By Shimmy Blum
It’s a happy milestone at Agudath Israel of America’s lower Manhattan headquarters, as Parshas Noach 5775 marks the beginning of the 30th year of the organization’s weekly women’s shiur.
The 35 minute lunchtime shiur, delivered by Rabbi Labish Becker, Executive Director of Agudath Israel, has been a fixture of the office throughout the years. Held on Thursdays at lunchtime, the shiur draws women who work in the Wall Street area each week. There are also many men and women who listen to the shiurim on the Kol Halashon telephone line and at www.kosherjewishparenting.com.
It all began in 1979 when Rabbi Becker left Mirrer Kollel to assume the position of director of Zeirei Agudath Israel. He was eager to commit himself to klal work, and thrived on organizing shiurim and chavrusas for the tzibbur but was disappointed that he was no longer able to learn as much as he had previously.
He shared his feelings with Harav Yisroel Belsky, shlit”a, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. Rav Belsky advised him to deliver his own steady shiur, which materialized in 1985. “What I discovered was that the greatest beneficiary of the shiur is me,” Rabbi Becker reflects. “It requires a commitment to learn, clarify and be mechadesh in Torah every week, regardless of how busy I am.”
Indeed, shiur listeners enjoy the innovative blend of thoughts on the parsha, yamim tovim, and current events that Rabbi Becker shares each week. The shiurim are filled with thoughts from a cross section of commentaries, as well as intriguing original thoughts, stories, parables and practical hashkafa.
After over 1,200 shiurim, Rabbi Becker is as enthusiastic as the day he began. He looks forward to the new chiddushim he can collect and share in future shiurim, b’ezras Hashem, for as long as he can. Contemporary technology allows for a much broader audience than those who work in the area and can make it to the shiur. Rabbi Yossi Aszknazy, past president of Zeirei Agudath Israel of America, has been working diligently to digitize the cassettes of past Shiurim, making them available to a broader public.
Rabbi Becker says that his shiur is merely one component of the organization’s Torah culture. He notes that the Torah Projects Commision of Agudath Israel sponsors numerous Shiurim and events throughout the years. “Torah keeps us fresh and motivated,” he can concludes “and helps us help klal Yisroel.”