By Chaim Gold
In approximately two months, Dirshu will hold its second annual Shabbos chizuk l’lomdei Torah, Shabbos Vayeitzei, November 8–10. The Shabbos will bring Dirshu participants from across the United States and Canada to the DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center in Somerset, NJ.
The Shabbos will be graced by numerous gedolei Yisrael from the United States and across the world. During the course of the Shabbos, the gedolei Yisrael will address the North American members of the Dirshu community and impart chizuk as well as impart an enhanced appreciation of what they are accomplishing.
At last year’s Dirshu Shabbos in Tarrytown, the numerous participants could not stop talking about the profound feeling of solidarity that they felt with other Dirshu members. One might have found a kollel yungerman from Lakewood discussing a difficult Tosafos in Masechta Shabbos with a Chassidishe Yid from Williamsburg, or a Gerer kollel yungerman from Boro Park having a heated debate with a Litvishe kollel yungerman from Kensington on the various shitos on hagalas keilim relevant to commercial kitchens. There was the talmid chacham engaged in his exercise regimen at the hotel’s fitness room with his Gemara firmly between the handlebars of the treadmill as he chazered another blatt in preparation for the upcoming test.
This year’s Somerset location is less than an hour from any major Jewish center in the tri-state area. The large hotel and convention center offers harchavas hadaas in gashmiyus and the nonstop chizuk in ruchniyus promises to leave members of the extended Dirshu family inspired, enriched, and newly energized to learn, chazer, and be tested on even more areas of Torah!
“One of the primary purposes of the Shabbos chizuk l’lomdei Torah,” said Dirshu’s nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, “is for talmidei chachamim to gather and contemplate their profound accomplishments thus far while rededicating themselves with even greater alacrity. It is a time—to paraphrase the Gemara in Brachos—for ‘‘Hoda’ah al ha’avar and zaakaah al ha’asid,’ to give thanks for the extraordinary siyatta d’Shmaya and berachah that have been showered on the Dirshu family until now and to daven and look forward to future hatzlachah. There is so much for which to be thankful. Day by day more Yidden are undertaking the yeoman task of becoming Shas Yidden; of mastering the areas of Shulchan Aruch needed for horaah; of incorporating daily halacha in their lives and knowing the six volumes of Mishnah Berurah; and of participating in any of Dirshu’s other 23 programs of accountable Torah learning.”
“In addition,” Rav Hofstedter continued, “The guest rosh yeshiva from Eretz Yisrael will address the tremendous difficulty facing the bnei Torah of Eretz Yisrael and will create greater awareness of the situation in the North American Torah community.”
Another important component in the Shabbos is to give chizuk and thanks to the quiet, unsung heroes of Dirshu who are always in the background; the neshei chayil, the ones who discreetly help facilitate their husbands’ learning. There will be special women’s programming that promises to be both enjoyable and inspiring. When the wife of a Dirshu participant comes to an event such as the Shabbos chizuk, she is coming as a true shutaf, a true partner in her husband’s limud haTorah. She willingly sacrifices her husband’s assistance in the home at some of the most important “rush hours” of the day so that he can learn. She also has that little pit in her stomach when her husband sets off to take his monthly test and she also revels in his success when the long-anticipated envelope arrives with his latest results. The Dirshu wives will be bound together as one by the limud haTorah hakedoshah in which they invest so much!
At last year’s Shabbos, Mrs. Hofstedter, wife of Rav Dovid Hofstedter, related how one of the women had handed her a letter from her eight-year-old daughter. The letter described how the girl’s teacher had assigned each member of the class a partner and a topic for them to debate. Hers was taking tests and homework, and she had to defend its good qualities. She returned home from school in a terrible mood.
“How am I supposed to defend studying for tests and doing homework?” she asked her parents. “I’ve lost before I even began!”
“I’m not so sure,” replied her mother. “Do you see how much work Tatty puts into his learning at home? Do you see all the homework that he does, all of the chazarah that he does to prepare for his Dirshu test? Don’t you see how much more satisfying life is for him because of all his ‘homework,’ because he must take tests?”
The daughter did see. And when it was her turn to debate in class, she won. Dirshu had taught her a lesson for life: that sometimes homework and taking tests are worth having, because they make life worth living . . . and that’s why we’re here! v