Hundreds of thousands of children around the world daven for klal Yisrael and internalize the Chofetz Chaim’s message.
“There is nothing more important that we can do before the Yamim Noraim than to try fixing and rectifying our klei hadibbur, our mouths and our tongues that enable us to speak!”
These were the powerful words of Rav Yissocher Frand, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Ner Yisrael in Baltimore and one of the prime mashpiim of our time. Rav Frand’s words were said during a drasha that was seen by untold multitudes throughout the globe on Dirshu’s groundbreaking pre-Rosh Hashanah videocast in conjunction with Dirshu’s ninth annual Yom Limud and Tefilla. The Yom Limud and Tefilla was designed to bring chizuk and hisrorerus to Klal Yisrael in advance of the Yamim Noraim, through the message of the Chofetz Chaim on his yahrzeit.
On this year’s Yom Limud and Tefilla, hundreds of thousands of Yidden throughout the world said perakim of Tehillim for Klal Yisrael and learned halachos from the Mishnah Berurah and the mussar sefarim of the Chofetz Chaim to mark the yahrtzeit.
In addition to the compelling drasha of Rav Yissocher Frand, the videocast featured never-before-seen footage of HaGaon Harav Yitzchok Scheiner, zt”l,, said many years ago at an Acheinu event. Acheinu is the kiruv arm of Dirshu.
Other drashos were given by HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei, shlita, well-known mashpia and rosh kollel; HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Berkowitz, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Aish HaTorah, HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz, shlita, rosh yeshivat Ohr Hachaim; and Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, nasi, Dirshu. The chairman of the event was Rav Zev Smith, shlita, maggid shiur Daf HaYomi B’Halacha and Irgun Shiurei Torah.
The videocast was punctuated with inspirational niggunim of hisorerus in advance of the Yamim Noraim.
Rav Frand: “What Is the Preparation For the Yamim Noraim?”
Rav Frand’s timely and timeless message left much food for thought. He explained that in preparation for the Yamim Noarim we try to improve our davening, we introspect, we try to gauge where we are holding now, a full year since last Rosh Hashanah. There is, however, another preparation that we do that almost seems to be swept under the rug. “On Erev Rosh Hashanah, we engage in hataras nedarim, we annual all vows we may have mistakenly made. This annulment of vows becomes much more as Yom Kippur is being ushered in with Kol Nidrei. It seems strange. Is there truly nothing more important to do on the threshold of what is the most important 25 hours of the year?”
“There truly is nothing more important!” thundered Rav Frand. “Because, if we come into the Yamim Noraim with mouths sullied by lies, broken promises, it will be very difficult to use that same mouth to beseech Hashem, ‘Who is emes, with a mouth full of sheker. That is why the first thing we must do before these holy days is fix and rectify our klei hadibbur, our mouths!”
Rav Yitzchok Scheiner on the Sensitive Subject of Asking for Mechilah
Just seeing the image of Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, zt”l, as he passionately and eloquently spoke, brought chizuk to those who merited to know him. He related a powerful story that showed the extent that a great man went to be granted mechilah, from someone whom he had mistakenly wronged.
He related the famous story of when the Rashash mistakenly thought that a tailor did not repay a loan and the man therefore was ostracized by Vilna Jewry as a result and he was forced to move out of Vilna to a small town as a penniless refugee. The Rashash later realized that he had made a mistake and the person did pay the loan and the only way to ensure that everyone would realize that the tailor was right was by marrying off his daughter to the son of the tailor.
Children Throughout the World Connect to the Chofetz Chaim
One of the especially notable aspects of the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrzeit was the special Yom Limud and Tefilla programming for children which was created with the singular goal of connecting children to the teachings and life of the Chofetz Chaim. In North America alone, more than 100 schools held special sessions of learning from the legacy of the Chofetz Chaim while in Eretz Yisrael and Europe similar programming was held in over 500 schools!
Throughout the diverse communities across the United States and Canada, a wide range of more than 100 boys’ and girls’ schools, chadorim and Bais Yaakovs that truly represent the entire panoply of Orthodox Jewry, participated in the Yom Limud and Tefilla school programs.
Rav Dovid Hofstedter: Keep on Davening, Keep on Connecting
Rav Hofstedter focused on the topic of tefillah that is such an integral part of the Yamim Noraim. He cited the well-known words of Chazal that teach us, “The gates of tefillah are never closed.” The question arises that we often see that our tefillos are not answered? We have all experienced instances when our tefillos were not answered. What does Chazal mean when they say the gates of tefillos are never closed?
Rav Hofstedter showed from the Baal Haturim that tefillah is not merely an exercise in asking Hashem for our needs, it is much more than that. It is our connection to Hashem! Tefillah is our relationship to Hashem.
Hashem doesn’t need anything. He is lacking nothing. What He wants is for us to have a relationship with Him. The difficulties that a person undergoes empowers the person to become closer to Hashem. Thus, even though it may seem like our tefillos are not answered, really, they are being answered, because they are enabling us to connect with Hashem in ways that we otherwise never could have.
The Chofetz Chaim “Fixed” Klal Yisrael
Rav Berkowitz highlighted the uniqueness of the Chofetz Chaim, that he wrote sefarim to rectify things that needed fixing in Klal Yisrael. No one understood what lashon hara was and how bad it was until the Chofetz Chaim created that awareness. He realized how important it was to write a sefer on daily halacha so that Yidden would be able to know what is wrong and right. The Chofetz Chaim was misaken Klal Yisrael.
Dirshu today is going in that path, creating daily limudim such as the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha and publishing the wonderful Mishnah Berurah with all the modern-day halachic rulings set forth so beautifully and effectively.
Making the Chofetz Chaim “Real”
Dirshu invested great effort into creating programming for schools that would bring the Chofetz Chaim alive. Schools were given beautifully illustrated booklets that showed the relevance of the Chofetz Chaim and his life to children today. The books were written in age-appropriate ways with separate booklets for older and younger grades that truly gave them insight into the Chofetz Chaim and what he stood for and how they could connect with the message of the Chofetz Chaim today in 2023.
Rav Galei: The Greatest Kaddish
Rav Elbaz emphasized a general message on how to find favor in Hashem’s eyes during this critically important period of the year. He said, “One of the prerequisites to meriting Torah is humility, because of his humility, Moshe Rabbeinu, merited to receive the Torah from Hashem. He genuinely felt, ‘Why should I be the one? I am nothing, I am a nobody!’ We must emulate Moshe Rabbeinu.
Let us conclude with the profound remarks of Rav Galei, who in his inimitable way, full of regesh, pointed out how we can connect with the Chofetz Chaim and attain zechusim before Rosh Hashanah, “Just as with a yahrzeit children say Kaddish, the greatest Kaddish we can say is to undertake to learn and strengthen ourselves in any area of kedusha. The Pele Yoetz writes, if a person loses a father, if a child loses a parent, and he accepts upon himself to follow and emulate one thing that his father sacrificed his life for, that would be the greatest Kaddish one can do!
“The Chofetz Chaim was surely our spiritual father up until this day and age, as we all learn from his sefarim. Surely learning his sefarim is the greatest Kaddish we can say!”
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