Klal Yisrael is magnificent! In the chaos of the Covid 19 mageifah they are showing their love of Hashem and His Torah, in unprecedented ways.
With communities around the world under lockdown and battei medrash closed, Yidden are finding all kinds of innovative ways to learn and focus on their learning even when they are holed up in the home, facing the difficulty of being easily distracted by the multiple disruptions that can transpire in a home setting when all children are home.
Bachurim, kollel yungeleit and baalei battim are not being mevater, are not foregoing their sedarim even in this difficult coronavirus environment.”
“The Dirshu family of lomdim is on fire!” agreed Rabbi Aharon Gobioff, Dirshu’s North American director.
“This month, for the first time in our 25-year history, our lomdim took the Dirshu test remotely. In the past, Dirshu has had testing sites in each city where lomdim come once a month to take their tests. Because of the virus, this model, could not continue.
“Dirshu has therefore adapted and held pre-registration for the test where, any Dirshu member was given a choice of whether to receive the test by email or by fax. I was flabbergasted by the response,” said Rabbi Gobioff. “Despite the fact that, obviously our lomdim find themselves in learning conditions that are not optimal they are pushing themselves and finding innovative solutions to make sure that they can maintain their Daf HaYomi shiur or Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur.”
A New Best Friend: The Car!
Reb Paltiel*, a lomeid Dirshu, remarked, “My car has become my best friend. It is difficult for me to learn at home with all of the kids home and needing to be entertained. The house is flying and the focus to learn, chazer and go over the blatt mentally to retain its content was challenging... until I thought of my car. I go out to my car and that is where I do my blatt every day.” Reb Paltiel adds, “Still, I was finding it a bit hard to learn without my regular chavrusah and then I had a brainstorm. My chavrusah began to come over in his car. We park next to each other, each of us ensconced in our respective cars, windows closed and learn every day on the phone together. This way we can see each other and talk to each other while keeping safe!”
In the truth, the quest for growth in Torah by all of Klal Yisrael is deeply moving and gratifying. Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein, a senior member of Hanhalas Dirshu in Eretz Yisrael related that Dirshu in conjunction with “Kol Hadaf,” an organization in Eretz Yisrael that makes telephone shiurim available to the public, has ensured that most of Dirshu’s shiurim have migrated during the coronavirus crisis to Kol Hadaf where participants can access and participate.
“The response has been overwhelming!” says Rabbi Berenstein. “Klal Yisrael, despite what they are going through, are thirsting for Torah learning and want to learn with accountability, not just to be ‘yotzeh’, but to learn!”
“I Missed Work, But I Never Missed One Blatt or One Chazara!”
A truly remarkable story that depicts the tenacity of lomdei Torah to continue learning and reviewing no matter what the circumstance, was related by Rabbi Gobioff: Reb Michoel* is a baal habayis who lives in Lakewood. He has already finished Shas with the Daf HaYomi once and now, for the present machzor of Daf HaYomi, has decided to take his learning to a new level by joining the Dirshu Kinyan Torah Daf HaYomi with tests every month.
He was so dedicated to really learning and knowing the daf that he changed his daily schedule. Instead of leaving work at 5:00 p.m., he decided to leave at 4:00 p.m. What did he do at 4:00 p.m.? He hired a yungerman to learn with him every day. He also hired a second yungerman to review the blatt with him and he reviewed the blatt himself a number of times as well. By the time he reached the end of the month and the test, he knew every blatt, in his own words, ‘backwards and forwards’. When Reb Michoel was asked how he was managing to sustain this schedule under Corona, he explained, ‘Where there is a will there is a way. There was the telephone and the computer. I missed work during corona, I missed multiple simchos during corona, but I haven’t missed even one blatt or one chazara!’ It is these heroes who have kept the flame of Torah burning brightly, despite the adversity, “remarked Rabbi Gobioff.
“I So Wanted to Give This Korban to Hashem… and I am So Happy I Did!”
Indeed, Dirshu coordinators from Tel Aviv to Toronto, from Bnei Brak to Boro Park, and from Antwerp to London, were overwhelmed at the numbers of people who signed up to get the tests via email and fax.
One coordinator related, “We told our chavrei Dirshu that the tests would be emailed at 7:00 p.m. Due to some technical glitch it didn’t start arriving in people’s inboxes until about 7:20. Do you know how many messages and phone calls I received during those twenty minutes from worried lomdim who wanted to make sure that their tests were coming!”
The truth is that the dark clouds and tragedy that Covid 19 has inflicted on the world and especially the Jewish community has also had silver linings. The way Yidden have dedicated themselves to limud haTorah, often in very suboptimum conditions, has been nothing short of incredible!
The Dirshu offices in Lakewood received a call from a test taker who said, “I always invest a tremendous amount of time in learning and chazering before each test. This year, about three days before the test, I began to feel symptoms of coronavirus. I developed a fever, my senses of taste and smell were affected, and I felt awful. Sunday, 25 Nissan/April 19 dawned and by the time evening arrived and the test landed in my inbox, my fever had well surpassed 103 degrees. What did I do? I took the test! It was difficult, but I felt that the most appropriate words that came to my head were, ‘Avar Zemano, Batei Korbano’ - if I let the time pass, my korban, my sacrifice to Hashem of learning and taking the test under such adversity, would be lost. I wanted so much to give that korban to Hashem, and I am so gratified that I did!”
By Chaim Gold