June 17, 2024
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Dirshu Holds Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Siyum in Antwerp

Last week, tens of thousands of Jews the world over embarked on a journey that is destined to enrich and transform their observance of Shabbos. They embarked on the Dirshu Daf HaYomi B’Halacha learning of the laws of Shabbos, the third volume of the Mishnah Berurah. Daf HaYomi B’Halacha is Dirshu’s halacha learning program where one page of Mishnah Berurah is learned daily. Over the course of about a year and a half, the entire section covering the laws of Shabbos is learned.

In advance of the launch of hilchos Shabbos, celebratory siyumim on the second volume of Mishnah Berurah were held in locales throughout the world.

Perhaps the most prominent siyum was the European siyum held in Antwerp, Belgium. What happened at the siyum and in advance of the siyum in Antwerp was an inspiring microcosm of what has been transpiring all over the world. In advance of learning hilchos Shabbos, an effort was made in Antwerp to increase the number of shiurim in Daf HaYomi B’Halacha at the various shuls in town. According to Rabbi Avrohom Dovid Knopfler, Dirshu’s representative in Antwerp, over the past six weeks, numerous shuls have announced the institution of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiurim, and by the time hilchos Shabbos was getting underway there were some 20 new daily shiurim in Antwerp alone!

On Sunday, 8 Tammuz/July 2, Rav Dovid Hofstedter together with senior members of Dirshu’s hanhala arrived in Antwerp for the siyum. The first stop on the way from the airport was the home of the Pshevorsker Rebbe, shlita, of Antwerp. The Rebbe enthusiastically supported the renaissance in the learning of Halacha in town and related that the zechus of spreading Torah in such a way is immeasurable.

The delegation then went to HaGaon HaRav Aharon Schiff, shlita, Rav of the Machzikei Hadas kehillah. Rav Schiff asked that all of the town’s dayanim also attend the meeting. During the visit, Rav Schiff related that a person came to ask him whether as a maggid shiur who usually delivers his Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur at the time of the siyum, should he cancel the shiur in order to attend the siyum? Rav Schiff replied that not only should he cancel his shiur, but any shiur in town should be canceled and all members of the community should attend the siyum to show their honor for Torah.

Rav Hofstedter and the Dirshu leaders also visited HaGaon HaRav Dovid Moshe Lieberman, shlita, rav of the Shomrei Hadas Community and the elder rav of the city.

Indeed, Antwerp had seldom, if ever, witnessed such a turnout! The unity of the community was absolutely remarkable as all of the numerous kehillos comprising the rich mosaic of Antwerp Jewry came out en masse to celebrate not only the completion of Chelek Beis but also to display their love of Torah and their desire to dedicate themselves to joining the ranks of worldwide lomdei Halacha in the future as the program begins the laws of Shabbos.

Another remarkable development was the fact that virtually every single rav in the entire kehillah, despite their busy schedules, attended the event. Antwerp Jews were deeply moved when, toward the beginning of the main event, all of the rabbanim entered together to the enthusiastic singing of “Yamim al yemei melech tosif.” One participant passionately exclaimed, “The sight of all the rabbanim sitting with an extraordinary unity of purpose at the mizrach wall of the Beis Rochel Hall at the siyum is a sight I will never forget!” Another participant said, “This is the first time I have attended an event of this size and magnitude, where not only have I not been asked to donate money, but on the contrary, I have been offered money for learning Torah, and being tested on what I learn!”

The festivities began with a seudas mitzvah for the “Dirshu Family”—all the people in town who regularly take Dirshu’s tests. It was followed by a citywide siyum attended by some 1,500 people.

Rav Yaakov Dov Orshansky, chairman of the evening and himself a Dirshu test taker, set the tone for the evening by pointing out the transformative impact that Dirshu has had on the lives of its lomdim.

In his seminal address, Rav Aharon Schiff highlighted the importance of Torah that permeates everything that Dirshu does. Harbotzas haTorah and support of Torah on such a scale can only be rooted in infinite love of Torah. Rav Schiff also pointed out the importance of the mussar component of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. There was a misconception that mussar learning is only for exceptional ovdei Hashem. Dirshu has successfully encouraged everyone to engage in the introspection of avodas hamussar.

There was a hush in the hall as the nonagenarian Rav Dovid Moshe Lieberman got up to speak. Rav Lieberman asked, “Why does the Torah first use the word ‘zachor—remember the Shabbos’ and later use the word ‘shamor—keep the Shabbos’? He answered that only if someone remembers Shabbos throughout the week by learning hilchos Shabbos will he merit being able to keep Shabbos in its entirety in accordance with Halacha!”

Rav Dovid Hofstedter, nasi of Dirshu, quoted in the name of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, that the most difficult way of learning is learning all the way up to the practical halacha. Still, Rav Wosner said that those who learn this way are endowed with a special siyata diShmaya.

Rav Dovid also hailed the special people who, despite being so busy trying to earn a living, still manage to “steal” time to add yet another seder to their learning schedule. “One cannot even begin to depict the mesiras nefesh of a Jew who is rushing to his office or store but stops to chap arein another five minutes or another 15 minutes of learning of Halacha in addition to his daily Gemara shiur. We have no inkling of the magnitude of their Divine reward!

A powerful speech about the importance of learning practical Halacha was also given by the maggid Rav Aharon Toisig, and a special treat was the live video hookup of divrei chizuk given by the well-known mashpia, HaGaon HaRav Elimelech Biderman, shlita.

The Success of a Shiur Is Commensurate With the Amount of Preparation

Another important gathering that preceded the siyum was the gathering of current and future magidei shiur. HaGaon HaRav Binyomin Eckstein, shlita, Belzer dayan of London and director of Dirshu Europe, gave guidance to the magidei shiur, explaining that the more a magid shiur invests in preparation, the more chashivus the shiur goers will have for the shiur. There is a direct correlation between the success of the shiur and the amount of time and effort a magid shiur invests in preparation. Rav Eckstein further urged the magidei shiur to encourage attendees to take the monthly Daf HaYomi B’Halacha tests. “Although any learning of Halacha is commendable,” he related, “engaging in the learning and chazara needed to take tests propels a person to a totally different level.”

In addition to the worldwide European siyum, siyumim were also held in South Africa, where the chief rabbi, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, attended and addressed the siyum; in Manchester, where Dayan Yonason Abraham gave an address; and in Australia, Argentina and locales across the United States, Canada and Eretz Yisrael where Daf HaYomi B’Halacha is learned.

It Is Not Too Late to Join

At all of the siyumim, the speakers pointed out that although learning hilchos Shabbos by oneself can be daunting, joining an existing shiur that goes according to a defined schedule or even learning with a chavrusa with the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha calendar is imminently doable. With as little investment as a half hour a day, plus extra time for review, you can learn the entire hilchos Shabbos!

To join Daf HaYomi B’Halacha or to access a shiur near you in North America, please call 888-5-Dirshu or e-mail [email protected].

By Chaim Gold

 

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