By Chaim Gold
“All learning is good, bekiyus, iyun, Chumash, Gemara, Mishnayos, but still nothing compares to ameilus b’Torah. What you people have done here—learned the entire Seder Moed, chazered it, taken bechinos on it, and knowing it—that is the gold standard! You should be very proud of yourselves and your wives should be so proud of you!” exclaimed Rav Yissocher Frand, longtime rosh mesivta at Yeshiva Ner Israel of Baltimore, at a unique Dirshu siyum on Seder Moed this past Sunday, 3 Sivan/June 1, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
12 Years, 17 Masechtos,
The siyum by the Dirshu ba’alei batim kollel was a deeply inspiring event in that it depicted how even people who spend their days earning parnassah to sustain their families do not have to give up on ameilus in Torah. The Dirshu kollel for ba’alei batim in Silver Spring is one of the most remarkable and successful ba’alei batim programs. Today it features over 40 participants. The program, which has been in existence for 12 years, has completed 17 masechtos! Over those years, hundreds of people have participated in the Dirshu kollel and it has remained virtually unchanged in form, with both early morning and evening programs in two locales, the Yeshiva of Greater Washington in Kemp Mill and South East Hebrew Congregation in White Oak.
Rav Eliyahu Reingold, rosh kollel of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, is the driving force who gives the morning shiur at the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, writes the tests, and gives the review shiurim. There are a number of other maggidei shiur as well. The deeply devoted administrative and spiritual driving force behind the kollel is Dr. Hirsh Komarow. Together, they have enabled the program to achieve such phenomenal success.
Learning Shas, One ‘Slice’ At A Time
A pie-chart distributed in the journal published in honor of the siyum showed how many pieces of the “Shas pie” have already been completed by Kollel Dirshu of Silver Spring. More than a third of Shas has been learned, reviewed, and tested! They will persevere to complete the entire Shas!
As befitting such a momentous simcha, the siyum at the Shomrai Emunah Shul was a beautiful, catered event for the mesaymim and their families. Many additional community members packed the hall to be inspired by a derashah during the Sheloshes Yemei Hagbalah in preparation for Shavuos, by Rav Yissocher Frand, one of the preeminent speakers in the Jewish world.
Beginning And Completing
In his remarks, Rav Frand related an amazing story about HaGaon Rav Zundel Kroizer, zt’l, the great Yerushalmi gaon who recently passed away. Rav Zundel was once scheduled to undergo a very important medical test. The results of that test could mean serious illness, R’l, or it could be something benign and just a scare. The night before the test, Rav Zundel told family members and close friends that he desired to remain awake the whole night and learn an entire masechta as a z’chus. He chose Masechta Bava Basra, one of the most difficult masechtos and the masechta with the most pages in the entire Shas. At the siyum that he made the next morning, Rav Zundel related, “In the hadran that we say upon the completion of a masechta, we say, ‘Just as I merited completing this masechta, so too, may I merit to begin and complete other masechtos.’” Rav Zundel asked, “The language is not uniform. Why does it begin, ‘Just as I merited completing’ without saying ‘beginning and completing,’ whereas at the end it says ‘begin and complete’? Either it should say ‘begin and complete’ in both instances or just ‘complete’ in both instances. Why the incongruence and inconsistency?”
Rav Zundel answered, “The yetzer ha’ra has little difficulty letting a person begin a masechta. He knows that most people, for all of their good intentions, begin many masechtos but so often fail to complete them. When a person, however, has merited to complete a masechta, he has shown the yetzer ha’ra that he is one of the special, serious people who actually starts, perseveres through thick and thin, and merits completing the entire masechta! Only then does the yetzer ha’ra realize that this man is a serious learner who completes masechtos and therefore he must do everything in his power to stop him from starting another masechta because he will complete that one too! Thus, at a siyum such as this, it is incumbent to ask Hashem for the z’chus and siyatta d’Shmaya to start another masechta without the yetzer ha’ra throwing obstacles in the way.”
Rav Frand emotionally exclaimed, “Dirshu is an organization, a movement where people don’t just start masechtos and taper off. It is a movement all about achrayus, responsibility, in limud haTorah, accountability in limud haTorah, and most of all about ameilus, working and toiling in Torah learning.
“In this chaburah and all of Dirshu’s myriad programs, people don’t just start masechtos; they finish them! They don’t just finish masechtos perfunctorily, but they learn them, review, review again, and then take tests on them! Learning and taking tests on the entire Seder Moed is a colossal accomplishment that all of you and your families should be deeply proud of.”
Of Revolutions And Unity
The Dirshu ba’alei batim kollel in Silver Spring is just one component in Dirshu’s numerous programs of accountable limud haTorah where masechtos and sefarim are both started and completed. Dirshu’s kinyan Torah daf hayomi testing program that has produced untold numbers of beki’im in Shas and Dirshu’s kinyan halacha program that is preparing the poskim for the next generation are two of Dirshu’s most popular programs. Dirshu’s daf hayomi b’halacha, learned by many thousands the world over, began six years ago and is currently on the last chelek of Mishnah Berurah and is marching towards the historic siyum of its first machzor scheduled for April of this coming year.
The siyum in Silver Spring is a part of that ameilus b’Torah revolution that Dirshu has precipitated.
Longtime Dirshu participant, Neil Stiber, noted, “As someone who has learned with Dirshu for 12 years (in Detroit and Silver Spring), I continue to be inspired by Dirshu’s ability to unify Jews through Torah. In Silver Spring we learn at separate tables and different batei midrash at different times of the day, but we are unified by our common curriculum, the current masechta. This gives us a shared language and experience. Beyond Silver Spring, Dirshu International joins Jews from varied backgrounds across the world. Those connections, even with people whom I will never meet, are inspiring and sublime and demonstrate how our common heritage in Torah can unify us.” v