HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei With an Urgent Message of Chizuk, and the Imperative of Kabbolas Ol Torah in Times of Crisis 

By Chaim Gold 

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“Everything has changed, nothing is routine or normal in my life anymore,” said Moshe R*, a ben Torah from Brooklyn. “The bais medrash where I daven is closed, the bais medrash where I learn is closed, my workplace is closed, my children are home from school… The only thing that remains constant in my life is my Torah schedule. True, I unfortunately cannot learn in my bais medrash, but the Dirshu bechina schedule keeps on going, every day a new daf, every day multiple chazaros. Otherwise, I am not sure I would remain sane!.”

With the Coronavirus increasingly wreaking havoc on the regular schedules and routines of Klal Yisrael, and with many justifiably filled with worry over the plight of cholei Yisrael and Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in general, Chazal have exhorted us that the zechus of limud haTorah is the greatest protection possible for Klal Yisroel. 

Last week, Dirshu asked the great gaon and tzaddik, HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei, shlita, for words of chizuk and guidance during these uncertain times. Rav Galei, in his warm and powerful way, imparted much chizuk and guidance so that his words would be publicized to all lomdei Torah, wherever they may be. 

Rav Galei was asked, “We are coming now after Baruch Hashem, a few months of Siyumim worldwide, siyumim that gave chizuk to the wider community to encourage and empower them to learn more. Now, however due to the Coronavirus, many of the venues for learning have closed and, in a time such as this, we need additional chizuk and direction.”

The Imperative of Kabbalas Ol Torah

Rav Galei, his face creased with worry while simultaneously exuding optimism and simcha, first spoke about the mouth as the ultimate keili, receptacle that can spread kedusah and taharah, “We have to watch our mouths that that they should be pure, clean and consecrated solely for limud haTorah. It is also important,” he stressed, “to strengthen ourselves in other ways that we use our mouths. For example, to try our utmost to make brachos with proper kavanah, to think about what we are saying when we say the bracha of Asher Yatzar wherein we thank Hashem for the fact that our bodies work properly. 

“In these trying times, we must truly recognize that we have no one upon whom to rely other than Avinu Shebashamayim, our Father in Heaven. We all fervently daven that no one should get sick and we bless all of Klal Yisrael that they remain healthy. We daven for and bless those that, R”l, are ill, that they have a complete and easy recovery. 

“We all know that Hashem loves limud haTorah and one of the greatest ways to invoke Divine mercy is through learning Torah. That is why we must thank the hanhalah of Dirshu, for what they have done for us, by designing all kinds of learning programs that cater to everyone. Wherever a person is, whether he is at home or otherwise, he can join any of these Dirshu programs in any area of learning, Shas, halacha, mussar…. Every person, no matter what his level of learning can have a part in Torah learning, even if he is at home and cannot go out.” 

Indeed, Dirshu’s underlying message from the siyumim over the past few months was the imperative of Kabbolas ol Torah, accepting upon oneself the yoke of learning Torah. A yoke refers to not just learning but learning with a goal and a steely determination to learn, review and be tested on what one learns. 

Torah Learning Will Never Stop, Not for Anything!

The fundamental point is that, Coronavirus or not, the kabbolos ol Torah must continue –  whether one learns alone in one’s house, over the telephone with a chavrusah or listens through different technological means available to access shiurim, the Torah schedule will not stop – not for Coronavirus and not for anything else. On the contrary, when there is a mageifah spreading, the ultimate antidote, as Rav Galei said, is using our mouths for Torah and tefillah

Rav Galei continued in his remarks explaining, “We find ourselves in a great eis tzarah, a time of great danger throughout the entire world. There has never been such a situation, that in the entire world at once, Hashem is showing that HE is manhig habirah – He is controlling the entire world. Everyone in the world is standing with their mouths open, unable to do anything. The only thing they can do is beg the Master of the World that He should tell the angel [of destruction and plague] enough! 

“We all know that we must daven [for this plague to end]. Nevertheless, we also know that the zechus of Torah saves, both when a person is learning Torah and even when he isn’t engaged in Torah learning. Therefore, especially in these times, it is imperative to have all kinds of programs where people can learn and have a chelek in our Torah hakedosha.” 

Rav Galei continued his words of chizuk which are a balm to Klal Yisroel and all lomdei Torah by saying, “At this time, we have to strengthen ourselves in the understanding that Hashem is showing us that He controls the world. Everyone in the world realizes that they can do nothing, only daven, va’anachnu b’shem Hashem Elokeinu nazkir, we call out in the name of Hashem. 

“This davening coupled with learning our holy Torah will grant us the zechus that b’ezer Hashem, Hashem will say to the angel of destruction, “Stop!” and will say “Enough!” to destruction.”

As an aside, Dirshu’s Hanhalah is working on alternate methods for administering the monthly bechinas to over 30,000 participants worldwide in light of the fact that unfortunately the regular testing venues will not be an option at this point. One thing is certain, Lomdei Dirshu will Bezras Hashem continue their rigorous schedule of kabbolas ol Torah as before! 

Rav Galei concluded, “May it be the will of our Father in Heaven that we should only be the recipient of besuros tovos and that we will be zoche, with Hashem’s help, to much nachas and simcha. May we be zoche to the light of Moshiach when all of those who are far will gather together from the four corners of the earth with Moshiach tzikdkeinu, B’meheira b’yomeiu!”  

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