Much like the true beauty of a diamond is revealed after being polished by expert hands, participants at Agudath Israel of America’s Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah are finding themselves mesmerized by the brilliance of the sugya d’kallah unfolding before their very eyes under the guidance of the luminaries of the Torah world. Drawn deeper and deeper into the depths of the sugya, concepts and issues that were discussed during the first two days of the program have emerged in a clear focus and with every passing hour, the enthusiasm in the Yarchei Kallah beis medrash continues to hit record highs.
As always, the morning began with Daf Yomi, given in Yiddish by HaRav Chaim Yehuda Ullman, Rosh Mesivta, Yeshivas Bircas Aryeh Pressburg, Yerushalayim, and in English by Rabbi Gedalia Weinberger, Chairman, Daf Yomi Commission, Agudath Israel, Daf Yomi Magid Shiur, Agudath Israel Zichron Chaim Tzvi of Madison. Shachris segued seamlessly into preparations for the morning’s shiurei iyun, with Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman, editor of Yeshurun and co-chair of the Yarchei Kallah, delivering a formal hachanah to ready participants for the upcoming Torah feast about to unfold. In a fascinating presentation, HaRav Dovid Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Chevron, spoke at length in Yiddish on the dichotomy between yayin nesech and yayin stam, while HaRav Yochanan Rudensky, Rosh HaYeshiva Mercaz HaTorah, enthralled English listeners with an in depth look at the halachic ramifications of baking non-pareve bread, a critical topic in the world of bishul yisroel and pas yisroel.
Cementing in their minds their accumulated learning with a chazara shiur given by Rabbi Shlomo Cynamon, Rav, Khal Bnai Torah, Flatbush, after Minchah, participants went meichayil el chayil with another hachanah session. A Yarchei Kallah surprise moment had Rabbi Weinberger recognizing Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, the Agudah’s executive vice president for finance and administration, in advance of his upcoming retirement. Rabbi Weinberger praised Rabbi Gertzulin for his dedication and his flawless management of the Yarchei Kallah’s technical details for years, creating the beautiful backdrop that allows the ruchnius of the program to flow freely. Visibly moved, Rabbi Gertzulin said that he has been privileged to be part of the Yarchei Kallah staff and that he looked forward to returning next year as a participant. Next on the program was a detailed shiur on bishul akum by HaRav Nissan Kaplan, Rosh HaYeshiva, Das Aaron, who appealed to the several hundred Americans at the Yarchei Kallah to strengthen their resolve, noting that leniency in the area of bishul akum can yield catastrophic spiritual results.
Flexing their spiritual muscles in a different direction, participants enjoyed a visit to Kever Rochel, taking advantage of an opportunity to daven at a makom kadosh, before returning to the beis medrash for a special audio visual presentation on kosher wine and grape juice. The Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, a foremost expert on wine production and Rav Khal Nachlas Yehoshua of Monastristch, walked participants through the winemaking process, highlighting the various points during production when halachic ramifications can arise.
While the men spent their third consecutive day in the beis medrash immersed in their learning, the women’s track saw history come alive again, this time with a visit to Beit She’an, known as the Pompeii of Israel, reliving the moments of the second Bais Hamikdash as well as the periods when the Mishnah and Gemara were written. Heading north, the women took in the beauty of the Kineret before heading to Teveria to daven at the kevarim of the Rambam, the Shlah HaKadosh, Rabbi Akiva, the Ramchal, and Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai and his talmidim.
Three days into the program, the Yarchei Kallah participants have found themselves firmly entrenched in the world of learning, the distractions of everyday life fading into the recesses of their consciousness, while the timeless words of the sugya d’kallah occupy their every waking moment. The opportunity to be completely immersed in learning is an opportunity to be cherished, noted returning Yarchei Kallah participant, Zev Friedman of Monsey:
“The Agudah continues to find new and exciting and innovative ways every year to make the program better and better, and their efforts are visible by the fact that more and more people come and by the growth of the program,” said Mr. Friedman. “This program shows what the Agudah represents: Torah and Daas Torah, period, and both are communicated and disseminated at this program every single year.”