Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita: We Should Be Dancing In The Streets Upon The Publication Of The Dirshu Edition Of Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah!”

י״א בתמוז תשפ״ג – Jun 30, 2023

By Chaim Gold

It was a unique, unforgettable event at the home of one of the Poskei Hador, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, Raavad of the Eidah Hachareidis. Rav Moshe perused the new Dirshu edition of Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah and began to tell a story. “Years ago, HaGaon HaRav Berel Soloveitchik, zt”l, the oldest son of the Brisker Rav, related that when the sefer Ohr Sameach by Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk was published his father, the Brisker Rav exclaimed, ‘I don’t understand! Why aren’t people literally dancing in the streets from simcha, from the joy of this wonderful new sefer being published?’ I think,” Rav Sternbuch continued enthusiastically, “that today too, we should be dancing in the streets with joy upon the publication of the Dirshu edition of Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah!”

Those passionate words set the tone for the inspiring meeting in the home of the venerated senior posek, Rav Sternbuch. The meeting was with leading members of Dirshu’s hanhala led by its Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter as well as many of the editors and poskim who assisted with the production of the new Dirshu Shulchan Aruch, of which the second volume of the ten-volume set has just been published.

Among those in attendance were leading poskim such as Rav Mattisyohu Deutsch, a member of the Badatz of the Eidah Hachareidis, Rav Yisroel Yitchok Zilberman, Rav of central Nevei Yaakov, Rav Mendel Fuchs, Rav of Kehillas Shomrei Hachomos in Ramot, Rav Tzvi Weber, rav of Nevei Yaakov, Rav Simcha Rabinowitz, author of the Piskei Teshuvos and others.

The latest volume covers the halachos of challah, trumos maasros, bikkur cholim and others.

The beautiful Shulchan Aruch using the popular tzuras hadaf of Machon Yerushalayim’s Friedman edition has added two seminal commentaries on the corresponding page. These game-changing commentaries have been written over the past several years by a group of elite talmidei chachomim.

The first commentary, entitled L’asukei Shmaatsa, explains the source in Chazal for each halacha and then brings the sources for the psak from the Rishonim and Achronim, briefly explaining how the Rishonim understood the sugyos and came out with their rulings.

The second, longer commentary, entitled Alibah D’Hilchasa, briefly and concisely encapsulates each halacha, adding halachic ruling from the Achronim and later poskim right up until our times on practical halachos along with modern-day scenarios based on the original psak of the Shulchan Aruch and its meforshim.

A True Game-Changer

Some of the questions covered are:

If a woman baked challos and cake with neither of the two separate entities containing the required shiur to make a bracha and perform the mitzvah of hafrashas challah. However, if the two were combined together they do constitute a shiur, can one make a bracha on both of them together?

Regarding the laws of maasaros, the Shulchan Aruch covers the question of whether one can take maaser on a banana when it is still hard and unripe, or must one wait until it is ripe?

In the halachos of Bikur Cholim one question covered was, Does a person fulfill the mitzvah of bikkur cholim if, when he visits, the sick person is sleeping?

Is one obligated to seek the best doctor for a sick person?

In the section dealing with the laws of aveilos numerous contemporary questions and scenarios are discussed, such as: Can a person who his obligated to tear kriyah do so on a borrowed garment? What if a yahrtzeit falls in the month of Adar of a leap year. Does one visit the kever during the first Adar or the second one?

These and so many other shailos are what makes the Dirshu Shulchan Aruch such a unique game-changer.

“I Could Have Saved Myself So Much Time!”

“Just recently,” Rav Moshe Sternbuch related, “we were toiling over a certain halachic question that took hours of work until we found the proof that we were looking for. Today, I was shown a few lines from Dirshu’s Aliba D’Hilchesah commentary that contained such an important piece of information. If I would have had this information then, I could have saved myself so much of the time that I had spent looking around until I found the source!”

Rav Moshe pointed out another reason to celebrate with such joy the publishing of this volume and that is the fact that it is written in a way that is easy to learn and understand. It will therefore bring tremendous chizuk in limud haTorah wherever it is learned.

Rav Dovid Hofstedter: “It is the Spirit of the Zekeinim that Connects Klal Yisroel to Hashem!”

Rav Sternbuch greeted Rav Hofstedter with tremendous chavivus and friendship and listened closely as Rav Dovid addressed the event.

Rav Dovid gave voice to the feelings of simcha that permeated the assemblage as a result of the release of Dirshu’s newest volume of Shulchan Aruch that is already having a profound impact on the learning of in-depth halacha.

Rav Hofstedter focused on the integral role of the poskei and ziknei hador in advising Dirshu every step of the way on how to best service Klal Yisroel with the new Shulchan Aruch. He said, “In Parshas Behaaloscha, after the Bnei Yisroel asked for meat and complained about having to constantly, day after day, eat mohn with no variety, Moshe Rabbeinu, as it were, threw up his hands and told Hashem, ‘I cannot carry the nation all by myself alone.’ As a result, Hashem appointed seventy zekeinim to help him.

The question Rav Hofstedter asked is, “Why now? Prior to Yisro’s arrival Moshe judged the bnei Yisroel by themselves. We don’t find that anyone complained. It worked.  Only when Yisro pointed out that it wasn’t sustainable did Moshe reluctantly accept his advice. The question why  at this juncture, when he already has additional help does Moshe say, “I can’t carry them all by myself?” Hadn’t Yisro already given him an eitzah that he should appoint dayanim and battei din to help him judge the Bnei Yisroel? In addition,” Rav Dovid continued, “the Ramban asks, ‘How would appointing the seventy zekeinim help the situation? They would not be able to provide meat, and in any event the people would complain to Moshe Rabbeinu. If the dayanim that Moshe appointed at Yisro’s behest didn’t help why would the seventy zekeinim help?’

“Perhaps,” Rav Dovid suggested, “we can offer an answer based on the words of the Sforno at the beginning of Parshas Behaaloscha. The possuk says, ‘El mul pnei hamenorah yairu shivas haneiros – toward the face of the menorah shall the seven lamps cast light.’ He says that the power of the seven neiros was to pour forth light on the Bnei Yisroel. All the candles on each side point towards the middle candle of the menora, which is the main candle. The candles on the right that allude to the people whose main occupation is spiritual matters and the candles on the left of the menora which represent those whose main occupation is the mundane yet lofty task of earning a parnossah all turn towards the middle and come together to elevate the honor of Hashem, and to perform His Will. Just as they came together to say Naaseh V’nishma at Har Sinai.

“The message is that the focus must always be on the middle branch which, as the passuk describes, is illuminated ‘tamid.’ This is akin to the passuk that says, ‘Shevisi Hashem l’negdi tamid, – We must constantly place Hashem in front of us.’ Only if we have a true connection to Hashem can the true light illuminate the Bnei Yisroel.”

Rav Hofstedter then explained, “As long as the Bnei Yisroel were standing from morning until night waiting to hear the counsel of Moshe Rabbeinu, they had no problems. They were connected to that ‘middle branch,’ through Moshe they had a direct connection to Hashem. As soon, however, as that connection to Moshe weakened because they had less involvement with him, due to the appointment of the judges, that is when all the problems began. That is when they complained about the water, the fact that they didn’t like the mohn, and insisted that they wanted meat.

“At that point, Moshe Rabbeinu said, ‘I can’t deal with a nation that is not connected. They need to be connected to the gaonim, the tzaddikim. Hashem therefore commanded Moshe to appoint seventy zekeinim, ‘and I will take from the ruach, the spirit that is upon you, and place it upon them. Through the connection of the ruach of the zekeinim to the ruach of Moshe, the Bnei Yisroel will once again be able to connect to Moshe Rabbeinu and by extension to Hashem. If they are not connected to that ‘middle branch’, the tzaddikim and the zekeinim who represent Hashem, they will not be connected to Hashem and as a result they will seek matters of Olam Hazeh, such as meat.

“It was not enough for the Bnei Yisroel to just have the halachic rulings of the dayanim that Yisro appointed,” Rav Dovid clarified. “They needed more. They needed the ruach of Moshe Rabbeinu with which the seventy zekeinim were endowed. That is how Am Yisroel was elevated.

“Boruch Hashem, Dirshu has benefitted and continues to benefit from the hasphaah and guidance of the Ziknei Hador who elevate and guide us. We have special hakaras hatov to the Gaavad, HaGaon HaRav Sternbuch, shlita, and the other leading poskim of our generation for guiding us to create commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch that not only gives us psak halacha but also brings the learner into the depths of the sugyos to understand the underpinnings of the sugya upon which the psak halacha is based. The Dirshu Shulchan Aruch attempts to bring not only the final psak halacha but also the ruach of the halacha and the ruach of the zekeinim gedolei haposkim throughout the generations and connects us to their hashpaah.”

Rav Yaakov Meir Stern: The Siyatta D’shmaya That Dirshu Has Is Above And Beyond

Dirshu’s hanhalla also visited HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Meir Stern, shlita, Dayan at Rav Wosner’s Beis Din, with whom they consulted about many aspects of the Shulchan Aruch, to present him with a copy of the latest volume. Rav Stern who is a talmid muhak of Rav Wosner, was overwhelmed with joy when he saw the Shulchan Aruch, exclaiming, “The siyatta d’shmaya that Dirshu has is above and beyond the norm. In truth,” he added, “it is very understandable. When a person like Rav Hofstedter creates programs for learning and seforim such as the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah and now this remarkable edition of the Shulchan Aruch which will provide so much to lomdei halacha, it is no chiddush!”

Rav Dovid Cohen: An Historic Accomplishment!

When the leaders of Dirshu’s hanhala came to show the latest volume of the Shulchan Aruch to HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, he perused the volume, picked up his head and said, “This is an historic accomplishment! You are making history! I see,” he continued, “that Dirshu has ‘opened’ many of the most difficult sugyos, providing the underpinnings for the lomdus of each sugya, thereby transforming the limud.”

Perhaps that was the reason why Rav Moshe Sternbuch became so effusive and animated when he said, “In all truth, the simcha of the publishing of this latest volume is not an individual, private simcha for Dirshu and the editors. Not at all! It is the simcha of the Shechina hakedosha! Torah is what binds us to Hashem, and thus simchas haTorah, the simcha of increased learning and understanding of Torah, is the simcha of the Shechina Itself.”

Dirshu’s ten-volume set of Shulchan Aruch (of which two have thus far been published,) is being written by a group of elite talmidei chachomim led by Rav Avigdor Bernstein and Rav Binyomin Birenzweig.

Aside from the two commentaries, Dirshu has compiled a comprehensive index so that any time a person has a practical question, they can look it up in the easy-to-use index and find it within minutes.