May 26, 2024
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Senior Gedolei Hador to Address Bachurim From Across Eretz Yisrael

“I wish I would have had such a kinnus (gathering) when I was a bachur transitioning from yeshiva ketana to yeshiva gedolah,” Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, one of the senior members of Hanhalas Dirshu, said wistfully.

Rabbi Bernstein was referring to the absolutely unique event in Eretz Yisrael, the Dirshu Seder Hachana event, where thousands of bochurim who are graduating yeshiva ketana (equivalent graduating 12th grade in America) and going on to yeshiva gedolah (beit midrash) come together at the very end of their last zeman in yeshiva ketana to hear words of guidance from the Gedolei Hador, Mashgichim on how to properly prepare for the transition.

Dirshu has been providing the bochurim of Eretz Yisrael with this unique event for approximately a decade, but this year’s event, to be held on Wednesday, 28 Tammuz, will be even more special.

First and foremost, the senior Gadol Hador, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Ponovezh yeshiva, will personally come to address the bochurim. This is one of the very rare times since Covid-19, that Rav Gershon will personally participate in such a major event.

As is well known in the yeshiva world, Rav Gershon Edelstein has been a prime address for chinuch issues relating to yeshiva bochurim for some 70 years! Having been a maggid shiur in Ponovezh since the 1950s, he is known for his deep understanding of bochurim of all ages as well as for his sometimes innovative approach to chinuch.

This year, senior roshei yeshiva will be attending, including HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, the rosh yeshiva of Slabodka; and HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, the rosh yeshiva of Chevron.

Another new and exciting development at this year’s event that will be held at the Heichalei Malchus Halls in Bnei Brak, will be the video addresses given by senior American roshei yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlita, the rosh yeshiva of the yeshiva of Philadelphia, and HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, the rosh yeshiva of the mesivta of Lakewood. Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, the Nasi of Dirshu is also slated to address the event.

 

Smoothing the Transition

Why, at the behest of Rav Gershon Edelstein, is this year’s program even more special with the participation of so many gedolim? Perhaps it is because klal Yisrael is truly at a crossroads. The younger generation — our precious bachurim — are facing unprecedented nisyonos. The yetzer hara has been taking all the weapons out of his arsenal in an attempt to poison our youth and rob them of their enthusiasm for ruchnius, their kedushah and taharah. This gathering, where senior Roshei Yeshiva will address the bochurim and where roundtable discussions about many issues facing our bochurim will be held with senior mashgichim and mechanchim, promises to be a truly unique event.

In the past, this special event for bochurim was addressed by such luminaries as HaGaon HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, zt”l, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, and, ybl”ch, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch and HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen.

 

Understanding the Differences

The transition from yeshiva ketana — a very regimented system — to yeshiva gedolah which offers much more independent learning, is truly significant and can literally mean the difference between a lifetime of success in learning or, chalilah, the opposite.

The marked difference between yeshiva gedolah and yeshiva ketana can confront a bochur with many nisyonos, many spiritual hurdles that he must overcome. There is much more independence, much less structure, longer sedarim and a greater stress on self-motivation in a yeshiva gedolah. If bochurim are not careful and are unprepared for such an environment, they can find themselves regressing in their learning and avodas Hashem. It is, therefore, imperative that every bochur seek guidance from his rebbeim about how to properly utilize his time to the utmost.

For example, when a bochur comes to yeshiva gedolah for the first time, he will encounter a different structure of learning which requires much more preparation. In yeshiva ketana, everything is explained. The shiur is explained and presented to the bochurim on a silver platter. Anytime a bochur doesn’t understand, he can go over to his maggid shiur and ask. He can easily obtain help. In yeshiva gedolah, however, things are different. A bochur is expected to prepare the Gemara on his own, so that he can understand the shiur. To properly learn a Gemara with Rashi and Tosafos is not simple. What does one do?

The rabbanim will address this and numerous other issues as well, such as the dormitory. In yeshiva ketana, most bochurim sleep at home and even those who do not, only sleep in highly supervised dormitories. Suddenly, upon entering yeshiva gedolah, a bochur must sleep in the dormitory and share rooms with bochurim from varied yeshivos and diverse backgrounds. Among others, going to sleep on time and choosing the right friends are issues that require self-control and forethought. It is very important for bochurim — when they arrive — to consult with the mashgiach about any issue in the dormitory. After all, sufficient rest and associating with proper friends in the dormitory at night are the keys to success throughout the day.

At a previous kinnus, Rav Dovid Cohen said, “I remember, when I was a bochur, the Chevron yeshiva built a new dormitory. The rosh yeshiva, Rav Chatzkel Sarna, spoke at the chanukat habayit and said, ‘This dormitory is a beit midrash of ‘derech eretz kodma l’Torah!’”

 

The Unique She’ilos And Teshuvos Session

Another important component of the kinnus will be the shailos (questions) and teshuvos (answers) roundtable sessions. Bochurim from all over Eretz Yisrael have already sent in hundreds of questions that they would love to hear addressed by the panel. Dirshu’s hanhala (senior staff) will be picking choice questions from all that were sent in.

In the past, extremely important questions were discussed at the panel, such as, “How does a bochur properly utilize the three hours of morning seder to prepare Gemara for the shiur when the Gemara consists of only a few lines? There is so much ‘reid (talk)’ on each sugya; how should a bochur know what to focus on versus what is not relevant for his stage of learning? How should a bochur motivate himself to come on time for davening?”… and many more.

This year, the panel will consist of Rav Bunim Schreiber, shlita, the rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Nesiv Daas, and Rav Chaim Peretz Berman, shlita, the rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Ponovezh. The moderator will be Rav Binyomin Birenzweig.

Dirshu’s Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein remarked, “It is a profound zechus to be able to hear hadracha from Rav Gershon Edelstein, from the she’arei knesset hagedolah — a remnant of that exalted generation of giants that shaped the yeshiva world in Eretz Yisrael. It is such an opportunity for bnei yeshiva more than 80years his junior — to chap arein (make the most of) — to glean and gain from the wisdom of the ziknei hador!”

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