New Dirshu “Chaburas HaShas Iyun” Program Announced At Melava Malka Siyum on Seder Moed
“You think you are in Stamford, Connecticut, but you are not! There is a law that an embassy of a country is considered that country’s sovereign territory. For example, if you are in the British Embassy in Washington, you are not in Washington. By law, it is considered as if you are in Britain. We may think we are in Stamford, Connecticut but really, we are in Dirshu! Dirshu is a different planet, a different atmosphere. If there is anything that I learned this Shabbos, it is that being in Dirshu is something not in this world. It is a hechere velt, an elevated world of Torah and a world of simcha that is indescribable.”
These were the words said at shalosh seudos by Rav Moshe Benzion Weinberger, R”M at Mesivta Shalom Shachne and Rav of the Agudas Yisroel of Flatbush, at the Dirshu Shabbos of Chizuk on Shabbos Parshas Pikudei. Indeed, it is difficult to describe the unique atmosphere of the “Dirshu Embassy” for someone who did not experience it. It is a hallowed atmosphere that combines a tremendous drive to learn and know Torah with an awe inspiring simchas chaim that permeates both the lomdei Dirshu and their distinguished wives; an inner simcha and tranquility that can only come from a life devoted to limud haTorah and achieving goals in Torah that bring profound sipuk hanefesh.
On motzoei Shabbos, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Schustal, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, shared a wonderous encounter that he had over Shabbos. “I met a yungerman and, after asking his name, realized that I knew his father. I asked how he was doing and where he lives. His answer said with temimus and truth was so inspiring. He said, ‘I live in Dirshu.’ That is his life. His limud with Dirshu, the learning, the chazara the test taking is where he really lives. The gashmiyus geography of where his house is located is peripheral.”
This was the feeling that permeated the atmosphere at the Dirshu Shabbos Shel Chizuk held on Shabbos Parshas Pekudei at the Armon Hotel and other hotels in Stamford that accommodated the overflow.
A major highlight of the siyum was the announcement by Dirshu’s Nasi Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, of a new Dirshu program entitled “Chabruas Hashas that is sure to have a transformative impact on Klal Yisrael.
Calling the motzoei Shabbos melava malka by the title “Siyum on Seder Moed” is a misnomer. It was far more than a siyum. It was a demonstration! It was a demonstration that yedias haTorah at a high level is possible for anyone who really wants to achieve a goal. It was a demonstration that yedias haTorah, becoming a Shas Yid is more of a “mindset” than a question of whether you are a genius or not, a kollel yungerman or a baal habayis.
HaGaon HaRav Dovid Goldberg Shlita: Lomdei Torah Are The Ones Who Have The REAL Olam Hazeh!”
HaGaon HaRav Aharon Dovid Goldberg, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe related that once in a hesped on the Brisker Rav, a talmid recalled a comment made by the Brisker Rav after he delivered one of his brilliant and clear chiddushim. The Rav remarked, “I don’t know if I will merit to receive sechar in Olam Habaah one day, but one thing is sure, I certainly merited sechar in Olam Hazeh after feeling and hearing the sweetness and beauty of that chiddush.”
Rav Goldberg went on to say that the time period during which seder Moed was started, learned and completed is a sign that Hashem is talking to us. “We started Moed right at the beginning of the gezeirah of Covid 19. Now, as we complete it, the world is once again in turmoil as Hashem has brought milchama, war to the world. Hashem is talking to us! Hashem wants to hear from us!
“What does he want?” asked the Telzer Rosh Yeshiva. “He wants us to learn His Torah and learn His mitzvos and be truly connected to Him. Hashem took away our shuls and our yeshivos because He desires that every single individual have a connection to Him as a yachid. This is the purpose of Dirshu too. To connect every Yid to Hashem!
HaGaon HaRav Nissan Kaplan, Shlita: We Can ALL Be Rabi Akiva
The melava malka featured beautiful renditions of zemiros from an orchestra led by Reb Mona Rosenblum and from a group of talented menagnim led by Zavnil Weinberger, Motti Steinmetz ad Aharle Samet. Their beautiful music in between the drashos added incredible ruach to the evening.
Nevertheless, nothing could inject ruach into the evening in the way that the powerful, enthusiastic drasha of HaGaon HaRav Nissan Kaplan was able to.
The way he opened his drasha sent chills up the spine. He got up and said, “Birshus the Beis Yosef! Birshus the Ramah! Birshus the Chofetz Chaim!”
The message was clear. The lomdei Dirshu, by learning the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, were undoubtedly giving such a nachas ruach to those who wrote the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah that they were together with us on that evening.
Rav Kaplan went on to address the commonly held mistake that people make when they say, “Yes, I would like to learn and I would like to review to the extent that I can take tests on Shas but it is just too much for me, to hard for me, I don’t have the time…”
Rav Kaplan explained how all those excuses and feelings of despair are really the yetzer hara trying to dissuade a person from making goals when it comes to Torah.
He pointed out that the tanna Rabi Akiva also had every excuse not to learn. Nothing went into his head. He couldn’t learn. When he was forty years old, he saw water making a hole in a rock. That is what turned him on. Did he not know before that water could penetrate a rock if it is constantly dripping? That dripping water finally gave him the chizuk that his Torah could similarly penetrate his own mind. It went from just outer knowledge that water makes a hole to a lesson for life that he could actually do something.
“The lesson for us,” Rav Kaplan stressed, “is that we can ALL be Rabi Akiva. We should not be discouraged by difficulties. On the contrary, it is the difficulties that build us!”
Rav Dovid Hofstedter Launches of the New “Chaburas Hashas” Iyun Program
The highlight of the evening was Rav Dovid Hofstedter’s comprehensive Torah address which culminated in the dramatic announcement of a new Dirshu program.
“After much consultation with numerous Roshei Yeshiva and with the bracha of the Gedolei Hador, the consensus is that we need to start a new program, a program of limud haShas b’iyun. It has been our minhag to announce new Dirshu programs at the culminating melava malka of a unique Dirshu Shabbos. Tonight, we are, be’ezras Hashem launching the new Dirshu Chaburas HaShas Initiative! The basic structure of the two-track program will be Track 1 Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos. Track II Gemara, Rashi and Tosafos with ikker Rishonim and Acharonim. The program will require learning one amud a day, five days a week with Friday and Shabbos consecrated for chazarah. Of course, there will be monthly tests on all material learned.”
Rav Dovid concluded that more details would be released soon and that the new program is slated to start on this upcoming Rosh Chodesh Iyar!
The news of this new, challenging program has already sent ripples of excitement and anticipation through the olam haTorah and especially among lomdei Dirshu who are accustomed to seeking new goals no matter how challenging!
HaGaon HaRav Asher Anshel Katz, Shlita: A New Level of Gratitude
The siyum on seder Moed concluded with a riveting drasha given by the Vienner Rav, HaGaon HaRav Asher Anshel Katz, shlita. “When we all started learning with a Dirshu program we were happy to be starting a learning program and hoped it would be good for us. Now, however, that we are making a siyum and we see what a transformative impact Dirshu has had on our lives, on the lives of our wives and our children, the way Dirshu has changed the entire home, we have a totally new appreciation and gratitude for what Dirshu has done for us.”
The next part of the melva malka cannot be described in an article. One can give over the main message of drasha in an article, but one simply cannot, with dry ink and paper, describe the dancing after the melava malka. The thousands who danced with such elevation, such dveikus, that lasted into the wee hours of the morning; the way they came to dance with Rav Dovid Hofstedter, the simcha that emanated from them and the contagious enthusiasm that permeated the hall was indescribable. It was a dancing of simcha, of dveikus and of deep hakaras hatov to Dirshu and for what it has done to their lives.
A Shabbos that was a Taste of Olam Habaah
The Shabbos that preceded the melava malka siyum was a Shabbos that was mei’ein Olam Habaah. It was not only the amazing program that Dirshu has put together with some of the most inspiring drashos from Gedolei Yisrael from across the spectrum, nor the attention to detail that the Shabbos should feature every hiddur in ruchniyus and gashmiyus possible. What was equally impressive were the spontaneous comments and enthusiasm of the “poshute” Dirshu Yidden who are truly not “poshut” at all. During the meals, the discussions revolved around the intricacies of the masechta or the way one Yid said so matter-of-factly that he did not even think it was remarkable but all of his mechutanim know that he does not schedule a chasunah of one of his children for the week of a Dirshu test because then there would be one night when he would not be able to attend sheva brachos… The Dirshu test comes before everything!
The personal stories spontaneously shared by lomdim about what Dirshu had done for them, their wives and families were more than inspiring. They often brought tears to the eyes.
It was a great privilege to be in the presence of a Gadol Hador of the stature of Hagaon HaRav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, for the entire Shabbos. An absolutely eye-opening shailos and teshuvos forum was held with the Rosh Yeshiva.
Perhaps the drasha that set the tone for the Shabbos, however, was that of HaGaon HaRav Nissan Kaplan, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Daas Aharon, who came especially from Eretz Yisrael to attend the event. “Not long after I arrived, I went down to the lobby to participate in a bit of toameha. Round tables were set up with people sitting around the tables. I too sat at a table. Turning to the Yid next to me whom I didn’t know, I said ‘shalom aleichem.’ We got to talking about learning and I realized that this Yid had been tested on all of Shas! ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘I wish I had learned all of Shas!’ Then I began to speak to the person on the other side of me and found out that he had been tested on all of Shas with Tosafos!!
“The person across from me had been taking monthly tests on Mishnah Berurah for fourteen years and had already completed the Mishnah Berurah twice! I must admit, I felt like a nothing… I came here to this convention to give chizuk and I found that the ‘simple yungeleit’ siting around the table with me and eating kugel are gedolei Torah and they don’t even realize how great they are! This is what being part of Dirshu is!”
One of the unique features of the Dirshu convention are the iyun shiurim held on Shabbos. The very well attended shiurim and the rischa d’Oraisah, the fiery debate of Torah learning that takes place really encapsulates what Dirshu is all about.
This year, two iyun shiurim were given, one by the Rosh Yeshiva of Lakewood, Rav Dovid Schustal and the other by Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter. There was also a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur given by the distinguished Skverer Dayan of Lakewood, Hagaon HaRav Avrohom Spitzer, shlita.
Undoubtedly, the climax of the Shabbos was the shalosh seudos when Dirshu lomdim representing all the various shevatim of Klal Yisrael gathered k’ish echad in the largest ballroom to eat with achdus and listen to divrei Elokim chaim delivered in English and Yiddish by Gedolei Yisrael.
Rav Zev Smith opened the shalosh seudos. He was followed by Rav Dovid Breslauer, Rosh Kollel of South Fallsburg and Rav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz.
The final speaker of the shalosh seudos was Rav Moshe Bentzion Weinberger. Rav Weinberger echoed the thoughts of so many. He said, “After spending a Shabbos of such aliya, a Shabbos spent among so many bnei aliya who are so immersed in Torah, we all feel such chizuk! Our task is to take that chizuk with us, inject it into our homes, our children, our extended family and friends and continue to strive to come closer to Hashem by continuing to learn and chazer His Torah.”
Indeed as the fire of the havdalah licht was extinguished and flickered out, the fire inside the Dirshu Yidden who had spent a Shabbos of Chizuk together was ignited with a holy flame and a desire to add more ol Torah and to spread the message that there is no one happier, there is no family, no wife, no children happier and and more satisfied in Olam Hazeh than a Yid and his family whose every day is highlighted by the ol Torah from learning, chazering and ultimately absorbing the Torah into their very essence.