For Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, February 20 marked the entry into their second cycle of Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi B’Halacha that they began 6½ years ago. For Congregation Beth Aaron, February 20 marked their first foray into the learning program that has already completed two cycles in 14 years. These two shuls are the first in Bergen County to participate in Dirshu’s program of learning a daf of Mishnah Berurah every day.
Prior to launching the new cycle, siyumim were held worldwide to mark the completion of the second cycle including in France, England, Belgium, South Africa and Australia. In France, more than 2,000 are learning through the program, and thousands traveled from every corner of the country to participate in the milestone siyum. At the huge assemblage, Rav Dovid Hofsteder, nasi of Dirshu, pointed out the beauty of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha initiative. “As we are about to start a new cycle of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, many of you are asking yourselves, ‘How can I keep up with learning a daf of Mishnah Berurah every day and then reviewing the material for a test?’ Keep in mind that your chaverim have just started learning Seder Nashim in Talmud Bavli. Are they saying it is too hard? Furthermore, we need go no further than the parshios in the Torah that we are reading currently. Jews who had spent their entire lives in menial servitude were being asked to become skilled artisans, carpenters, craftsmen, jewelers, engravers, weavers and metal workers to help in creating a magnificent edifice for Hashem. That was certainly harder than what we are asked to do today. Let us pray that Hashem will endow us with the siyata dishmaya to accomplish this meaningful undertaking!”
Ari Wartelsky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun has been involved in the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Program since its inception 6½ years ago, serving modestly as its organizer and motivator. There is no official maggid shiur for the chabura, which includes current members Alan Feld, Alan Fuchs, David Miller, Hank Reinhart, Jonathan Peyser and Kenny Schiff. Rabbi Elliot Schreier, in wishing the participants a mazal tov on their completion of the cycle and beginning of the new, shared, “While the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha isn’t celebrated in MetLife Stadium or Madison Square Garden, it is truly an accomplishment of similar magnitude to the Daf Yomi’s Siyum Hashas. Mishnah Berurah is one of the central pillars of psak halacha and I have immense pride in the seven CBY members who have devoted time each night over the last 6½ years to learning and completing it. My hope is that 6½ years from now we will have many more mesaymim.”
Ari Wartelsky, who heads a busy household with his wife Randy, a talented musical creator and director, and five highly involved children, sees his participation in the nightly learning as part of his family’s “lifestyle.” His family knows that between the hours of 8 and 9 nightly, which includes Maariv, their father is fully engaged in his learning of Mishna Brurah. The program at CBY meets five nights per week, with Friday night and Shabbat used for review. Often the topics learned during the week are part of the Wartelsky Shabbat table discussion, which is an added perk as it involves the family in the learning. As a result of the program, Wartelsky has added a kos, cup, to his bentching on Shabbat and Yom Tov, which he has incorporated into his family’s practice. Wartelsky finds the learning of the program to be doable and most of all accessible. Another great result of the program has been the social aspect of becoming ”family” with the members of the chabura and participating in their simchas and milestone occasions. “In a community as large as Teaneck, creating a special bond with a special group is especially enriching.”
A component of the Dirshu program that Wartelsky and the other six members of the chabura do not participate in are the periodic tests and the monetary payments provided based upon the performance on the exams. For Rabbi Yaakov Sklarin, who participates in the program from home, these tests serve as a motivator for him and a challenge to learn the material comprehensively. Sklarin feels that these tests keep him on track and show his children that his excellent exams can also be displayed on the refrigerator alongside theirs.
For member of the chabura Alan Feld, the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program has become an integral and meaningful part of his week. “The Talmud in Kiddushin 40b says, ‘Great is Torah study for it leads to action,’ and in Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4, Mishna 6, we are taught the benefits that accrue from ‘studying in order to practice.’ The Daf HaYomi B’Halacha chabura has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to put those teachings to work and at the same time has led to meaningful friendships with others sharing that goal. I would highly recommend joining us as, with God’s help, we begin the new cycle.” Feld has recently added a component of parshat hashavua to the nightly learning.
Rabbi Larry Rothwachs recently announced the creation of a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program in Congregation Beth Aaron to coincide with the beginning of the third cycle of 6½ years. In his letter to the congregation he shared, “I was thrilled to recently discover that there are individuals within our community who have been participating in the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program for years. Not to be confused with the more familiar Daf Yomi program, which involves the daily study of a daf of Gemara, this program involves the study of one side of a page of Mishnah Berurah each night. The program, which hosts tens of thousands of participants worldwide, is highly accessible to a very broad range of individuals. The new cycle is set to begin on Sunday, February 20. We will be offering the program at Beth Aaron on Sunday through Thursday evenings, following the 8 p.m. Maariv. The shiurim will run for approximately 20-25 minutes and will be delivered by several different presenters on a rotating basis. Please consider joining us in this very accessible and meaningful learning program.”
The Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Program was initiated to enable the knowledge of the halachos of daily living. Thousands of people worldwide have gained from the daily limud of Mishnah Berurah, a page of “Biurim Umusafim” found in the specially prepared edition of the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah featuring present-day halachic practices from today’s leading rabbanim, as well as a segment of mussar from sifrei Chofetz Chaim. To follow daily shiurim online, go to www.dafhalacha.com/audio-and-video-shiurim-recordings/.
To join the local chaburas contact Rabbi Larry Rothwachs at [email protected] or Ari Wartelsky at [email protected].
By Pearl Markovitz