By Chaim Gold
“When I finished the entire Shas with Dirshu, I thought, ‘There is no more room for any more Shas in my head. I am full. I have taken monthly tests on Shas with Rashi for seven and a half years!’” said Rav Yitzchok Levin, a yungerman from Beit Shemesh. “Now,” he continued at a unique Dirshu siyum on Masechta Shabbos, “since starting Shas again I have been learning it with Tosafos and taking tests every month. There is always room for more Torah and greater Torah goals!”
At the siyum this past motzaei Shabbos parashas Vayakhel-Pekudei at the Concord Hall in Bnei Brak, virtually every one of the nearly 300 participants were Dirshu members who had already finished and been tested on Shas during the last machzor of the daf yomi and were now learning the daf with Tosafos and being tested on it monthly. The fact that some 20,000 Dirshu participants worldwide who learn, review, and take tests completed Masechta Shabbos last week is a reason for deep, profound simcha. Just stop and contemplate how many hundreds of thousands of blatt were learned and reviewed this past winter!
At the Dirshu World Siyum last summer, the gedolei Yisrael expressed their fervent hope that learning and being tested on the daf with Tosafos would be the next frontier. Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, nasi of Dirshu, echoed that sentiment while pledging to fulfill the desire of the gedolei Yisrael through Dirshu. He explained how this would make the transformation of not only increasing Shas Yidden among Klal Yisrael, but even more it would make from a dream into a reality the ideal of having countless Shas Yidden with Tosafos.
For decades, Rav Dovid Hofstedter has served as daf yomi maggid shiur at the Dirshu Bais Medrash in Toronto. Responding to the call of the leading gedolei Yisrael, Rav Hofstedter, in addition to his regular shiur, has begun a shiur on daf yomi with Tosafos! The shiur, held at the Agudas Yisroel of Toronto, has attracted a large crowd of bnei aliyah, talmidei chachamim who seek to grow to even greater heights in learning.
The Modzitzer Rebbe, shlita, who graced the siyum in Bnei Brak, used a play on the Hebrew word “doresh,” which means two things–“gives speech” and “puts forth demands.” He said, “Rav Dovid Hofstedter is not only a no’eh doresh, he is a no’eh mekayem–he doesn’t just demand things from others, he first accomplishes those things himself, only then does he demand them from others.” The Rebbe went on to say, “I was in Toronto several weeks ago and I was privy to the amazing development of so many Yidden coming daily to hear Rav Dovid’s shiur on daf yomi with Tosafos. Yes, Rav Dovid is encouraging and urging Dirshu participants to learn and be tested on Tosafos but not before he demands the same thing of himself.”
The Rebbe explained that in his opinion this is one of the reasons for Dirshu’s phenomenal success: The involvement of its nasi who participates in the ruchniyus, in the learning, and the spiritual aspects of the organization rather than limiting his participation to the material sustenance of the worldwide movement.
In the United States and Europe, siyumim were held in celebration of the completion of Masechta Shabbos. According to Rabbi Moshe Berger, director of Dirshu’s operations in Cleveland, the Cleveland siyum this coming Sunday will be graced by HaGaon Harav Shlomo Eisenberger, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland.
At the siyum in Bnei Brak, Rav Boruch Dov Diskin, rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Orchos Torah of Bnei Brak and the person responsible for overseeing the creation and marking of the Dirshu tests, noted, “Not only has Dirshu tripled in size since last summer’s siyum haShas but there are hundreds upon hundreds of people taking tests on Tosafos.” Rav Diskin continued, “The 200—300 that were in the crowd in Bnei Brak only represent those living in the area. There are many hundreds more across the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael and in the Diaspora taking tests on 30 blatt with Tosafos every month. This truly represents a different type of Shas Yid.”
Usually at such events Rav Hofstedter delivers words of aggadah and chizuk. This time, however, inasmuch as the entire crowd was involved in the sugyos with Tosafos, he gave a comprehensive, lomdish shiur that touched upon the themes of the recently completed Masechta Shabbos, then just begun Masechta Eiruvin and the laws of Pesach in honor of the imminent yom tov. The shiur focused on the halachos of carrying the meat of the korban Pesach on Pesach night when Pesach night falls on Shabbos.
The siyum was made by HaGaon HaRav Sinai Halberstam, shlita, rav of Shikun Gimmel in Bnei Brak and one of Bnei Brak’s senior rabbanim and most popular maggidei shiur. Approximately 15 of the most popular daf yomi maggidei shiur in Eretz Yisrael were in attendance. Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein, a senior member of Dirshu’s hanhalah in Eretz Yisrael explained, “We felt that it was important to invite a cadre of distinguished maggidei shiur to display how it is possible to incorporate Tosafos into the program. A maggid shiur with a clientele of talmidei chachamim and bnei Torah can raise his shiur and the level of his participants to new, heretofore untold heights.”
An enthusiastic dance by true talmidei chachamim followed the siyum. Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein, Dirshu’s director of public affairs in Israel, put it succinctly when he said, “If you listened to their footsteps as they danced, they were conveying a subliminal message–if we can do it, why not you?” v