By Chaim Gold
When Hashem sees His children living in unity and harmony, He looks upon them favorably. The Chofetz Chaim stresses this point countless times in his seforim, especially in the sefer Chofetz Chaim and Shmiras Halashon. This is one of the primary reasons that Dirshu holds a special, yearly Yom Limud and Tefilla on his yahrtzeit, 24 Elul, just over a week before Rosh Hashanah.
Indeed, Rosh Hashanah is around the corner. It is a time for introspection and tefilla, a time for contemplation and hakoras hatov. Exactly at such a time is when we realize the enormity of the spiritual hakoras hatov that we owe to the Chofetz Chaim, who bestowed upon us the twin brachos of the Mishnah Berurah and the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, seforim that illuminate our spiritual lives every single day of the year.
Dirshu’s ‘International Yom Limud and Tefilla’ brings together Jews throughout the world to recite specific chapters of Tehillim and learn segments from the two seminal seforim written by the Chofetz Chaim, the Mishnah Berurah and the Sefer Chofetz Chaim.
The Yom Limud and Tefilla, under the auspices of Dirshu and its kiruv arm, Acheinu, is designed to reach out with a message of achdus to all Jews from across the spectrum and at all levels of observance, promoting Torah learning and tefilla.
This year’s Yom Limud and Tefilla is the fifth such event. Over the past years, more than one million Yidden across the world participated in this auspicious day.
Jews from Five Continents Join in Unity
This year, too, Jews from all walks of life, spanning five continents, will gather together on Tuesday, 24 Elul/September 24th to invoke rachmei shomayim in advance of the approaching Rosh Hashanah.
From the Kosel Haamaaravi to classrooms in Texas and Williamsburg; from Teveria to Melbourne, Australia, and Buenos Aries, Argentina, Yidden will come together to recite Tehillim and learn the seforim of the Chofetz Chaim, while resolving to follow the hallowed path which he forged.
Throughout the diverse communities across the United States and Canada, a wide range of more than forty schools that truly represent the entire panoply of Orthodox Jewry, has signed up for the Yom Limud and Tefilla school programs. They include schools hailing from communities such as Monsey, NY; Lakewood, NJ; Brooklyn, NY; Manhattan, NY; Toronto, Canada; Houston, TX; Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH; Waterbury, CN; Phoenix, AZ; Passaic, NJ; Denver, CO; Boston, MA; Los Angeles, CA; and Providence, RI. In addition, nearly thirty Chassidishe schools in Brooklyn, Lakewood and Monsey will also be participating.
Engaging the Children
Dirshu has made available remarkably compelling, artfully designed booklets in both English and Yiddish for three different age groups: grades 1-3, 4-5 and 6-8. The twenty-page booklets were written by well-known mechanech and writer, Rabbi Yechiel Spero. Each of the three versions of booklets contain beautiful stories about the Chofetz Chaim and other gedolim that emphasize the lessons taught by the Chofetz Chaim. The compelling stories with captivating graphics make the children want to read it and be inspired. As a complement to the program, Rabbi Spero recorded a CD with a story of the Chofetz Chaim that will be distributed to each child in the many participating schools.
This year Dirshu brilliantly designed a Yiddish version of the booklet tailormade for the Chassidishe chadorim. Those schools distributed a CD made especially for the occasion by the famed Chassidishe rebbi and storyteller, Rabbi Leibish Lish.
The schools will also say Tehillim on behalf of Klal Yisrael and the tefilla of ‘Acheinu Kol Bais Yisrael’.
Each school will be commemorating the yahrtzeit of the Chofetz Chaim in the way best suited to its needs. Some schools that will be holding large, school-wide assemblies where the menahelim and rebbeim will talk about the legacy of the Chofetz Chaim and where all of the tinokos shel bais rabban in the school will daven together on behalf of Klal Yisrael.
In other schools, each rebbi will give the material out to his class individually and will teach the class about the yahrtzeit followed by tefillos.
At Schools, the Kosel and Homes of Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel
In Eretz Yisrael, according to Rabbi Gershon Kroizer, who oversaw the division covering schools in Israel and Europe, “Hundreds of schools encompassing many thousands of children will participate in the Yom Limud and Tefilla utilizing the unique content provided to commemorate the auspicious day.”
In addition, a special tefilla gathering will be held at the vasikin tefilla at the Kosel Hamaaravi.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the program in Eretz Yisrael,” said Dirshu’s Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein, “is the special tefilla gatherings to be held in the homes of the towering Gedolei Yisrael, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, and HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, who had such a profound impact on the previous generations and who, with their tzidkus and harbotzas haTorah so embodied the Chofetz Chaim’s teachings and goals. The great talmidim of these two gaonim will gather in their homes on the yahrtzeit and daven to invoke rachamei shomayim on behalf of Klal Yisrael and promote lessons of shalom and achdus.”
Encouraging Jewish Unity Among the Masses
The effort to encourage Jewish Unity among the masses will go well beyond the Torah community. That undertaking is being spearheaded by the Acheinu organization, the kiruv arm of Dirshu.
Last year, that endeavor was remarkably well received by secular Jews. In fact, this idea of the importance of Jewish Unity was even picked up by the secular press. Articles about the importance of the Day of Jewish Unity that coincides with the yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim appeared in numerous general publications such as Fox News, the Washington Times, the Huffington Post, the American Thinker and the Jerusalem Post.
The bottom line is that every thinking Jew can’t fail to realize that we are living in truly perilous times. Even in the United States there is a certain sense of instability as the harsh political strife and extraordinary mean-spiritedness has reached unprecedented levels. There is civil unrest and the threat of terrorism both domestic and imported, at home and abroad, that can have severe ramifications.
At this uncertain juncture we are in dire need of tremendous rachmei shomayim. Now, right before the Yom Hadin is the time to join together with untold numbers of Jews all over the world to daven for Klal Yisrael. The week of the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrzeit is also an exceedingly auspicious time to invoke Divine mercy.
Join with Klal Yisrael in the Yom Limud and Tefilla this Tuesday, 24 Elul/September 24, and tap into this unique eis ratzon!