Dirshu Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Learners Across Europe Celebrate Siyumim on Chelek Aleph of Mishnah Berurah

ז׳ באייר תשפ״ג – Apr 28, 2023

By Chaim Gold

Chol Hamoed Pesach is not always the optimum time for a siyum especially in light of the different minhagim regarding eating amongst the various communities and even families, but that didn’t stop the outpouring of ahavas haTorah from springing forth at numerous siyumim on chelek aleph in the Mishnah Berurah, that took place across Europe.

Whereas in Eretz Yisrael most of the large siyumim attended by Gedolei Yisrael – including such luminaries as HaGaon HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz, shlita, the Boyaner Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei, shlita and the Lelover Rebbe, shlita – were held before Yom Tov, most of those held in Europe and South Africa took place on Chol Hamoed Pesach.

The events held in England, Belgium, Germany, France, and even far off South Africa, were events full off simcha, inspiration and a deep sense of accomplishment; permeated by a feeling that the participants were involved in something much greater than themselves.

There were also multiple siyumim held in over 100 locations in North America, to celebrate the completion of Chelek Aleph. Some of them were held in the shul’s where the shiurim were given on Chol Hamoed, while others were held after Yom Tov.

When a Dirshu Test Took Precedence Over a Bar Mitzvah Bachur’s Bar Mitzvah!

The first event, on Sunday Chol Hamoed, was held in Manchester. It was a city-wide event that illustrated the unique achdus of Dirshu and its Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program whose participants represent the entire cross-section of Charedi Jewry. Yidden in all kinds of hats, shtreimelach, spodiks, older people, younger people, bochurim and even children all participated in this beautiful siyum where the only thing served was seltzer, water, wine and grape juice!

Among the most inspiring moments at one of the siyumim was when the chairman related a remarkable incident. He said, “There is a special bochur in the crowd to whom I especially want to pay tribute. That bochur, who learns and takes tests on Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, recently celebrated his bar mitzvah. It just so happened that the monthly Daf HaYomi B’Halacha test fell out on the night of his own bar mitzvah. That wonderful, dedicated bochur insisted on first going to take the Dirshu test. Only after completing the test did he come to his own bar mitzvah!”

The large head table was graced by many of Manchester’s Rabbanim as well as the more than ten Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggidei shiur who deliver shiurim in battei medrash that dot the entire city.

The special guest speaker at the event was Rav Yitzchok Zvi Stroh, Rav of Beis Medrash Toras Chaim of Gateshead and a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur.

Joyous Siyumim in Antwerp

In Antwerp, home to one of the most unique Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiurim held daily in the “Bourse,” the famed Belgian diamond center where so many community members work, three separate siyumim were held. The first siyum, in Beis Medrash Ohel Yaakov where Rav Yitzchok Yoel Fisher delivers a well-attended shiur, was graced by the Mara D’Asra, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Schiff, shlita. Rav Schiff is an enthusiastic supporter of Dirshu and at a previous Daf Hayomi B’Halacha siyum in Antwerp, he highlighted “The importance for Torah that permeates everything that Dirshu does. Harbotzas haTorah and support of Torah on such a scale can only be rooted in infinite love of Torah.” Rav Schiff also pointed out the importance of the mussar component of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. There is a misconception that mussar learning is only for exceptional ovdei Hashem. Dirshu has successfully encouraged everyone to engage in the introspection of avodas hamussar.

Additional siyumim were held in Beis Medrash Yismach Yisrael, where Rav Yeshaya Greenwald, delivers a shiur as well as at Beis Medrash Tal Torah, at the shiur given by Rav Avrohom Kampf.

The Chashivus of Completing Even One Chelek

One of the most inspirational siyumim that was suffused with simchas haTorah and chashivus haTorah was the siyum in Gateshead, held at the Sunderland Yeshiva Hall.

The Chairman, Rav Moshe Boruch Katenka, who is the menahel of Dirshu in Gateshead as well as a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggid shiur, said, “I heard that some people were wondering whether the siyum of one chelek of Mishnah Berurah halachically constitutes a davar shaleim upon which one can make a siyum. I would like to share with you a fascinating historical fact that most people do not know. After the Chofetz Chaim completed writing the first chelek of Mishnah Berurah, he was afraid that perhaps he would not be granted enough years to complete the entire order of Orach Chaim. He therefore decided that it was most important to first complete hilchos Shabbos. Why? Because the halachos of Shabbos are extremely stringent and complex. He skipped writing chelek beis and began to write chelek gimmel and chelek daled devoted exclusively to hilchos Shabbos. Only after completing those two chalakim, did he return to chelek beis. From here we see that that the Chofetz Chaim himself viewed chelek aleph as a complete sefer as a davar shaleim, otherwise he would not have stopped in the middle and go on to something else.”

Rav Katenka brought further proof to this by sharing a personal reminiscence of the time he visited his grandfather, Rav Yerachmiel Tzafnas, a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim and noticed something completely uncharacteristic of his grandfather – there was cake and whiskey on his table. His grandfather then told him that the cake and whiskey were in celebration of the fact that on that day he had completed the first chelek of Mishnah Berurah. My grandfather who was a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim would never have marked the completion of one chelek in this way, unless he had seen it by the Chofetz Chaim.

“From here we see the importance and chashivus of completing even one chelek of the Mishnah Berurah,” Rav Katenka concluded.

“If You Have the Opportunity to Give a Shiur and Don’t Take it, Who Knows?!”

Rav Avrohom Aran, a Dayan in Gateshead and Rav of Beis Medrash Avreichim, related a powerful story that made a tremendous impact on the audience. He said that he had been zoche to participate in a Dirshu Shabbos in Vilna together with numerous Rabbanim and graced by many Gedolei Yisrael. “On motzoei Shabbos,” Rav Aran said, “there was an asifa of Rabbanim and they were asked to try to make and deliver shiurim on Daf HaYomi B’Halacha in their respective communities. When they came to me, I told them that it was an excellent idea, but sadly, I simply did not have an extra minute in my day to deliver another shiur.

“After the asifa, an elderly senior Rav with a long white beard who needed a cane to support himself, came over to me. I later found out that he was the prominent Rav and Dayan, Rav Yitzchok Luxenberg, Rav of the Neos Simcha neighborhood of Modiin Illit, who delivers a daily Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur. He told me, ‘I am already an elderly Jew. I don’t know how much time I have left. I would like you to think about what I am telling you. A person does not know in which zechus he is alive. I don’t know why I am still here in this world. What zechus do I have? There is one thing I can tell you, if you have the opportunity to be a maggid shiur and you don’t grab it, who knows what will be?’

“The determined look in his eyes made it impossible for me to disregard his words. I availed myself of the opportunity, and Baruch Hashem, I have now completed chelek aleph and not only have the members of the shiur gained tremendously, but I have as well!”

Rav Aran concluded by encouraging whoever has the opportunity to deliver a shiur or even to start learning chelek beis on their own, to “just grab that opportunity. You won’t regret it!”

Revenge Against Hitler As Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Thrives in Berlin

Another highlight among the siyumim was the magnificent event held in honor of the beginning of chelek beis on Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Iyar in Berlin, Germany. On Shabbos afternoon, after Mincha, Rav Daniel Glauberman gave a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur followed by words of hisorerus by HaGaon HaRav Chaim Ozer Gurwicz, shlita, R”M at the Gateshead Yeshiva, a son of the famed Rav Leib Gurwicz, and a brother of the current Rosh Yeshiva of Gateshead, HaGaon HaRav Avrohom Gurwicz, shlita.

As Dirshu has recently started chelek beis of Mishnah Berurah, those who have not yet joined are urged to come aboard.

Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein, Dirshu’s Director of Public Relations, explained, “Many people have a misconception. They think that only if someone is ready to be tested on what they learned can they join Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. This is not true. Certainly, Dirshu urges all to learn in a way that he can know it so well as to take a test, but Daf HaYomi B’Halacha is open to all of Klal Yisrael! After all, no Yid in Klal Yisrael can make a move without knowing halacha.”

For information on how to join Daf HaYomi B’Halacha, please call Dirshu at 1-888-5Dirshu or email info@kolleldirshu.org