Program Designed with the Guidance of Poskei Hador, of Previous Generation, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Wosner and Rav Nissim Karelitz
It hasn’t happened in five years, but now it is happening. Dirshu is again opening registration for its highly successful Kinyan Halacha program, a five-year structured program wherein avreichim learn and are comprehensively tested on all the material in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah required to obtain semicha along with select parts of Shulchan Orach Chaim. Those aspiring to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the sugyos and halachos learned for semicha, both in America and Eretz Yisrael, are applying for permission to enroll in the coveted program.
The Kinyan Halacha program was established in 2006, with the active guidance of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, the Shevet Halevi, and HaGaon HaRav Nissim Karelitz, zt”l and with the enthusiastic haskama of the senior posek hador of that period, HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l.
The five-and-a-half-year program is a comprehensive, structured limud halacha program through which bnei Torah, who are interested in learning halacha l’maaseh, learn all the major common halachic areas associated with semicha, while receiving continuous, practical guidance from prominent poskim.
Kinyan Halacha was designed by the well-known posek, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shaul Klein, shlita, Rav of the Ohr Hachaim neighborhood of Bnei Brak and talmid muvhak of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l. It is devoted to thorough study of the most common areas of practical halacha. The seder ha’limud begins with the Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Mishnah Berurah where applicable) up to and including contemporary psak halacha.
Each year a schedule with guidance in what to learn monthly is distributed with mareh mekomos to facilitate that month’s limud. The program takes an average of 4-5 hours of learning each day.
Nissan and Tishrei are designated for chazarah of the previous five months’ material, with a test at the end of each of those two months. At the culmination of the entire program, participants who passed the tests will receive a “Cheilcha L’Oraisah” certificate. Although this certificate is not a semicha, it will bear testament to the bearer’s proficiency in halacha.
“The Essential Gufei Torah”
Before Kinyan Halacha’s inception in 2006, when HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l, was presented with the details of the program by Dirshu’s hanhala led by its Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, he was extremely impressed saying, “…Learn [halacha] with Tur and Shulchan Aruch, for these are the essentials of [gufei] Torah.” He went on to recommend that learning in-depth and following the trajectory of the halacha from the Gemarah through the Rishonim, the Tur with Bais Yosef and onto the Shulchan Aruch with its commentaries provides a person with the Gufei Torah, the essentials of Torah.
At that time, Rav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, and Rav Nissim Karelitz, zt”l, also enthusiastically welcomed the program. In fact, Rav Shmuel Wosner played an instrumental role in guiding the program from its inception, even giving the pesicha shiur together with Rav Nissim Karleitz in the month of Nissan, 2006 at the Heichalei Malchus Hall in Bnei Brak.
“To Become Poskim Goes Beyond Learning Halacha!”
Rav Moshe Shaul Klein related that Rav Wosner was extremely careful to emphasize that the Kinyan Halacha program should not be construed as a program that ‘produces rabbonim’ or ‘produces poskim’. Rav Wosner repeatedly emphasized that Kinyan Halacha was a limud halacha program where yungeleit could learn halacha b’iyun with a clear, defined program and goal. For that one must invest even more time and effort in learning the sugyos combined with practical shimush with veteran poskim. To be a posek requires a special siyatta d’Shmaya that only comes on an individual basis.
Rav Klein stressed how Rav Wosner was always very wary of ‘Battei Medrash L’Rabbanim’. He felt that being a posek goes beyond learning halacha and must be an outgrowth of years of learning Torah in-depth and then halacha in-depth. It is not something that one becomes by attending a “college” that produces Rabbis.
That is why he guided Dirshu in how they should award those who completed the program with excellence. They were not to be given semicha because that must be done on an individual basis, from Rav to talmid. Rather they were to be awarded a ‘Cheilcha L’Oraisah’ document attesting to the fact that the learner has completed and been comprehensively tested on all the material usually learned when learning for horaah.
Perhaps one of the most unique, important aspects of the program is the hadracha — the practical guidance for each participating yungerman. Each avreich receives a kuntress outlining all the material being learned for the forthcoming half year. The program also provides mareh mekomos and constant guidance in what to learn and where emphasis should be placed.
The special kuntreisim, compiled by some of the greatest poskim of our time, has been one of the major catalysts that propelled Kinyan Halacha to reach far beyond its original goals.
The program with its clear hadracha has become so popular that tens of kollelim throughout Eretz Yisrael have opened horaah programs wherein the entire kollel learn halacha together with the Kinyan Halacha program. Not all these kollelim are part of the official Kinyan Halacha network, nevertheless all have seen the tremendous benefit of participating in a program with a clear framework for learning with chazarah. Dirshu is glad to send even those kollelim that are not officially part of the network, all its kuntreisim and do whatever in their power to offer the support they need to enrich Klal Yisrael with yet more poskim muvhakim.
The Before and After
Dirshu is now reopening enrollment. As a five-year program, Dirshu offers generous stipends for avreichim who achieve excellent results. Over the course of the entire program, a yungerman can earn up to $8000.
Openings for stipends are only for married men who do not have semicha and are not participating in a semicha program. There are a total of eleven bi-annual tests over the course of the five-and-a-half-years. Stipends are earned for each test but are paid at intervals along the way.
By Chaim Gold