In 1923, Rav Meir Shapiro proposed the concept of a Daf HaYomi in Vienna. In Elul 1929, the first siyum haShas was held in the Sophiensaele Hall in Vienna and now, on 2 Nisan, 2018, a large siyum on Daf HaYomi Seder Nezikin was held at the same Sophiensaele Hall in Vienna.
The siyum was arranged by Dirshu, the worldwide Torah movement that has transformed Daf Yomi learning for tens of thousands of Yidden by establishing a testing regimen that ensures that thousands of Yidden the world over not only “do” the Daf but actually learn the Daf, know the Daf and are ready to get tested on it. They are rewarded for excellent results.
In advance of the siyum in Vienna and other siyumim in locales worldwide, the senior members of Dirshu’s hanhala led by its Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, visited senior gedolei Yisrael from Eretz Yisrael who not only gave heartfelt brachos to lomdei Dirshu on their accomplishments up until now, but with their far-reaching vision were already looking ahead to the limud of Seder Kodshim, the final seder in the Daf Yomi cycle, which will culminate in the next Dirshu world siyum.
At the home of HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, the rosh yeshiva was impressed with the plans to establish a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur in every shul in Vienna.
Rav Hofstedter then related to the rosh yeshiva the remarkable story that transpired at the most recent Dirshu Convention in Stamford, Connecticut, where a yungerman bought the one aliya sold at the convention for 10,000 blatt Gemara! Rav Gershon was flabbergasted! “That is far more blatt than the entire shas!” he remarked. Rav Hofstedter explained the very systematic chazara system that this talmid chacham implemented, and told Rav Edelstein that just last month he participated in the siyum in New York that the man made on the 10,000 blatt learned in one year.
Just a few months ago, a beautiful haschala of Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi B’Halacha on hilchos Shabbos, Chelek Gimmel of Mishnah Berurah, was held at the home of HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Slabodka Yeshiva, and attended by a number of poskim. In his remarks, Rav Dov said, “Those who understand the importance of learning hilchos Shabbos and facilitating the learning of hilchos Shabbos and Halacha in general for others are worthy of tremendous bracha. A person cannot move on Shabbos without the knowledge of hilchos Shabbos, in all of their myriad details. Learning hilchos Shabbos with a program enables a person over the course of time to learn all of the halachos, and when he does that, he is zoche to everything good!”
One of Dirshu’s most enthusiastic supporters who is always ready to come and give chizuk to lomdei Dirshu has been the great Sephardic rosh yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Shimon Baadani, shlita, rosh yeshiva, Yeshiva Torah V’Chaim and a senior member of the Shas Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah. In his fascinating recent meeting with Rav Hofstedter and other members of the Dirshu leadership, Rav Baadani emphasized that the most important thing is to encourage lomdei Torah to chazer, to repeatedly review what they learn, because no one has ever been successful in learning without constant review.
One of the inspiring visits was the one to the Sanz-Klausenburg Rebbe, shlita, in Netanya. Rav Hofstedter highlighted how the Rebbe’s father, the previous Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, with the creation of Mifal HaShas, was the first one to encourage accountability in Torah with testing and served as an inspiration for Dirshu.
The Rebbe said, “It is clear that the fact that more and more people are joining the Daf HaYomi is because of the large gatherings made to celebrate the accomplishments of the lomdim. I recently traveled back and forth to America, and on the trip I saw so many Yidden of all types sitting and learning the Daf HaYomi. This wasn’t always the case.”
HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, had attached tremendous value to the role that Dirshu plays in facilitating limud haTorah and he possessed tremendous love for all lomdei Torah. He attended Dirshu’s major events, even the most recent Daf HaYomi B’Halacha siyum in the Nokia Stadium when he was over 100 years old.
Rav Hofstedter related numerous stories about Rav Shteinman’s efforts on behalf of Dirshu and his personal friendship that exuded tremendous warmth. Rav Shraga nodded in agreement and said, “My father felt a shutfus, a partnership, with Dirshu.” Rav Shraga Shteinman continued, “What you are doing—the Gemara and the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Mishnah Berurah program—are a tremendous zechus!”
HaGaon HaRav Eliyahu Abba Shaul, rosh yeshivas Ohr L’Tzion, has also been an enthusiastic supporter of Dirshu and Dirshu’s
programs for bachurim in his yeshiva. When Rav Abba Shaul heard about the siyum in Vienna and the upcoming siyumim in Australia, Budapest and Berlin where so much Torah is being learned and where people are taking tests, he was filled with joy. “Pilei pelaim! There is nothing greater than this degree of zikui harabim,” he said.
Perhaps the words of Rav Yitzchok Scheiner best encapsulated the thoughts and reactions of the numerous gedolei Yisrael that Dirshu visited in advance of the upcoming siyumim. He said, “[Facilitating so much Torah learning with tests and accountability] is something that makes me jealous of Dirshu. I know that jealousy is generally not permitted, but in this case, I am jealous of the harbatzas Torah! Hashem should bentsch the entire mishpacha of Dirshu!”
By Chaim Gold