“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 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!”