Chaim Gold
May 31, 2024

In Wake of Current Crisis Facing Klal Yisrael, Senior Gedolei Eretz Yisrael Urge the Learning of Hilchos Shabbos at Dirshu Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Nesius Meeting in Bnei Brak

Gedolei Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbanim in America Join the Call

“It is a long time since I have seen so many senior Gedolei Hador in one room - Ashkenazim, and Sefardim, Roshei Yeshiva and Admorim - all gathered together for one purpose, to urge Klal Yisrael to be ‘Mekabel Shabbos,’ to take upon themselves the learning of hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos.”

Those were the words, of Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of Hanhalas Dirshu, after witnessing the historic gathering that took place, this past Monday night, 12 Iyar/May 20, at the Slabodka Yeshiva. The Einei Ha’Eidah, the senior Gedolei Hador, came out with a unified message to Klal Yisrael. The message? That “the call of the hour now is to join together to strengthen Shabbos, strengthen our shemiras Shabbos, our limud of Shabbos!”

Among the venerated senior Gedolim who addressed the assemblage were HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka, HaGaon HaRav Avraham Salim, shlita, Nasi of Shas Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, and HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky, shlita. The asifa was also attended by HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, the Alexander Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Bezalel shlita, a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Porat Yosef, the Dushinsky Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shraga Shteinman, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Orchos Torah, the Seret-Vizhnitzer Rebbe, shlita, and numerous other luminaries from the Yeshiva world, the Sephardic Torah world and the Chassidishe world. The event was organized and addressed by Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi of Dirshu.

The gathering was held for one reason and one reason alone. To give chizuk to Klal Yisrael and to encourage Klal Yisrael to undertake the limud of hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos. This year on Shavuos, the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha will embark on the learning of hilchos Shabbos, Chelek Gimmel of the Mishnah Berurah in its machzor shelishi. Simultaneously, Dirshu’s popular, new Amud HaYomi program is in the middle of Masechta Shabbos. One who participates in both programs has the distinct opportunity to learn both the practical halachos of Shabbos along with its underpinnings in the sugyos of Masechta Shabbos.

In a unique, historic call and message to Klal Yisrael, the senior Gedolim took time from their busy schedules with many even traveling to Bnei Brak to speak with one united voice and encourage Klal Yisrael, k’ish echad b’lev echad, to be mekabel Shabbos; to accept upon themselves to learn the halachos of Shabbos and incorporate the limud into their daily schedules either with a chavrusah or by attending one of nearly 1,000 available shiurim.

This remarkable achdus of purpose among the Gedolim and Poskim of Klal Yisrael was not limited to Eretz Yisrael. In the United States as well, three very important gatherings of Rabbanim were held last week, where the Rabbanim, with one voice, encouraged Klal Yisrael and their congregants to grab the opportunity and join the limud of hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos.

The first asifa at the home of the venerated Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta of Lakewood and Telshe, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, was attended by more than a minyan of Rabbanim. The second asifa, held at the home of HaRav Shmuel Blech, shlita, the Zekan Harabbanim of Lakewood, was attended by numerous prominent Lakewood Rabbanim.

The third gathering was held at the home of HaRav Shaul Simcha Friedman, shlita, Rav of Khal Shemen L’Mincha of Lakewood with many chassidishe rabbanim in attendance. The most remarkable thing about all these gatherings was the profound sense of achdus among all the different shevatim of Klal Yisrael as they called on Klal Yisrael to engaged in the ultimate shemira for Klal Yisrael - Shabbos!

The gatherings were held in advance of the massive kiddush Hashem that will be made at the upcoming Kinnus Olam HaTorah to be held three days before Shavuos at the Prudential Center, in Newark, NJ, where some 20,000 Yidden led by the Gedolei Hador will be mekabel Shabbos as the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program embarks on the learning of hilchos Shabbos and the Amud HaYomi continues the limud of Masechta Shabbos.

Rav Dov Landau: “Now IS the Time to Join!”

There was tremendous energy and anticipation in and around the Slabodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak on Monday night, as one after another, the senior Gedolim came to the yeshiva and were ushered into the room. Once all of the Gedolim were seated, Rav Dov Landau and Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, entered.

The very fact that Rav Landau who, at his advanced age, rarely attends large public gatherings, came to address the event, was a testament to the importance that he attaches to learning hilchos Shabbos and how much he is willing to do to encourage Yidden throughout the world to embark on the journey.

Rav Landau began by stressing the fact that the Chofetz Chaim, the Gadol Hador of pre-war Europe, wrote the Mishnah Berurah with ruach hakodesh. He said that Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, author of the Ohr Someiach, who lived in the same generation as the Chofetz Chaim, said about himself, “I cannot even walk out the door without the Mishnah Berurah.” The message is clear, the Mishnah Berurah is the sefer that every Yid must learn and know so that he can keep the basic daily halacha.

Rav Landau then cited the famed words written by the Chofetz Chaim in his introduction to the Mishnah Berurah in the name of the Ya’aros Devash that, “it is impossible not to transgress one of the prohibitions of Shabbos if a person does not properly learn hilchos Shabbos.”

Rav Dov continued, “The Dirshu organization has established numerous wonderful programs that encourage the learning of many areas of Torah. One of their most important programs is its Mishnah Berurah daily learning program [Daf HaYomi B’Halacha]. So many Yidden are able to achieve a kinyan in halacha and in the sefer Mishnah Berurah as a result of this Dirshu program! Dirshu is in effect echoing and continuing the call of the Chofetz Chaim as expressed in the above mentioned hakdama where the Chofetz Chaim writes, ‘It is proper and worthy for every person with yiras shamayim, who trembles before the word of Hashem, to establish chaburos, groups to learn hilchos Shabbos. In this way, they will not transgress the laws of Shabbos.”

With great passion, the Rosh Yeshiva then emphasized, “Now they are beginning Chelek Gimmel, so many are joining. Now IS the time to join! Those who join will certainly merit to learn these critically important halachos well thereby saving themselves from transgressing!”

Indeed, the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program is extremely popular. Every month, some 12,500 people take tests on the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. This is in addition to the many tens of thousands who learn the program daily and don’t take tests. There are close to 1,000 shiurim given daily throughout the world on Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. Those who are learning the Amud HaYomi have the added benefit of gaining a much deeper understanding of the sugyos of halacha that they are learning.

Rav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky: “The Time to Build is When Everything is Being Destroyed!”

In truth, many are asking, “Why now? Am Yisrael is under attack! We have sustained a terribly bloody year. We are in mortal danger as enemies from within and without, enemies who seek to do us harm and uproot us. So, why now?!”

This question was asked at the nesius gathering by the first speaker, HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky, shlita, Mashgiach of Yeshiva Orchos Torah. “Why does Dirshu seem to be disregarding the terrible news happening all around us?! Why are they having a massive gathering in the Prudential Center just before Shavuos. Is now the time for such a thing?!”

Rav Mishkovsky answered, “When the Ponovezher Rav established the Ponovezh Yeshiva here in Bnei Brak, Nazi General Erwin Romell was already in Alexandria, Egypt and was poised to conquer Eretz Yisrael. The Ponovezher Rav himself was very ill and could barely talk. It was precisely then that he decided, ‘We are going to establish the Ponovezh Yeshiva here in Bnei Brak.’ He too was asked, ‘Now?! Is NOW a time to establish a yeshiva?!’

“The Ponovezher Rav answered with an emphatic YES! He then explained, ‘I learned this from the haftara of that week’s parsha. Yirmiyahu Hanavi teaches us that when the Kasdim conquered Eretz Yisrael, and came with the sword, with famine and pestilence, Hashem told Yirmiyahu, NOW is the time to build.

“When everything is being destroyed,” Rav Mishkovsky exclaimed, “our task is to show our bitachon in Hashem and begin to build. This bitachon has the power to bring the yeshua. It is clear,” Rav Mishkovsky passionately announced, “that everything done by Dirshu, by increasing the learning of Torah and the observance of halacha, are the greatest shields for Klal Yisrael during these precarious times.”

“The difficult period in which we find ourselves began on both Shabbos and Simchas Torah. Thus, our response, Dirshu’s response is to learn more about Shabbos, hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos. Our response is more Shabbos and more Torah!”

The Power of United Shemiras Shabbos

This same message was given in Lakewood at an unprecedented meeting of Rabbanim held at the home of Lakewood’s senior Rav, Rav Shmuel Blech. The meeting was attended by distinguished Lakewood Rabbanim including Rav Shmuel Blech, shlita, Rav of Khal Anshei Sfard, Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen, shlita,  Rav of Khal Ateres Yeshaya, Rav Avrohom Spitzer, shlita, Skver Dayan, Rav Moshe Chaim Kahan, shlita, Rav of the William Street Shul, Rav Shlomo Lowy, shlita, Rav of Presidential Estates, Rav Avrohom Lefkowitz, shlita, Rav of Kollel Bnei Torah, Rav Michel Handelsman, shlita, Rav of Khal Shaarei Torah,Rav Chaim Yehoshua Schorr, shlita, Rav of The Woods Community, Rav Simcha Bunim Londinsky, shlita, Rav Daniel Langer, shlita, Rav Naftoli Eisgrau, shlita, Rav Shaul Sinsky, shlita and Rav Daniel Dombroff, shlita.

Rav Blech opened the proceedings by highlighting the fact that Shabbos is a shemirah. Klal Yisrael needs so much shemirah today and Shabbos has the power to protect us. Rav Moshe Chaim Kahn then pointed out that the Hamas massacre on Shemini Atzeres transpired on Shabbos, and there are no shortage of remarkable stories out there about those who were saved from the massacre because of shemiras Shabbos.

Rav Kahn explained the importance of entire kehillos jumping on board and beginning to learn hilchos Shabbos. “In truth,” he said, “the special power of Shabbos or shemiras Shabbos has nothing to do with Dirshu. Still, the fact is that when a person begins a limud as a yachid, as an individual or even a few individuals, it often peters out. It does not have the power of the rabbim to sustain it. This Shavuos we are being offered a golden opportunity, an opportunity to join together with multitudes of Klal Yisrael throughout the world to be mechazek ourselves in learning hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos!”

Rav Kahn related that the previous week, a call came from the home of the venerated Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, that on Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai, not long before the massive asifa in the Prudential Center in Newark, all Rabbanim should call for, and encourage participation in the upcoming Daf HaYomi B’Halacha haschala of hilchos Shabbos. Multiple new shiurim will be opening both in person and on numerous platforms.

Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch: “A Person Who Learns Halacha Daily… LIVES with Hashem!”

Indeed, it was clear that Gedolei Yisrael from Lakewood and across America recognized the tremendous bracha at our doorstep and have very strongly encouraged their respective talmidim and kehillos be “mekabel Shabbos.”

Undoubtedly, however, it was the fact that in Eretz Yisrael, the leading Gedolei Yisrael from across the board took the time and made the major effort to come together for the special Daf HaYomi B’Halacha nesius meeting that showed the tremendous urgency that they see in encouraging Klal Yisrael to bring the bracha and shemirah of Shabbos to the forefront during these difficult times.

At the nesius asifa, the venerated Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, cited the words of Rabbeinu Yonah in the sefer Shaarei Teshuva who cites the passuk in the Torah, “Be careful lest you forget Hashem, your G-d.”

“Rabbeinu Yonah explains that there is a mitzvas lo saasei that warns us never to forget Hashem and to remember Him at all times. A person must live with Hashem at all times. How? How can one constantly live with the thought of Hashem’s presence, as he goes about his life?” Rav Moshe Hillel answered, “A person who lives with halacha is able to do such a thing! Over the course of a day, there is virtually no move that a person can make that is not dictated by a halacha. When a person learns halacha daily and is aware of the myriad halachos that apply to nearly every life situation, he is LIVING with Hashem. That is the meaning of the passuk in Mishlei that says, ‘Know Hashem in all of your ways.’”

Rav Hirsch concluded with a heartfelt bracha that Dirshu and its Nasi, Rav Hofstedter should be able to continue bringing more and more ways to constantly remember Hashem, through its programs such as the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha which is now set to begin hilchos Shabbos.

Undertaking to Learn Halacha Daily – A Segula Straight from the Gemara!

The large table flanked on all sides by venerated Gedolei Yisrael seemed like a microcosm of Klal Yisrael. Every eidah was represented by their venerated leaders.

Rav Avraham Salim brought out the fact that the Mishnah Berurah has been accepted by the entire Klal Yisrael, Ashkenazim and Sefardim, as a foundational halachic limud. When a person learns halacha every day and especially hilchos Shabbos he is basically making a declaration that he wants to live a life of spirituality, a life of the neshama, rather than a life of subservience to the body. Each day becomes chayei olam, eternal life, when it is permeated by learning halacha.

The Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, in his powerful, heartfelt words, echoed that call. With great sorrow, the Rebbe addressed the difficult times in which we find ourselves. “We are surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies, there are challenges to Yiddishkeit from within as well and everyone is looking for a segula, a special way to ensure that our tefillos are accepted on High. The Gemara, however, offers a special segula by telling us that the way a person should daven is m’toch halacha pesuka, after learning a clearly delineated psak halacha. The world seems to be constantly searching for new segulos, but here we have a segula straight from the Gemara! If a person wants his tefillos to be accepted, he should daven after learning practical psak halacha!”

The Rebbe continued, “I don’t have to tell the illustrious Rabbanim here about the tremendous benefit of learning practical halacha and especially hilchos Shabbos, but I would like to share a sad, telling story. I was once involved in a difficult shalom bayis case. The yungerman was a ben yeshiva who had learned the yeshiva masechtos well but had never had the opportunity to learn halacha and certainly not hilchos Shabbos, or even the masechtos in Seder Moed. Thus, he was missing the most basic understanding and knowledge of hilchos Shabbos. After a while, I realized that one of the biggest issues was that his new wife had totally lost respect for him because her ‘talmid chacham’ of a husband did not even know the basic underpinnings of hilchos Shabbos! She had learned all the basic halachos in seminary and he knew nothing, so she couldn’t respect him…!”

“Of course, one should not learn hilchos Shabbos for shalom bayis, but learning hilchos Shabbos brings so much bracha to every home! It protects, it brings shalom and bracha! That is why we must thank Dirshu and Rav Dovid Hofstedter for doing so much to give zechusim to Klal Yisrael by encouraging everyone who can, to begin learning hilchos Shabbos with the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha.”

Rav Dovid Hofstedter: “Learning Halacha Empowers us to ‘Walk with Hashem’!”

At the historic nesius meeting, the Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter was asked to deliver closing remarks. Rav Dovid began by thanking the Gedolei Hador for constantly giving chizuk to Dirshu. “It is clear to me that the chizuk given to us tonight by the Gedolei Hador by taking the time and effort to come is not only a chizuk for Dirshu but a chizuk for the entire Am Yisrael! This hashpaah, the spiritual impact from this gathering will certainly elevate Klal Yisrael.”

Rav Hofstedter pointed out that at the end of Parshas Behar, the Torah warns against serving avodah zarah and commands us to keep Shabbos. The next parshah begins, ‘Im bechukosai teileichu’, urging us to walk in the statutes of the Torah and to toil in Torah. The Baal Haturim explains that Chazal teach us that when one keeps Shabbos it is as if he kept the entire Torah and when one worships idols, it is as if he transgressed the entire Torah. Thus, if we ‘walk in the ways of the Torah’ and learn Torah in order to keep the Torah and to keep Shabbos it is as if we kept the entire Torah! The reason the Torah refers to toiling in Torah as ‘walking in My statutes’, is because the Torah is telling us that if we toil in Torah, the outgrowth will be that we will ‘walk together with Hashem’, we will always think about Hashem in everything that we do, as the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Moshe Hillel, said that learning halacha empowers one to constantly remember Hashem in everything one does.”

Rav Dovid continued, “We have the distinct zechus of having Klal Yisrael learning the Amud Yomi on Masechta Shabbos enabling us to understand the foundations of the halachos of Shabbos, not to run through the Gemara but to LEARN with some depth, to truly understand the foundations of hilchos Shabbos. Now we are about to begin hilchos Shabbos. We have the opportunity to toil in Torah, ‘walk with Hashem’ and be aware of His constant presence in our lives. The brachos mentioned in the Torah, “Im bechkosai teileichu, flow naturally from that connection.It is a special bracha for us that the Gedolei Hador are accompanying us, guiding us and strengthening us. This is also a form of connection to the Ribbono Shel Olam. May we all merit his infinite brachos.”

A Call to Every Corner of the World!

The call that came out from the gedolei Eretz Yisrael reverberated around the entire world, and indeed, communities all over the world led by their rabbanim are resolving to bring the bracha of enhanced shemiras Shabbos into their daily lives.

One of the asifos in Lakewood was comprised of a group of prominent Rabbanim from the Chassidishe community at the home of Rav Shaul Simcha Friedman, Rav of Khal Shemen L’Mincha. In attendance were Rav Refoel Paschkusz, shlita, Rav of Beis Medrash Bais Elimelech, Rav Shmuel Yosef Bittersfeld, shlita, Rav of Beis Nochum, Rav Shlomo Frankel, shlita, Rav of Khal Vyelipol, Rav Mordecha Rubin, shlita, Rav of Khal Ateres Avrohom, Rav Mordechai Scharf, shlita, Rav of Khal Ruzhin and Rav Shea Gelbwachs, shlita, Rav of Ner Yisrael.

Rav Friedman pointed out that any time there is a major learning initiative undertaken collectively by Klal Yisrael, it brings massive crowds of new learners who otherwise would not have joined. “Learning hilchos Shabbos is so important! Now is the time to encourage all to undertake the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, to make shiurim and to be swept up in the enthusiasm by attending the large asifa that will be held before Shavuos.”

Now is the Time to be “Mekabel Shabbos!”

The Dushinsky Rebbe, perhaps put it best. In a meeting with Rav Hofstedter and the senior members of hanhallas Dirshu, the Rebbe cited the words of the Chasam Sofer who writes, in Parshas Beshalach, “Just as preparing for Shabbos brings great bracha and hashpaah like we find in the Torah when the Yidden went out to gather the mon and prepare for Shabbos they received double, so too learning about inyanim of Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos brings a tremendous outpouring of bracha.”

As we approach the massive Kinnus Olam HaTorah at the Prudential Center when Klal Yisrael will collectively accept upon themselves to learn hilchos Shabbos in a program with a framework and shiurim, now is the time for every Yid to be “mekabel Shabbos”! It is the call of the hour! If we are mekabel Shabbos and become better shomrei Shabbos, Shabbos will certainly protect us and watch over us!

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