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Ongoing Threats to Klal Yisrael Prompt Clarion Call for “Enhanced Shemiras Shabbos” Issued By Gedolei Eretz Yisrael

By Chaim Gold 

Rare. It is extremely rare to witness a gathering of the senior elder Gedolei Hador from across the spectrum as they gather together in one room to issue a call to Klal Yisrael. That is what happened earlier this week in Bnei Brak as the Nesius of the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha gathered at the Slabodka Yeshiva.

Among the venerated senior Gedolim who addressed the assemblage were HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka, HaGaon HaRav Avraham Salim, shlita, Nasi of Shas Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, the Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, and HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky, shlita. The asifa was also attended by HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, the Alexander Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Bezalel shlita, a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Porat Yosef, the Dushinsky Rebbe, shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shraga Shteinman, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Orchos Torah, the Seret-Vizhnitzer Rebbe, shlita, and numerous other luminaries from the Yeshiva world, the Sephardic Torah world and the Chassidishe world. The event was also attended and addressed by Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi of Dirshu. 

The gathering was held for one reason and one reason alone. To give chizuk to Klal Yisrael and to encourage Klal Yisrael to undertake the limud of hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos. This year on Shavuos, the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha will embark on the learning of hilchos Shabbos, Chelek Gimmel of the Mishnah Berurah in its machzor shelishi. Simultaneously, Dirshu’s popular, new Amud HaYomi program is in the middle of Masechta Shabbos. One who participates in both programs has the distinct opportunity to learn both the practical halachos of Shabbos along with its underpinnings in the sugyos of Masechta Shabbos

In a unique, historic call and message to Klal Yisrael, the senior Gedolim took time from their busy schedules with many even traveling to Bnei Brak to speak with one united voice and encourage Klal Yisrael, k’ish echad b’lev echad, to be mekabel Shabbos; to accept upon themselves to learn the halachos of Shabbos and incorporate the limud into their daily schedules either with a chavrusah or by attending one of nearly 1,000 available shiurim

This remarkable achdus of purpose among the Gedolim and Poskim of Klal Yisrael was not limited to Eretz Yisrael. In the United States as well, three very important gatherings of Rabbanim were held last week, where the Rabbanim, with one voice, encouraged Klal Yisrael and their congregants to grab the opportunity and join the limud of hilchos Shabbos and Masechta Shabbos

The first asifa at the home of the venerated Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta of Lakewood and Telshe, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, was attended by more than a minyan of Rabbanim. The second asifa, held at the home of HaRav Shmuel Blech, shlita, the Zekan Harabbanim of Lakewood, was attended by numerous prominent Lakewood Rabbanim. 

The third gathering was held at the home of HaRav Shaul Simcha Friedman, shlita, Rav of Khal Shemen L’Mincha of Lakewood with many chassidishe rabbanim in attendance. The most remarkable thing about all these gatherings was the profound sense of achdus among all the different shevatim of Klal Yisrael as they called on Klal Yisrael to engaged in the ultimate shemira for Klal Yisrael – Shabbos!

The gatherings were held in advance of the massive kiddush Hashem that will be made at the upcoming Kinnus Olam HaTorah to be held three days before Shavuos at the Prudential Center, in Newark, NJ, where some 20,000 Yidden led by the Gedolei Hador will be mekabel Shabbos as the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha program embarks on the learning of hilchos Shabbos and the Amud HaYomi continues the limud of Masechta Shabbos

Rav Dov Landau, the nonagenarian rosh yeshiva of Slabodka, cited the famed words written by the Chofetz Chaim in his introduction to the Mishnah Berurah in the name of the Ya’aros Devash that, “it is impossible not to transgress one of the prohibitions of Shabbos if a person does not properly learn hilchos Shabbos.” 

Rav Dov continued, “The Dirshu organization has established numerous wonderful programs that encourage the learning of many areas of Torah. One of their most important programs is its Mishnah Berurah daily learning program [Daf HaYomi B’Halacha]. So many Yidden are able to achieve a kinyan in halacha and in the sefer Mishnah Berurah as a result of this Dirshu program! Dirshu is in effect echoing and continuing the call of the Chofetz Chaim as expressed in the above mentioned hakdama where the Chofetz Chaim writes, ‘It is proper and worthy for every person with yiras shamayim, who trembles before the word of Hashem, to establish chaburos, groups to learn hilchos Shabbos. In this way, they will not transgress the laws of Shabbos.”

Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, cited the words of Rabbeinu Yonah saying that a person must live with Hashem at all times. How? How can one constantly live with the thought of Hashem’s presence, as he goes about his life?” Rav Moshe Hillel answered, “A person who lives with halacha is able to do such a thing! Over the course of a day, there is virtually no move that a person can make that is not dictated by a halacha. When a person learns halacha daily and is aware of the myriad halachos that apply to nearly every life situation, he is LIVING with Hashem. That is the meaning of the passuk in Mishlei that says, ‘Know Hashem in all of your ways.’”

Rav Avraham Salim, Nasi of Shas Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, brought out the fact that the Mishnah Berurah has been accepted by the entire Klal Yisrael, Ashkenazim and Sefardim, as a foundational halachic limud. When a person learns halacha every day and especially hilchos Shabbos he is basically making a declaration that he wants to live a life of spirituality, a life of the neshama, rather than a life of subservience to the body. Each day becomes chayei olam, eternal life, when it is permeated by learning halacha

The Sanzer Rebbe, shlita, in his powerful, heartfelt words, echoed that call. With great sorrow, the Rebbe addressed the difficult times in which we find ourselves. “We are surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies, there are challenges to Yiddishkeit from within as well and everyone is looking for a segula, a special way to ensure that our tefillos are accepted on High. The Gemara, however, offers a special segula by telling us that the way a person should daven is m’toch halacha pesuka, after learning a clearly delineated psak halacha. The world seems constantly searching for new segulos, but here we have a segula straight from the Gemara! If a person wants his tefillos to be accepted, he should daven after learning practical psak halacha!”

As we approach the massive Kinnus Olam HaTorah at the Prudential Center when Klal Yisrael will collectively accept upon themselves to learn hilchos Shabbos in a program with a framework and shiurim, now is the time for every Yid to be “mekabel Shabbos”

It is the call of the hour! 

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