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Celebrating Being a ‘Dirshu Family’ at World Siyum for Women in Newark Symphony Hall

“From where do you get your emunah? From where do you get such iron-clad bitachon? Please tell me, I need to know!”

The answer? One, unequivocal word: “From Dirshu!”

This intriguing question and even more intriguing answer were told over at the deeply inspiring Dirshu World Siyum for ladies at Newark Symphony Hall on Sunday night, 15 Shevat/February 9. Thousands of women converged on Newark, New Jersey to revel in the Torah accomplishments of their husbands and celebrate true simchas haTorah at a siyum event catering specifically to women.

It was a night to remember; a night that began with crowds of women lining an entire city street and stretching around the corner for another half a block; a night filled with chizuk stressing the pivotal role played by each and every woman when they support their menfolk’s learning; a night replete with uplifting song and dance, expressing the joy felt by women at their share in limud haTorah… Indeed, a night to remember!

The program, which offered live hook-ups to the main siyum which was taking place simultaneously a few blocks down, was interspersed with magnificent musical performances by the world-renowned singers, Mrs. Bracha Jaffe and Mrs. Malky Giniger, and a chizuk-infused speech by Rebbetzin Sarah Meisels, daughter of the Bobover Rebbe, Rav Shlomo Halberstam and wife of the Bobover Rov and Rosh Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael.

What in fact was the story behind the question and answer cited at the outset? A powerful story about a mother who was unable to accept the fact that her baby had been born deficient; about a father who firmly and with tremendous strength declared that just as Hashem accepts and loves all of his children despite their deficiencies, they, as parents would also accept this child with all of her deficiencies.

The unexpected climax of the story was the father’s declaration that it was Dirshu that provided him with the strength, the emunah and bitachon to accept the test that Hashem had thrust upon them with a physically blemished child. He explained, “Just this week I got back my first Dirshu test with a very high mark. When I saw that mark, I said, ‘Eibishter, I got the message! You want me to use this Torah to get a high mark in life, in middos and maasim tovim.’ When our baby was born I realized that it was a moment when I was being tested and I decided to show Hakadosh Baruch Hu that just like I could learn Torah and get a high mark on the test, having taken achrayus in my learning like never before, I can also get a good mark in life, in this new test that He sent us! My yiras shamayim has taken on a different level since I joined Dirshu!”

This remarkable story told over at the women’s event, by Mrs. Jackie Bitton, was but one highlight of the highly anticipated, emotionally charged Dirshu event for women to celebrate the siyum haShas in the Newark Symphony Hall.

Rebbetzin Meisels pieced together a magnificent tapestry of chizuk, explaining with numerous stories and examples, how a woman’s tafkid, a woman’s very purpose in life is to infuse her husband, her home, her family with Torah, with spirituality.

“Have you ever wondered,” the Rebbetzin asked, “about the bracha that we say every morning? The bracha of ‘la’asok bidivrei sorah’? In what way are we osek in Torah? In what way is a woman’s job Torah? A woman’s esek, a woman’s job is to encourage our husbands and children! When they begin their day each morning, it is our job, our tafkid to infuse them with simcha. Yes, when your husband dashes in, grabs a few bites of supper and runs out again, wish him hatzlacha! When the kids are crying, you’ve had a long day and you want nothing more than your husband’s help, be mevater, that is your chelek in Torah! That is what infuses your entire family with yiras shamayim!

“When Hakadosh Baruch Hu instructed Avraham Avinu, ‘kol asher tomar Sarah, shema bi’kola – whatever she says, listen to her,’ he was infusing the woman with the power, the responsibility to infuse ruchniyus into our families. Did you ever wonder why, when Hashem created the world, He created Adam without Chava? All other living beings were created with one zachor and one nekeiva. It was only after Adam was commanded in the sheva mitzvos bnei Noach that Chava was created. Not only that, she was created from Adam. Adam was created from the adamah, from Olam Hazeh. Chava, however, was created from Adam himself, from Gan Eden. Why? Because Chava was given a very different tafkid! Her tafkid was to infuse Gan Eden into Olam Hazeh, into her family!

“We learn that ‘Hashoreh bilo isha shoreh bilo Torah, one who learns without [having] a wife, his Torah is incomplete.’ But he is learning?! Yes, he is learning, but he is lacking the ‘powers’ of his wife, the spirituality, the serenity, the yiras shamayim!”

It was a truly poignant moment when Mrs. Malky Giniger introduced Mrs. Shiffy Hofstedter with a magnificent song expounding on the words ‘Eitz Chaim Hi’ – how Torah is a tree of life, not just for the one learning the Torah, but for his wife. The uplifting rendition was followed by Mrs. Bitton calling upon Mrs. Hofstedter and presenting her with a magnificent clock because, “She is the woman behind Dirshu! She more than anyone, has shown each and every one of us the value of every single moment!”

Another pinnacle of emotion was the remarkable pantomimed dance and song created by the world-famous Mrs. Miriam Israeli and sung by Mrs. Malky Giniger. The picture of a young boy living in a poverty-stricken home with barely any food to eat… the vivid portrayal of the parents collecting one ruble every day, day by day, in order to be able to buy a piece of cloth for new clothes for yom tov… the father’s trip to the marketplace to buy the precious cloth… climaxing in the husband’s decision to use those very six rubles, those painstakingly collected six rubles to buy the brand new, Gemara Bava Basra with the sincere hope that his wife, his eishes chayil will be happy with his decision… But of course, “She’s an eishes chayil and Torah is her life too. No question, she will agree!”

Throughout the evening, Mrs. Bracha Jaffe sang an entire potpourri of slow, haunting melodies and lively, uplifting songs, each one introduced with a connection to Torah and to the siyum haShas. The sight of so many joining in hodaah to Hakadosh Boruch Hu for gifting them with a life of Torah was a sight that will remain with the attendees for many years to come.

In truth, the kol Torah that emanated from the Dirshu World Siyum in Newark, was not the voice of the speakers, nor was it the voice of the singers! As Rebbetzin Meisels said, quoting the Vietzner Rov, “A delegation of rabbanim came before Empress Marie Theresa to plead on behalf of Klal Yisrael, and one rav screamed in pain. The Empress remonstrated, ‘Raising your voice to me??!’ The rav replied, ‘That voice is not MY voice! It is the voice of thousands of fathers, mothers and children crying out in pain through me!’ The Vietzner explained that when Basya found Moshe Rabbeinu crying she said, ‘miyaldei ha’Ivrim zeh’, with the word zeh referring to the voice of all the children being thrown into the Nile.”

So too, the ‘voice’ that echoed throughout Newark was the voice of the daf, the voice of thousands of pages of Gemara which the neshei chayil empowered their husbands to learn… a voice that will continue reverberating for many years to come!

By Esther Birnbaum

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