It is the talk of the small Jewish South African community. For the first time in the community’s history, a Siyum Hashas – of a magnitude never before seen
in the country – will be organized by Dirshu in honor of the Torah. The special event will take place on Wednesday, 18 Teves, with the participation of the country’s rabbonim, headed by the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, HaGaon Rav Aharon Ze’ev (Warren) Goldstein, shlita. The guest of honor from overseas will be HaGaon Rav Paysach Krohn, who will speak at the event, and, of course, Dirshu president, Rav David Hofstetter, and other rabbonim from all the country’s Jewish communities. Musical entertainment will be provided by Reb Simcha Leiner.
“There is enormous interest in the event by South Africa’s Jews,” says Rav Aryeh Tabak, Dirshu’s South Africa representative. “Not one day goes by without calls or enquiries from people. Here the challenge is more complex, because people call to ask, ‘What’s a siyum, what’s Dirshu?’ There is an incredible thirst to know things, and we at Dirshu do all we can to bring Torah to every Jew. We’ve prepared a special video to explain what Dirshu is. The video includes half an hour of interviews, with Jews explaining in English what is so unique about Dirshu and we also explain the importance of Torah and elucidate why it maintains the world. By the way, one of the interviewees is an avreich from here, from South Africa, who has learned Kinyan Shas and speaks about himself really nicely.”
Every country has its own unique character and Dirshu superbly adapts the siyumim to the local community. “Here in Johannesburg we did something interesting,” relates Rav Aryeh Tabak. “We have over 50 people completing Shas, so incredibly inspiring in local terms! Who would have believed that in far-off Johannesburg, over 50 Jews would be completing Shas in the next few days? It’s thrilling just to think about it. Those completing Shas will sit in the center to honor them, and thousands of participants will see them,” elucidates Rav Tabak. “Those who are completing Shas and their families will not, of course, pay an admission charge, and we have also invited all those studying one of the Dirshu tracks, such as the Daf Hayomi in halacha.”
Rabbi Tabak tells us about an exceptional project held in the country for children. “We have a project in the cheder here in Johannesburg, called Hadran Alech. Boys who finish any masechta they want are given a ticket to the event,” he says. “This encourages and spurs on many children and has introduced a remarkable atmosphere into the cheder. You cannot believe what revolution the Dirshu Siyum Hashas has made here by even before it has taken place. There is going to be a great kiddush Hashem. Jews here will see the majesty of Torah, the kavod haTorah, here it is really important. That they will know that there is a G-d in this world and that there is a Torah in this world.”
At the same time as the Johannesburg event, a special event will also be held in Cape Town – two hours flying time from the Johannesburg capital – which will boast a different character. “The Cape Town community is slightly weak spiritually. We’ve rented a hotel and the Cape Town event will be held the day after that in Johannesburg,” Rav Tabak tells us. “There the goal is more kiruv than chizuk haTorah. We will bring some of those who are completing Shas with us who will light the spark of Torah there too, so that even in that corner of Hashem’s world, people will know about Torah.”