By Chaim Gold
At the Dirshu World Siyum, more than 15,000 lomdim took tests on the new machzor. HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, the venerated posek hador and one of the last remaining talmidim of the founder of daf yomi, Rav Meir Shapiro, zt’l, related that it was Rav Shapiro’s desire that the daf yomi not be learned superficially but rather be learned and reviewed with iyun. Learning the daf yomi with Tosafos, with even more iyun, was proposed at the world siyum in Eretz Yisrael by the nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, as being the next frontier for constant growth in limud haTorah.
Perhaps nothing more signifies Dirshu’s desire to keep raising the aspirations of its participants than its regulation that states that those who have already been zocheh to complete the entire Shas with Rashi during the last machzor of daf yomi will only receive half of the regular stipend in this machzor if they continue to learn the daf yomi just with Rashi. If, however, they undertake to be tested on the daf with Tosafos too, they will receive the even higher stipend awarded to the elite group of lomdei Tosafos.
Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein, Dirshu’s director of operations, relates a fascinating incident that transpired just over a week ago. “Every three months Dirshu dispenses an optional chazarah test with questions on the material covered over the previous three months. There is no stipend for the test, but those who achieve excellent results are entered into a lottery for a prize. Although we have both the Rashi and Tosafos track in the monthly tests, for the chazarah test we neglected to compose a chazarah test that includes questions on Tosafos. Instead we sufficed with the test on Gemara and Rashi. I was completely floored by the reactions of the lomdei Tosafos. They were upset! “Why didn’t you make a chazarah test on Tosafos too?” they asked
“It was then that I realized the extent of Torah lishma that Dirshu promotes. There was no reason for them to demand the Tosafos test. Their only reason was so that they could test themselves lishmah, so that they could ensure that they learned, reviewed and truly remembered every single Tosafos. That is the beauty of Dirshu,” Rav Berenstein concluded, “it engenders constantly striving for higher goals, for aliyah ruchniyus and greater hasagos in Torah in all of its participants.”
The Dirshu revolution began 15 years ago in Toronto, Canada with the founding of Dirshu by Rav Hofstedter. Since then thousands upon thousands have joined, many becoming bekiim in the entire Shas; others becoming the morei horaah, the poskim of the next generation; and yet others learning the daf hayomi b’halacha thereby bringing shmiras halacha into their daily lives.
Toronto is once more serving as the trailblazer of a new shiur. Rav Hofstedter has now begun delivering a daily shiur on daf yomi with Tosafos and iyun kal. The shiur is attended by distinguished talmidei chachamim, marbitzei Torah, and mechanchim from across the city and has raised limud haTorah with its inherent excitement and simchas haTorah to new heights.
Rav Eisenthal, a participant of the shiur elucidating with a story. “The Gerer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes, would hire private melamdim to teach his sons. The melamed whom he hired to teach his youngest son, the future Gerer Rebbe, the Pnei Menachem, was an elite talmid chacham who gave the future Rebbe his foundation in learning. The Pnei Menachem related that this melamed told him in the name of Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, that as long as the yetzer ha’ra can prevent a person from learning Gemara with Tosafos he is more than happy for a person to engage in any other kind of avodas Hashem. Learning Tosafos purifies the mind, it gives a person a Torah mind. For that reason, the yetzer ha’ra will do anything to prevent a person from engaging in this life-giving elixir.”
Rav Hofstedter explained at the siyum haShas that learning Shas with yegiah, with toil, with Tosafos, is the tikun, it is the way to rectify the original sin of Adam HaRishon that caused the yetzer ha’ra to dwell within the person. It is a tikun that has the power to usher in the ultimate geulah for which we are so longing!” v