By Rabbi Nachman Seltzer
I’m just going to say it as it is.
The talmidei chachamim comprising the vast body of the Dirshu Torah army live lives of genuine mesirus nefesh when it comes to their learning.
I have a reason for mentioning this right now. It has to do with a recent conversation I had with a friend. This man is a daf yomi maggid shiur with a very popular shiur.
“Being part of Dirshu changed my life,” he said to me.
I asked him why.
“Look,” he replied, “as a businessman, I’m naturally devoted to the idea of accountability. Besides I really wanted to know and remember what I was learning — which was why I loved being part of Dirshu.”
“What did you like most about Dirshu?”
“That’s funny; most people hate tests.”
“Not me. I loved having to take them. Suddenly I found myself forgoing sleep at night to prepare. I sat up learning for hours and somehow without my noticing it, darkness would give way to light outside my window. One second it was midnight and the next it was morning and I’d leave to Shacharis with a feeling of tremendous satisfaction. I hadn’t slept the entire night and I was filled with happiness like you can’t imagine!
Without any exaggeration whatsoever, Dirshu completely changed my life.”
This businessman/maggid shiur is but one example of the wonderfully committed group of Yidden who devote their days and nights to reviewing for the Dirshu tests, both in Gemara and halacha. And with siyumim fast approaching at various locations around the globe, it will afford all involved with the opportunity to celebrate with their Torah brothers-in-arms.
I myself have stood beside Rav Dovid Hofstedter, nasi and founder of Dirshu, at many events and personally witnessed the authentic hakaras ha’tov of “his” people as they thanked him over and over for changing their lives. I have been there as the wives of the Dirshu army thanked Rav Dovid for altering their husband’s state of being.
“You can’t imagine what you have done for my husband and for our entire family,” was a line that I heard over and over again.
“In the past my husband was busy with many things. Now he is busy with Torah. Every month there’s another test — and he throws himself into the Gemara with a full heart, determined to get the best mark possible, not because he wants to show off, but because a top mark means he really knows the Gemara.”
So while we are rapidly counting down the days to the many Dirshu events around the globe, it’s with a recognition that the events themselves are coming to celebrate the members of Dirshu and their incredible commitment to not only learning Torah — but to really knowing it as well.
As in previous years, besides the main events in Eretz Yisrael — held at Binyanei Hauma in Yerushalayim and at Yad Eliyahu in Tel Aviv — there will also be a major event at the Prudential Center in North America (a number of sections are already sold out) and in Paris, London, Manchester, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and South America.
Based on ticket sales at Prudential (and with anticipation that the venue will be completely sold out) the Dirshu team has already secured another first-class venue. I am referring to NJ PAC — which is gearing up to be an incredible event “All On Its Own!”
At every Dirshu event I have been a part of, there have been many prominent gedolim seated on the dais. I have visited the homes of gedolim with Rav Dovid Hofstedter and personally witnessed their feelings for Dirshu. When I traveled to Radin with a Dirshu contingent for the yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim and the Yom Limud and Tefilla, I had the good fortune to share a journey across Belarus with an entire busload of gedolim.
Simply speaking, the gedolim of Klal Yisrael love Dirshu.
So while there will be numerous gedolei ha’dor sharing the stage at the Prudential Center event, there will be many others participating at NJ PAC as well.
Two separate and equally special events. Two equally amazing places to be.
A Dirshu event is a celebration for all the senses, both ruchni and gashmi.
When I traveled to Radin, the entire group gathered together in Ben Gurion Airport prior to departure. There every person was given a gift bag filled with some snacks, a few well-chosen sefarim, and an umbrella.
Why an umbrella? We were flying to Eastern Europe and there was a good chance of rain. Therefore, the Dirshu team made sure that every person on the trip would be taken care of and protected from the elements.
This turned out to be a most fortunate move on their part, because rain poured down the entire time we were davening at the Chofetz Chaim’s kever, only clearing up when the gedolim finished pouring out their hearts to Hashem on Klal Yisrael’s behalf.
This is an example of the kind of thought and preparation Rav Dovid Hofstedter and the Dirshu team puts into everything they do.
When Dirshu celebrated its global celebration of Shas at Binyanei Hauma and Yad Eliyahu in 2012, they produced a musical CD to go along with it. The songs were magnificent (some even composed by Rav Dovid and other members of his family) and truly helped to raise the overall celebration to additional heights. I still recall the singing and dancing—it was utterly phenomenal!
There’s no question that Dirshu has perfected the art of the little touch.
Who can forget the moment when Rav Dovid’s father-in-law, Reb Avrohom Bleeman of Toronto, joined a group of children on the stage at Binyanei Hauma, where they sang a song which had been taught to Reb Avrohom as a child by Rav Meir Shapiro himself! What a beautifully meaningful moment that was!
And it’s the same way at every Dirshu event.
There are always surprises — both spiritual and physical.
Which is why I can state with complete assurance that both Prudential and NJ PAC will be events to remember — each in their own right, and each with their own surprises and special touches.
And while some of the gedolim will remain at each event from beginning to end, others will spend part of the night first at one venue, then the other, thereby ensuring a delightful synergy between two otherwise completely unique events.
In conclusion, I can state with complete assurance that the upcoming Dirshu events will be moments in time to remember. Everyone is invited and everyone is welcome. My recommendation: reserve your seat today while there are still tickets available and join the Dirshu Torah revolution.
You won’t regret it. Trust me.