The last week of December will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the One Week Kollel of Flatbush. The Kollel was established in December 1988 by Dr. Aaron Mandel under the auspices of Torah Connections. The mission of the One Week Kollel was to afford ba’alei battim an opportunity to re-live the milchamta shel Torah of their Yeshiva days. The last week in December was selected because it is a time when many have vacation from work and are able to commit themselves to this holy endeavor.
Participants in the Kollel spend a week learning b’chavrusa several sugyos in the company of noted talmidei chachamim and yarei shamayim. The highlight of the program is the series of stimulating shiurim delivered by distinguished Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim. The sugyos are carefully selected to include familiar topics so that the participants can quickly delve into the sugyos without spending much time familiarizing themselves with background material. Through the nurturing of the Maggidei Shiur and Dr. Mandel, the participants have advanced spiritually and intellectually over the years.
The core members of the Kollel are a diverse group of more than fifty people, united in their desire to grow in Torah and yiras shamayim. In addition to broadening one’s knowledge of Torah, the Kollel fosters an environment of inspiration. One member noted that although the learning was above his level, the environment inspired him to strive for greater heights of ruchniyus.
As a testament to its success, the one-week program has been extended in prior years to weekly shiurim. In addition, some members of the Kollel have met learning partners with whom they have continued to learn and maintain close relationships for years. As many have discovered, there is no friendship that is stronger or more enduring than one forged through the study of Torah.
This year, the Kollel will be held from Wednesday, December 25, 2013, through Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It will be hosted in the spacious and comfortable Beis Medrash of Rav Feivel Cohen, shlita, Congregation Tomchei Torah, 1966 Ocean Avenue, between Avenues N and O. The first selected topic will be the sugya of mitzvos tzrichos kavanah of Perek Arvei Pesachim (Pesachim 114a), which was recently studied in the Daf Yomi cycle. The Kollel program will begin with chavrusa study and will be followed by shiurim. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
The Rosh Kollel is the renowned Rav Pesachya Fried, shlita, who has served as the Rosh Kollel since the program’s inception. His legendary shiurim cover the major themes of the sugyos and are always accompanied by well-organized handouts presenting the relevant source material. His shiurim are on the highest level and are presented with utmost clarity.
Another pillar of the Kollel is Rav Moshe Twersky, shlita. Rav Twersky has also been part of the Kollel since its beginning. He will deliver an intense regimen of daily shiurim covering every detail of the sugyos.
Additional shiurim will be presented by the Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath, Rav Yisroel Belsky, shlita; the Mara d’Asra Rav Feivel Cohen, shlita; Rav Yitzchok Deitz, shlita, the Mara d’Asra of Congregation Zichron Alter; and other special guests. Preliminary and preparatory shiurim will also be offered for those who are interested.
This year, the learning will be dedicated le’ilui nishmas Mrs. Batsheva Mandel a”h, the mother of the Kollel coordinator, ylt”a, Dr. Aaron Mandel. Mrs. Mandel passed away a few days before Chanukah. Mrs. Mandel’s nobility, grace and kindness will certainly be remembered by the chaveirim of the Kollel. She took it upon herself to personally serve lunch to the members of the Kollel every year. All remember her warm greetings and divrei bracha during the brief daily lunch breaks.
Reflecting upon an accomplishment that spans a quarter of century, we may ask: Does a period of twenty-five years of Torah study hold any symbolic significance?
The Talmud (Chullin 24a) notes a contradiction regarding the age requirements of a Levi who serves in the Beis Hamikdash. In parshas Beha’alosecha (Bamidbar 8:24), the Torah states that a Levi is to begin his service at the age of twenty-five. In parshas Bamidbar (Bamidbar 4:3), however, the Torah states that the Levi begins his service at the age of thirty. The Talmud resolves the apparent contradiction by explaining that the Levi begins to study the skills needed to serve in the Beis Hamikdash at twenty-five, but does not actually begin to serve until thirty.
What exactly did the Levi’im study at the age of twenty-five? They learned how to sing and play musical instruments. It is noteworthy that the Levi’im did not start to learn those skills until the age of twenty-five; many people learn those skills at a much younger age. The reason for postponing the musical training of the Levi’im until they attained the age of twenty-five must be that the shirah in the Beis Hamikash that accompanied the avodah was no ordinary song. The exalted spiritual nature of the shirah demanded a degree of maturity that could be achieved only by a mature adult of twenty-five years.
Chazal tell us that the ultimate song is the Holy Torah. In fact, the mitzvah of writing a sefer Torah is described with the words, “And now, write for you this song” (Devarim 31:19). With regard to the One Week Kollel, we may similarly note that now, only after twenty-five years, can we first begin to appreciate the impact and significance of the music produced by the members of this unique choir.
We strongly encourage all members of the community to join this group and take advantage of this unique opportunity. The program offers an exciting learning experience for participants of all backgrounds. For registration, sponsorship opportunities, and more information, please call Torah Connections at (718) 998‑5822 or (718) 253‑3554.