“This Siyum HaShas is a tremendous simchah for all of Klal Yisrael!”
So said HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Slabodka Yeshiva, at the Dirshu Siyum HaShas at the Binyanei Haumah Convention Center in Yerushalayim.
HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ohr Hachaim, exclaimed, “My heart is singing, at this maamad of bnei Torah who have finished Shas! Yet I have pain over those who are not here. We must be like Yosef Hatzaddik who recognized his brothers even though they didn’t recognize him.”
HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Lakewood Mesivta and Telshe, said, “The Rambam says, if not for ‘crazy’ people the world wouldn’t exist. After the churban of Europe, a few gedolim who were ‘crazy’, rebuilt the Torah world. They merited miraculous siyata d’Shmaya, and Rav Hosfstedter shlita and Dirshu have also merited such siyata d’Shmaya.”
A Night of Miracles!
The event was attended by gedolim representing the entire spectrum of Torah Jewry, including Hagaonim, HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, the Bialer Rebbe, HaRav Dovid Cohen, HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, HaRav Reuven Elbaz, the Boyaner Rebbe, HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, the Karliner Rebbe, the Erlauer Rebbe, HaRav Moshe Yehuda Schlesinger, HaRav Tzvi Kushelevsky, HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, HaRav Daniel Alter, HaRav Eliyahu Abba Shaul, and hundreds more.
The chairman, Rav Yitzchok Schreiber, a R”M at Yeshiva Orchos Torah, began by inviting HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi shlita, Rosh Yeshiva at the Mir Yeshiva of Yerushalayim, to speak. Rav Ezrachi described this “amazing chiddush called Dirshu that is making Torah sweet in the mouths of so many multitudes.”
Rav Schreiber then asked the nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter shlita, to speak.
Rav Dovid Hofstedter: “We DO Have the Koach!”
Rav Dovid said, “I frequently ask Dirshu learners, ‘Did you ever think you would accomplish so much?’ Virtually everyone says they thought such a feat was impossible. Nevertheless, the fact remains: people are taking tests on all chalakim of Torah! Where does this come from?”
Rav Hofstedter then connected Yaakov Avinu’s quest for pachim ketanim, small jugs, and his battle with Eisav, to Chanukah and the pach shemen, the small jug of oil lit by the Chashmona’im. That pach symbolizes the dedication to go beyond one’s abilities, similar to Yaakov Avinu defeating the Sar of Eisav, and the Chashmona’im overcoming the Greek army.
“On Chanukah,” Rav Dovid said, “We say bayamim haheim b’zman hazeh, in those times in our times. Even if we think we cannot overcome obstacles when it comes to limud haTorah, we DO have the koach. That is our yerusha from Yaakov Avinu.”
Rav Reuven Elbaz: “The Source of Dirshu’s Success? Yiras Shamayim!”
HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz said, “The success of Dirshu stems from yiras Shamayim. There are many philanthropists in Klal Yisrael but to merit facilitating so much learning you need two things: mesiras nefesh and yiras Shamayim.”
Rav Elbaz expressed his hope that the siyum would be a harbinger of the geulah, when the navi tells us all of Klal Yisrael will come close to Hashem.
The Biala Rebbe: “A True Siyum HaShas!”
The Biala Rebbe then spoke, asking, “What is the uniqueness of the Dirshu siyum?” The Rebbe cited the halachah that with Torah sheb’al peh you are only yotzeh if you understand your learning.
“Tonight we are celebrating a true siyum haShas, where people the world over understand what they learn!”
Then came the highlight: the Siyum HaShas! The Erlauer Rebbe shlita was honored with making the siyum. The Rebbe exclaimed, “Look at the achdus here. Where do you have a maamad where everyone together celebrates Torah accomplishments?!”
A Kaddish That Left Not a Dry Eye
The Kaddish was introduced by Rav Yitzchok Schreiber: “One of the Dirshu Shas Yidden was HaGaon HaRav Aharon Eisenblatt zt”l. Just after Pesach, he suddenly passed away, leaving a large family. Rav Aharon’s children have come to say the Kaddish.” The sight of his children saying Kaddish on the Siyum HaShas that their father would have made, brought tears to everyone’s eyes…
Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch: The Mitzvah of Ner – The Mitzvah IS the Reward!
Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, the Slabodka Rosh Yeshiva, then connected the siyum with Chanukah. “There is a clear connection between Torah and Chanukah as seen from the Gemara [Shabbos 23] which teaches that he who is careful about lighting [Chanukah and Shabbos] candles will merit children who are talmidei chachamim. Ner, light, symbolizes Torah. The Gemara says that one who is careful with the mitzvah of mezuzah will merit a nice house; someone who is careful regarding the mitzvah of tzitzis will merit nice clothing…”
Rav Hirsch delineated how the reward for all mitzvos cited is a physical reward. For lighting candles, however, the mitzvah is the reward. The mitzvah of Torah is the reward! Ner, the mitzvah of lighting candles, symbolizes the ultimate closeness to Hashem. How do you achieve that closeness? Through Torah learning with hasmadah. The lights of Chanukah that symbolize total immersion bring to Torah’s orah.
HaGaon HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir of Yerushalayim, was honored with starting Shas again and reciting the first Mishnah in Masechta Brachos.
Reb Monah Rosenblum then described how he was asked to compose a song about HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman zt”l. “How could I write a song about a person of such greatness?! All I could do was daven. And then the words ‘Lev tahor’ that so symbolized the Rosh Yeshiva popped into my head, together with a niggun.”
As the niggun was sung, the entire Binyanei Haumah was swept up in its fervor.
HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin: Restoring the Torah’s Crown of Glory
The final address was from HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin shlita, author of the multi-volume sefarim on Shas and Tanach, entitled Gevuras Yitzchok.
Rav Sorotzkin said, “Dirshu has gone beyond the realm of nature, ensuring that in our generation, Torah will not be forgotten. Dirshu and Rav Hofstedter are like the Chashmona’im of our times!”
Rav Sorotzkin added that Dirshu returned the Torah’s crown of glory to its original place. “Rav Elchonon Wasserman said the Chofetz Chaim told him everyone has an obligation to learn Shas and poskim. Therefore, one needs two daily sedarim – one for iyun and another to acquire wide-ranging knowledge of Shas.
“Dirshu is ensuring this happens in our time too.”
The Pivotal Contribution of Dirshu Wives
Simultaneously, a remarkable women’s program took place in another hall.
Rebbetzin Koledetzky said, “My dear sisters, today is a truly auspicious day for you to daven. You have a tremendous koach, the koach haTorah you helped facilitate.”
Rebbetzin Shulamit Ezrachi exclaimed, “A woman full of love of Torah, who uses her strength properly, can make the difference between a house suffused with Torah or otherwise!”
Rebbetzin Galei, wife of Rav Shimon Galei, read a letter that her husband had written for the Dirshu wives.
After the siyum there was spirited singing and dancing lasting until well after 2:00 a.m…. the lomdei Torah were dancing at their own weddings: the chasunah between Hashem, the Torah and Klal Yisrael!