July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Gedolei Yisrael From All Over the World Converge on Vienna for Historic Inaugural Amud HaYomi Siyum

100 years after Daf HaYomi was inaugurated in Vienna, a new “yomi” takes klal Yisrael by storm.

“This historic maamid transpiring now, in a place where history was previously made, is a maamid that continues the legacy of Torah bequeathed to us right here by the Chofetz Chaim, the Gerer Rebbe, Rav Chaim Ozer, the Chortkover Rebbe and Rav Meir Shapiro, who established the Daf HaYomi in Vienna 100 years ago. This is the place where klal Yisrael came together in unity, the olam hayeshivos and the olam hachassidus joining forces to increase kavod haTorah.”

Those words were the beginning of the seminal speech of HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron at the Sofiensäle Hall in Vienna, the same hall where the Knessiah Gedolah was made in the same city where the Daf HaYomi was established 100 years ago.

Rav Cohen’s drasha along with those of numerous gedolei haTorah v’hachassidus, was but one highlight of a historic journey filled with highlight after highlight and climax after climax.

In truth, the word “historic” today has become a bit cliché, however, Dirshu’s journey to Vienna, Pressburg and Keristier to celebrate the inaugural siyum of the Amud HaYomi program in the Sofiensäle Auditorium in Vienna, the same majestic hall where the famed Knessiah Gedolah was held, was nothing short of historic.

The maamad of the siyum attended by leading senior gedolei Yisrael, ashkenazim, sefardim and chasidim of all types, all unified under the Torah banner of Dirshu, was a deeply emotionally and inspiring maamad of chizuk. How to describe the sight of senior gedolim, many elderly, going above and beyond their abilities, shlepping on planes and buses, to come express their support for Torah, and admiration for an organization that facilitates limud haTorah with a breadth and scope never seen before!

In addition to the siyum, which was the heartbeat of the whirlwind journey, powerful tefillah rallies were held at the tziunim of the Chasam Sofer and the Ksav Sofer in Pressburg, and at the tziunim of the famed Chortkover Rebbe and HaGaon HaRav Yosef Engel in the old beis hakevaros in Vienna; and the next day at the tziun of Rav Shayele of Keristier.


The Siyum at the Sofiensäle Hall

The buses came one after another, stopping in front of the Sofiensäle Hall in downtown Vienna to let off waves of participants. In addition to guests from all over the world, virtually the entire charedi community of Vienna was in attendance.

The palatial hall filled up quickly and then … it happened. The orchestra began to play as the assemblage rose, craning their necks to see the gedolei Yisrael entering the hall, being welcomed and then walking down the regal red carpet in the center of the hall: Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi of Dirshu, was flanked by HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, on one side and HaGaon HaRav Chaim Peretz Berman, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ponovezh, on the other. Behind them, walking one by one were numerous gedolei Torah and chassidus.


Rav Dovid Cohen:The Amud Hayomi Is Not Coming to Weaken the Daf Hayomi, But to Strengthen It!”

The address of Rav Dovid Cohen, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron, set the tone for the evening. Rav Dovid, who has enthusiastically supported, advised and encouraged Dirshu’s hanhallah in their Amud HaYomi undertaking said, “Wherever I go people ask me, ‘Perhaps the Amud HaYomi can somehow be seen as an insult to Rav Meir Shapiro? After all, he instituted the Daf HaYomi and [with this program] we are minimizing the daf by cutting it in half, into an amud?’ My answer to this question is that to me, it is clear as light that the Amud HaYomi is not coming to weaken the Daf HaYomi but to strengthen it!

“We must understand, Daf HaYomi is not like the limud of chok! If a person does the Daf HaYomi in a half hour, that is not the Daf HaYomi of Rav Meir Shapiro. Rav Elyashiv told me that learning without understanding is worth very little. It is better to learn less but to really understand. Thus, if the Amud HaYomi will ensure that a person can learn less but understand, then this is not minimizing the daf!” Rav Cohen thundered, “It is strengthening the entire purpose of the Daf HaYomi.

“Just look at how many thousands of people have begun to learn the Amud HaYomi! Since the inception of the Amud HaYomi just a few months ago, so many more people have this amazing daily kevius in Torah. This is not on the cheshbon of the Daf HaYomi. Nearly all the tens of thousands of learners are new learners that have not been learning the Daf HaYomi until now. It is my hope that more and more will join for Masechta Shabbos.”

The majestic hall with its high ceiling and balconies, ornate architecture, with the three-tiered dais graced by gedolei haTorah and prominent rabbanim from throughout Europe and beyond, provided the most fitting backdrop for the royal atmosphere and historic significance of the event.

Rav Avraham Salim, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Me’or HaTorah and a senior sephardic gadol who is a member of the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, stressed how “Being here in Vienna where the Daf HaYomi was instituted and where so many Gedolei Torah came together on behalf of Klal Yisrael connects us to them.”

Rav Salim explained that one of the most important components of the Amud HaYomi is that it provides a clear goal and framework for which to learn Torah. The Daf HaYomi, the Amud HaYomi, and the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha all provide a framework to accomplish. Not only for those learning all day, but for baalei battim as well. This is huge!”

Rav Yaakov Meir Stern, Dayan of Zichron Meir pointed out three distinct advantages of lomdei Amud HaYomi. Firstly, when learning Amud HaYomi, there is built-in time for chazarah. Secondly, for those who find the Daf HaYomi too much, the Amud HaYomi provides a chelek in every part of Torah and thirdly, bnei haYeshivos who are accustomed to learning at a slower pace, can afford the time to look into meforshim.


Rav Dovid Hofstedter: The Call of The Hour Is to Connect Am Yisrael With the Torah Hakedoshah

In a drasha that was in essence a shiur klali on the power that Torah has to enable klal Yisrael to withstand the ravages of galus and continue to thrive, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Dirshu’s Nasi, pointed out that “100 years ago, klal Yisrael accepted upon themselves a new limud. Not long thereafter klal Yisrael was struck with one of the greatest periods of darkness and this limud was tremendously mechazek them, enabling them to survive the darkness of the Holocaust and was instrumental in the ultimate rebirth of klal Yisrael. Today, a new limud has again been instituted and again the world is descending into darkness.”

“We always felt and hoped that the terrible tzaros that we heard about from our forebears belonged to a different era. Tragically, Jewish blood is being spilled again. The world is trembling again.”

Rav Hofstedter explained that when we see the world trembling, it is a sign that our bond with the Torah is weak. The purpose of this new limud, the Amud HaYomi, is to connect all of am Yisrael through undertaking more learning, more iyun and more clarity.

“All the gedolim are telling us that the call of the hour is to connect am Yisrael with the Torah hakedoshah. We must invest all our kochos to connect yidden with the Amud HaYomi. From Brooklyn to Bnei Brak, from London to Lakewood, from Buenos Aires to Beitar, and from Monsey to Melbourne!

“It is our task to go from kehillah to kehillah, opening new shiurim and new chaburos. We cannot afford to be weak. Even when we feel there is no koach, we must declare that there IS koach!”

One of the highlights of the event was the divrei bracha delivered in advance of the hadran by HaGaon HaRav Aharon Schiff, shlita, Rav of Antwerp.

The hadran was made by HaGaon HaRav Pesach Horowitz, shlita, senior Dayan of Belz. Prior to calling on HaGaon HaRav Shevach Rosenblatt, shlita, Rav of Bnei Brak, to recite the kaddish, the chairman reminisced about previous major Dirshu siyumim when the Sar HaTorah HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, zt”l, said the kaddish.


Torah Fireworks in Vienna!

What transpired at the completion of the kaddish could aptly be described as fireworks! The simchas haTorah! The entire Sofiensäle Auditorium burst out in song as the venerated Rabbanim on the mizrach held hands and began to dance together in a profound outburst of simchas haTorah.

Eventually, Rav Hofstedter and many of the other rabbanim came down from the dais and spirited dancing enveloped the entire hall as the mesaymim and the gedolei Yisrael who so support and encourage the Amud HaYomi danced together in circle after circle of achdus through Torah.

There were no sephardim and no ashkenazim, no chassidim and no litvish, there were no Europeans, no Americans and no Israelis; there was just one unified body of the am Hashem fused as one as they danced with Hashem and His Torah. One am Yisrael united through the kol Yaakov, the Torah that they all learned! The simcha of that dance will remain etched in the hearts and minds of those who merited participating, for years to come.

With great emotion, HaRav Binyomin Finkel, shlita, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim said, “If we want to know what we can do during this difficult time for klal Yisrael,”he exclaimed, “If we want to know how we can restore the nefesh of Klal Yisrael, the answer is: one more amud Gemara! One more daf Gemara! Learn Torah with a bit more depth, with a bit more breadth! Learn Torah, even if it is difficult for you to learn.”

Rav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, senior Skverer dayan said, “As a dayan, I am privy to the many difficulties in the area of shalom bayis. I have repeatedly seen that in a home where the husband learns Torah and has goals in Torah, learns in programs where he must take tests, this very discipline is so helpful in shalom bayis! How many homes have been saved or enhanced due to Dirshu’s many programs? How many homes were illuminated by Torah learned in these programs!


Rav Nissan Kaplan: “The Secret Of Dirshu Is Chaveirim!”

The entire evening was interspersed with a combination of lively and inspiring music. HaGaon HaRav Nissan Kaplan, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Daas Aharon, explained that the Baal HaTurim describes the keruvim facing each other as “two chaveirim learning Torah together.” He doesn’t say two talmidei chachamim. No. He says two chaveirim. I think this is the secret of Dirshu,” emphasized Rav Nissan. “Dirshu brings all of its lomdim together as chaveirim. Lomdei Dirshu are part of a special club. The beauty of Torah is when it is learned together as chaveirim, with a shared sense of mission and friendship. That is what you see at every Dirshu gathering. It is a chevra.

“What must come out from this special maamid held here in Vienna, where the Chofetz Chaim, the Imrei Emes, the Chortkover Rebbe and Rav Meir Shapiro, all called, ‘Mi L’Hashem eilai? We must also call ‘Mi L’Hashem eilai!’ If you have not joined yet, now is the time to join the Amud HaYomi!”


Touching Other-Worldly Holiness At the Kever of the Chasam Sofer

Following the siyum, hundreds traveled an hour away to Pressburg, the town where the Chasam Sofer served as Rav and Rosh Yeshiva.

The numerous Rabbanim were ushered in first, down the long stairs, into the cave where the kevarim are located.

It was as if the floodgates of tears had been released. All the pent-up heartache caused by the tzaros plaguing klal Yisrael since Simchas Torah burst forth from the feeling heart of Rav Shimon Galei, and all of the gedolim and the Dirshu yidden began to shed tears. One kappitel after another, after another… the hisorerus reached an emotional crescendo.

As the large crowd slowly exited the kever, one could hear a cacophony of languages, French and Yiddish, German and British Esh, American English, Flemish and Swiss-German and even Hungarian and Russian. No matter where they came from, they knew they had been part of history.

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