Beginning of Second Machzor to Coincide with Dirshu World Siyum
at Binyanei Haumah in Yerushalayim
By Chaim Gold
“We are all obligated to learn mussar,” said Rabbi Dovid Meisels, a Dirshu Kinyan Chochma participant, “but unless we have something that compels us to do it, a set program with tests, it often falls by the wayside. Our lives are so busy that unless we really prioritize, mussar learning simply won’t get done. That is what I have found so amazing about the Dirshu Kinyan Chochma program! It forces me to learn mussar and as a result of this learning, I have seen such a dramatic transformation in my personal life, my avoas hamiddos and my general avodas Hashem.”
As Dirshu’s Kinyan Chochma mussar program nears the end of its first machzor, participants in the program are reflecting on the tremendous benefits that they have reaped in their personal lives as a result of being part of such a program.
In addition, the end of the first machzor and the beginning of the second machzor scheduled to commence at the beginning of the upcoming month of Teves with the learning of Masechta Avos with Rabbeinu Yonah, offers the chance for new participants to join and experience the life-altering impact of bringing daily mussar learning into their lives. The new machzor will coincide with Dirshu World Siyum at Binyanei Haumah Convention Center in Yerushalayim.
Kinyan Chochma Established
at the Behest of Leading Gedolim
The Kinyan Chochma program was established three years ago at Dirshu’s International Convention that celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Dirshu’s founding. It was established at the behest of the leading Gedolim who felt that chizuk was needed in daily mussar learning.
Kinyan Chochma, a mussar program wherein a short piece of one of the mussar classics is learned daily, features Pirkei Avos with Rabbeinu Yonah, Mesilas Yesharim, Tomer Devorah, Orchos Chaim of the Rosh and Orchos Tzaddikim.
The program has been instituted to encourage daily learning of mussar among all members of Klal Yisrael. The Gedolei Yisrael from both Eretz Yisrael and chutz la’aretz have enthusiastically called on Yidden the world over to join the program and incorporate daily learning of mussar into their lives together with their other learning sedarim. Lomdei Dirshu participating in the Kinyan Torah program and Daf HaYomi B’Halacha programs can take monthly tests on the mussar learned and receive stipends for excellent results.
A New Twist on Timeless Lessons
Another Kinyan Chochma learner, Rabbi Yoel Klein related, “I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to be able to learn the peirush of Rabbeinu Yonah on Masechta Avos. Rabbeinu Yonah takes a mishnah that you always learned and understood in a certain way and gives it a totally different twist, a fresh look that you never contemplated. He always leaves you with food for thought and how to incorporate a practical lesson learned from the Mishnah into your life.
“I will tell you a story,” added Rabbi Dovid Meisels, “that just transpired recently. I was talking to someone and he cited something that we all learned as children, that Avrohom Avinu’s tent had four entrances so that wayfarers from all four sides would see it and be able to enter from the side from which they were coming. That Yid told me that he had searched everywhere, in the Gemara, midrashim and other works of Chazal but was unable to find a source regarding the four entrances of the tent. Before I started learning Kinyan Chochma I might have said, ‘You know, you are right. I wonder where or if there is such a source.’ But now that I had learned Kinyan Chochma, I told him, “Just look at Rabbeinu Yonah on Avos, perek aleph mishnah hei!’”
Mussar is one of those things that most people realize that we need, but somehow it gets pushed to the side because there is usually no scheduled time and specific limud for it. Over the past three years, participants in Dirshu’s Kinyan Torah and Daf HaYomi B’Halacha programs have added Dirshu’s Kinyan Chochma mussar program to their daily learning regimen. This daily, scheduled immersion in mussar has resulted in tremendous benefit in their avodas Hashem.
The Primary Avodah:
Working on One’s Avodah!
In Dirshu’s Sefer Chizuk, published in honor of Dirshu’s 10th Anniversary, the Mashgiach of Yeshiva Knesses Beis Chizkiyahu in Kfar Chassidim, Rav Dov Yaffe, zt”l, wrote about this very matter. He wrote, “A person must remember that the yetzer hara always tries to minimize, in a person’s own eyes, the importance of inner avodah, of working on oneself and improving one’s middos. Often the yetzer hara magnifies the importance in one’s eyes of things that are not directly related to one’s inner avodah, such as assisting others or reaching out to estranged Jews. These are all important, but the daily inner work of avodas Hashem is the primary task that each person has and that is why the yetzer hara always tries to minimize its importance and convince a person not to engage in learning Torah and mussar… [Sefer Chizuk, Chapter 7].”
The Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen, shlita, said, “In our generation it is impossible to maintain and sustain one’s spiritual achievements with Torah learning alone. One needs to combine Torah learning with mussar learning. Masechta Avos contains the mussar lessons that Chazal have taught us and thus learning them brings tremendous benefit. In the commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah there are many foundational mussar lessons that strengthen a person in his avodas hammusar.”
Rabbi Meisels, pointed out that “everyone knows the famed words of the Mesilas Yeshorim that his sefer is not coming to relate new chiddushim, rather it comes to reiterate that which people know already but seem to forget or gloss over because it is not on their mind. When you start learning Mesilas Yesharim daily in the way we did in the Kinyan Chochma program, you actually experience what the Mesilas Yesharim said. We have such busy lives and the nature of life is that if you don’t stop and think, you will just keep running through life without thinking. The Mesilas Yesharim that I was forced to learn in order to keep up with the Kinyan Chochma program added so much to my life. It was not a large investment of time, just a few minutes a day, but I felt that my entire day was different as a result.”
America’s Senior Mashgichim
Indeed, the program was enthusiastically welcomed by two of America’s venerated senior Mashgichim, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Wolfson, shlita and HaGaon HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, shlita.
In his warm letter praising the Kinyan Chochma program, Rav Salomon wrote, “The obligation to learn mussar daily is well known, as Rav Yisrael Salanter explains at length in his sefer Ohr Yisrael, in the name of the poskim. It does not require a haskama. Nevertheless, because of its great benefit, the yetzer hara tries to find all kinds of excuses to deter a person from learning mussar.
“Therefore, how great is the joy that the Dirshu organization has added a mussar program to its existing programs to encourage and make it easier to learn mussar every day…”
Rav Wolfson stressed how, “The importance that our earlier sages attached to learning works of yiras shomayim and mussar is well known. Nevertheless, the yetzer hara tries to get us to neglect learning mussar, to the extent that even bnei Torah overlook it.
“We must therefore feel indebted to Dirshu for encouraging Jews the world over to strengthen themselves in this…”
As the Kinyan Chochma approaches the beginning of the second machzor in just over a month, featuring Masechta Avos with the commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah, now is the time to join and experience how just a few minutes of mussar daily can enrich your life in areas of both bein adam l’chaveiro and bein adam l’Makom.