May 10, 2024
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History to Be Made Again in Vienna Where Daf HaYomi Began

Gedolei Yisroel to lead siyum on Seder Nashim, tefillos at kever of Chasam Sofer and Dirshu International European Convention.

HaRav Dovid Cohen, Dirshu Mission to Europe, 2022.

Some locations are so historic that they defy the imagination. One such place is the historic Sofiensäle Hall in Vienna, a concert hall where, during the month of Elul 100 years ago the groundbreaking, world-changing concept of the Daf HaYomi was proposed by the young rav of the Polish town of Sonik. This year on Motzei Shabbos Bereishis, history will once again be made in that very hall in Vienna. That same hall will be filled to capacity once more, graced and led by leading gedolei Yisrael and leading roshei yeshiva, rabbanim and maggidei shiur, as they celebrate a siyum on Seder Nashim and half of the present Daf HaYomi cycle.

Even more exciting, a new Klal Yisrael learning initiative that promises to have a transformative impact on Yidden and Torah learning the world-over will be proposed in that very location where Rav Meir Shapiro with his booming voice and optimism launched the Daf HaYomi. The event and the new Klal Yisrael initiative with siyatta d’Shmaya, will herald a true manifestation of, “netzach Yisrael lo yeshaker.”

 

Netzach Yisrael Lo Yeshaker

In the aftermath of World War II and the churban, destruction, of Europe, we are unaccustomed to actually going back and seeing a historical manifestation of the spiritual grandeur of pre-war Europe. Most of the major Jewish landmarks were destroyed by those who murdered, or aided and abetted the murder of the six million. Nevertheless, one of the cities that was occupied by the Nazis at an early stage of the conflict was the city of Vienna, which surrendered to the Germans without a bullet. Thus, all the city’s landmarks remained intact.

On Motzei Shabbos Bereishis, leading gedolim and rabbanim from Eretz Yisrael, Europe and North America representing the entire cross-section of Torah Jewry will participate in the siyum and in what is essentially a celebration of the eternity of the am haTorah.

The siyum will be the climax of a historic mission spearheaded by Dirshu and led by gedolei Yisrael that will begin with a visit and special tefillos on behalf of Klal Yisrael at the kever of the Chasam Sofer in Pressburg within three days of his yahrtzeit, and continue with Dirshu’s International Shabbos Convention in Pressburg. The climax will be the celebration held at the historic Sofiensäle Hall in Vienna where the first Knessia Gedolah was held in Elul of 1923, when Rav Meir Shapiro proposed the Daf HaYomi.

Among the leading gedolei Yisrael who will grace the Shabbos and the siyum will be HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, rosh yeshivas Chevron; HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Meir Stern, shlita, talmid muvhak of Rav Shmuel Wosner and one of Eretz Yisrael’s leading poskim and dayanim; HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei, shlita; HaGaon HaRav Chaim Peretz Berman, shlita, a rosh yeshiva at the Ponevezh Yeshiva; HaGaon HaRav Gavriel Knopfler, shlita, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Manchester, and numerous other rabbanim and roshei yeshiva from Eretz Yisrael and abroad.

Leading the delegation of gedolim from America will be HaGaon HaRav Hillel David, shlita, yoshev rosh of the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Umesorah, member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and rav of Kehillas Yeshiva Shaarei Torah.

The mission to Pressburg and the high point in Vienna will be laden with symbolism and inspiration, not only from the past, but perhaps even more importantly for the future.

Partial view of the crowd at the siyum on Seder Nezikin at the Sofiensäl Auditorium in Vienna, 2018.

The First Knessiah: Uniting Klal Yisrael

The deep impression made by the first Knessiah Gedolah on so many was due not only to the fact that so many gedolim came together, but also the fact that so many Jews from so many lands who had heretofore little or nothing to do with each other also came together. It was practically the first time that Chassidim, who learned in their shteiblach and those who learned in the yeshivos of Lithuania came together with Orthodox doctors, lawyers and academics from Germany. All the old battles were forgotten as everyone turned to the dais to hear the words of the gedolim. They realized that together Torah Jewry had the vitality not only to defend themselves against winds of change, but also to go on the offensive and try to reinstate the crown of Torah and Yiddishkeit to its rightful place.

Today in 2023, we may have different battles but the solution, to overcome the hurdles facing Klal Yisrael, are not different. Only with the Torah and achdus among all of Klal Yisrael will we prevail. That is why this year’s siyum in Vienna will not only be a commemoration of the past, of the impact that Daf HaYomi has had on Klal Yisrael over the past 100 years but perhaps even more it will be about the future. It will feature new initiatives in addition to Daf HaYomi that will encourage and facilitate limud haTorah with achdus for all of Klal Yisrael in a new, exciting format that will truly be a gamechanger.

 

Tefillah on Behalf of Klal Yisrael At the Kever of the Chasam Sofer

The delegation of gedolei Yisrael and rabbanim will arrive in Vienna on Erev Shabbos Parshas Bereishis and will visit the kever of the Panim Me’iros followed by davening at the kever of the Ksav Sofer.

The inspirational pinnacle of Erev Shabbos will be the special maamad tefillah on behalf of lomdei Daf HaYomi and Klal Yisrael led by gedolei Yisrael at the kever of the Chasam Sofer. Klal Yisrael is so in need of shemirah, protection, in ruchniyus and in gashmiyus, in yeshuos, refuos and shidduchim, and at the makom kadosh the burial place of the Chasam Sofer, around the time of his yartzeit is the opportune time to invoke rachamei shomayim, mercy of Heaven.

 

Shiur Klali Given by Rav Dovid Cohen

The delegation will then make their way to the Marriott Hotel in Pressburg where they will spend Shabbos.

One of the highlights of what promises to be a beautiful and historic Shabbos full of ruchnius, will be a shiur klali given by HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita.

There will be shiurim and divrei chizuk at both the seudos and during the davening given by leading gedolim and rabbanim. In addition, the Malchus Choir led by Reb Zanvil Weinberger will inspire the attendees with their beautiful zemiros.

On Sunday, the three days of non-stop spiritual inspiration will culminate with a trip to Kerister and a special maamad tefillah at the kever of the great tzaddik and poel yeshuos, Rav Shayele of Kerister, zy”a.

 

Learning the Same Page Unifies Klal Yisrael

Without a doubt, however, the absolute pinnacle of the entire convention will be the grand dinner melave malka siyum on Seder Nashim, a siyum on half of Shas that will take place in the grand hall of the Vienna Sofiensäle, the very hall where the first Knessiah Gedolah took place in Elul, 5683, 1923, and where the declaration of the establishment of the Daf HaYomi took place.

That announcement actually took place during the historic part of Rav Meir Shapiro’s speech, when he presented the new idea that all frum Jews should learn the same page of Gemara each day. The new project, which he called, Daf Yomi was met with great enthusiasm by all the delegates and became one of the first resolutions passed by the Knessiah.

At this year’s European International Dirshu Convention there will be a return to history; but perhaps even more importantly new history will be made.

Stay tuned.

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