True achdus is forged only through Torah. This wonderful ideal was apparent earlier this month when Gedolei Yisrael from across the spectrum – Sephardic, Chassidish and Litvish – all held special siyumim in their respective homes. In each home, there was a siyum on Chelek Gimmel of Mishnah Berurah that covers hilchos Shabbos, as well as a haschala, a beginning of Chelek Daled on Masechta Eruvin.
Siyumim were held at the homes of Sar HaTorah, HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshivat Porat Yosef, HaGaon HaRav Shalom Cohen, shlita, the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, the Rachmastrivka Rebbe, shlita and at the home of HaGaon HaRav Aviezer Piltz, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Tifrach.
“A Person Will be Taken Out of Gehinnom from the Minute He Begins Learning Hilchos Shabbos!”
The first siyum was held at the home of the Sar HaTorah, HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita. Despite the fact that every second is so precious to Rav Chaim, he agreed to sacrifice a significant amount of time to give chizuk to the tens of thousands of lomdei Dirshu who have recently begun learning hilchos Eruvin
Rav Mann related that Rav Chaim told him to relay the following message: “Shabbos Kodesh is the foundation of our nation, the foundation of Torah. Throughout the ages, Yidden have given up their lives to keep Shabbos and to preserve the honor of Shabbos. The Chofetz Chaim writes that it is impossible to keep Shabbos without learning the halachos of Shabbos. Aside from the mitzvah of learning Torah, when one learns hilchos Shabbos, the learning itself is shemiras Shabbos.”
“The second thing,” Rav Chaim added, “is that learning about a mitzvah gives taam to the mitzvah. When a person learns hilchos Shabbos, Shabbos itself has a different taam. You taste the Shabbos. What do you taste on Shabbos – cholent?! Certainly, the taste of cholent is also a good thing and a mitzvah, but the main thing is that when you learn hilchos Shabbos you taste the taste of Shabbos!”
The siyum on hilchos Shabbos was made by Rav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, shita, Rav of Western Bnei Brak, and one of the prime talmidim of the Shevet Halevi, Rav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l.
Rav Sariel Rosenberg, son-in-law of Rav Nissim Karelitz, a dayan on Rav Nissim’s bais din and a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur, was honored with beginning Chelek Daled.
The Ongoing Impact of the Chofetz Chaim
Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of Dirshu, closed the event at Rav Chaim’s home by thanking the Gedolim and the lomdim for giving so much chizuk to him and the wider Dirshu family.
He then quoted Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, who recalled being in Slabodka at the time when the Chofetz Chaim passed away. Rav Miller said, ‘There were hespedim in the yeshiva. People cried. Nevertheless, the hespedim were not in accordance with the level of greatness of the Chofetz Chaim. Why?’ Perhaps,” Rav Hofstedter said, “We can explain that when a person is not considered dead, we don’t realize how much he is missing from us, because he is in essence still with us. Chazal tell us, ‘Yaakov Avinu did not die.’ On the other hand, the passuk tells us that when Yaakov Avinu was niftar ‘Mitzrayim was in heavy mourning.’ The reason is that Yaakov’s presence brought with it a tremendous economic boon for the Egyptians. The famine stopped with his arrival, and the people experienced tremendous prosperity as a result. Thus they cried for the material loss that they sustained with his passing. The bnei Yisrael, however, still felt Yaakov’s hashpaah even after his passing. Thus, if a person has never died, then the hesped is not full of mourning because he is still with us. In a certain sense, this is the feeling we have about the Chofetz Chaim. He is still with us! His hashpaah becomes greater and greater every day. We see how the Chofetz Chaim’s impact is above and beyond the realm of nature. His seforim are learned more and more and his lessons are internalized more and more by people throughout the world. We feel a tremendous zechus to be able to connect with the Chofetz Chaim, with his halachos and the lessons that he taught and continues to teach!”
Gedolei Admorim Gather For Siyum at Home of Rachmastrivka Rebbe
Another poignant siyum on hilchos Shabbos was held at the home of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe, shlita, and was attended by the Boyaner Rebbe shlita, the Erlauer Rebbe, shlita, the Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rebbe, shlita, the Nadvorna Rebbe, shlita, and the Zvhiller Rebbe, shlita.
The fact that all of these distinguished Admorim came together to participate in the siyum gives insight into the importance that they attach to this limud that has, baruch Hashem, spread and caught on throughout all of the shevatim of Klal Yisroel.
In his heartfelt remarks, the Rachmastrivka Rebbe said, “I can’t describe what a zechus it is to enable Yidden to learn and know halacha! It is the foundation of Klal Yisrael and a zechus that brings with it all of the brachos in the Torah.
“Several years ago, before the establishment of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha,” the Rebbe continued, “we said, what will be? In yeshivos they learn Gemara, a great and wonderful thing, but what will be with halacha l’maaseh? Bachurim don’t know halacha. This issue always bothered me, and then Dirshu came along and they instituted programs that facilitate the learning of halacha and enable people to actually know what to do.”
The Rebbe candidly said, “A Yid came to me this week and described how he had learned and toiled in Torah when he was in yeshiva, but after his marriage, questions came up in hilchos Shabbos and he had no idea what to do! He had to ask his wife. She knew, because she had been taught in school but he didn’t, because he had never learned hilchos Shabbos. This is a tremendous shame! It should not be this way!”
Bringing Ideas from Concept to Action
The Rachmastrivka Rebbe was preceded by Rav Yisroel Berzovsky, a son of the Slonimer Rebbe, shlita, who serves as a Rav in Beitar and is also a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur. Rav Berzovsky asked, “What did Dirshu do that is so significant? Many people have good ideas to promote limud haTorah. What Dirshu has done is bring ideas from concept into action! They established hundreds of shiurim all over the world, they published a Mishnah Berurah that is not only easy and geshmak to learn from, but that has piskei din of countless later poskim that draws the learner into the material. It makes you want to learn, it makes you want to be part of it. That is what Dirshu has done. It makes you want to join the crowd and be part of Dirshu, take the tests and know it.”
Perhaps Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s bracha best encapsulated the uniqueness of the event. Rav Mann related that Rav Chaim said, “Torah gives chaim and bracha. Shabbos Kodesh gives life and bracha. Shabbos is the source of all bracha. With regard to Shabbos, we say in davening, ‘those who taste it, merit life.’ Dirshu has merited to spread the learning of hilchos Shabbos in such a remarkable way, they will certainly merit all of the brachos of chaim, life and hatzlacha!”