As I headed out to the Dirshu World Siyum of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha on Thursday, March 3, I reflected on my endeavors for the previous North American Dirshu Siyum. At that time, I coordinated the entrance for Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli, Chief Bukharian Rabbi of the USA and Canada, and Rabbi Aharon Walkin, zt”l, then Rosh HaYeshivah of Chazaq. For this siyum, I joined on behalf of this publication after reading up on the mindboggling amount of work that the Dirshu team takes on. Walking into the CURE Insurance Arena/War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey, I was immediately taken in by the kavod haTorah and mentchlichkeit paid by each attendee. But for those of us who are not lomdim the daf halachah, the k’dushas haTorah present at the arena was our calling.
Often at a large public gathering for Jewish causes, I am amazed at the power of an “Amein, Y’hei sh’mei rabbah” in Kaddish, and this time around I was not let down. The feeling of kol Torah was alive from the moment I entered the floor of the dais and shook hands with Reb Yitzchok Saftlas of Bottom Line Marketing Group, who managed much of the groundwork for the event, including being on hand for the seating of prominent rabbanim. From face to face of the revered sages, the aura of Torah radiated. Before my eyes were the survivors of a pandemic that ravaged mankind and took a tragic toll of World Jewry. But their resilience and determination to strengthen Torah was omnipresent.
Upon entering my assigned seat, I met Reb Aryeh Rabinowitz and his son, members of Khal Degel Israel in Kew Gardens Hills. Their smiles and delight to join was all the words necessary to explain their journey to Jersey. Nearby was Robbie Aboff, events coordinator for Chazaq, who arrived with Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of the organization, the only visible representative for Queens seated on the floor of the siyum. To have such an individual who works tirelessly for the klal and his k’hilah represent my hometown was memorable.
I conversed with lomdei daf who explained that the halachah and hashkafah program has changed the way they live each day. “Every aspect of my life is impacted by participating in the Dirshu Halacha program,” explained Yechiel, a Marine Park resident. “My simchas ha’chayim is simply on a new level.” Yechiel spent considerable time trying to convince me to sign up for the program, explaining, “Dirshu Halacha is for every Jew. You will be elevated with thought-provoking questions and become an expert in many halachos. You will see by the end of your day: It will take on added value and no longer just be another routine.” Yechiel, like the man seated on his side, who accesses Dirshu shiurim through the Kol HaLashon Network, acknowledged that their daily lives, especially Shabbasos and yamim tovim, have taken on new dimensions due to spending just a half hour each day with Dirshu. For those interested, Dirshu’s program covers Mishnah B’rurah or Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and is designed based on each individual’s needs with a precise schedule that includes musar and hashkafah aimed at maximizing one’s abilities and potential.
Amongst the rabbanim that I encountered was Rabbi Yaakov Mizrahi, a popular lecturer and one of Dirshu’s many maggidei shiur. The company of the rav and his son brought together the essence of the siyum and the importance of the work of Dirshu.
As the evening progressed, I joined Rabbi Asaf Haimoff, son of Rav Yigal Haimoff of Ohel Simcha, in a stunning suite for an unforgettable experience. Most treasured was the energy of the crowd following the siyum. From up so high, the k’dushas haTorah never emanated so brightly as talmidei chachamim stood hand in hand with Yidden they only just met to share in the glory of the Torah. As men and boys sang “Ashrei ha’am she’kachah lo, ashrei ha’am she’Hashem Elokav,” I now understood what was meant by “Fortunate is the nation for whom this is so, happy are the people whose G-d is Hashem.”
As my evening drew to a close, I navigated the stadium to find Rabbi Yosef Singer, Menhael of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim boys’ high school in Kew Gardens Hills, with a large group of his bachurim. The exalted holiness of the Torah is tenfold when amongst our youth. The pride and joy to literally see a busload of youngsters participating in such a joyous Torah event was beautiful. Kol ha’kavod to the Dirshu administration for their belief in the Queens Jewish community and to the many other Queens attendees who joined the celebration.
By Shabsie Saphirstein