By Chaim Gold
“It is such good news to hear that hundreds of great talmidei chachamim who have toiled in Torah and acquired a clear, in-depth knowledge of Shas, poskim, hora’ah, and halachah” are coming together for a Dirshu Shabbos Chizuk l’Lomdei Torah. “This news is especially gratifying today when so many have designs against those who learn Torah, shaming and ridiculing them in an . . . attempt to lessen the paramount importance of Torah learning.”
These were the powerful words of Rav Dovid Cohen, rosh yeshiva of the Hebron Yeshiva, in letter sent especially to participants of the upcoming Dirshu Shabbos Chizuk to be held on Shabbos Parashas Vayeitzei (November 8—9) at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton in Somerset, NJ.
Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, Rav Berel Povarsky, the Modzhitzer Rebbe, and Rav Aryeh Finkel also sent powerful letters that will be read publicly at the event. The venerated senior rosh yeshiva of Brisk, Rav Dovid Soloveichik, similarly imparted words of chizuk and guidance for the American Torah community.
The Dirshu Shabbos Chizuk will iy’H be attended by gedolei Yisrael from America and abroad, with a special guest senior gadol b’Yisrael who will be coming from Eretz Yisrael specifically to address the assemblage.
Just two weeks after Dirshu announced the upcoming Shabbos at the Somerset DoubleTree–a much larger venue than that of last year’s Dirshu Shabbos–the event was completely sold out!
When one spends Shabbos with masters of Shas and Shulchan Aruch, fellow Jews who are so devoted to limud haTorah that they insist, of their own volition, on being tested monthly on their learning, one has the privilege of participating in a truly memorable taanug ruchani, spiritual delight. This palpable chizuk is felt not only by Dirshu members but by their wives as well. Through the Dirshu Shabbos, the wives of Dirshu members gain a newfound appreciation and love for Torah coupled with an even better understanding of their unique roles as the facilitators of their husbands’ aliyah in Torah and the elevation of the whole family to a higher spiritual plane.
The buzz from last year’s event was so positive that Dirshu received numerous requests even from non-Dirshu members to participate in this year’s Shabbos. Dirshu gladly acquiesced to as many requests as possible from those who desired to be part of a truly memorable Torah Shabbos.
The Shabbos Chizuk l’Lomdei Torah is a joyous event where the accomplishments of Dirshu’s talmidei chachamim from across North America are hailed and celebrated. This year’s Shabbos will also address the difficult and precarious situation in which acheinu b’nei Eretz Yisrael find themselves as a result of the present Israeli government’s assault on the Torah way of life lived by chareidim l’dvar Hashem.
In their messages to lomdei Dirshu of America, many of the gedolei Yisrael who wrote letters in advance of the Shabbos referenced the gezeiros in Eretz Yisrael and suggested undertakings that the lomdei Torah of America can do on the spiritual plane to help neutralize those difficult decrees.
When Rav Dovid Soloveichik was asked what the American Torah community can do to help, he began by telling Dirshu’s hanhalah, led by its nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, “You are doing amazing things, literally amazing work. You are building Torah in the world. What could be better than that?”
Rav Soloveichik continued, “The most important thing to do is toil in Torah; to sit in front of a Gemara and learn one line after the other; to work on gaining clarity in the p’shat, really understanding the true p’shat. That was the approach of all the Rishonim. . . . This is the highest level of Torah learning. This is true ameilus in Torah.”
Rav Dovid also called on the American community to strengthen itself in learning halachah: “Every day, in the tefillah of Ahavah Rabbah, we beg Hashem to ‘install in our hearts to understand and elucidate . . . to perform and fulfill.”
In their letters to the participants in the Dirshu Shabbos, other gedolim similarly stressed the imperative to bring daily practical halachah learning into one’s life, and how it is virtually impossible for a Jew to fulfill his halachic obligations without learning halachah each day.
According to Rabbi Aharon Gobioff, director of Dirshu’s operations in America, “the gedolei Eretz Yisrael will be communicating an urgent message to the American Torah community with regard to the difficult situation in Eretz Yisrael. It is something that every serious ben Torah is anticipating and ready to implement.”
Regarding last year’s Dirshu Shabbos, Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein, a senior member of Dirshu’s hanhalah from Eretz Yisrael, remarked, “I can never forget how, on Shabbos morning after Mussaf, Rav Berel Povarsky gave a shiur on the intricate details of the sugya of kinyanei kiddushin. Throughout the shiur, he interwove a new yesod on kinyanei eirusin and nisuin that inspired his listeners to begin an excited debate in the way of milchamta shel Torah.
“His masterful shiur was sweetened by the back-and-forth of such gedolim as Rav Yeruchim Olshin, Rav Reuven Feinstein, the Skverer Dayan, and Rav Yitzchak Sorotzkin.
“In his extraordinary way of drawing his listeners in to the mesikus haTorah, Rav Berel explained a chiddush. It was a true chaburah, with the gedolim as full participants! Rav Reuven quoted at length from the p’sak of his father, HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt’l, regarding the monetary worth of a kesubah; the Skverer Dayan had plenty to add, and Rav Berel tied it all together with true gadlus.”
“It wasn’t just a shiur,” one listener exclaimed. “The rosh yeshivah gave it over with such geshmak, you could eat it up . . . It was so amazing, so delicious, we wanted to make Kiddush on it!”
This year, for the parts of the program that take place after Shabbos, Dirshu plans to offer the opportunity for those who can’t be there in person to listen by telephone hookup. (More information will be published about this later.)
As the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aryeh Finkel, notes, “Especially now, when it is an eis tzarah, when haters make it difficult for those who learn Torah . . . it is the obligation of every one of us to strengthen each other by reinforcing our commitment to Torah learning and davening. . . . This will bring honor and praise to the people of Hashem everywhere. May we soon witness the revelation of Hashem’s malchus for all to see with the coming of Mashiach bimheirah b’yameinu!” v