Dirshu Delegation Led by Gedolim Davens at Kever of the Ramchal and The Ramak

Enrollment in Transformative Kinyan Chochma Program Peaks

ט׳ בניסן תשפ״ג – Mar 31, 2023

By Chaim Gold

The day? The yahrzeit of Rav Yisrael Salanter, founder of the Mussar Movement.

The place? Teveira, the kever of the Ramchal, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto, author of the Mesilas Yesharim.

The words of? HaRav HaTzaddik, Rav Binyomin Finkel, shlita, Mashigach of the Mir Yeshiva of Yerushalayim.

“We are standing here, next to the kever of the Ramchal, author of the Mesilas Yesharim on the yahrtzeit of Rav Yisrael Salanter, founder of the Mussar Movement. Rav Yisrael Salanter was the Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael. He was a gaon in Torah. There was almost no one in his generation who came to his level of genius in Torah learning, in levels of avodah. He would have been counted among such giants as the Ketzos, the Nesivos, Rav Akiva Eiger and the Chasam Sofer, in his Torah genius. What did he do? He took all his kochos, all the unique abilities with which he was endowed and invested them in promoting the ideal that Torah learning must be combined with yiras shomayim. Why? He saw that the generation needed it. He saw that without mussar, the Torah would also not be preserved. He saw that this was the only way to come to shleimus!”

Rav Binyomin Finkel travelled with a large delegation of mashgichim and senior members of hanhalas Dirshu led by Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter to daven on the yahrtzeit of Rav Yisrael Salanter at the kever of the Ramchal and also to go to nearby Tzefas to daven at the kever of Rav Moshe Kordevero, the Ramak, who wrote the sefer Tomer Devorah. Both of these sefarim are learned in the Kinyan Chochma program.

This trip was taken in the aftermath of a seminal letter written by HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, senior Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh, encouraging Klal Yisrael to learn mussar daily and underscoring Dirshu’s Kinyan Chochma daily mussar learning program as an excellent vehicle to accomplish that goal. The letter was released in conjunction with a historic meeting held last month at the home of Rav Gershon with the participation of senior mashgichim from across the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael. At the meeting, the Gedolim urged the regular learning of mussar for all Yidden, not just bochurim learning in yeshiva but for avreichim and those in the workforce as well.

“We Learn YOUR Torah!”

At the Ramchal’s kever, Rav Finkel related that Rav Zundel of Salant, the rebbi of Rav Yisrael Salanter, once asked his own rebbi, Rav Chaim of Volozhin which mussar sefer he should learn? Rav Chaim Volozhiner answered, “You should learn all mussar sefarim but the sefer Mesilas Yesharim should be your guide. It will place you in the right direction. After you learn Mesilas Yesharim, you should learn all the others.”

Rav Binyomin also shared a comment made by the Vilna Gaon who said, “If the Ramchal was alive, I would walk all the way to Italy to learn from him…”

Rav Binyomin added, “The Gemara (Bava Metziah 85) tells us that when one of the Amoraim was ill, he approached the kever of his rebbi, wanting to invoke the powerful zechus of his rebbi whose Torah he constantly learned, and exclaimed, ‘I learn your Torah!’ The Gemara explains how in that merit, he was healed. Heiligeh Rebbe,” Rav Binyomin cried out, “We have come here as shelichim of thousands of Kinyan Chochma participants who learn your Torah! Please grant them all the yeshuos, refuos, nachas and everything that they need!”

The Program

The Kinyan Chochma program was established at Dirshu’s International Convention celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Dirshu’s founding. It was established at the behest of the leading Gedolim who felt that chizuk was needed in daily mussar learning.

Kinyan Chochma is a mussar program wherein a short piece of one of the mussar classics is learned daily, featuring pieces from the classic sefarim, Mesilas Yesharim, Chovos Halevavos, Orchos Tzaddikim, Pirkei Avos with Rabbeinu Yonah, Tomer Devorah, Orchos Chaim of the Rosh and Orchos Tzaddikim.

The program was instituted to encourage daily learning of mussar among all members of Klal Yisrael. The Gedolei Yisrael from both Eretz Yisrael and chutz la’aretz have enthusiastically called on Yidden the world over to join the program and incorporate daily mussar learning into their lives together with their other learning sedarim. Lomdei Dirshu participating in the Kinyan Torah and Daf HaYomi B’Halacha programs have the added advantage of being able to take monthly tests on the mussar learned and receive stipends for excellent results.

Following in the Path of the Ramak

The delegation then travelled from Teveria to Tzefas where they went to the ancient cemetery and visited the kever of the Ramak, author of the sefer Tomer Devorah which is based on Hashem’s thirteen middos of rachamim and sets forth how every Jew should try to emulate the middos of Hashem in his interactions with his fellow man. At the Ramak’s kever, HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Goldberg, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rivevos Ephraim of Tzefas, addressed the delegation.

He said, “For many years I have learned the sefer Tomer Devorah together b’chavrusah with the great Mashgiach of Yeshiva Knesses Chizkiyahu, HaGaon HaTzaddik, HaRav Dov Yaffe, zt”l. Rav Yaffe once explained to me that the Ramak refers to Hashem as a Melech Aluv – a king who absorbs insult. What does it mean that Hashem absorbs insult? The Tomer Devorah explains that even though Hashem is the One constantly giving a person life, enabling a person to breathe and function, the person uses the very life that Hashem gives him to do things against Hashem’s will. Imagine Reuven goes to Shimon and asks Shimon if he can borrow his pen. Shimon gives him the pen and what does Reuven do with that pen? He writes placards which he then hangs in the street saying that Shimon is a terrible person! He used the very pen that Shimon gave him in his kindness, to write against Shimon.

“Similarly, we have to go in Hashem’s ways and even when others shame us, try to overcome our natural instincts. At this makom Kadosh, this holy place where the Ramak is buried,” Rav Goldberg concluded, “let us all daven to Hashem that we should be able to overcome our negative middos and live a life of Torah and mussar. Certainly, the zechus of the Ramak will stand by all of those who are learning in the Kinyan Chochma program in good stead.”

“Dirshu is a “Startup””

The delegation later held a beautiful seudas siyum on Mesactha Brachos of Talmud Yerushalmi in Tzefas. At the siyum, Rav Zelig Diskin, a prominent Rav and mashpia in Tzefas, made a powerful point. He said, “A person who opens a kollel has the great zechus of supporting Torah. Nevertheless, what happens if the kollel closes? Most of the avreichim will seek and find another Kollel. If, however, someone invents a new idea, a new movment to spread Torah, a ‘startup’ in a way that Torah has never been spread before, then his zechus is truly immeasurable. I feel that this is what Dirshu has done with Kinyan Chochma and with all their wonderful programs. They have created ‘yesh mei’ayin.’ They have created programs in Gemara, halacha, or mussar that have transformed people’s lives. Certainly, daily learning of mussar can transform a person’s life!”

Indeed, since the letter released by Rav Gershon Edelstein and the gathering of mashgichim, many scores of new participants and many kollelim have adopted the Kinyan Chochma program.

What about you?

For information on how to join Kinyan Chochma, please call Dirshu at 1-888-5Dirshu or email info@kolleldirshu.org