By Chaim Gold
Thousands of participants the world over experienced an infusion of chizuk and extra spiritual and halachic preparation for Pesach during Dirshu’s daf hayomi b’halacha week held during the week of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Gedolei haposkim in Eretz Yisrael, America, and England delivered shiurim on hilchos Pesach.
The daf hayomi b’halacha program is currently in the middle of hilchos Pesach and is viewed by the gedolei haposkim as the ultimate venue from which to deliver a message of increased limud and observance of halacha.
In the United States, shiurim were held in venues ranging from Baltimore to Lakewood and Brooklyn, by luminaries such as Rav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, rosh yeshiva of the Yeshiva of Staten Island and son of the poseik hador, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt’l, Rav Yechiel Michel Steinmetz, shlita, senior Skverer dayan of Boro Park, and Rav Zev Smith, shlita, a very popular maggid shiur for both daf hayomi b’halacha and Irgun Shiurei Torah.
In Eretz Yisrael, shiurim were given by such luminaries as Rav Chaim Wosner, shlita, son of the poseik hador, Rav Shmuel Wosner, shlita, the Shevet Halevi, Rav Moshe Tzadkah, shlita, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Porat Yosef and one of the leading Sephardic poskim, and Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, shlita, rav of Ramat Elchonon and son-in-law of the poseik hador, Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt’l, among others.
In Baltimore, Rav Reuven Feinstein addressed what a person should do if he has guests at the Seder. On the one hand, the mitzvah of the night is “v’higadita l’vincha—to teach your children.” Is it therefore appropriate for a person’s children to sit near him thereby enabling him to properly fulfill the mitzvah? On the other hand, is it proper to have the guests sit at a distance from the ba’al habayis after the children? Rav Reuven responded by reminiscing about the Seder with his father, Rav Moshe. Rav Reuven recalled, “When I was a child we had distinguished guests; do you know what my father did? He sat at the head of the table and placed me right next to him at the head of the table too! In this way the guest was able to sit at an honored place at the table close to my father, while I was simultaneously seated next to my father and he was able to fulfill the mitzvah of v’higadita l’vincha with hiddur.”
On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Rav Zev Smith gave a guest shiur at the daf hayomi b’halacha shiur located at the Lakewood yeshiva to a crowd numbering in the hundreds. Rav Smith’s shiur combined practical halacha with much of the intricate lomdus upon which the halacha is based.
A fascinating incident transpired last year giving insight to what the opinion of the gedolei Yisrael is regarding the daf hayomi b’halacha. When the daf hayomi b’halacha program reached chelek dalet in the Mishnah Berurah, which is devoted to the complex, somewhat obscure halachos of eiruvin, Dirshu’s hanhalah asked the venerated Gadol, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, advice on how to sustain the enthusiasm of the learners during this more difficult, less familiar limud. Rav Shteinman replied, “Do you know that when Rav Meir Shapiro first instituted the daf yomi many felt that it would not be successful over the long run, and after the easier masechtos were done, the whole program would just fizzle out? Look now at how many tens of thousands are finishing Shas with every machzor. The daf yomi ensured that so many people who would otherwise never finish Shas have become Shas Yidden. The same will transpire with the daf hayomi b’halacha!” Rav Shteinman’s words are proving to be true as thousands the world over finished the difficult halachos of hilchos Shabbos and hilchos eiruvin and are currently deep into hilchos Pesach.
Dirshu’s nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, gave a derashah in Kiryat Sefer wherein he alluded to the difficult time that the Torah community in Eretz Yisrael is undergoing. He cited the pesukim in Sefer Shoftim that teach us that the Bnei Yisrael could not conquer the city of Kiryat Sefer because the enemy was too strong until Osnial ben Knaz finally captured the city. How was Osnial ben Knaz able to conquer the enemy? With a “sefer,” with Torah learning. There is an allusion to this in the name of the city, “Kiryat Sefer.” Rav Dovid cited the well-known Gemara that states that after Moshe Rabbeinu passed away, Bnei Yisrael forgot over 3,000 halachos! The Gemara states that Osniel ben Knaz, through the power of his pilpul, was able to recall them. Rav Hosftedter explained that only once Osniel was able to return the forgotten halachos to Bnei Yisrael were they able to finally conquer Kiryat Sefer. The practical lesson for us is that learning and remembering Torah enables our nation to overcome its adversaries. He continued, “Just a few months ago, the poseik hador, Rav Elyashiv, was niftar. That created a weakness in Torah learning. The terrible gezeiros of the anti-religious government also seek to weaken Torah. Our response must be to recall all of the halachos and thereby strengthen the weakness with increased, renewed dedication to halacha. In this way we will be able to recall all halachos without being spiritually weakened in the process.”
Rabbi Yosef Rubinstein, a yungerman who has been learning daf hayomi b’halacha for a number of years, related, “Once I began learning Mishnah Berurah daily with the daf hayomi b’halacha program, I felt a tremendous sense of shleimus, of completeness. I now feel that my halacha learning complements my Gemara learning and that my Gemara learning complements my halacha learning. I realize how vast the Torah is and how a person cannot be complete unless he brings practical halacha into his life on a daily basis. The daf hayomi b’halacha has done that for me!” v