It happened earlier this week at the home of Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Rav Elya Mann, Rav Chaim’s long time chavrusah and close confidante was asked to say a few words in Rav Chaim’s presence about Dirshu’s new Dorshei HaDaf, Daf HaYomi Hotline where anyone can call with questions on that day’s Daf HaYomi. That day, 7 Sivan was the yahrzeit of the famed Ger Tzedek of Vilna, Rav Avrohom ben Avrohom and as Rav Elya said over part of the story, Rav Chaim Burst into tears. This is how that incident transpired.
Rav Chaim told me another interesting thing, relates Rav Mann.
When a child who is becoming bar mitzvah comes to ask [Rav Chaim] what spiritual undertaking he should accept upon himself in honor of his bar mitzvah, Rav Chaim says, “To learn Shas.”
[I ask Rav Chaim, “Shas?!”]
[He replies, “Why not?”]
That is ‘learning’.
Learning means Shas, but it doesn’t have to be done in one night. when a person learns Daf HaYomi, he learns one daf today and another daf tomorrow, as the Gemara teaches, ‘The wise person says, “Today I will learn one page and tomorrow another.” The wise person does not say, “How am I going to learn so much? How can I finish the entire Shas?” The way to acquire Shas is by learning one Daf after another with consistency.’
The Zohar says that a person who acquires ones masechta acquires an entire world. It follows that a person who has completed Shas, acquires sixty worlds because Chazal teach us that there are sixty masechtos in Shas.
[Rav Chaim, however, is mechadesh that a person who learns the entire Shas acquires 360 worlds. That is Rav Chaim’s ruling down here on earth and therefore that is the ruling in Heaven as well: Hashem grants 360 worlds to whoever completes Shas.]
Throughout the generations it was known that one must learn from others. A rebbi must give over to a talmid and a talmid must learn from a rebbi.
Today, the new concept of [the Dorshei HaDaf] hotline for questions on the Daf Yomi is akin to a rebbi/talmid relationship. Whenever a person has a question he has whom to ask. Today, with the establishment of the new [Dorshei HaDaf] Daf HaYomi Hotline for Shailos it will be possible for people all over the world to tap into this rebbi/talmid relationship – even when the rebbi is geographically far away from them.
[Rav Chaim often tells the following story to illustrate to what exalted spiritual levels a person can reach.] Today is the yahrzeit of the famous Ger Tzedek, Avrohom ben Avrohom, hy”d.
When Rav Avrohom was taken to be burned al kiddush Hashem for converting to Judaism, he requested from those who came to kill him that they honor his one last request as has been customary throughout the ages before killing someone.
They agreed. He asked to be taken to the Vilna Gaon. They brought him to the Gaon and he asked the Gaon the following question: “We know the rule of ‘Zerizim makdimim l’mitzvos – One should perform mitzvos with alacrity.’ According to that dictum I should be running to fulfill this mitzvah of dying al kiddush Hashem. On the other hand, the quicker I run, the quicker I will hasten my death and one must not hasten one’s death. What should I do? Run quickly or not?”
The Gaon wanted to answer his question but before he had a chance the soldiers hustled Rav Avrohom away. The Gaon rushed to the window and shouted after him, “Reb Avrohom, quicker!” Rav Avrohom began to walk quickly…
How much time did Rav Avrohom merit to learn Torah before he was killed? Still, we see what an exalted level of Torah he was able to reach.
To learn Shas is, in a certain way, learning the entire Torah. A person can get very far and very high with Torah.