There are few times during the year that are busier for Roshei Yeshiva and Poskim than the week before Rosh Hashanah. Nevertheless, leading luminaries such as HaGaon HaRav Yeruchem Olshin, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govohah of Lakewood, shlita, the Biala Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Mir Yerushalayim, the well-known Sephardic Rosh Yeshiva and Mekubal, HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Hillel, shlita as well as the children and talmidim of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, and HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, cleared their schedules and opened their homes the week before Rosh Hashanah to participate in the siyum of Chelek Daled of Mishnah Berurah and the start of Chelek Hei.
One of the remarkable events was the siyum held for Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggidei shiur, at the apartment of Rav Yeruchem Olshin. Rabbi Ahron Gobioff, Dirshu’s North American Director, related, “In an effort to avoid imposing on the distinguished Rosh Yeshiva, I brought cake and drinks to his house so that we could have a l’chaim in honor of the siyum. I was flabbergasted when I arrived at the Olshin home! I found the table beautifully set with fresh cake baked by Rebbetzin Olshin herself. The Rebbetzin and the Rosh Yeshiva deemed it a special zechus to participate in such a siyum with the more than ten Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggidei shiur representing hundreds of lomdim.”
Rav Yeruchem Olshin’s Spontaneous Song
At the siyum, Rav Olshin related, “When Rav Shlomo Heiman came to America in 1935, he rejoiced greatly in every siyum. At that time, siyumim weren’t common in America and they engendered great simcha. Baruch Hashem, today, siyumim are more common, but a siyum on the difficult Chelek Daled of Mishnah Berurah with maggidei shiur representing many mesaymim is not common at all and is a tremendous simcha!”
During his remarks, Rav Olshin related that several months ago he merited attending the Dirshu Convention in Stamford, Connecticut where he spent Shabbos with hundreds of lomdei Dirshu. “At that time,” the Rosh Yeshiva explained, “many were worried about the fact that the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha would be embarking on Masechta Eiruvin, a difficult masechta. Now, as we finish Chelek Daled and have already begun Chelek Hei, we see that not only have they learned Chelek Daled, but they have learned it well!”
Perhaps the most moving moment of the entire evening was when the Rosh Yeshiva himself spontaneously burst out in a niggun, singing, ‘Nagil v’nosis b’zos haTorah’. His pure simchas haTorah was contagious and all of the maggidei shiur joined him in enthusiastic song.
If one wanted to be exposed to rabbinic royalty, that is what greeted the gathering in their visit to the storied home of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner. zt”l, just before Rosh Hashanah. His son and successor, HaGaon HaRav Chaim Wosner, shlita, together with his greatest talmidim, all leading Poskim in Eretz Yisroel such as HaGaonim HaRav Moshe Shaul Klein, shlita HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern shlita and HaRav Yaakov Meir Stern, shlita gathered to give chizuk to those beginning Chelek Hei. All of them spoke about how much Rav Wosner valued Dirshu, viewing it as an organization that was responsible for perpetuating Torah and halacha in our time.
The siyum at the home of the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman’s home was jointly led by his son, HaGaon HaRav Shraga Shteinman, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shevach Rosenblatt, shlita and three of Bnei Brak’s most prominent Poskim, HaRav Sariel Rosenberg, shlita HaRav Yehuda Silman shlita and HaRav Yisroel Marurush shlita.
At that siyum, the participants remembered how much encouragement HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, gave to Dirshu, going above and beyond his kochos and even attending and addressing their massive siyum in Tel Aviv when he was over 100 years old and in an extremely weakened state. Rav Shteinman also gave tremendous chizuk to the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha.
The Power and Kiyum of Torah Promoted L’Shem Shomayim
Rav Avrohom Broide, a prominent Daf HaYomi B’Halaha maggid shiur, also addressed the siyum, relating an incident that he had personally heard from Rebbetzin Rishel Kotler, a”h, wife of the Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Shneur Kotler, zt”l. “The Rebbetzin told me that when Rav Aharon Kotler passed away in late 1962, the Lakewood Yeshiva had 140 bochurim and forty kollel yungeleit. Everyone thought that Lakewood was finished. Rav Shneur Kotler became Rosh Yeshiva and, despite all odds, he not only sustained the yeshiva but expanded it exponentially. When he passed away twenty years later, there were 1,500 bochurim and 1,000 yungeleit! Today there are some 9,000 talmidim in the yeshiva. We see the power of the special maatikei shemuah whom Hashem planted in every generation. These great people defy the odds, and their impact just becomes increasingly greater.
“I think we can say the same with regard to Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. When it started, it was a relatively modest program. Yet, with every new chelek of Mishnah Berurah that is completed, more and more Yidden are joining. The numbers are constantly increasing… exponentially. That is the power of Torah promoted with pure intent!”
The Uniqueness of the Sefarim of the Chofetz Chaim
Rav Dovid Hofstedter, related, “HaGaon HaRav Simcha Wasserman, zt”l, son of Rav Elchonon Wasserman, once told me, ‘There have been so many chiddushim written by many of the greatest gaonim but what has happened to them? Most have become lost to Klal Yisrael. The Chofetz Chaim, however, wrote sefarim that have not only not been lost, but have become sefarim that all of Klal Yisroel learns. As time goes on, more and more people learn the sefarim of the Chofetz Chaim. The reason,’ Rav Simcha explained, ‘is that the Chofetz chaim didn’t write his sefarim to write chidushim. Rather, he wrote them to try giving the klal sefarim that they needed. In fact, not only did he not openly show his erudition, he tried to hide it!’ When someone writes a sefer with totally pure motives, only because the klal need it, it has a kiyum’”
The octogenarian Biala Rebbe, one of the elder Admorim of the generation, gladly opened his home to a siyum on Chelek Daled and a haschalah on Chelek Hei.
The Rebbe pointed out that when a Jew lives his life in accordance with halacha, every one of his actions, even those that are essentially physical actions, actions of gashmiyus, are transformed into spiritual actions as a result of them being regulated by halacha.
Rav Yaakov Hillel focused on the greatness of the sefer Mishnah Berurah. “What Dirshu has done by promoting a daily Mishnah Berurah program is a colossal chessed for Klal Yisrael. The Mishnah Beruah is not just a halacha sefer, it is sefer that builds the life of every Jew. The Chofetz Chaim spent over 25 years writing the Mishnah Berurah. Until you really learn it, you cannot appreciate the work that went into it. Dirshu has given all of us a window into the greatness of this sefer.”
By Chaim Gold