By Shimmy Blum
Everyone in Israel—and in the southern region in particular—has in recent weeks lived under the frightening reality of rockets, mortars, sirens, and shelters. Yet none of that stopped the dedicated Torah learning of the thousands of participants in the Dirshu program across the country.
Last Thursday and Friday, Dirshu’s testing on the daf hayomi b’halacha took place—serving as a refreshing beacon of light amidst the darkness.
At testing locations across the country, tests on the revolutionary daily halacha program took place—on schedule, in every location. Most notably, there was no change in location or schedule in S’derot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and other areas in the line of the heaviest Hamas fire.
Rabbi Avraham Schwartzman, menahel of the Dirshu Testing Program, admits that even he and other Dirshu organizers were surprised. “Initially, we expected to need to reduce the number of seats at the location, and/or move them to special protected locations,” he says. “When we received scores of phone calls asking whether the tests will be held as per plan, we realized that would not be the case.”
The testing locations were equipped with accessible shelters in case of need, but none were moved to a particular safe zone. Other than the few Dirshu participants who abandoned the city during the turmoil, virtually all daf hayomi b’halacha participants showed up to take the tests—many with their young children in tow—more eager and determined than ever.
Dirshu considered all the logistics necessary in order for the tests and proctors to make it to the war-torn region in time and, baruch Hashem, succeeded. Many had to be sent early. Several locations are not being serviced by regular shipping services, and Dirshu needed to arrange its own special transportation.
Watching the yungerleit take the tests in spite of all that’s going on around them was a sight to behold, and an inspiration to all. “At this test, we saw that the true war we are fighting is the milchamta shel Torah,” says Rabbi Schwartzman. “Our response to the rockets and sirens is a strengthening of limud haTorah—with lots of mesirus nefesh.” ϖ