Dirshu Shas Yidden Tested on Shas for the Second Time
It was an absolute unique maamad that transpired in the home of HaGaon HaRav Berel Povarsky, shlita, senior Rosh Yeshiva at the Ponovezh Yeshiva. Rav Berel was so deeply moved by what he saw that at the end of the event he exclaimed, “I am so overjoyed that Baruch Hashem, Klal Yisroel is not orphaned. We have true bekiim in Shas with whom we can go and greet Moshiach!”
What was the event? Why did it make such a profound, deep impression on the octogenarian Rosh Yeshiva?
The event was a celebration of the learning and constant cumulative chazara of learning Shas twice over fifteen years and constantly being tested. The tests were not just on the material learned in the prior month, or the prior six months but rather on material learned during the entire machzor of the Daf HaYomi from the beginning of Shas until now.
Fifteen years ago, with the siyum of Masechta Chulin in the Daf HaYomi, at the behest of Gedolei Yisrael, Dirshu established a new program entitled “Kinyan Shas,” a unique program that would ultimately enrich Klal Yisroel with hundreds of true bekiim in Shas - talmidei chachomim who could literally answer any question from any Daf in Shas at any time of the day or night.
The program was designed to enable dedicated and motivated talmidei chachomim to be engaged in constant chazara of what they learned so that over the course of the seven-year cycle of the Daf HaYomi they would end up taking tests multiple times on the same material.
The way the program worked was that in addition to monthly tests on thirty blatt, Dirshu would create special tests every six months at the end of the bein hazmanim months of Tishrei and Nissan, when the avreichim would be tested on all of the material learned from the beginning of the machzor of Daf HaYomi in Brachos until where the Daf HaYomi was holding.
“The First Test is One of My Prized Possessions!”
Fifteen years ago, when Rav Berel Povarsky was informed of Kinyan Shas, he felt compelled to attend the first test in the new program.
Last week at his house, Rav Povarsky reminisced about that first test. “I was in such a state of high emotion and simcha after witnessing that test that I myself took a test home and took the test. I placed that test in my safe here in the house and it is still there. It is one of my prized possessions,” the Rosh Yeshiva concluded.
Last week, as the Daf HaYomi approached the end of Masechta Chulin and the anniversary of the second completion of Shas with the Kinyan Shas program is marked, ten of the elite talmidei chachomim have completed the Kinyan Shas program twice! That means being tested multiple times on the entire Shas, many of them with Tosafos too!
These talmidei chachomim gathered at the home of Rav Berel for a dual purpose. First, to celebrate and thank Hashem for granting them the incredible zechus to achieve such a milestone and to thank Dirshu for facilitating it. The second reason was to encourage and give tips to the new generation of Kinyan Shas learners who be’ezras Hashem will be joining the program as it embarks on its third machzor.
All of the avreicheim were very emotional as they shared all kinds of eitzos and tips that enabled them to persevere, learn and review vast amounts of Gemara until they would be able to be tested on all of Shas at once and remember every single blatt in Talmud Bavli!
The avreichim were accompanied by Dirshu’s Nasi, Rav Dovid Hofstedter and senior members of Dirshu’s hanhala led by Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein.
“When You Complete The Entire Shas, It Is Like One Massive Act Of Kiddushin”
After Rabbi Bernstein reminded Rav Berel of how he attended the first siyum in Kinyan Shas and even took the test, Rav Berel smilingly nodded in acknowledgment and said, “The Gemara teaches us that Abaye would say, that whenever a person in the yeshiva would complete a masechta, he would make a siyum for the entire yeshiva. Why,” Rav Berel asked, “did he make on only a complete masechta? Doesn’t completing a perek or a difficult sugya also deserve a celebration? I think the answer is that it is brought down that one must acquire the Torah with a complete acquisition just as one acquires a wife through kiddushin. One cannot acquire half of a wife. It must be a complete acquisition, or it is no acquisition. So too, every masechta is an entire unit. If you have not completed the entire masechta you have not acquired the entire unit.
“If that is true with regard to a masechta how much more so is it true with regard to the entire Shas! When you complete the entire Shas, it is like one massive act of kiddushin, of acquisition.
“The fact that there are hundreds of people who have acquired Shas in this way in the Kinyan Shas program and have even been tested on it, fills me with simcha!”
Rav Bernstein related to Rav Berel, “As new avreichim join, it is important that they receive guidance in how to learn, how to review and how to persevere and remain dedicated to a goal and a task that is in essence an undertaking for life. Perhaps the Rosh Yeshiva would derive simcha from hearing from the experiences of some of these avreichim and what helped them complete their second machzor of Shas with cumulative tests?”
Shas Yidden Give Learning Tips
Rav Zushia Zilberstein, was the first to speak. He gave what is perhaps the general approach that must be taken. He said, “Someone once asked the Maharsham of Berzhan how he remembers the entire Shas? He replied, ‘If you keep on chazering over and over… and over again, you don’t have to remember. All of it is fresh. So, first and foremost, a person must learn how to review and review, even a hundred times,” Rav Zushia added.
Rav Zev Yankowitz, another baki b’Shas, added, “A person must make sure when he learns a Daf for the first time to learn it well and understand everything in it clearly, knowing it the first time with clarity is one of the keys for success. Secondly, a person must make ‘simanim’, little memory aids, to help him remember. Third and perhaps most importantly, ‘Whenever a person finishes learning a Daf, he must quickly review it and encapsulate the entire Daf in a quick synopsis.’”
Rav Eliyahu Fisher, another up and coming gadol b’Torah added, “What is critically important is the idea of kevius, of resolving and undertaking that no matter what I am determined to finish this project, to learn, chazer and be tested. Only when a person knows he has no choice but to take EVERY test without ever skipping, can he succeed. This undertaking must be taken on as a life-mission that is impossible to relinquish.”
Rav Malinowsky, another participant added that even a person who initially thought such a massive undertaking was impossible receives special kochos once he jumps into it with true dedication.
Rav Michoel Ulman related that what worked for him was using the Chazaras HaShas method created by Rav Sender Dolgin of Lakewood. It involves learning a new blatt every day, reviewing the previous one, reviewing the one from a week ago, three months ago and then a year ago. In this way, one is always reviewing everything he learned.
Rav Dovid Hofstedter, the Nasi of Dirshu concluded by profusely thanking Rav Berel Povarsky for always being a pillar of support for Dirshu, “The Rosh Yeshiva has always so enthusiastically been there for Dirshu. Whether it was at the beginning of this Kinyan Shas program or making the effort to travel to America for the Convention, the Rosh Yeshiva’s constant guidance and encouragement so strengthens us.”
By Chaim Gold