“This sugya is really becoming clear,” said one participant to another, their voices barely audible over the thundering kol Torah as day three of Agudas Yisrael’s Yarchei Kallah in Yerushalayim got off to an energetic start.
Indeed, the beis medrash has almost never been quiet; while the sound of the learning is animated during the sedarim, there’s really no bein hasedarim. For many, the days’ learning began with Rav Meir Zvi Spitzer’s lively Daf Yomi shiur at six thirty in the morning. Everyone is trying to chap arein as much as possible. The participants are clearly in their element.
With a keen sense, one can detect an undercurrent of urgency. Although the participants may feel at home, they simply can’t allow themselves to forget that tomorrow is the last day of the Yarchei Kallah – hayom kotzor v’hamelacha meruba.
The eager anticipation was clearly apparent as one of the generation’s leading poskim- a moreh hora’a and magid, Harav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rav of Ramat Elchanan, Bnei Brak, and a most prolific author of many popular seforim, would soon grace the Yarchei Kallah with his presence and deliver a shiur b’halacha.
Exuding warmth and addressing the lomdim with his trademark greeting mein teiyere brieder, HaRav Zilberstein utilized his unique style to lead the mishtatfim on a scenic tour of halachic she’eilos (see sidebar). The lomdim were challenged to resolve multifaceted halachic issues that covered disparate topics ranging from the obligations of a guarantor, a physician’s responsibility to his patient and finally a fascinating story involving complexities of the sale of judaica. With true, eye-opening stories, the Rav shared profound lessons in halacha and revealed new insights into the realm of a world class posek.
While dozens of participants continued to engage Rav Zilberstein in heated conversation, others got right back to their avodas hakodesh, learning the sugya, preparing for the iyun shiur to be given by Harav Baruch Dov Povarsky, Rosh Yeshiva, Ponovezh.
The iyun shiur served to clarify not only the finer points of the sugya, but also showed the lomdim practical applications of the sugya. While yesterday’s iyun shiur delved into the very depths of the sugya, answering specific questions, Rav Povarsky took a different approach, showing the wider implications of the sugya as a whole.
The special English track, inaugurated this year was addressed by HaRav Binyomin Moskowitz, Rosh HaYeshiva of Medrash Shmuel. Rav Moskowitz gave a crystal clear and engaging shiur, to a standing room only crowd, delineating the nuances of the machlokes between the Rambam and the Ravad as to whether one should make a brocha on food that is forbidden to eat.
The lomdim got a well-deserved short break after Mincha, although many of them kept on learning without interruption. In fact, this year’s attendance of both Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman’s hachana shiur during morning seder and Rabbi Shlomo Cynamon’s chazara shiur during bein hasadarim has been larger than ever before.
By now, most feel at home in the sugya d’Kallah of keitzad mevorchim and the questions are getting sharper. There’s a true sense of accomplishment, albeit mitigated by the knowledge that the Yarchei Kallah has just passed the half-way point.
The afternoon program began with a shiur halacha given by HaRav Pinchas Breuer, Rosh HaYeshiva of Knesses Eliyahu, followed by divrei chizuk v’hisorerus from HaRav Asher Arieli, R”M in the Mirrer Yeshiva. HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, Rosh HaYeshiva of the Kaminetzer Yeshiva, then addressed the participants and imparted strong words of chizuk and mussar for the lomdim to take back home with them. The evening concluded with warm words of chizuk from HaRav Yehuda Ades, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Kol Yakov.
After the evening program, a number of participants went right back to learning in the beis medrash until late at night. The work before them was formidable, just reviewing the shiurim will certainly keep them occupied for the near future, but the next day’s schedule of iyun and halacha shiurim, to be given by Harav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi- was enough to remind them that mi shetarach b’erev Shabbos yochal b’Shabbos.
The women participants enjoyed a full day tour to Netivot, the makom hakevura of the Baba Sali zt”l, followed by a visit to Ein Avdat and Mitzpeh Ramon.
The Agudas Yisroel of America Yarchei Kallah had its humble roots 14 years ago with a group of 40 balebatim from the United States who came to Eretz Yisroel at the height of the intifada. They came to learn in the spirit of the dictum of Chazal that Torah magen umatzel. Torah has the ability to protect and save. In the ensuing years, more and more balebatim understood the value of intensive learning in the avira demachkim of Eretz Yisroel. The scope of the Yarchei Kallah continued to grow both in the number of participants and the countries that they hail from. Canada, England, Israel, Mexico and Switzerland are part of the growing roster of countries sending lomdim to the Yarchei Kallah.
To the delight of all the participants, this year saw a significant breakthrough in the annals of Yarchei Kallah history. The large number of lomdim overwhelmed the hotel ballroom that has been the home of the Yarchei Kallah over the years, necessitating the opening of a second ballroom to accommodate the tremendous growth of the Yarchei Kallah.
As a participant who has attended since the very first year commented, “it has been an incredible nachas ruach to watch the Yarchei Kallah grow from year to year. It gives us spiritual sustenance throughout the year. We are truly appreciative to the askanim who work so hard to make this happen year in and year out.”