Inaugural Amud HaYomi Siyum on Masechta Berachot – Just One of the Many Highlights at a Dirshu Shabbat Convention Packed with Inspiration


Chaim Gold 

HaGaon HaRav Shimon Galei got up and grabbed the microphone. It was a totally spontaneous moment that left tears of emotion in the eyes of the thousands in attendance. It was in the middle of the Amud HaYomi Siyum at the Armon Hotel in Stamford. Hagaon HaRav Hillel David, shlita, had just finished speaking when suddenly, Rav Galei, grabbed the microphone and exclaimed, “Rabbotai! A siyum masechta is a time when there is a great eit ratzon in shamayim. Now is the time for all of us to daven for Klal Yisrael who are undergoing great difficulty and for all our personal tefillot as well.” 

Rav Shimon then began singing, “Shaarei shamayim Pesach,” a song where we beg Hashem to open the gates of heaven and shower us with bracha from His infinite otzar, treasure house of beracha. The tangible emotion and feeling of Rav Shimon reverberated throughout the hall and the crowd joined him, raising their voices in song. Soon, everyone was on their feet singing, davening. The emotion reached a crescendo and it was clear to anyone there that they were indeed tapping into a unique eit ratzon. The emotion, the tefillot, the tears that were shed, defy description.  

The truth, however, is that this exalted moment at the Amud HaYomi siyum was a microcosm of the eit ratzon that characterized the entire Shabbos Dirshu Convention this year.  

The inaugural Amud HaYomi siyum on Masechta Brachot, held on Thursday night in the Armon Hotel’s main ballroom, was a self-contained event that was open to the public, and the public came en masse.  

The event began with an important drasha delivered by Rav Hillel David, shlita, Rav of Kehillas Yeshiva Shaarei Torah, Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Umesorah, and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisroel. 

Rav David brought out the unique qualities of the Amud HaYomi, explaining, “When one learns the amud well and reviews it, it is a different amud. This simcha is not just your personal simcha, it is OUR simcha, a simcha for all of Klal Yisrael!” 

The Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, then delivered a seminal drasha. Rav Hofstedter shared a personal childhood recollection. “I was one of the few children of survivors who merited a grandfather who survived. When I was a child, we would go visit my Zeidah on Friday night. He would reminisce about the world of Europe that was no more. He would talk about the suffering during the holocaust and with great pain in his voice, would ask, ‘What did the Yidden in America and Canada do when they were killing six million Yidden?’ In an agonized, heart-aching voice, he would ask, ‘Were they going to the ballgames?’ 

“As a child, I remember thinking about the suffering of the Yidden during the holocaust and remember feeling sorry for those Yidden who could have done something, and had to live the rest of their lives with the knowledge and pain that perhaps they didn’t do as much as they could have…” 

Rav Hofstedter reached the climax of his drasha and passionately asked the audience that was listening with bated breath, “I ask with koved rosh and pain, ‘What are WE doing, when r”l, thousands of our fellow Yidden are being slaughtered and killed?! What are we doing when there are so many fresh widows and orphans, children crying for their parents and parents crying for their children, wives crying over the loss of their husbands and mothers crying over the loss of their children??!’ 

“There is so much that we CAN do! Let us take some responsibility upon ourselves. Let us here now declare, b’lev shaleim, that we will invest every ounce of our strength, our neshama, our hearts and accept upon ourselves to learn the Amud HaYomi! From Dan to Be’er Sheva, from Monsey to Melbourne, from one end of the world to the other, there should be no place where the Amud HaYomi is not learned with clarity, with chazara. Let us now be mekabel as one man with one heart! In this zechut, may we merit to see that Hashem is King and greet Moshiach!” 

Language pales when trying to describe a Dirshu Shabbat. How can physical words encapsulate something so spiritual, so intangible?!  

On Shabbos Dirshu, every shevet of Klal Yisrael came together as one – Ashkenazim and Sefardim, bnei Yeshiva and baalei battim, Chassidim and Litvishe bnei Torah – with no boundaries, only unity, achdut forged by the power of Torah, the ultimate unifier of Klal Yisrael. Upon entering the lobby, you were greeted by the sight of a Chassidishe yungerman bedecked with a shtreimel and white socks, discussing a complex Tosafot with a Litvishe yungerman wearing a short jacket and a tie. It was so normal because superficial boundaries do not exist at Mattan Torah where everyone is k’ish echad b’lev echad. 

Climactic Melava Malka and Siyum on Masechta Bava Kama 

After an entire Shabbos replete with chizuk and simcha, a Dirshu participant related, “I felt so full, so satisfied from all that I had seen and heard. Still, the Gemara says, that even when someone is satisfied from a seudah, there is always room for something sweet and the melava malka and siyum were sweeter than sweet!” 

Prior to the explosion of climactic dancing at the end of the melava malka, the assembled had the zechut to hear inspiring messages from the chairman, HaRav Zev Smith, shlita, Hagaon HaRav Dovid Goldberg, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita, Nasi Dirshu and HaRav Nissan Kaplan, shlita 

Rav Dovid Hofstedter made an impassioned plea that we rededicate ourselves to Torah with every fiber of our being.  

“It is not enough to perfunctorily learn Torah just to be yotzeh. We don’t just do the daf in a short amount of time. A Yid has to have a kesher with Torah, a deep, unbreakable bond with Torah! That is the essence of a Dirshu Yid! It is our responsibility to make a true kesher with Torah, not a blatt here, a blatt there, but to really understand, learn, chazar and retain what we have learned. That is why we are here!”  

Rav Nissan Kaplan hailed the Dirshu family for their unique bond with learning and their desire to learn and retain. “But,” he said, “there is still more to be done!” 

He called on the lomdei Dirshu to try their utmost to learn without breaks. The quality of the learning and its ability to impact the nefesh is infinitely greater when done with retzufos 

Rav Kaplan also called on lomdei Dirshu to invest special effort in tefillah and chessed. With the power of Torah, tefillah and chessed, our kehillah kedoshah of Dirshu can invoke such rachamim and transform the entire world! 

“The Taam of This Shabbat Will Remain!” 

Perhaps Rav Moshe Weinberger expressed the feelings of all present when he said during shalosh seudot, “I was introduced as the neilah of the Shabbat, the last speaker of the Shabbat. I beg to differ. I am the afikomen of the Shabbat! Chazal say, we eat the afikomen so that the taam, the taste of matzah should remain in the mouth. The taam of this wonderful Shabbats will remain in our mouths for eternity!”