By Chaim Gold
“In our city of Antwerp, we have morei horaah and poskim who have completed the Dirshu Kinyan Halacha program, both the first five-and-a-half-year machzor and the second five-and-a- half-year machzor. They have covered all major areas of horaah and are incredibly learned and expert morei horaah!” Those were the words of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Schiff, shlita, Rav of the Machzikei Hadas umbrella kehillah of Antwerp’s Charedi community, said at the Dirshu Kinyan Halacha European siyum, held at the prestigious Hall of the Aviation Suite, Thistle London, Heathrow.
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shaul Klein, shlita, Rav of the Ohr Hachaim neighborhood of Bnei Brak and posek of the Mayaanei Hayeshua Hospital, one of Eretz Yisroel’s leading poskim, related that many of the morei horaah in Rav Wosner’s beis din have similarly completed Kinyan Halacha.
Rav Klein said, “Where do you have yungeleit who even during the bein hazemanim of erev Pesach and erev Sukkos when they are helping at home, spend their late nights learning and reviewing halacha for their twice yearly Kinyan Halacha bechinos at the end of bein hazemanim?!”
HaGaon HaRav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, shlita, Skverer Dayan of Boro Park and one of America’s senior poskim, candidly remarked at the American siyum, “All of us morei horaah must give special thanks to Dirshu and its Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita. There is a tremendous shortage of poskim muvhakim in Klal Yisrael. This shortage places tremendous pressure on existing poskim who are too few to serve the many who come with sheilos. Dirshu already has a record from previous machzorim of Kinyan Halacha, of preparing those who are able to persevere and complete the unremitting program to become poskim muvhakim who are ready to serve Klal Yisrael.”
Those words of the gedolim were just some highlights of a remarkable series of siyumim in Eretz Yisrael, Europe and America to celebrate the accomplishments of more than 400 new morei horaah, who have completed the grueling five-and-a-half-year program of the third machzor of Kinyan Halacha and will go on to become morei horaah who will enrich Klal Yisrael and help Jews all over the world keep halacha.
The siyumim held on Motzoei Shabbos parshas Vayigash at the Binyanei Haumah Convention Center in Yerushalayim, the following night in London, at the Hall of the Aviation Suite, Thistle Heathrow and two nights later, on Motzoei Asarah B’Teves at the Eminence Hall in Boro Park, featured addresses by senior Gedolei Yisrael.
A Siyum Like No Other
Anyone who attended any of the siyumim could not but be deeply moved by the atmosphere of pure simcha that permeated the air. The siyum of Kinyan Halacha is like no other siyum. It is a culmination of a grueling five-and-a-half-year program where the lomdim learn Yoreh Deah chelek aleph and beis as well as large parts of hilchos Shabbos, hilchos hagalas keilim and other areas of halacha with great iyun starting from the Gemara, continuing on to the Tur with its mefarshim, carrying on to the Shulchan Aruch and the major mefarshim on Shulchan Aruch right up until the practical halachic rulings of the poskim of the last generations.
For those who have completed the first program there is a second five-year program that covers even more obscure areas of halacha such as hilchos mikvaos, ribbis, eiruvin, birchas haperios, the halachos of the writing and checking of sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzos and more.
Only about a third of those who began the program merited to complete it. Not only is it a siyum marking the completion of the program, it is also a siyum to welcome more than four hundred new poskim to Klal Yisrael. There is a great shortage of morei horaah in today’s world, and this makes the simcha even greater.
The program, designed fifteen years ago with the constant guidance of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, and HaGaon HaRav Nissim Karelitz, zt”l, and HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l, is currently under the guidance and watchful eyes of the prominent poskim, Rav Moshe Shaul Klein and Rav Sariel Rosenberg.
HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Berkovitz: Dirshu Has Returned Halacha, In-Depth Halacha To Klal Yisrael
The tone for the evening was set by HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Berkovitz, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Aish HaTorah, who said, “There came a time, in the more recent past however, when we can say that in a certain sense the Torah was ‘forgotten’. Yes, there was much Torah being learned, many chiddushim said, many shiurim delivered, but when it came to halacha l’maaseh, practical psak halacha, people would say, ‘Go ask the ladies or the girls, they are the ones who learn halacha in Bais Yaakov…
“Baruch Hashem Dirshu has returned halacha, in-depth halacha to Klal Yisrael. This is a great zechus and also a historic tikkun… Ashreichem you who have completed this program! Now you know how to live as a Yid!”
Rav Moshe Shaul Klein: A Clever Man Knows Where to Invest
Fifteen years ago, when the Kinyan Halacha Program was established, Rav Moshe Shaul Klein was tasked by his rebbi muvhak, Rav Shmuel Wosner, with the job of helping create the framework for the program and the marei mekomos. Rav Wosner was deeply involved and guided his talmid, Rav Moshe Shaul, on every detail.
When Rav Moshe Shaul got up to speak in front of the packed convention center hall, he reminisced about his rebbi, Rav Wosner, and Rav Wosner’s relationship with Rav Dovid Hofstedter. “I remember that whenever Rav Wosner would meet with Rav Dovid, he would greet him with great warmth and love. He would cite the passuk, ‘Vayehi Dovid, l’chol drachav maskil v’Hashem imo – Dovid was successful in all his ways and Hashem was with him.’ Rav Wosner would explain that Rav Dovid is a maskil, a clever man who knows where to invest. He knows how to increase Torah in Klal Yisrael. He built mosdos for Hashem.’ That is how he has merited to now make the siyum on the third machzor of Kinyan Halacha.”
HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, Shlita: “Ashreichim, Fortunate Are You and Fortunate Is Your Lot!”
HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Slabodka Yeshiva and one of the senior Gedolei Hador of our time was not able to make the trip from Bnei Brak to Yerushalayim to attend the siyum due to his advanced age. Instead, Dirshu’s senior hanhala members led by Rav Dovid Hofstedter visited him in his home in Bnei Brak where he gave short divrei bracha via video. In his words of bracha, he said, “What Dirshu is doing is extremely important. Ashreichim, fortunate are you and fortunate is your lot! What you have done [with this program] is very good. Not only very good, but very important [for Klal Yisrael]. Hashem should help that you should have hatzlacha in all the programs…”
Rav Hillel David: “The Secret Lies In Chazarah”
The siyum in America was a momentous event. One of the Rabbanim in attendance related, “It is rare to see a pure Torah event of such magnitude in Boro Park. To look at the dais and see venerated Rabbanim from both the Chassidish and Litvish worlds sitting side-by-side, celebrating the Torah accomplishments and milestone of welcoming a large group of new poskim to Klal Yisrael is not a regular sight in Boro Park. The kavod haTorah at that event imbued us all with chizuk.”
As the senior Posek, HaGaon HaRav Hillel David, shlita, approached the podium his profound simcha was clearly apparent on his face. He gave voice to that simcha by citing the words of the Medrash that, “Out of the one thousand talmidim who enter the beis hamedarsh only one emerges to become a moreh horaah.”
“What a simcha it therefore is to come here and rejoice with the mesaymim who have “completed this program that leads to horaah!” he exclaimed, “It is a great, rare simcha!”
Rav Hillel then went on to advise the mesaymim how to be successful as poskim. The secret lies in chazarah, constantly reviewing what you have learned, and never tiring of reviewing again and again. The greatest poskim did this.
Rav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz: “What A Zechus It Is To Endow Klal Yisrael With So Many New Poskim!”
HaGaon HaRav Yechiel Mechel Steinmetz, shlita, the Skverer Dayan of Boro Park, and one of America’s senior Poskim, explained that learning practical halacha is the highest form of limud haTorah. The Shach paskens that if a person learns Torah without learning halacha, he has not fulfilled his obligation of kevius ittim l’Torah, of setting aside time for Torah learning. The Mishnah Berurah also rules this way.
Rav Hofstedter: The Answer to the Satan
In his powerful remarks in Brooklyn, Rav Dovid Hofstedter said, “Rav Wosner once told me that the Kinyan Halacha program is not just for aspiring rabbanim or dayanim but it is a program whose objective is to produce baalei halacha who possess a shleimus, a completeness and greatness in all areas of avodas Hashem. In this way, they can have a positive spiritual impact on all of Klal Yisrael.”
Rav Dovid then asked, “Did you ever wonder what the Satan is thinking when he looks at Klal Yisrael today, in our times. Baruch Hashem there is such an abundance of Torah learning taking place. So many yeshivos, so many wonderful kollelim, so many people learning Torah and thirsting for Torah, bli ayin hara!
“Certainly, the Satan must be agitated. Should he tell them not to learn? He knows that b’achris hayomim the passuk teaches us that Yidden will not be hungry for bread, nor thirsty for water, but rather to hear the word of Hashem. He knows telling them not to learn won’t work. He is much more devious than that. He is saying, ‘Let them learn. I can’t stop them but let me try to ensure that they don’t have a shelimus in their learning. I won’t stop them, AS LONG as they are not learning aliba d’hilchasa – which is taking the Gemara to its ultimate halachic conclusion.’
“Yes, Kinyan Halacha ensures that our great talmidei chachomim should learn aliba d’hilchasa and become morei horaah. But it is much more than that. Its purpose is that in each city and community there will be morei horaah baalei halacha and talmidei chachomim, who will also be anshei emes, anshei middos and mussar who will inspire and elevate their fellow Jews and positively influence them.
Rav Shlomo Miller: The Siyum is A New Beginning
HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Miller, shlita, Rosh Kollel of the Toronto Kollel and one of the preeminent America poskim was not able to attend in person but gave a video address. He said that it is a great simcha to make such a siyum but in truth the siyum Is not siyum but rather a new beginning. Torah and halacha are endless.
Rav Aharon Schiff: In Our Beis Din We Have Alumni From Previous Kinyan Halacha Programs That Are Expert Morei Horaah
The siyum in London was a remarkable outpouring of kavod haTorah. Held at the beautiful, elegant Aviation Suite, Thistle London, Heathrow. Participating were avreichim from all over Europe who had completed the program. The Rav of Antwerp, Rav Aharon Schiff travelled from Antwerp to participate with several Kinyan Halacha mesaymim from Antwerp.
Rav Schiff opened by saying that he deemed it a great zechus to sit under one roof with avreichim who have toiled night and day for more than five years straight to understand numerous difficult and often obscure areas of Torah.
“As a Rav,” Rav Schiff continued, “I can attest to the fact that in our beis din we have alumni from previous Kinyan Halacha programs who have learned both the five-and-a-half-year programs, and they are expert morei horaah to whom Yidden constantly turn for halachic guidance. The thought of more joining their ranks is an especially great simcha for me and for all Rabbanim.”
Rav Yaakov Meir Stern: “There Is No Greater Satisfaction Then Completing A Kinyan Halacha Test”
Rav Yaakov Meir Stern, who came especially from Eretz Yisroel to participate highlighted the importance of davening for siyata d’shmaya in learning. He cited his Rebbi, Rav Wosner, who asked, “Why do we find a special tefillah for Torah in the bracha of ‘V’haarev nah,’ in which we beg Hashem to make the Torah sweet in our eyes? We do not find this by any other mitzvah. We don’t ask Hashem to make shaking the lulav sweet in our eyes?”
“Rav Wosner explained that Torah is a mitzvah that you cannot do unless you find it to be sweet. That is why tefillah for Torah is so important. There is no doubt these avreichim davened and will continue to daven for success in learning, otherwise they would not be able to accomplish all that they have accomplished!”
Perhaps the last speaker at the last siyum, encapsulated the feelings of all the mesaymim with his emotional words of thanks to Dirshu. The event in America culminated with Rav Yoel Taub, a representative of all Kinyan Halacha mesaymim, addressing the crowd.
“I want the hanhala and Nasi of Dirshu to understand from the standpoint of a participant, what it means to participate in this five or eleven-year program. A person who learns and is tested on Kinyan Halacha finds time in the day that he never knew existed! He realizes the importance of chazarah because one cannot succeed in this program without umpteen chazaras. He learns how to encapsulate large amounts of learning in a concise way. He learns how to persevere from the beginning of the sugya until the final psak halacha without skipping any steps.
“Most of all he learns what sipuk, what satisfaction and simcha from learning Torah is, because there is no greater sipuk then the sipuk that comes after taking a grueling Kinyan Halacha test!
“There are no words of hakaras hatov, that can encapsulate our feelings for having the zechus to participate in Kinyan Halacha!”