By Chaim Gold
“The excitement before the shiur was tangible. It felt like the beginning of the zeman in yeshiva . . . and then after the shiur ended, tens of bachurim sat down and learned for a few hours!” This was how Reb Shimon Moskowitz described the Dirshu daf hayomi b’halacha l’bachurim pesichah shiur in Montreal delivered the day following Yom Kippur. The shiur, given by the well-known Skverer Rav and Dayan, Rav Yochanan Wosner, shlita, was just one of fifteen pesichah shiurim given by prominent roshei yeshiva, rabbanim, and poskim in cities across North America.
Rav Yaakov Bender, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah of Far Rockaway, who gave the pesichah shiur for the Five Towns and Far Rockaway neighborhoods at the Agudas Yisroel of West Lawrence, was deeply moved. He taught about the obligation to sleep in the sukkah and under what conditions one is absolved. He told fascinating stories from his youth growing up in Williamsburg when the sukkahs were built on street level for large apartment buildings. There was an informal, spirited atmosphere of give-and-take where bachurim posed questions throughout the shiur. After the event, he commented, “I was very impressed that on the first day of bein ha’zemanim some 60 to 70 yeshivaleit came to hear a shiur on hilchos yeshivas sukkah. It is a testimony to the she’ifus haTorah of today’s yeshiva bachurim. It was also very impressive how Dirshu anticipated every detail to make sure everything clicked 100 percent.”
The idea behind the program is brilliant in its simplicity. Bein ha’zemanim, especially after the grueling and uplifting Elul and Yamim Nora’im zeman, presents a welcome change of pace for bachurim. Nevertheless, many roshei yeshiva and parents have expressed frustration over the fact that so much of what the bachurim gained during the previous zeman is in danger of being lost during an unstructured bein ha’zemanim.
The rosh yeshiva of Lakewood, Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, shlita, who gave the Dirshu daf hayomi b’halacha l’bachurim pesichah shiur in Lakewood, related that one aspect of the program’s beauty is that “Dirshu has provided an opportunity for bachurim to learn practical halacha.”
The Gemara tells us, Rav Kotler continued, “Everyone who learns daily halacha is assured a place in Olam HaBa.’” The rosh yeshiva expounded, “When a person learns halacha each day, his every step throughout the day is done in accordance with the Torah. This assures him of Olam HaBa.”
In Passaic, nearly 200 people packed Congregation Bais Torah U’Tefillah to hear a shiur from Rav Asher Dovid May, shlita, rosh kollel of the Yeshiva Gedolah of Passaic. Rav May delivered words of chizuk based on the words of our sages that a person should make his sukkah his “keva,” his main house, and make his house “arai,” his temporary dwelling. “The only other time we find Chazal using the words arai and keva,” said Rav May, “are with regard to Torah learning and work, where Chazal tell us, ‘Make your Torah keva and your work arai.’ The message is the same. Matters of Olam HaZeh must always be done in a fashion that is arai, secondary, rather than being one’s main occupation. The sukkah symbolizes this idea.”
In New Square, the shiur was given by Rav Aharon Goldminzer, shlita, dayan in Skver who was recently appointed Skverer dayan of Yerushalayim.
In Lakewood, a large crowd came to Khal Shearis Adas Yisroel (Rav Forchheimer’s shul) to hear the pesichah shiur from the rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha, Rav Malkiel Kotler. Rav Kotler gave an in-depth, lomdishe shiur on the unique halachos of eating on the first night of Sukkos: How much one must eat, a kezayis or a k’beitzah, along with an explanation of the nature of the famed hekesh wherein Chazal compare the mitzvah of eating matzah on the first night of Pesach to the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah on the first night of Sukkos. As he concluded, he praised the assemblage for engaging in learning halacha together with inyana d’yoma.
In Flatbush, participants came to hear the shiur given by Rav Yisroel Reisman, shlita, a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and rav of the Agudas Yisroel of Madison. “It was an amazing presentation that kept the crowd riveted throughout the hourlong shiur,” commented a father who attended with two of his mesivta-age children. Rav Reisman’s shiur—devoted to discussing the parameters of the mitzvah of yeshivas sukkah—was packed with practical halacha and fascinating scenarios.
In Boro Park, approximately 150 bachurim came to hear the shiur by Rav Yitzchok Zalman Gips, shlita, Rav of Beis Medrash Birchas Avrohom and rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Nehardaah.
The shiur in Baltimore was delivered by Rav Yosef Berger, shlita; in Chicago, it was delivered by the mashgiach of the Telshe Yeshiva, Rav Avrohom Lipschutz, shlita; in Cleveland it was given by Rav Boruch Hirschfeld, shlita, rav of Kehillas Ahavas Yisroel and rosh kollel at Ateres Boruch. Rav Aharon Sorscher, shlita, R’M at Mesivta Yagdil Torah, delivered the shiur at the Kollel Institute in Detroit; and Rav Nachum Sauer, shlita, rosh kollel of YULA, gave the shiur in Los Angeles.
In Monsey, the shiur was given by Rav Yosef Viener at his shul, Kehal Sha’ar HaShamayim; the shiur in Toronto was delivered by Rav Chaim Mendel Brodsky, shlita, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Shmayahu; and in Williamsburg, the Tzhelemer Dayan, Rav Aharon Zilberstein, shlita, gave the shiur at the Vienner Beis Medrash.
The prevailing sentiment in each of the locations was one of excitement and purpose. After the shiur, at one of the sites, one father was overheard saying, “I am going to get each one of my four boys involved in this program. It enriches their learning, and enables them to become familiar with practical halacha and learning Mishnah Berurah. It gives structure to their learning during bein ha’zemanim and teaches them achrayus and accountability. That is the berachah of Dirshu. I am so happy my bachurim are being exposed to it!” v