Monday, March 27, 2023

“Recently, I saw an older man, perhaps he was 70 years old, preparing a coffee on Shabbos. First he put the instant coffee in his cup, followed by the sugar. Then he added the hot water, after which he went to get another cup and began pouring from one cup into the other. I asked him what he was doing and he replied, “It is Shabbos. I am using a kli shlishi.”

When I explained that before adding the coffee one must first pour the hot water into a kli sheini or shlishi to cool off the water so that it doesn’t cook the coffee, the Yid seemed very surprised. He had no idea…”

This story was told by the esteemed Skverer dayan of Boro Park, HaGaon HaRav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, shlita, to illustrate how if one does not properly learn Halacha he can make the most rudimentary errors in Halacha and possibly transgress basic laws of hilchos Shabbos.

Rav Steinmetz delivered his address at the recent siyum on the second machzor of Dirshu’s Kinyan Halacha, the in-depth Halacha program, where he celebrated the fact that Kinyan Halacha is preparing many of klal Yisrael’s future poskim. The five-and-a-half-year program covers all the major areas of psak Halacha necessary for practical hora’a, and, indeed, scores of new poskim have emerged as a result of the program.

Siyumim were held in major centers, most prominently the American siyum held at the Ateres Golda Hall in Boro Park, the European siyum held at the Beis Rochel Hall in Antwerp and the siyum in Eretz Yisrael held in Ramat Gan.

Nearly 1,000 talmidei chachamim, who have been toiling over the most intricate sugyos in hora’a over the past five-and-a-half-years, have now completed the program and have amassed the tremendous amount of knowledge that will empower them to serve klal Yisrael as poskim muvhakim for decades to come.

At the siyum in Ateres Golda of Boro Park, the guests of honor were the mesaymim with their extended families who—after five-and-a-half-years of in-depth toiling and taking tests every six months both on the new material learned and chazara of the material learned in previous years—had finally completed the cycle.

In their honor, more than 35 prominent rabbanim and dayanim as well as the nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, took time from their busy schedules to join the siyum and seudas mitzvah that followed to show their esteem for the yeoman accomplishment of Dirshu’s lomdei Kinyan Halacha.

The evening was opened by Rabbi Yaakov Herbst of Lakewood, one of the talmidei chachamim who had completed the years’ long cycle. Rabbi Herbst cited the words of the Maharshal who says that a siyum, the completion of an area of Torah, is such a profound simcha that upon saying Birchas Hamazon one should recite the words “Shehasimcha b’meono,” recited at the simcha of a chassan and kallah.

Rav Herbst then asked the Skverer Dayan to address the crowd. Rav Steinmetz spoke about the tremendous simcha there is in Heaven when so many new dayanim and poskim are created to serve klal Yisrael. He then cited the words of the Tiferes Shlomo who says that when a person makes a siyum, all of the holy Tanaim and Amoraim mentioned in that masechta come down from the celestial worlds to participate in the simcha. “Imagine,” exclaimed Rav Steinmetz, “that together with us in this room are the Tur, the Bais Yosef, the Shach, the Taz, the Pri Megadim and all of the other great poskim over whose psakim these yungeleit have so toiled to understand! Imagine, they have all come down to celebrate the Kinyan Halacha Siyum!”

Rav Steinmetz also publicly hailed the mesiras nefesh of the Dirshu wives who, with simcha, forgo the help of their husbands and material comforts so that their husbands can keep up with the demanding schedule of learning and chazara necessitated by the program.

Perhaps one of the most unique, important aspects of the program is the hadracha— the practical guidance for each participating yungerman. Each avreich receives a kuntres outlining all the material being learned for the forthcoming half year. The program also provides mareh mekomos and constant guidance in what to learn and where emphasis should be placed.

The special kuntreisim, compiled by some of the greatest poskim of our time, have been among the major catalysts that propelled Kinyan Halacha to reach far beyond its original goals.

The singing and spirited dancing at the siyum was infused with an otherworldly simcha with a depth and magnitude that can only be understood when one contemplates the amount of effort expended to arrive at such an august moment of yedias haTorah.

Rav Dovid Hofstedter was then asked to address the siyum. In a comprehensive Torah discourse, Rav Dovid outlined the importance of learning Torah in a way that one actually takes his learning to its ultimate halachic conclusion. “I was once visiting with the great posek of our time, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l. Rav Wosner told me the most difficult area of limud haTorah is learning halacha l’ma’aseh. ‘We see,’ said Rav Wosner, ‘that very few talmidei chachamim in each generation merit this special level of Torah learning, as Chazal teach us, “One thousand enter [the yeshiva] but only one actually emerges as one who is worthy of hora’a, [ruling comprehensively on practical halachic matters].”’”

The guest speaker was HaGaon HaRav Shaul Yehuda Prizant, shlita, rav of the Sanz-Klausenberger community of Union City and a son-in-law of the previous Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, zt”l. Rav Prizant said, “How much simcha would my holy father-in-law have had to be at such a siyum and to witness what Dirshu with all of its programs of accountable limud Torah has done. My father-in-law founded Mifal Hashas in order to produce Yidden who would learn and be tested on all of Shas. He understood the importance of such an organization and always spoke about the importance of sustained hasmada and goal-setting when it comes to learning.”

At the Antwerp Kinyan Halacha, Rabbi Chaim Starck, a Dirshu learner who completed all of Shas with tests before embarking on the five-and-a-half-year cycle of Kinyan Halacha, related that the structure that Dirshu gave him was the primary factor in enabling him to complete Shas and Halacha.

As Dirshu is about to embark on the third cycle of the Kinyan Halacha program, Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a member of Dirshu’s hanhala, related that over 3,700 people have signed up for the third machzor! In addition, numerous large and small kollelim have declared their intent to spend the next five-and-a-half-years learning with the Dirshu Kinyan Halacha program.

Rav Prizant concluded, “Baruch Hashem, due to Kinyan Halacha and Dirshu’s other programs, klal Yisrael is being enriched with so many lomdim muflagim.”

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