HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky, Shlita, Heads Dirshu Chizuk Delegation to Promote Daf HaYomi Learning In France

We felt the tremendous thirst for Torah and for the dvar Hashem wherever we went in France. The way thousands hung on to every world spoken by HaGaon HaRav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky, shlita, and the enthusiasm to incorporate more kevius ittim l’Torah into their lives is one of the remarkable transformations that French Jewry is undergoing,” said Rav Shlomo Rozenstein, Dirshu’s Director of Public Relations.

As the Daf HaYomi Siyum on Talmud Bavli approaches, Dirshu, the Torah organization whose raison d’etre is to promote limud haTorah the world over, has undertaken to establish and promote hundreds of new Daf HaYomi shiurim throughout France. Rabbi Naftali Levy, the longtime indefatigable Director of Dirshu France has observed how over the past few years, lomdei Dirshu in France have increased exponentially.

The upcoming massive Siyum HaShas that Dirshu will be holding at a super-large venue in downtown Paris, will certainly spur tremendous enthusiasm for limud haTorah and Dirshu is set to capitalize on that effort by expanding Daf HaYomi shiurim in hundreds of shuls throughout France.

Letters from HaGaonim HaRav Gershon Edelstein, Shlita and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita

The two senior gedolim from Bnei Brak, Hagaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponovezh Yeshiva and the Sar HaTorah, HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, each wrote separate letters addressed to French Jewry expressing their admiration and bracha for the tremendous efforts that Dirshu is investing to promote more and more Torah learning and shiurim in France.

Rav Edelstein writes, “It is a tremendous zechus to set aside time for daily Torah learning as after a person passes away he will be asked, ‘Did you set aside time to learn Torah?’”

“How wonderful it is that Dirshu, led by Rav Dovid Hosftedter, shlita, works to strengthen this important area! Now as the Daf HaYomi Siyum HaShas approaches, they have increased their efforts to establish shiurim all over the country and bring Torah to the wider public.” Rav Edelstein then went on to give his heartfelt bracha to all involved.

Indeed, as the siyum approaches, it is only natural that Dirshu, which has been very active in France for more than a decade, establishing shiurim and testing sites both in Daf HaYomi Bavli and also the Daf HaYomi B’Halacha daily Mishnah Berurah learning program, should step in and promote Torah learning on a massive scale in France. In the past, Dirshu has brought in HaGaon HaRav Shalom Cohen, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Porat Yosef, and the great mashpia, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shapiro, zt”l, for chizuk journeys for French Jewry.

Last week, Dirshu continued this mesorah with a tremendously successful chizuk trip to France headed by Rav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky, shlita, Mashgiach of Yeshiva Orchos Torah and a talmid muvhak of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, zt”l.

Deficiencies in Kavod HaTorah Rectified Through Increased Kavod HaTorah!

During the two-day marathon, Rav Mishkovsky spoke multiple times at yeshivos, shuls and other chizuk gatherings. His primary focus was on speaking to current maggidei shiur as well as prospective maggidei shiur about the tremendous opportunity to spread Torah to the masses through Daf HaYomi shiurim and explaining that Dirshu was willing to invest a tremendous amount of effort to promote and encourage the establishment of shiurim in every shul in France.

At a gathering for mechanchim and mechanchos held in the Paris suburb of Raincy at Yeshiva Chazon Baruch, led by Rav Yehuda Toledano, Rav Mishkovsky said, “700 years ago on erev Shabbos Parshas Chukas, the Magen Avrohom describes how 24 wagons full of Gemaros were taken out to the main square in Paris and burned. The sages of that time instituted that erev Shabbos Parshas Chukas should be a fast day for individuals.

“The Mahari Brunah, one of the early acharonim, writes that the reason such a horrible gezeirah of burning the Talmud occurred was because at that time French Jewry did not display the requisite kavod haTorah for the Rambam because they burned his sefer Moreh Nevuchim.”

Rav Mishkovsky became emotional and exclaimed, “Chazal tell us that Hashem burned the Bais Hamikdosh with fire and He is destined to rebuild the third Bais Hamikdosh with fire too! The way to fix deficiencies in kavod haTorah is to increase kavod haTorah and learning Torah. Look at what Rav Yochanan ben Zakai did when he told the Roman Emperor, ‘Grant me Yavneh and its chachomim.’ He saved the Torah, and he saved the entire generation. You Yidden in France have the power to follow in Rav Yochanan ben Zakai’s footsteps and save the entire galus of France by promoting shiurim in Daf HaYomi in every shul and encouraging Yidden to learn Torah daily. You can establish Torah and kavod haTorah in an unprecedented way!”

Every Kehillah to Establish Daf HaYomi Shiurim

Another highlight of the trip was the visit made by senior members of Dirshu’s hanhallah together with Rav Mishkovsky to Le Dome De Paris, site of the upcoming Dirshu Daf HaYomi siyum. The Center is the biggest indoor venue in Paris and French Jewry is expected to come en masse to attend the unprecedented demonstration of kavod haTorah and kavod for lomdei Torah that will be held there on 15 Teves/January 12.

An important component of the journey was also the effort to reach all kehillos in France. Rav Mishkovsky met with HaRav Yitzchak Michel Gugenheim, Chief Rabbi of Paris. The Chief Rabbi has appointed two representatives from each of the disparate major kehillos as his personal emissaries to promote shiurim throughout the country.

Rabbi Avigdor Bernstein, a senior member of Dirshu’s hanhallah who was one of the organizers of the chizuk journey, expressed his awe, “I was simply overwhelmed by the level of enthusiasm that permeated French Jewry. Wherever Rav Mishkovsky went, crowds of people flocked to hear him. French Jewry collectively has a special place in their hearts for the memory of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, who came to France a few times in his advanced old age to give chizuk to French Jewry. The fact that Rav Mishkovsky is a close talmid of Rav Shteinman had the Yidden in France hanging on to his every word.

“A recent amazing development clearly shows how excited French Jewry is about the upcoming siyum. An entire network of local sefarim stores has announced that the Shabbos preceding the siyum will officially be called Shabbos Daf Yomi. They have asked the public to sign up to learn a daf or two of Gemara on that Shabbos so that an additional, collective siyum on the entire Shas would be able to be held in conjunction with the Daf HaYomi Siyum Hashas. The seforim stores have pledged to gift every participant with a sefer.”

The renaissance of Torah in France can be seen with a peek into the thriving yeshivos that have been established there. Rav Mishkowsky gave a powerful shmuess at the Yeshiva led by Rav Mordechai Rottenberg, shlita, Rov Agudas Hakehilot Haredim, Paris and a chizuk drasha for over thirty Daf Yomi maggidei shiur at Mosdos Yad Mordechai, led by Rav Yitzchok Katz.

Perhaps the words penned by Rav Chaim Kanievsky in a letter to French Jewry best encapsulate the importance of the Torah revolution taking place in France, “The hands of the activists of Dirshu led by Rav Dovid Hofstedter should be strengthened at the gathering of Daf Yomi maggidei shiur, led by Hagaon HaTzadik Rav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky, shlita, in the city of the Baalei Tosafos - Paris…. may the zechus of the Baalei Tosafos, who illuminated Paris with their Torah and yirah, ensure that Torah should not be forgotten in Yisrael…

 By Chaim Gold