VIDEO & PHOTOS: HaGaon HaRav Berel Povarsky, Shlita and Other Leading Gedolim Grace Dirshu Convention; Launch of Kinyan Chochma Program

DSC_6552By Chaim Gold. It was Mincha on Shabbos, a Shabbos that nearly 1,000 lomdei Torah in Dirshu’s myriad programs will never forget. During the Shabbos morning tefillah, aliyos are given to the attending Gedolei Yisrael. Only one aliyah is sold, shlishi on Mincha of Shabbos. That aliyah is not sold for money, because the only real “legal tender” for lomdei Dirshu is Torah!

The bidding started: 1,000 blatt, 2,000… At the last Dirshu Shabbos shlishi sold for 3,200. This year it first went to 3,000, then 4,000… There was furious bidding until finally, after some twenty minutes the aliyah was sold for a whopping 10,000 blatt Gemara to be learned by this time next year. 10,000 blatt by one person! The person then gave the aliyah to Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter as hakoras hatov for the transformation that his life underwent as a result of being part of the Kinyan Shas learning program.

Hundreds of Thousands of Aggregate Torah!

Yes, the mind boggling undertaking of one person to learn 10,000 blatt in one year was a highlight of the convention but there were tens of other highlights. Perhaps the greatest highlight was the very fact that there was so much Torah in one room. Hundreds of thousands of aggregate blatt Gemara and blatt Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah, hundreds of thousands of hours spent learning and chazering for the bechinos, hundreds of thousands of hours of mesiras nefesh by the wives of lomdei Dirshu to enable their husbands to devote the requisite hours upon hours of learning and chazering necessary to successfully learn with accountability. In his powerful remarks at shalosh seudos, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Schustal, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, gave voice to this as he called the lomdei Torah in the room “Kodesh Hakadoshim” who possess such “phenomenal hasagos in limud haTorah”. Rav Dovid pointed out how the special large room that was designated as a beis medrash in the Crown Plaza Hotel in Stamford where the convention was held was “K’nacking” throughout the Shabbos. Despite the fact that the shiurim and oneg Shabbos went so late, the beis medrash was packed – late at night, early in the morning, throughout the afternoon. “The olam here is not mehader in sheinah b’Shabbos taanug because their greatest delight is to sit and learn,” Rav Schustal said.

Two extraordinarily riveting drashos were also given at shalosh seudos by HaRav Yitzchok Zalman Gips, shlita, Rav of Beis Medrash Birchas Avrohom of Boro Park and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Nahardaah, and HaRav Zev Smith, shlita, a popular Maggid Shiur with Irgun Shiurei Torah and Dirshu. There were so many lessons imparted by the various luminaries who addressed both the men and the women throughout Shabbos. A more detailed treatment of the historic nature of some of those speeches will be forthcoming in the weeks to come.

Rav Povarsky: Master Conductor of a Torah Symphony

One of the exceptional highlights was the shiur klali given by HaGaon HaRav Berel Povarsky, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ponovezh. To watch the simchas haTorah in that room was to see true simcha. The sight of the great Roshei Yeshiva who participated in the convention including HaGaon HaRav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Staten Island, the Telzer Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta of Lakewood, Hagaon Harav Dovid Schustal, shlita, Harav Shmuel Choueka, shlita, along with so many Rabbonim sitting and listening with bated breath; asking questions and participating in the ensuing rischa d’Oraisah, fiery Torah debate with Rav Berel presiding over the shiur like a master conductor of the most harmonious Torah symphony, was a sight that left the entire assemblage energized with simchas haTorah.

The shiur was also a microcosm of Dirshu achdus. Litivishe Roshei Yeshivos, Chassidishe Rabbonim, bnei yeshiva, Chassidim from many different communities, Sephardim, Ashkenazim… all listening, asking, debating with Rav Berel, the octogenarian Rosh Yeshiva, who despite his advanced age, seemed to shed years and even decades as the shiur proceeded. The lesson of ahavas haTorah and achdus through Torah was something that many of the Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva stressed as one of the remarkable chiddushim that Dirshu contributed to Klal Yisrael.

Kinyan Chochma: The Primacy of Enhancing Yiras Shomayim

The highlight of the Shabbos was the melava malka siyum on Masechta Bava Basra. Busses from major Jewish populations brought lomdei Torah and ohavei Torah from major centers. The crowd swelled to nearly 2000!

Harav Shmuel Choueka, shlita, Rav of Congregation Ohel Simcha of Deal and a popular Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Maggid Shiur, explained how the halacha program not only enhances the observance of halacha but the myriad details in the Mishnah Berurah with the biurim and musafim additions in the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah also enhance one’s yiras shomayim!

The hadran on Masechta Bava Metziah was given by Rav Berel Povarsky. Once again, Rav Berel, with his deep love of Torah, managed to draw the massive crowd into his intimate world of ahavas haTorah. The kaddish was recited by HaRav Moshe Mordechai Lowy, shlita, Rav, Agudas Yisrael of Toronto.

The topic of yiras shomayim was also a prominent theme in the address given by Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of Dirshu. Rav Dovid related that on the one hand the tremendous increase in Torah in our generation built on the ashes of the Holocaust is unprecedented. On the other hand, however, the way the host culture has invaded even our own heimishe circles is also unprecedented! In a pain-filled voice, Rav Dovid lamented how even in our own publications we have allowed ideas, advertisements and a culture of pure superficiality, jealousy and greed to infiltrate. The antidote to this is to cultivate our own pnimiyus and our own yiras shomayim.

“Therefore morai v’rabosai, achai vera’ei, it is our zechus to present a new program, entitled Kinyan Chochma, a daily limud of mussar and hadracha culled from various mussar seforim, Tomer Devorah, Orchos Chaim l’Harosh, Orchos Tzaddikim and others…”

Sample editions of the Kinyan Chochma kuntress were distributed so that lomdim can begin learning it daily and take tests on it monthly.

“Transformational Chiddush of Dirshu: Ol Torah

A powerful major address was also delivered by Dayan Yonasan Abraham, shlita, a member of the London Beis Din and Rav of the Toras Chaim Shul in Hendon, North West London.

The final drasha was a deep, comprehensive speech by HaGaon HaRav Binyomin Eisenberger, shlita, Rav of Kehal Heichal Hatefillah in Boro Park.

Throughout Shabbos luminaries such as HaGaon HaRav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva of Staten Island, HaGaon Harav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Olewski, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ger, and HaGaon HaRav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, shlita, Skverer Dayan of Boro Park, delivered prominent drashos and shiurim. These and other convention highlights will be covered extensively in the upcoming weeks.

Perhaps Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin encapsulated it best when he said, “Dirshu has been mechadesh many things, but perhaps the overwhelming, transformational ideal of Dirshu is the concept of kabbolas ol – accepting the yoke of limud haTorah on oneself, regardless of what is going on in one’s life! A person has an ol to learn, to chazer, to know. That ol is the integral component to success in learning and Dirshu has cultivated it in a heretofore unprecedented fashion!”

[TLS – Press Release]



























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