More than 1500 Bachurim Also Addressed by HaGaonim HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, Shlita, and HaRav Uri Weissblum, Shlita
By Chaim Gold
It was one of those evenings that is not forgotten. It was an evening when more than 1,500 bachurim set to enter Yeshiva Gedolah received guidance from leading Gedolei Yisrael in what may well be a prime contributor to their success in the coming years. The Sixth Annual Dirshu Kinnus for bachurim going to Yeshiva Gedolah, featured a massive crowd representing communities from across Eretz Yisrael sitting at the edge of their seats listening to comprehensive guidance from HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, senior Rosh Yeshiva at the Ponovezh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Slabodka, and HaGaon HaRav Uri Weissblum, shlita, Mashgiach of Yeshiva Nachlas Haleveyim and a talmid muvhak of the famed Mashgiach, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l. The asifa on the Sunday before Tisha B’Av offered advice from the gedolim on how to properly
transition from Yeshiva Ketanah to Yeshiva Gedolah and on how to maximize the Yeshiva Gedolah years.
The Importance of Preparing for a New Reality
Rav Edelstein, the nonagenarian Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh who has taught and guided many thousands of bachurim in his over 60 years as a maggid shiur and Rosh Yeshiva, addressed the bachurim with the ne’eimus, the sweetness of a grandfather who has lived through the varied experiences of life and is giving guidance to his grandchild. He said,
“One of the most difficult aspects of the transition between Yeshiva Ketanah (high school age) and Yeshiva Gedolah (beis medrash, post-high school age) is the fact that in a sense a bachur is on his own in Yeshiva Gedolah. Whereas in Yeshiva Ketanah there are rebbeim and mashgichim accompanying you every step of the way, the more mature Yeshiva Gedolah bachur is expected to achieve much more on his own. To compound this new reality, the new bachur is thrown into a much larger yeshiva with very few familiar faces. He is therefore facing a new situation, on both the academic and social fronts. It is a difficult transition, especially if one is not ready for it. That is why it is so important to understand the new reality, thereby empowering the bachur to be prepared and not become depressed when things initially seem difficult.”
Yeshiva Gedolah, The Foundation for a Life of Torah
Indeed, Harav Yehoshua Aluf, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Mishkenos Haraim, who chaired the evening, echoed this idea. He explained that in keeping with Dirshu’s mission as a great facilitator of Torah learning in our generation, Dirshu invested considerable effort to arrange such an evening of guidance for young bachurim beginning this new stage of life so that they can maximize these most crucial years. For these crucial years are the years when a bachur is transformed from a young man with great hope into a young talmid chacham ready to build a new Torah home in Klal Yisrael.
Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, Rosh Yeshiva of Slabodka, emotionally told the bachurim that as they enter this new era in their lives, they must understand that now is the time to invest every fiber of their being into their learning. “The primary success of any kollel yungerman stems from his years in Yeshiva Gedolah,” Rav Hirsch said. “If he utilizes them well and learns at a high level he will continue that ascent during his kollel years. If he does not, then his kollel years will reflect that as well…
“It is in these years that he must accept upon himself to fully and totally immerse in Torah learning and to develop real, authentic yiras shamayim. He must also make up his mind to wholly dedicate himself to cultivating good middos, to be humble, to listen to a sevara that his friend conveys instead of immediately rejecting it… Humility is the key to all other middos tovos.”
The Nuts and Bolts of Success
The speakers did not suffice with general guidelines. Rather, in many instances they gave very specific advice that could spell the difference between success and failure.
Rav Gershon Edelstein, in his comprehensive address, gave a tremendous amount of practical guidance, illustrating the nuts and bolts of how to succeed in Yeshiva Gedolah. “The foundation of success in Yeshiva Gedolah,” Rav
Gershon explained, “is truly understanding the shiurim, understanding what was said in the shiur and how it fits in
with the Gemara. Towards that goal it is critical that a bachur prepare the Gemara with the meforshim on the sugya that the shiur will cover, before he goes into shiur. Learning the Gemara once is not enough! One must learn it once and the next day learn it again. If he comes in doubly prepared, he has a far better chance of understanding the shiur.
In addition, after the shiur one must review the shiur at least once on the day that it has been given and preferably even a second time on that same day. In this way, a bachur will understand both the shiur and the Gemara upon which it is based.”
Rav Gershon cautioned, “Many bachurim feel the need to be mechadesh their own chiddushim but now is not the time to say one’s own chiddushim. In Yeshiva Gedolah a bachur must try to understand the chiddushim of the maggid shiur. If one does that well, there will be plenty of time later in life to be mechadesh and the chiddushim will be much better…”
Bein Adam L’Chaveiro and How it Affects One’s Bein Adam L’Makom
Looking at the bachurim with deep love, Rav Gershon went on to say how equally important bein adam l’chaveiro is in yeshiva. A person who cares about his fellow bachur, a person who shows real kavod and deference to the maggid shiur and Rosh Yeshiva, will be successful in yeshiva. Yes, it is sometimes appealing to make a snide remark or good joke, but if it is at the expense of another it is a tremendous aveirah and can severely affect one’s shteiging.
It is important to have friends, to have with whom to talk. It raises a person’s morale. At the same time, however, one should act in a noble manner, listening to what the other has to say, not making light of the sevarah or words of one’s fellow talmid.
The Many Differences
Rav Uri Weissblum, Mashgiach of Yeshiva Nachlas Haleveyim, also spoke about many of the new things that a bachur confronts in Yeshiva Gedolah. The schedule is different, the way halacha is learned is different and of course the fact that in Yeshiva Gedolah one sleeps in the dormitory is a huge difference that demands mental preparation.
Acclimating to a dorm and cultivating the personal discipline to go to sleep on time and get up on time is new and requires thought and effort. This new, uncharted territory becomes much easier to navigate when a bachur enters Yeshiva Gedolah aware of what he will face, Rav Weisblum stressed.
The primary point stressed by all of the luminaries was that the more a person is prepared for the new reality the more successful he will be.
“Bein Hazemanim is not Hefker Time!”
As the gathering was held right before bein hazemanim, Rav Gershon Edelstein took a few minutes to address how bein hazemanim should be spent. Certainly, it is important that every bachur rest, have more time for himself to gather strength for the coming zman. That being said, Rav Gershon reminded, bein hazemanim is not hefker time.
Every bachur should make a schedule and stick to it. Part of that schedule is davening every day at the same time in the same place. Another part should be scheduling a set time to learn either with or without a chavrusah in the same place every day. One can learn easier limudim, or Gemara with Rashi. The main thing is that even “time off” should not be hefker.
Dirshu’s annual gathering for bachurim entering Yeshiva Gedolos was a huge success. One look at the smiling faces of the bachurim exiting the gathering made it clear how glad they were to have heard practical guidance from the Gedolei Hador on what may be the most important period of growth in their lives.