By Chaim Gold
“It’s a revolution!” exclaimed Rabbi Eliezer Feuer, a learning director and rebbe at Camp Agudah. “When I see young bachurim asking the rebbe a shailah on hilchos Yom Kippur in the middle of a major trip, I realize how effective and powerful being part of Dirshu is for these young talmidim.”
Rabbi Menachem Schmelczer, who oversees the Dirshu program in Camp Toras Chaim–Tashbar led by Rabbi Alexander Dembitzer, relates, “I can’t believe the impact Dirshu’s daf hayomi b’halacha program for bachurim is making on these kids. After we finish learning that day’s daf, I am surrounded by 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old bachurim asking, kvetching, over every word in the Mishnah Berurah. Throughout the day, I have been fielding questions on the daf hayomi b’halacha material learned.” Rabbi Schmelczer continued, “Recently, we went on a trip. While watching the boys board the bus, I noticed how the participants in the program invariably brought their Mishnah Berurahs along! They are chazering for the test en route to an outing. I had to pinch myself and ask, ‘Is this camp?’”
Rabbi Feuer’s and Rabbi Schmelczer’s enthusiasm for Dirshu’s newest program, the daf hayomi b’halacha camp program, is contagious. Veteran mechanchim and rebbeim in camps admit that they had not anticipated the tremendous success and colossal impact that being part of a Dirshu program would have on the bachurim.
Last week, Rav Dovid Hofstedter visited both Camp Agudah and Camp Toras Chaim–Tashbar. It was inspiring to watch many bachurim in both camps, taking the initiative to go over and thank him for so enriching their ruchniyus throughout the summer. At Camp Toras Chaim, over 170 bachurim from the mesivta division gathered in the beis midrash, where Rav Hofstedter imparted words of chizuk. He said, “The same Kol that was heard at Har Sinai exists today; we just have to open our ears. If we want to do the ratzon Hashem and know what He wants, the Torah is readily available for all of us.”
According to Dirshu’s U.S. director, Rabbi Ahron Gobioff, “The daf hayomi b’halacha daily Mishnah Berurah program is now in the middle of chelek vav, which delves into the halachos of yom tov. The inception of the summer coincided with the program schedule of learning hilchos Rosh Hashanah. Over the course of the summer, Rosh Hashanah was completed, followed by the halachos of Yom Kippur and most recently the program embarked on the halachos of Sukkos.” The hanhalah of Dirshu felt that a steady seder in such relevant halachos would be a tremendous to’eles for young bachurim aged 14–17. Dirshu’s trademark accountability that enables chazarah and requires testing, seemed the ideal undertaking for a camp limud that could add structure and immeasurably enrich the upcoming yom tov for the bachurim, increasing their yedios in halacha and fluency in the sefer Mishnah Berurah.
The program began this year with five camps: Camp Agudah, Camp Toras Chaim–Tashbar, Camp Degel HaTorah, Camp Rayim Mesivta, and Camp Rayim Junior Staff.
“The response,” explains Rabbi Gobioff, “has been nothing short of amazing.”
Dirshu published a special booklet with all of the required learning material and distributed it to the hundreds of bachurim in the program. In addition, Dirshu gives the bachurim weekly chazarah questions with multiple-choice answers to assist in their chazarah. The bachurim have enthusiastically taken to the fairly demanding program despite the requisite commitment to learn approximately one page of Mishnah Berurah daily, five days a week, with the other two days set aside for chazarah.
Rabbi Feuer explains, “The younger bachurim are given a daily shiur by very talented, engaging maggidei shiur, while the older bachurim learn themselves as chavrusas. It has become a ruchniyusdige status symbol in camp to be part of Dirshu. Dirshu boys are committed to their learning, every day, regardless of what is going on in camp. Their commitment is visible for all to see. The bachurim actually feel very good about the fact that they are part of a worldwide organization that facilitates Torah learning. It is truly wonderful to see how even at difficult times such as Shabbos morning after a quick kiddush and before the seudah, the bachurim flock to learn. The sight of these bachurim coming together following a full day trip after 11 p.m. for the shiur—together with some hot kugel—shows that no matter how tired, they know that just as Dirshu never stops, neither can they!”
Rabbi Schmelczer relates, “I can’t tell you how much and in how many ways the bachurim have been enriched by the daf hayomi b’halacha program in our camp. In our camp we have three different shiurim, one for bachurim entering 9th grade, the second for those entering 10th, and another for those entering into 11th.”
“Firstly, the bachurim are getting yedios that they would not get otherwise. They really are learning the complex halachos of the yomim tovim without skipping, without shortcuts, but rather in a systematic way. That itself gives them a deep sense of accomplishment. The yedios from present-day poskim in the biurim u’musafim, part of the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah, brings the yom tov into the realm of l’maaseh in a particularly engaging fashion. As a mechanech, I see another important aspect of this program. The fact that they are learning a considerable amount of Mishnah Berurah every day and chazering has really improved their skills in learning classical seforim in Lashon Kodesh. They have become very accustomed to the style of the Mishnah Berurah and to learning and understanding Lashon Kodesh. I can’t even describe how this important skill will help them when they return to yeshiva after the summer.
“In addition, they are gaining a tremendous amount of general yedios from the program. Some examples are: How does the concept of rov, majority, work? What is the concept of ein mevatlin issur l’chatchila, you can’t nullify a prohibition to begin with?
Amazingly, all of the participants took the test and the overwhelming majority scored more than 80 points!
In light of the tremendous success of Dirshu’s camp program, Dirshu will be sponsoring a special program for bachurim this coming Sukkos bein hazemanim. The program involves learning the halachos of sitting in the sukkah. Shiurim with prominent maggidei shiur will be held in the larger communities. This exciting program, which includes incentives for the bachurim, will run for three weeks, iy’H, beginning the day following Yom Kippur and running until the end of bein hazemanim.
If the accomplishments of the summer program are any indication, the new Sukkos bein hazemanim daf hayomi b’halacha program for bachurim promises to be a smashing success!
Bachurim wishing to join should call Dirshu at 1-888-5DIRSHU. v