning Yerushalmi who doesn’t learn his peirush and it is even featured as a commentary on the side of the Gemara in the Oz V’Hadar edition of Yerushalmi.

According to Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of Dirshu’s hanhala, “There is a thirst among lomdei Torah for new vistas in learning. Lomdei Torah are seeking chiddush, new goals and new challenges. Learning Yerushalmi properly is a true ambition for many significant talmidei chachamim. It is a different, more difficult chelek of Torah than Talmud Bavli, and it is simultaneously an integral part of Torah shebaal peh that every talmid chacham should know.”

Rabbi Yosef Aryeh, Dirshu’s coordinator for Kinyan Yerushalmi related, “I am amazed to see the wide range of people participating in the program. Of course, there are avreichim who are great talmidei chachamim who are seeking a kinyan in another area of Torah, but there are also younger people, such as a young eighteen-year-old bachur who scores very high marks on each test. There is an 85-year-old Yid who also takes the test every month and he sent us a letter saying, ‘I have endless and eternal thanks to Dirshu for creating this program. Who would have believed that at my age I would be zocheh to learn Yerushalmi?!’”

Rav Dovid Hofstedter: Learning Yerushalmi, A Necessary “Vitamin”

After Rav Zelig Braverman made the siyum, the participants burst into song and dance, celebrating the simcha, a siyum on Masechta Sheviis, a simcha that in the not-so-distant past, had been quite rare.

Rav Dovid Hofstedter was then asked to speak. In his short but essential words, he addressed the trying times in which we live. “During these times,” he said, “we are very well aware of the power of Torah to shield and save us from our enemies, ‘Torah magnah u’matzlah.’ I want to ask a question. Let us say that a person chas v’shalom takes ill. He goes to the doctor and the doctor gives him a prescription instructing him to take three pills daily. The person, however, decides, ‘You know, this medicine is expensive. I will take a one pill instead of three pills.’ Now,” Rav Dovid passionately said, “if a person takes just a part of the antidote, and not the full dose, it will certainly not be as potent. We all know that Torah is the antidote! Torah saves us! But the full antidote needs to be taken for the maximum benefit.”

Rav Hofstedter then recalled how Rav Simcha Wasserman once explained to him why Rashi on Chumash in addition to teaching basic pshat, brings various midrashim. Why did Rashi choose to bring one medrash over another? Rav Simcha answered that Rashi’s peirush is like medicine or vitamins for Am Yisrael. Rashi chose the midrashim that would provide the ideal vitamins needed for the neshama.

“Similarly,” Rav Dovid continued, “when we say Torah magnah u’matzlah, we must understand that it is not enough to learn just a small part of Torah here and a small part of Torah there. Of course, it is not expected of every single person to learn every part of Torah. Nevertheless, Klal Yisrael as a whole needs all of Torah to be learned. Klal Yisrael collectively is like one large body. If they are missing a chelek of Torah that means part of the power of Torah to shield and save is also missing.

“Baruch Hashem today Yerushalmi is being learned by large segments of Klal Yisrael! This integral part of Torah is no longer a ‘closed sefer’! Rather, it continues to spread. If Hashem has given us the siyatta d’Shmaya to spread the learning of Yerushalmi all over, that is a sign that Klal Yisrael truly needs this ‘vitamin’.”

“We are Holding at Motzoei Sheviis!”

Just observing the depth of the gratitude displayed by the avreichim who came over after the siyum to thank Rav Hofstedter for enriching their spiritual lives by facilitating the learning of this chelek of Torah was a most moving experience!

Rav Braverman concluded, “The Gemara that teaches us that Mashiach will come on motzoei sheviis. We have just completed Masechta Sheviis. We are holding at motzoei sheviis! My shver Rav Chaim would say that Mashiach will come in the zechus of learning Yerushalmi.

May it be b’karov!”

Dirshu’s Two Beis Medrash Govoha’s “Chaburas Hashas” Chaburos Celebrate an Evening of Aliyah b’Torah and Hakaras HaTov

I once asked the Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, zt”l, “What is the proper derech halimud?”

He answered me, “Ish l’fi tivo, each person according to his own nature. Each person finds the derech that gives him sippuk hanefesh.”

I asked the same question to ybl”ch, HaGaon HaRav Avrohom Gurwicz, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Gateshead and he answered, “There is no single proper derech halimud. The derech that is right for a person is the one that gives each individual simcha and spiritual satisfaction in learning.”

Those were the words of Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi of Dirshu, at a beautiful Chanukah mesibah held in the Bnei Torah Hall for the Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood’s Dirshu Chaburas HaShas chaburah.

Chaburas Hashas, one of Dirshu’s programs, is tailormade for bnei Torah who desire in-depth learning combined with a schedule that empowers them to complete masechtos in a systematic manner.

Beis Medrash Govoha’s Chaburas Hashas chaburah has been extremely successful and currently has more than 120 participants learning in two chaburos, one in the Mizrach Beis Medrash and the other in the Beis Yitzchok Beis Medrash.

The two-track program covers two-and-a-half blatt weekly (an amud per weekday) with Friday and Shabbos consecrated for chazarah. Track one is Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos. Track two features Gemara, Rashi, Tosafos, and a list of maarei mekomos from the Rishonim and Acharonim prepared under the guidance of HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita,Rosh Yeshivas Chevron.

Simcha Shel Mitzvah Bursts Forth from Every Corner of the Hall

The mesibah on Chanukah was a result of the desire of the yungeleit in the chaburah, to express their feelings of gratitude to Dirshu for creating a framework for sustained aliyah b’Torah while learning Shas b’iyun.

Just the sight of the enthusiastic singing and dancing, the simcha shel mitzvah seeming to burst forth from every corner of the hall, was a testament to the outpouring of joy that each yungerman clearly felt at their fortune in being part of such an elite chaburah. Watching the yungeleit dancing, many with their children who had come to celebrate their fathers’ Torah accomplishments, was deeply moving.

The Power of Achdus and Constancy

Perhaps, one of the most telling aspects of the mesibah was the fact that it only began at 10:00 p.m. Why? So the chaburah should not miss even one night of seder and would complete the quota of the Chaburas HaShas daily learning before beginning the mesibah.

Another beautiful component of the evening was seeing so many Yidden from different groups and sectors of Klal Yisrael uniting through Torah, the common bond that unites us as one. The mesibah was attended by many Litvishe bnei Torah alongside Sefardic bnei Torah standing shoulder to shoulder with Chassidishe bnei Torah, all united in a common goal: to learn two-and-a-half blatt of Gemara, Rashi, Tosafos and selected mefarshim and be tested monthly on what they learned.

In his remarks, one of the Roshei Chaburah, Rabbi Avrohom Zelig Krohn, highlighted a unique aspect of the chaburah, connecting it with Chanukah. He said that one of the things the Chashmonaim's adversaries were intent on stopping was the daily bringing of the korban tamid. The korban tamid signifies the idea that there is no break when it comes to avodas Hashem. How? By showing that just as every day, morning and night, the korban tamid was brought in the Beis Hamikdosh without respite, so too when it comes to any area of avodas Hashem, the idea of temidus, of constancy is the key to success. “That is why the chaburah was so intent on not missing even one night of learning. That is why we only started this wonderful gathering after first completing the kollel’s night seder learning!”

When Torah Is Your Life, Your Chiyus, You Never Forget It!

When introducing the Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, another Rosh Chaburah, Rabbi Yehuda Nakdiman, mentioned a very important theme of Chanukah. He explained that the Yevanim were intent on “l’hashkicham Torasecha - on doing everything in their power to make the Yidden forget the Torah.”

“How does one forget? What do people forget? In general, people tend to forget things that are not that important to them. However, when something is one’s life, he will never forget it! Dovid Hamelech said in Tehillim, ‘L’olam lo eshkach pikudecha – I will never forget Your commandments.’ Why? Because Torah was his life! When Torah is your life, your chiyus, you never forget it!

“That,” exclaimed Rabbi Nakdiman, “is the lesson we can learn from Rav Dovid Hofstedter. Not only does he support these chaburos learning in the Chaburas HaShas program, but clearly it is his life! He is completely focused on the success of the yungeleit learning in the program. Nothing infuses him with more chiyus than the fact that the yungeleit are learning and deriving a geshmak and chiyus from the learning. Rav Hofstedter lives Dirshu. This is the diametric opposite and the tikkun of ‘l’hashkicham Torasecha’.”

Rav Dovid Hofstedter: The Power of Taking The Initiative

Rav Dovid Hofstedter’s drasha truly set the tone, encapsulating the uniqueness of the Dirshu iyunchaburos in Beis Medarsh Govoha. He cited the Medrash brought in Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Behaaloscha, that asks, “Why is the parshah of the menorah juxtaposed with the chanukas haMishkan of the nesi’im?” The Medrash answers that when Aharon saw the chanukah of the nesi’im, he was distressed because neither he nor his Shevet had participated in the inauguration. Hashem said to him, ‘By your life, yours will be greater than theirs.’…

Rav Dovid then cited the words of the Ramban that Hashem comforted Aharon by telling him, ‘There will be another chanukah which will involve lighting of candles, when I will perform miracles and salvation for Bnei Yisrael through your descendants, a chanukah that will be associated with their name.’ That is the chanukah of the Chashmonaim, and that is why this parshah is juxtaposed with the parshah of the inauguration of the mizbei’ach”.

Rav Hofstedter asked, “Why had Aharon been distressed in the first place? After all, [Aharon’s] offering was actually greater than that of the nesi’im, for he brought many korbanos every day of the inauguration?”

“Perhaps,” Rav Dovid explained, “Aharon was distressed not simply because of his ‘failure’ to participate in the mizbei’ach's inauguration, rather, his distress was on another dimension as well. The nesi’im, with their inaugural gifts, introduced a new way to bring ‘offerings’ to Hashem: They took the initiative to make contributions without being given a Divine command. The korbanos that Aharon brought at the chanukas hamizbe’ach were offerings that he had been commanded to bring; he did not bring any of them of his own accord and did not innovate any novel approach. The nesi’im were mechadesh the bringing of a korban chatas and the ketores for the chanukas habayis. These korbanos generally cannot be brought voluntarily and were also brought on Shabbos which is a novelty. Thus, Aharon failed to join the nesi’im in their momentous ‘innovation’ of nidevas halev, of bringing korbanos of his own accord and his heart was overflowing with a desire to give and give more to Hashem! That was the cause of his distress!”

“Now we can understand the allusion to Chanukah cited in the Ramban. Aharon was consoled because Chanukah itself symbolizes this nidevas halev, giving to Hashem when there is no obligation. The mitzvah of ner Chanukah is a mitzvah d’rabbanan. Thus, Aharon’s descendants were similarly mechadesh something non-obligatory to bring to Hashem that would endure even after the churban habayis.

“In fact,” Rav Dovid continued, “the miracles of Chanukah and Bnei Yisrael’s salvation from their Greek oppressors only came about because Aharon’s descendants, the sons of the Chashmonaim demonstrated the very trait for which he had envied the nesi’im. Had they not risen to the occasion, risking their lives to fight the powerful Greek army despite being massively outnumbered, their miraculous victory would never have taken place. It was their daring, their determination and their initiative – their willingness to extend themselves far beyond what was expected of them – that ultimately led to that victory.”

 “This chaburah clearly gives of themselves for Hashem above and beyond their obligations. That is the key ingredient to be a mevakesh Hashem, ‘Dirshu Hashem v’uzo bakshu panav tamid,” Rav Hofstedter exclaimed passionately. That is the reason the members of this chaburah kedoshah have been zoche to have such a kinyan in Torah!”

Kiddush Hashem Across the Globe as Tens of Thousands Take First Amud HaYomi Test

“A colossal kiddush Hashem, were the words that came to mind when I observed the first Amud HaYomi test last week,” related Rabbi Moshe Fisher, Co-Director of Dirshu’s operations in North America, in describing what he saw at multiple testing sites in Brooklyn. “What I saw on the night of the bechina in Brooklyn and what I heard later from those who were at other sites all over the world, was a kiddush Hashem of tremendous proportions. Yidden just came and came and came, wanting nothing more than to be tested on their knowledge of Hashem’s Torah. They wanted a kinyan in Hashem’s Torah and what shone through perhaps more than anything was a tangible love for Hashem’s Torah. The ahavas haTorah that Klal Yisrael has displayed since the onset of the Amud HaYomi and that culminated in the excitement of taking that first test on the first fifteen blatt in Shas, is the greatest tribute to the nitzchiyus of Klal Yisrael,” concluded Rabbi Fisher.

In fact, Rabbi Yitzchok Spigelman, Co-Director of Dirshu, North America, related, “When I came to Yeshiva Ketana of Lakewood, one of the four Lakewood testing sites, it was long before the test was slated to begin and already a large crowd was waiting outside in anticipation to take the test. At that moment, I realized that this is not just another Dirshu test, this is a revolution in progress. A Torah revolution!”

In truth, there are no words to describe the huge response to the beginning of the new Amud HaYomi program. Even Dirshu’s hanhala, who have seen numerous massive growth spurts over the years, were flabbergasted by the world-wide response as untold thousands gathered all over Eretz Yisrael in testing centers from Tzefas in the North to Be’er Sheva in the south. The entire North America and Canada, Europe, England, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, France, Holland, even Gibraltar, as well as Argentina and Australia all had a massive uptick of new participants.

In Eretz Yisrael alone there were more than 900 testing sites with people of all ages, all types and stripes gathering to take the test. Tens of thousands of people took the tests! Yes, you read that right, 900 testing sites and tens of thousands of test-takers, an absolute record!

From Nebraska to Hadassah Hospital!

The Amud HaYomi program began with daf beis in Masechta Brachos this past Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. In the course of that first month, hundreds of new shiurim opened all over the world, taking even the hanhala of Dirshu by surprise. The hanhala of Dirshu is involved in the opening of many of the shiurim and sends the particpants materials such as their popular Iyun Ha’Amud kuntres, but there are so many more that have opened spontaneously without Dirshu’s knowledge. Recently, Dirshu received a phone call from an office in Lakewood asking for Iyun Ha’Amud kuntreisim. That office had arranged a shiur among themselves where some ten people participate in an Amud HaYomi shiur during their break.

In far-off Nebraska a shiur takes place in the Solomon’s Shechita Plant where the shochtim, bodkim, menakrim and mashgichim sit down every day for their Amud HaYomi shiur. In Eretz Yisrael, there are over 500 shiurim with hundreds more in America and Europe. There is even a daily shiur in the shul of Hadassah Hospital!

Six Continents and Twenty-Two Countries!

Another amazing aspect of watching the first test was the sight of such a wide range of people!

Mena’ar v’ad zakein!” exclaimed Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of the Dirshu hanhala in Eretz Yisrael. “Boys under bar mitzvah were sitting alongside great-grandfathers with long white beards who needed the aid of a cane to walk. They were all there. Ashkenazim and Sefardim, Chassidim and Yeshiva types, baalei battim and kollel yungeleit, all united by the Torah and a program that enables them to comprehensively and systematically go through Shas with a plan.”

“I was at the main Boro Park testing site,” Rabbi Moshe Fisher relates, “and within a half hour after the test began, I realized we would need more space then was available in the main Munkatcher Beis Medrash. We therefore opened the basement where hundreds more were able to take the test. I looked around and couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw two chassanim in the middle of sheva brachos taking the test and several children under bar mitzvah. Seeing literally hundreds of people coming in an out of that test site with smiles and visible sipuk hanefesh showing true spiritual satisfaction, was deeply gratifying.”

In London, many hundreds gathered at testing sites in the Stamford Hill, Golders Green, Edgeware and Canvey Island neighborhoods. In Manchester as well, many hundreds came together.

In Antwerp too, hundreds came to take the test Zurich, Vienna and even Budapest and Gibraltar had major increases. Argentina saw a massive increase as did Johannesburg, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia. “It is truly a global revolution,” said Dirshu Public Relations Director, Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein. “Amud HaYomi spans 6 continents and 22 countries!”

Not only does the Amud HaYomi span 6 continents and 22 countries, but Rabbi Bernstein relates that many kehillos such as Rachmistrivka, Seret Vizhinitz, the Masmidim and a number of others have accepted the Amud HaYomi as the official limud of the kehilla. There are also many yeshiva gedolos that have carved out a special one-hour period of night seder where the bachurim can learn the Amud HaYomi and entire yeshivos are taking the tests. Many night kollelim across the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael have also adapted the Amud HaYomi as their limud.

At A Chasuna… In the Army… A Disabled Bachur… And the Stories are Pouring In!

Numerous stories of perseverance and heroism have made their way to Dirshu’s office, poignant stories offer that insight into how the Amud HaYomi is having a transformative impact on all of Klal Yisrael.

Recently Dirshu received a call from a father of a disabled bachur who is learning the Amud HaYomi but finds taking a test in Hebrew difficult. The question was whether someone could translate the questions for him and would he be permitted to write the answers in English.

A mother called Dirshu’s office with a request, “I have three bachurim ages 13, 14 and 17, who are all planning on taking the test. They have been learning so hard for the entire month. Dirshu has a policy that they hold in an escrow account all the money earned by bachurim who take the test to be given to them when they marry. Can an exception perhaps be made because these bachurim worked so hard and having the money in their hands might give them chizuk?”

Another father called to ask if the Amud HaYomi test can be sent to him because he has a son who had not yet been accepted into a yeshiva who is learning the Amud HaYomi at home every day. “My son is embarrassed to be seen in public and wants to know if he can take the test at home.”

There is a yeshiva in Monsey where almost the entire yeshiva took it upon themselves to learn the Amud HaYomi during their free time. The yeshiva called Dirshu to ask if perhaps the tests and a proctor could come to the yeshiva, so that the bachurim would not have to leave yeshiva and go to a testing site.

One member of Dirshu’s hanhala related, “I was at a chasuna last week when I noticed two Yidden sitting at one of the tables diligently learning the Amud HaYomi. They were so deeply immersed in learning that they did not notice the wedding photographer, who was so impressed that he stealthily approached them and took a picture!” 

There is a Rosh Yeshiva of a religious Zionist yeshiva located in Yehuda V’Shomron who decided that every day during bein hasedarim he would deliver an Amud HaYomi shiur to the talmidim. When the Israel Army started calling up reservists for the present war, he was among those called. His task is not in combat, but he is involved in an integral engineering area. That Rosh Yeshiva has been giving the shiur to his talmidim every day via zoom.

The Tests

The Amud HaYomi offers four tracks. Track 1 consists of tests on just Gemara and Rashi. Track 2 features learning and testing of Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos

Track 3 is a test on Gemara, Rashi and the kuntress Iyun Ha’Amud. Track 4 consists of a test on Gemara, Rashi, Tosafos and kuntress Iyun Ha’amud.

Each test is 30 questions and every test in Tracks 2 and 4 will feature 23 questions on the Gemara, Rashi/Tosafos and seven questions on Iyun Ha’amud.

The tests are written by HaGaon HaRav Isamar Garbuz, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Orchos Torah. Rav Garbuz, who himself delivers a daily Amud HaYomi shiur, related, “When I was learning in the kollel at Yeshivas Ponovezh, I set aside an hour at the end of second seder every day to learn a full daf of Gemara. Once, when I was discussing my daily schedule with my rebbi and teacher, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, I told him that I learned a daf per day. Upon hearing that, he recommended, ‘I think you should cut it down and try to do an amud per day. Yes, you will cover less material, but your learning will be much more comprehensive. You will end up coming out with more…’ Ever since then I learn an amud every day and I see how much one can gain, and really understand just by learning an amud a day!”

Iyun Ha’Amud is a Gamechanger

Another amazing innovation that has seen success above and beyond anyone’s dream is the comprehensive, gevaldik kuntress called Iyun Ha’Amud compiled by great talmidei chachomim that Dirshu has published and distributed. The kuntress, designed to assist the lomdim of Amud HaYomi with their learning, includes the pages of the Gemara, explanations and supplements, marei mekomos and practical applications of the halachah, as well as the basic “reyd” on each sugya. It also offers “sikumim”, small encapsulations of each sugya to assist lomdim in remembering the important parts of each sugya.

The kuntress has something for everyone: more basic explanations for those learning the amud on a basic level, and much lomdus and interesting supplemental material on each sugya for the more advanced. Amazingly, Dirshu published 70,000 copies of this kuntress worldwide, but it was still not enough! In order to accommodate the desire for more, Dirshu went into a second printing. Be’ezras Hashem, for this second month, Dirshu printed even more to ensure that every lomeid who wants one can get one.

Rav Bernstein relates, “It is very important to note that the tens upon tens of thousands of people who have come to take the test, represent only a small percentage of those who are actually learning the Amud HaYomi. Our internal statistics have shown that for every person who takes a test, there are some eight times that number learning the material in the program, but not taking the tests.”

The ‘Buzz’ That Can Protect Klal Yisrael!

At his pesicha shiur when the Amud HaYomi was established, Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter said, “The entire world saw what happened on Simchas Torah in Eretz Yisrael. The entire world shuddered and was shocked by the barbaric acts perpetrated against Yidden in Eretz Yisrael. It seemed almost as if the kiyum ha’olam, the continuation of the world as we know it, was in doubt. Chazal tell us that for 26 generations until Hashem gave the bris of the Torah, the world was, as it were, hanging in limbo. When we accepted the Torah and mitzvos upon ourselves, the foundation of the world solidified. It was no longer suspended in limbo.

“When we see today how it appears that the foundation of the sustenance of the world as we know it, is in doubt, we are doubly obligated to strengthen ourselves in the bris of Torah, because only Torah puts the world on a solid foundation. When we strengthen ourselves in Torah, that shields us and saves the world as Chazal tell us, ‘Im lo brisi yomam v’layla chukos shamayim v’aretz lo samti - were it not for Klal Yisrael observing My Torah and mitzvos, the laws governing heaven and earth would have never been established.’

“That is exactly what we are seeing today in Klal Yisrael. The zechus of Torah is protecting us.”

Rabbi Bernstein explained further, “It is clear that in the world of Torah, the ‘buzz’ today is Amud HaYomi. The Amud HaYomi has truly become the nachlas haklal, the inheritance of all Klal Yisrael. It is our fervent tefillah that the zechus of the Amud HaYomi will continue to protect Klal Yisrael!”

Orchos HaAmud 11.6.23