Siyumim on Chelek Aleph of Mishnah Berurah Held with Numerous Gedolei Yisroel as Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Set to Complete Chelek Aleph
By Chaim Gold
“I did not know what learning just a half hour of Mishnah Berurah could do to my life! At the beginning of the machzor a friend of mine told me that a chaburah was forming in our shul and asked if I could join. After a bit of cajoling, I agreed. What can I say? Now, from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to sleep, every action is done through the prism of the halachos that I have learned in Daf HaYomi B’Halacha! I started with the halachos of waking up in the morning and then I learned so much about tzitzis and tefillin, kriyas shema – halachos that I had never known.”
Those were the words of R’ Yosef P of Lakewood, a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha learner who has been learning as part of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha ever since the start of Chelek Aleph.
This coming 19 Nissan/April 10 will mark the siyum on Chelek Aleph of Mishnah Berurah in Dirshu’s Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program. The siyum is a seminal milestone for those who have begun a little more than a year ago.
The Daf Hayomi B’Halacha transforms lives. Anyone who has learned in the program can attest to that, and the Gedolei Yisrael who so enthusiastically support and urge participation in the program continue to hail the program and its impact on all segments of Klal Yisrael – bnei yeshiva and kollelim, baalei battim, Ashkenazim and Sefardim, Chassidim and yeshiva types.
Recently, a testament to the outpouring of support and respect for the role that Daf HaYomi B’Halacha plays in Klal Yisrael was acutely felt in Eretz Yisrael where beautiful siyumim on Chelek Aleph were held in the battei medrash of numerous senior Gedolei Yisrael. A large siyum was held in the legendary Churva Shul in the Old City of Yerushalayim where the senior Rav and posek, HaGaon HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl, shlita, addressed the siyum as well as Rav Eliyahu Zilberman, Rav and Rosh Yeshiva of Aderes Eliyahu, (the Zilberman community) in the Old City.
Another siyum was held at the Beis Medrash of the Boyaner Rebbe, shlita, who addressed the assemblage. The siyum was also attended by prominent senior rabbanim in the Boyaner community.
A third siyum with HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ohr Hachaim, was held in his yeshiva with hundreds of talmidim in attendance.
In addition, there was a siyum held together with the well-known tzaddik and mashpia, HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei, shlita, in Bnei Brak and one at the home of the Lelover Rebbe, shlita, in Beit Shemesh attended by senior rabbanim and poskim of Beit Shemesh.
All these Rabbanim and Admorim representing various segments of the Torah observant community in Eretz Yisrael came with their followers to show their profound hakaras hatov to Dirshu and its Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, and specifically for the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program that has changed the lives of tens and tens of thousands of Yidden the world over.
Although the official completion of Chelek Aleph will come out on Pesach, early siyumim were made before Pesach to celebrate the milestone and to prepare for the simcha inherent in continuing with Chelek Beis of the Mishnah Berurah.
Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl: “There are No Words to Describe the Zechus!”
The siyum at the Churva Shul was not limited to rejoicing upon reaching a great milestone. It was also a deeply inspirational event. Hundreds were streaming to the beautiful, high ceilinged, domed Churva Shul, when the special vehicle that was transporting the venerated Rav Nebenzahl though the alleyways of the Old City pulled up in front of the Churva Shul. Rav Dovid Hofstedter rushed to greet the Gaon and then, Rav Nebenzahl flanked on one side by his gabbai and the other by Rav Hofstedter, they entered the shul arm in arm, where they were greeted by enthusiastic singing as a sign of kavod haTorah.
Rav Nebenzahl quoted the words of the Navi who says that difficult times will come, and people will run around seeking the dvar Hashem but will not be able to find it. The Gemara explains that they will not find halacha berurah and mishnah berurah in one place. This means it will be difficult for them to go through all the Gemara and other sources to come out with a clear halachic conclusion.
Rav Nebenzahl said, “That is exactly what transpired, until the Chofetz Chaim came and wrote the Mishnah Berurah, a sefer that clarifies all the various shitos and brings us a clear halachic ruling that emanates from the varied shitos.
“Since the Chofetz Chaim wrote the Mishnah Berurah, however, many new scenarios that demand a psak halacha have cropped up. There are so many modern innovations and conveniences that bring with them countless shailos. Then Dirshu came along and gave us a halacha berurah in these areas too. They have published a Mishnah Berurah that addresses so many varied, modern-day questions and placed it in the corresponding page of Mishnah Berurah in a way that the learner can come out with both a clear mishnah berurah and halacha berurah.
“Rav Dovid Hofstedter, who established Dirshu to serve Klal Yisrael, has established the daily Mishnah Berurah learning program in a way that every Jew can have mishnah berurah and halacha berurah in front of him. There are no words to describe what a zechus this is! How much Torah has been learned as a result of Dirshu! Dirshu and Rav Hofstedter have the zechus of facilitating the learning of all those who learn in any of Dirshu’s programs and especially those who learn in the halacha programs about which Chazal teach us, ‘learning so that one can actually fulfill the halacha, is the highest level of limud haTorah.’”
Rav Dovid Hofstedter: The Need for Mesiras Nefesh
Rav Dovid Hofstedter was then asked to address the crowd. He cited the words of Chazal that Am Yisrael had no mitzvos with which to occupy themselves and as a result Hashem gave them two mitzvos: The blood of Pesach and the blood of Milah.
How can the Chazal say that they did not have mitzvos? The Medrash teaches us that, ‘In the merit of four things, the Bnei Yisrael were redeemed from Egypt. They didn’t change their names or their language, they didn’t speak lashon hara, and they were not guilty of arayos.
“In addition, the Gemara says that even in Mitzrayim there was a yeshiva where Torah was learned.
Rav Dovid answered, yes, there were yeshivos; yes, they maintained their Jewish clothing and even spoke a Jewish language, etc.; but, at the same time, their mehus, their inner pnimiyus, was that of immersion and absorption in the culture of Egypt. Superficially they heeded the Jewish religion, but their essence, their inner core was deeply influenced by Mitzrayim and their culture.
Thus, the only way to extricate themselves from the culture of Mitzrayim was with true mesiras nefesh, with blood – blood of milah and blood of Pesach. They needed an act of true sacrifice to show that ‘my essence is Jewish, to connect with Hashem, as one, k’ish echad b’lev echad!’
After all is said and done, zechusim are wonderful, but they are not enough. A person must be a keili, a receptacle for Torah. He must be connected to the Torah. The Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program is a way that connects Am Yisroel throughout the world with limud haTorah.
Now we are completing some of the halachos that highlight kedushas Yisroel and their connection to Hashem. Tefillin, tzitzis, tefillah. These halachos teach us how to live as a Jew. Let us continue with mesiras nefesh to learn, to connect so that as a mameleches kohanim and goy Kadosh, we can merit the final geulah.
Siyum with the Boyaner Rebbe and Leading Rabbanim
The siyum with the participation of the Boyaner Rebbe was also a deeply inspiring event. The Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program is extremely popular in the Boyaner community and members from the entire spectrum of the community participate in the program. Kollel yungeleit, yeshiva bachurim, baalei battim of all kinds are learning the Daf HaYomi B’halacha.
In his warm remarks, the Rebbe thanked Dirshu and Rav Hofstedter for increasing Torah learning to unprecedented levels among Klal Yisrael.
The event was addressed by HaGaon HaRav Tzvi Rabinowitz, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Boyan, and Rav Mordechai Shlomo Freund, Rav of the Boyaner community in Emanuel. Rav Freund said that what was particularly inspiring about the program was the fact that all members of the community, regardless of their status – maggidei shiur, baalei battim or anyone else – were all participating in the daily learning program and were all benefiting tremendously each at their level. That is a unique aspect of the program.
After the hadran, the Boyaner Rebbe turned to HaGaon HaRav Tzvi Schreiber, shlita, Rav of the Chassidus in Eretz Yisrael, and asked if they could make a siyum and recite Kaddish on one chelek of the Mishnah Berurah. The Rav answered affirmatively. he rebbe went out of his way to go to his special davening room, take the siddur from which he davens with every day and give it to Rav Hofstedter to use for the Kaddish. This unique sign of honor was not lost on the Chassidim.
Rav Reuven Elbaz: “Just Like A Mikvah Purifies Those Who Are Tamei, So Too, Dirshu Purifies Am Yisrael!!”
The scene at Yeshivat Ohr Hachaim led by Rav Reuven Elbaz, shlita, was surreal. Rav Elbaz was in a tremendous state of excitement and inspiration when he greeted the hanhala of Dirshu. In his remarks, he paraphrased the words of the Mishnah, “Just like a mikvah purifies those who are tamei, so too, Dirshu purifies Am Yisrael! How do they do that? They increase Torah learning among all segments of Klal Yisrael. Torah purifies the heart. Dirshu has facilitated so much learning. The learning of Shas, the learning of halacha, the learning of mussar and perhaps even more important, they have promoted kavod haTorah, the honor of Torah in an unprecedented way. Just by seeing the success of Dirshu we see that Hashem Imo, Hashem is with him. To enable so many fellow Jews to learn Torah is something unique and remarkable!”
Rav Elbaz hailed the halacha revolution wrought by Dirshu and gave his heartfelt bracha that Dirshu should have the continued siyatta d’Shmaya that it has, and that Hashem should watch over Rav Hofstedter so that he can continue to enrich Klal Yisrael with Torah learning for many years to come.
Rav Hofstedter in his remarks, cited what he had heard from his rebbi, Rav Simcha Wasserman, zt”l. He asked, “What is the secret of the success of the Mishnah Berurah? So many other great, illustrious gaonim wrote sefarim and they have almost been forgotten while the Mishnah Berurah and the Chofetz Chaim’s other sefarim have just increased in popularity?
“The answer,” Rav Hofstedter exclaimed, “is that the Chofetz Chaim didn’t write sefarim to give over his own chiddushim. He wrote sefarim that were needed by Klal Yisrael. He was completely altruistic. Thus, his sefarim, which were written completely for Klal Yisrael, are eternal.”
Rav Galei: The Importance of Consistency… From All Four Corners of the World!
The crowd in Rav Galei’s beis medrash enjoyed a stirring, uplifting siyum as well. Rav Galei, who has himself been delivering a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur for more than a decade, explained how the shiur is so important to him that despite the fact that he travels a lot, he tries to never miss a shiur. Even when he is not in Eretz Yisrael, he delivers the shiur by telephone from all four corners of the world.
Rav Galei emphasized the ideal of temidus, of how much one gets from doing something daily without stop. “Not only does daily learning enrich you with so much knowledge, but the quality of the learning is different when it is done on a daily basis.”
Rav Galei then went out of his way to thank his Rebbetzin, who was in attendance, saying it was due to her altruism and assistance in so many areas that he was able to deliver the shiur and engage in so many other areas of public harbotzas Torah and chizuk.
Lelover Rebbe: An Unprecedented Level of Zikui Harabbim
Among the siyumim, one that was particularly inspirational was the one held with the Lelover Rebbe, shlita, of Beit Shemesh. It was attended by numerous prominent rabbanim and poskim of Beit Shemesh such as HaGaon HaRav Nosson Kopschitz, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Nesanel Bransdorfer, shlita, and HaGaon HaRav Tzvi Davidowitz, shlita.
In his remarks, the Rebbe quoted one of the early Chassidic masters who says that even if a person engages in pious avodas Hashem for 1,000 years he will not reach the exalted level of a mizakeh es harabbim! “Dirshu,” the Rebbe continued, “has reached the level of being mizakeh es harabbim on a scope that is perhaps unprecedented.”
Rav Kopschitz, who was the posek who personally reviewed the entire Dirshu Mishnah Berurah before it was published and oversaw the large group of talmidei chachamim who wrote the biurim and musafim, expressed his tremendous joy over the siyum of Chelek Aleph..”
After the siyum, live music permeated the room accompanied by enthusiastic dancing of the distinguished rabbanim together with the assemblage in honor of the simcha.
Perhaps the words of one of the rabbanim best encapsulated the purpose of the siyumim when he said, “The essence of a siyum is to inspire us to do more. Anyone who has finished Chelek Aleph knows exactly what I am saying. All of us may have known the basics of tefillin before learning Daf HaYomi B’Halacha but I guarantee – after learning hilchos tefillin it is a different tefillin! After learning hilchos Shemonah Esrei it is a different Shemonah Esrei.
The same will happen with Chelek Beis! I can almost guarantee that you will never be the same.”