July 15, 2024
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Lomdei Dirshu Take First ‘Kinyan Chochma’ Mussar Test

There were many thousands sitting with pen in hand and furrowed brows this past Friday and Sunday. They were in sitting locales across North America, Eretz Yisrael, Europe, South America, South Africa and Australia. They were taking a Dirshu test. What was unique, however, was that this test was not on Gemara, nor Halacha, but rather on mussar! They were taking the first test on “Kinyan Chochma,” Dirshu’s new mussar program, wherein a portion of the mussar classics are learned daily and Dirshu participants are tested monthly on the content. As with all Dirshu programs of accountable limud haTorah, stipends are given for excellent results.

Perhaps the most momentous resolution to come out of Dirshu’s recent convention was the announcement at the Motzei Shabbos keynote melava malka of a new program, the Kinyan Chochma mussar learning program. In a world gone wild, where there is so much poisonous influence on our middos and a toxic worldview from the outside world seeping into our world, at the behest of leading gedolim in both Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora, Dirshu launched its new mussar learning program. The program consists of a daily dose of mussar from the mussar classics such as Tomer Devorah, Orchos Chaim L’Harosh, Orchos Tzadikim, Mesilas Yesharim and Rabbeinu Yonah.

Indeed, numerous gedolei Yisrael addressed Dirshu testing sites and expressed their deep sense of joy that such a program has been established. HaGaon HaRav Meir Simcha Auerbach, shlita, a son of the posek hador Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, said that in truth the program is the fulfillment of a halacha brought in the Mishna Berura (1-12), “A person must set aside time to learn mussar sefarim every day… He who is greater than his friend has a greater yetzer hara and the antidote for the yetzer hara is the rebuke of mussar…”

At a different testing site, HaGaon HaRav Avrohom Halberstam, shlita, a son of the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, shlita, said, “Everyone knows that in yeshivos, learning mussar is an accepted part of the curriculum. For some reason this is not the case in kollelim. People have this misconception that a kollel yungerman or a baal habayis is too old for this. On the contrary, at this point in life it is imperative to learn mussar!”

HaGaon HaRav Eliyahu Abba Shaul, rosh yeshivat Ohr L’Tzion, related that when it comes to middos “it is impossible for a person to observe middos properly, such as refraining from speaking lashon hara and rechilus and not engaging in sinas chinam without learning mussar daily.”

The importance of devoting time to learning mussar was underscored by Dirshu’s nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, who recently delivered drashos in both Lakewood and Yerushalayim on this topic.

In Lakewood this past Shushan Purim, Rav Hofstedter participated in a siyum on Masechta Zevachim by Kollel Ohel Daniel, a night kollel that learns with the Dirshu method of accountability taking monthly tests.

At the siyum, Rav Hofstedter related that one of the six things that we are commanded to remember every day is what Amalek did to us. He explained that when the Torah mentions that Amalek came to fight with the Bnei Yisrael it uses the word “vayavo,” Amalek came.

“We see, however, that when referring to Yaakov Avinu, the Torah uses the term ‘vayeitzei,’ he went out. Chazal learn from here that when a tzaddik leaves it makes an impact. Why does the Torah only make this point regarding Yaakov?” he asked.

“It is said specifically by Yaakov because Yaakov underwent a profound change. He underwent a transformation and did not return only as Yaakov but in addition as ‘Yisrael.’ After leaving his old life behind and being immersed in the learning at the yeshiva of Shem V’Ever, after his struggles with Lavan and with the sar of Esav, he became totally transformed. In a similar vein, when Chazal say that a person must exile himself to a makom Torah it means that if person wants to truly be successful in his learning he must leave behind all of the old things that hold him back.

“Amalek, however, is the opposite. He doesn’t ‘leave,’ he only ‘comes.’ He never changes, he never lets himself see the hand of Hashem, he retains the same agenda. Amalek saw kriyas Yam Suf, but he didn’t change.”

“If we want to change, if we do not want to be stuck in the old agenda that the yetzer hara constantly puts before us, we must learn mussar. Mussar makes us into ‘vayeitzei people,’ enabling us to leave the havlei Olam Hazeh, the worthless pursuit of the transient matters, empowering us to focus on the eternal.”

About a week earlier, at the Tshechonover Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, Rav Hofstedter gave a comprehensive shmuess explaining why limud hamussar is imperative for any person who truly wants to grow in his avodas Hashem and his relationship to Hashem.

“The Torah, at the beginning of Parshas Beshalach, states, ‘And it happened when Pharaoh sent out the people.’ Why did the Torah emphasize the fact that Pharaoh sent them? Did not Hashem take them out of Mitzrayim by sending the plagues? The answer is that the Torah is telling us that from the perspective of the Bnei Yisrael it was Pharaoh who sent them out. Even though physically they had left Mitzrayim, they were nevertheless still attached to him and their former role as slaves. It was still as if ‘Pharaoh’ sent them out. It was only at kriyas Yam Suf when the Torah tells us ‘They feared Hashem and they believed in Hashem and Moshe, His servant,’ that they underwent the transition from being Pharaoh’s slaves to Hashem’s servants! Therefore, it was only at the Yam Suf that they attained the true level of yiras Shamayim.”

“What mussar does, is it severs all of us from our own Mitzrayim. We are slaves to our desires, to the borders imposed upon us by the yetzer hara. Learning mussar daily enables us to free ourselves from those bonds and to grow in yiras Shamayim.”

As klal Yisrael begins month two of Kinyan Chochma, there is no question that the impact of the limud hamussar on so many thousands will serve as the catalyst for sustained, profound growth in all areas of avodas Hashem.

By Chaim Gold

 

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