HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, Shlita, and Other Senior Gedolei Hador to Address Mass Event for Bachurim from Across Eretz Yisrael
By Chaim Gold
“I wish I would have had such a kinnus when I was a bachur transitioning from yeshiva ketana to yeshiva gedolah,” Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, one of the senior members of Hanhalas Dirshu, said wistfully.
Rabbi Bernstein was referring to the absolutely unique event in Eretz Yisrael, the Dirshu Seder Hachana event, where thousands of bachurim who are graduating yeshiva ketana (equivalent graduating twelfth grade in America) and going on to yeshiva gedolah (beis medrash) come together at the very end of their last zeman in yeshiva ketana to hear words of guidance from the Gedolei Hador, Mashgichim on how to properly prepare for the transition.
Dirshu has been providing the bachurim of Eretz Yisrael with this unique event for approximately a decade, but this year’s event, to be held on Wednesday, 28 Tammuz, will be even more special.
First and foremost, the senior Gadol Hador, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponovezh Yeshiva, will personally come to address the bachurim. This is one of the very rare times since Covid 19, that Rav Gershon will personally participate in such a major event.
As is well known in the yeshiva world, Rav Gershon Edelstein has been a prime address for chinuch issues relating to yeshiva bachurim for some seventy years! Having been a maggid shiur in Ponovezh since the 1950’s, he is known for his deep understanding of bachurim of all ages as well as for his sometime, innovative approach to chinuch.
This year, senior Roshei Yeshiva will be attending, including HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka; and HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron.
Another new and exciting development at this year’s event that will be held at the Heichalei Malchus Halls in Bnei Brak, will be the video addresses given by senior American Roshei Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva of Philadelphia, and HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Mesivta of Lakewood. Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi of Dirshu is also slated to address the event.
Smoothing the Transition
Why, at the behest of Rav Gershon Edelstein, is this year’s program even more special with the participation of so many Gedolim? Perhaps it is because Klal Yisrael is truly at a crossroads. The younger generation, our precious bachurim, are facing unprecedented nisyonos. The yetzer hara has been taking all the weapons out of his arsenal in an attempt to poison our youth and rob them of their enthusiasm for ruchniyus, their kedushah and taharah. This gathering, where senior Roshei Yeshiva will address the bachurim and where roundtable discussions about many issues facing our bachurim will be held with senior mashgichim and mechanchim, promises to be a truly unique event.
In the past, this special event for bachurim was addressed by such luminaries as HaGaon HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, zt”l, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l and, ybl”ch, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, and HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen.
Understanding the Differences
The transition from yeshiva ketana, a very regimented system, to yeshiva gedolah which offers much more independent learning, is truly significant and can literally mean the difference between a life time of success in learning or challilah the opposite.
The marked difference between yeshiva gedolah and yeshiva ketana can confront a bachur with many nisyonos, many spiritual hurdles that he must overcome. There is much more independence, much less structure, longer sedarim and a greater stress on self-motivation in a yeshiva gedolah. If bachurim are not careful and are unprepared for such an environment, they can find themselves regressing in their learning and avodas Hashem. It is therefore imperative that every bachur seek guidance from his rebbeim about how to properly utilize his time to the utmost.
For example, when a bachur comes to yeshiva gedolah for the first time, he will encounter a different structure of learning which requires much more preparation. In yeshiva ketana, everything is explained. The shiur is explained and presented to the bachurim on a silver platter. Anytime a bachur doesn’t understand, he can go over to his maggid shiur and ask. He can easily obtain help. In yeshiva gedolah, however, things are different. A bachur is expected to prepare the Gemara on his own, so that he can understand the shiur. To properly learn a Gemara with Rashi and Tosafos is not simple. What does one do?
The Rabbanim will address this and numerous other issues as well, such as the dormitory. In yeshiva ketana, most bachurim sleep at home and even those who do not, only sleep in highly supervised dormitories. Suddenly, upon entering yeshiva gedolah, a bachur must sleep in the dormitory and share rooms with bachurim from varied yeshivos and diverse backgrounds. Among others, going to sleep on time and choosing the right friends are issues that require self-control and forethought. It is very important for bachurim, when they arrive, to consult with the mashgiach about any issue in the dormitory. After all, sufficient rest and associating with proper friends in the dormitory at night are the keys to success throughout the day.
At a previous kinnus, Rav Dovid Cohen said, “I remember, when I was a bachur, the Chevron Yeshiva built a new dormitory. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chatzkel Sarna spoke at the chanukas habayis and said, ‘This dormitory is a beis medrash of derech eretz kodma l’Torah!!”
The Unique She’ilos and Teshuvos Session
Another important component of the kinnus will be the shailos and teshuvos roundtable sessions. Bachurim from all over Eretz Yisrael have already sent in hundreds of questions that they would love to hear addressed by the panel. Dirshu’s hanhala will be picking choice questions from all that were sent in.
In the past, extremely important questions were discussed at the panel, such as, “How does a bachur properly utilize the three hours of morning seder to prepare Gemara for the shiur when the Gemara consists of only a few lines? There is so much ‘reyd’ on each sugya, how should a bachur know what to focus on versus what is not relevant for his stage of learning? How should a bachur motivate himself to come on time for davening?” … and many more.
This year, the panel will consist of Rav Bunim Schreiber, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Nesiv Daas, and Rav Chaim Peretz Berman, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivas Ponovezh. The moderator will be Rav Binyomin Birenzweig.
Dirshu’s Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein remarked, “It is a profound zechus to be able to hear hadracha from Rav Gershon Edelstein, from the she’arei knesses hagedolah, a remnant of that exalted generation of giants that shaped the yeshiva world in Eretz Yisrael. It is such an opportunity for bnei yeshiva more than eighty years his junior, to chap arein, to glean and gain from the wisdom of the ziknei hador!”