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24 Teves 5765 - January 5, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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The 33rd European Yarchei Kalloh

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Sunday afternoon, Rabbi Boruch Dov Povarsky formally opened the annual Yarchei Kalloh week at the Normandie Hotel, Bournemouth, which was packed to capacity, kein yirbu. Some 400 participants joined in a week of intensive yeshiva- style learning under the leadership of the Ponovezh Rosh Hayeshiva, together with an outstanding team of maggidei shiur including Rabbi Gavriel Knopfler rosh yeshivas Shaarei Torah in Manchester, Rabbi Boruch Pines and Rabbi Aryeh Dunner both of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Yaakov Meir Rosenbaum rosh yeshivas Gur in London, and Rabbi Dovid Heller of America.

Speaking at the Pesichoh, Rabbi Povarsky expressed deep regret for the loss of HaRav Shloime Berman who was one of the pioneers of Yarchei Kalloh and attended the European Yarchei Kalloh in Lugano for the first five years.

Rav Povarsky continued with divrei his'orerus. The Yarchei Kalloh he said was an embodiment of Dovid Hamelech's principle, "Ivdu es Hashem besimchoh" (Tehillim 100:2). Dovid Hamelech himself, the gemora tells us, was the greatest masmid in Klal Yisroel to the extent that despite all his appointments as King and no matter what his intention at the start of the day, he always landed up in the beis hamedrash. The way to achieve simchah is with yir'as horomemus, that is the key.

The Torah tells us that the tochochoh is visited upon Klal Yisroel (R"l) when we perform our avodoh without simchah despite all the abundance. The first Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because they forsook the Torah and transgressed the three cardinal aveiros. Yet we are informed that they learned intensively. The answer to this conundrum is that they failed to recite bircas haTorah before their learning and so the Torah did not shield them from transgression as it would have, had they approached it in the correct manner.

Yarchei Kalloh should be considered as one of the great yeshivos in the world, one that personifies, "Ivdu es Hashem besimchoh" as befits the legacy of the Ponevezher Rov who was, par excellence, the exemplar of this very principle.

Mr. Eli Rosengarten, President of the European Yarchei Kalloh Committee, started proceedings by thanking all the maggidei shiur (whom he named individually), for their selflessness and commitment to attend this 33rd European Yarchei Kalloh. He explained the meaning of the Chazal, Bikeish Yaalov legallos es hakeitz venistemoh mimenu. Yaakov, he said, had never intended to mention a specific year for the coming of Moshiach. Rather, each of the shevotim were to play to their strengths and together they would form an alliance where all of them would contribute each in his own way to promote the unity of the whole — unity in diversity.

Dayan Grynhaus, the next speaker, promised to paint a picture of what goes on in heaven when the participants of Yarchei Kalloh gather for the occasion. The Dayan spoke about the Oleinu tefilloh and its unique position in the seder of davening. We are told that when Oleinu is said, the Pamalyo shell Maaloh gathers to listen. He reasoned that if they do this for a mere declaration of our commitment to Hashem and His Torah, how much more keenly would they gather for an actual demonstration of our eager joy to hear the words of Hashem to His chosen people.

He explained that the practice of deciding and clarifying the halochoh collectively dates from the Amoroim rather than the Tanoim. This gathering of Yarchei Kalloh is a continuation of that tradition to assemble under the tutelage of renowned talmidei chachomim to further enhance and promote knowledge of Torah in all its clarity.

Rabbi Dovid Heller described the destruction of European Jewry and its consequences. Very little remained of the infrastructure of our people. The position resembled the state of Jewry following the loss of the 24,000 talmidim of Rabbi Akiva. From that destruction there remained five talmidim who together rebuilt Torah in Klal Yisroel as we have it today. In similar manner the Ponevezher Rov and a few of his contemporaries did likewise (amid considerable scorn) and rebuilt the learning ethos with yeshivos, kollelim and seminaries of which this Yarchei Kalloh is an outgrowth.

Rabbi Yaakov Meir Rosenbaum, rosh yeshivas Gur, spoke about the chashivus of Torah and ahavas Hashem. Drawing on the Maharal, he explained why Yaakov chose the moment he met up with Yosef after all those years to say Krias Shema. That surge of love he felt for Yosef, he diverted in an expression of his love of Hashem. People who give up their cozy existence and duties at home to spend some time at the feet of talmidei chachomim are praiseworthy and demonstrate their love of Hashem in an exemplary manner. We are the people of hischadshus, and refreshing ourselves with an infusion of Torah is a natural characteristic of the Yiddishe people. Yehuda was sent ahead to establish a mokom Torah and then — and only then — does the Torah declare: Vayechi Yaakov.

The Pesichoh was just the beginning of a program which offered twelve shiurim a day (including concurrent shiurim), besides three hours of seder limud with chavrusas. The focal point of study was the masechta dekalloh, the first perek of Pesochim. The halochoh shiurim discussed the dinim of payos harosh, chukas hagoy and lo silbash. Rabbi Povarsky also devoted one of the daily mussar shmuessen to a Hesped of Rabbi Shlomo Berman. Several of the ladies' shiurim were delivered by Rabbi Pesach Eliyohu Falk, who also gave a halochoh shiur to men on Shabbos.

On motzei Shabbos at the end of his neiloh droshoh, following the ancient tradition of the Geonim, the Rosh Hayeshiva announced that next year's masechta dekalloh will be the first perek of Kiddushin and the halochoh shiurim will be on the subjects of tevillas keilim and bishul akum.

A Summary of the Hesped for HaRav Shloime (Shloimke) Berman

Quoting the gemora which tells us that the niftar himself attends a hesped given in his honor, Rav Povarsky suggested that a hesped provided a second chance to give kovod directly to the niftar as he would deserve. Rav Povarsky drew a parallel with the Mabul which was delayed on account of the tzidkus of Mesushelach from which we see the enormous effect that tzaddikim have on the world.

Pirkei Ovos begins by telling us about the transmission of the Torah. Rav Povarsky clarified its purpose, which is not to narrate history but rather as a statement that the method of transmission from rebbe to pupil is the only legitimate manner in which Torah can be passed down through the generations. Reb Shloime was, he said, surely one of the great personalities in hasboro of the Talmud and among the yechidim who are chosen to be the shlichim of Hashem as bearers of the transmission process.

Quoting the gemora which states that a person's true value can be gleaned from the words spoken about him after his petiroh, Rav Povarsky lamented our inability to express, and do justice, to the brilliance, illumination and erudition of the niftar, Reb Shloimke Berman. Not only did he excel as a teacher but to the end of his active life he was a pupil as well, willing to learn from every source.

For a man of this quality by rights we should tear keriah twice. As the halocho states in connection with a sefer Torah that gets burned, there is one keriah for the words that are destroyed and another for the gevil (parchment). Reb Shloimke suffered greatly from a debilitating illness and was unable to function for over twenty years and for this we should have torn keriah long ago. Now alas we must do so again following his petiroh and the loss to Klal Yisroel of such an outstanding personality and a giant in Torah, yir'oh and middos.


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