Two pivotal meetings to highlight Dirshu’s new Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and mussar program were recently held: one at the home of HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Slabodka Yeshiva, and a second at the home of the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, in Netanya.
“The very fact that baalei teshuva [and those unable to learn the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Mishnah Berurah program] now have their own Kitzur Shulchan Aruch program strengthens their bond with Yiddishkeit. They feel part of something that klal Yisrael is doing. They know what is muttar and what is assur,” said Rav Moshe Hillel.
Attending the meeting with the Sanzer Rebbe were numerous roshei yeshiva, as well as Dirshu’s nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, and other members of Dirshu’s hanhala. The Sanzer Rebbe said, “Gemara is, without a doubt, the ultimate limud that impacts the neshama and brings one closer to Yiddishkeit. Nevertheless, without knowledge of halacha, it is impossible for anyone not to transgress many primary and foundational halachos, both chamuros and kalos, stringent halachos and less-stringent ones. Therefore, it is an excellent thing that Dirshu has undertaken such a program designed for either beginners or those who cannot undertake the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Mishnah Berurah program.”
The Rebbe was referring to Dirshu’s flagship daily halacha program, the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program where one page of Mishnah Berurah is learned every day. “Not everyone, however, is capable of learning one page of Mishnah Berurah daily,” explained Rabbi Ari Taback, Dirshu’s South African director. “Here in Johannesburg, and in many other locales throughout the world, there is a big gap between those who are able to learn the daily Mishnah Berurah, which requires a more significant investment of time and a more extensive background in learning, and between a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch program. There are baalei batim or people who do not have such an extensive background in learning, such as baalei teshuva, who can benefit tremendously from such a program.”
Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch also commented that “In many yeshiva ketanos (high school-age yeshivos) in Eretz Yisrael, the hanhalos have deemed Mishnah Berurah too difficult, and therefore the bachurim learn Kitzur instead.”
“It is wonderful that Dirshu is now putting full focus on reaching every Yid and ensuring that they are able to observe halacha and not, God forbid, transgress some of the most important halachos,” said Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein, Dirshu’s public relations director. “Our objective is to enhance the halachic observance of every Yid. Thus, the addition of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch program onto the existing Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program is a significant step that will bring heightened observance of halacha to all of Klal Yisrael.
“Our chachamim have taught us, however,” continued Rabbi Rozenstein, “Torah learning on its own is insufficient. Chazal deem the learning of mussar a preservative that enables one’s learning to have maximum impact on one’s neshama. Without mussar, without daily introspection as to what is a person’s purpose in the world, even the Torah learning that one has achieved will not have its maximum impact.”
“That is why two years ago,” Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of Dirshu’s hanhala in Eretz Yisrael explained, “Dirshu instituted a new mussar program titled Kinyan Chochma, where a portion of mussar from one of the classics is learned every day and, as in all other Dirshu programs of accountable limud haTorah, monthly tests are administered with a stipend awarded for excellent results. The new Kinyan Chochma program will be added to Dirshu’s Kitzur Shulchan Aruch program, offering its participants the ability to have a built-in, user-friendly, daily learning program of halacha and mussar that everyone can learn.”
That was the main purpose of the meeting of roshei yeshiva with the Sanzer Rebbe last week. The participating roshei yeshiva were primarily those who head yeshivos for baalei teshuva or others with less-strong backgrounds in learning. These roshei yeshiva conveyed to Dirshu how important a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch program would be for their talmidim.
The roshei yeshiva present were Rav Shmuel Greineman, rosh yeshiva, Yeshiva Me’oros HaTorah; Rav Moshe Malka, rosh yeshivas Achiezer; Rav Aryeh Levi, rosh yeshivas Nevei Ha’aretz; Rav Ariel Elbaz and Rav Michoel Berlin, roshei yeshiva of the Acheinu Yeshivos; and Rav Chaim Goldberg of Yeshiva Be’er Yitzchok.
Rav Malka pointed out, “Many of the talmidim in my yeshiva want so much to fulfill each halacha, down to the last detail, but sadly they do not have enough background to undertake learning Mishnah Berurah every day. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch program will empower them to grasp the daily halachos they must fulfill in a way they can understand and implement immediately into their lives.”
The Sanzer Rebbe exclaimed, “We see the tremendous Divine hashgacha! We see how Hashem does not forsake His nation. As much as this generation is plagued with difficulties in ruchniyus of which we are all aware, there is conversely a tremendous amount of siyata dishmaya in ruchniyus as well! Yidden of all types, those who were not zoche to learn in their youth, are now thirsting for limud haTorah. I wish my lot should be together with your lot, you who are zoche to bring Torah to those who have not merited to grow up learning Torah.”
The Rebbe continued, “There is one thing that I learned from my father [the previous Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, zt”l]. He always looked for what more he could do on behalf of Yiddishkeit. As much as he did and accomplished, he always felt he had not done enough. He would say, ‘I haven’t done anything yet! I haven’t used the abilities that Hashem gave me as much as I could have.’ I look at what you have done and I am amazed by how much has been accomplished, but there is still so much to do!”
The Rebbe concluded, “Here in Kiryat Sanz we have a very large group of bachurim and yungeleit who participate in the Dirshu testing programs.”
Rav Hofstedter explained, “The fact that so many people approached us, asking, ‘Lama nigara?’ is a good sign. They are saying, ‘Why should we, who are not able to learn the Mishnah Berurah Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program, lose out on having a program that will enable us to observe the everyday halachos that every Yid must know?’
“The ultimate good sign,” the Rebbe responded, “is the very fact that Dirshu’s halacha programs and other programs have been so accepted by large portions of klal Yisrael. Something that klal Yisrael embraces is the ultimate good siman. If Yidden aren’t neviim, they are the sons of neviim. They know what is good.”
Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch’s parting words to Rav Hofstedter encapsulated his feelings: “It is always wonderful to hear such a besurah tova about a vital program that will enrich another segment of klal Yisrael!”
By Chaim Gold