Dirshu Mourns the Posek Hador, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, Zt”l
When HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner [in 2006 at a Dirshu Kinyan Halacha test] saw the rows upon rows of avreichim being tested, he was visibly moved. In his short, heartfelt words to the test takers, Rav Wosner remarked that based on his knowledge of history he knows of no precedent that has had such an impact on raising kavod haTorah, and in making Torah beloved to such a large segment of Klal Yisrael, as Dirshu.
Mourning the Loss of a Father, a Guide, a Mentor…
One of the earliest supporters of Dirshu was HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, who passed away as we ushered in the yom tov of Pesach this year. Rav Wosner was one of the first gedolim to recognize the bracha that Dirshu would bring to Klal Yisrael and invested great effort in encouraging Dirshu’s Nasi in the avodas hakodesh of building and expanding Dirshu.
Rav Wosner was not just a friend and supporter of Dirshu, he was also a deeply valued guide and Rebbi who was always available to provide clear guidance. Dirshu is thus in deep mourning over the loss of Rav Wosner. Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Dirshu’s Nasi, while speaking before hundreds at the Dirshu testing site in Boro Park at the recent first test of the Machzor Sheini of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program, bemoaned the loss saying, “Dirshu has lost its Moreh Derech, its omed al hamishmar and the person who displayed a tremendous love for Dirshu and its accomplishments.”
From its earliest days, Rav Wosner recognized Dirshu’s potential ability to transform Klal Yisrael and bring yedias haTorah on a grand scale to Klal Yisrael. Perhaps that was why he attended and addressed so many Dirshu events, something he did not do on such a scope and scale for any other organization. On numerous occasions, Rav Wosner praised Dirshu and its ideals in his speech at Dirshu’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration in the Yad Eliyahu Stadium in 2008, “Baruch Hashem, [in the course of my life] I have merited to know numerous Torah giants from many countries. Some were great at in-depth learning, others displayed profound powers of reasoning… Still, the foundation for them all was yedias haTorah—vast Torah knowledge.
“It is for this reason that I give song and praise to Hashem that I have merited to come here and witness this stunning sight… talmidei chachomim sitting and learning the Word of Hashem in order to merit a kinyan in Shas.
“Halacha Is Not Something You ‘Study,’ It Is Something You Learn!”
At the recent first test of the Machzor Rishon of Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, Rav Wosner and his special role in Dirshu were remembered. At the massive Armanot Chein Hall in Bnei Brak, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shaul Klein, shlita, a talmid muvhak of Rav Wosner, spoke about his Rebbi and his connection with Dirshu. Rav Klein related that Rav Wosner would constantly praise the lomdei Dirshu as people who were engaging in attaining yedias haTorah on a grand scale. He also profusely praised many of Dirshu’s other programs, especially the Kinyan Halacha program and the early morning, pre-Shacharis learning programs.
“An example of his vigilance to ensure that Hashem’s desire was being fulfilled,” related Rav Dovid Hofstedter, “can be gleaned when we initially discussed the Kinyan Halacha program with Rav Wosner. Rav Wosner, who cherished the idea of promoting learning halacha b’iyun, encouraged us. Simultaneously, he made it very clear that we would have to be extremely careful to set down policies in order that Kinyan Halacha should not become a ‘university for halacha,’ where people ‘train’ to get their semicha. ‘Halacha is not something you ‘study,’ it is something you learn!’ he would say.” It was this kind of vigilance and guidance that Rav Wosner provided for Dirshu, much as a loving father and Rebbi provides for the apple of his eye.
Encouraging and Hailing the Early Morning Pre-Shacharis Learning Programs
One of the most touching incidents took place around 2006. Rav Wosner saw the size and scope of Dirshu’s pre-davening programs in yeshivos where bachurim would wake up an hour before davening and would utilize Friday and Motzaei Shabbos to complete the Masechta that they learned in Yeshiva. Rav Wosner, who personally found the pre-davening hour to be sacrosanct and instrumental to his own success, said, “For a very long time I myself have been contemplating ways to strengthen limud haTorah during these blocks of time.” Breaking into a wide smile upon hearing the details of the program, Rav Wosner gave his heartfelt brachah, saying, “Those who undertake to learn at times when devotion to learning is not as strong will merit a special aliyah ruchnius and continued progress in Torah.”
An Unexpected Telephone Call… “I Have Never Seen Such a Kiddush Hashem”
In his words at the testing site in Boro Park, Rav Dovid Hofstedter recalled the “chiba yesairah,” the special love, which Rav Wosner had for Dirshu. “I can never forget the day after our first massive gathering in Yad Eliyahu in 2008, celebrating our 10th anniversary. Of course, Rav Wosner came and gave a heartfelt and comprehensive address, kedarko bakodesh… but what filled me with emotion was when my phone rang the next morning and Rav Wosner’s grandson was on the line, telling me that the venerated posek wanted to speak with me. A second later I heard his unmistakable voice—the ne’imus, the sweetness, and the ahava could be felt through the telephone lines. Why did he call? To say, ‘Thank you!’ He said that he had never seen such a Kiddush Hashem! At that time, he was 94 years old. He had all the problems of Klal Yisrael on his shoulders. But he found the time to call. No one asked him to call, no one expected him to call. He got nothing in return. But he called because he was like a father calling to tell a child that he had nachas. That was Rav Wosner. Purity of heart, nobility, me’or ponim…”
In his hesped, Rav Dovid Hofstedter concluded, “We are certain that just as he expressed his love for Dirshu in this world and was always there to ensure Dirshu’s success, so too from his exalted place in the ginzei meromim he is continuing to intercede on behalf of Dirshu—for its continued hatzlacha until that ultimate exalted day when Hashem will send the goel tzedek, b’mheira b’yameinu!”