Excitement in the Jewish World: 94 Geonim “Shas Yiden” gather for the Annual Siyum of 470 Shasim and Public Farher on the Entire Shas
By Rabbi Eliezer Sandler
The grand gathering of Maranan v’Rabbanan the Gedolei and Me’orei Hador, was presided over by Maran, Sar Hatorah, Hagaon Hagadol Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a – the Nasi of the Shas Yiden Kollel Network. In an emotional letter to the gathering, the Rav wrote: “These are Emesdike (TRUE) Shas Yiden. Meritorious is Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen, the Pozna Rov, who has been the Nachshon (the very first) to produce avreichim who conclude and are examined on the entire Shas every year.”
* The Sanzer Rebbe, shlit”a, said: When the Shas Yiden Kollel opened, all thought that even with its lofty goal, it would only be able to produce a few individuals proficient in the entire Shas. Today, to our joy, we witness a significant and tremendous Torah institution. Its Founder, the Pozna Rov, is certainly doing the shlichus (mission) of Klal Yisroel”
* When the Boyaner Rebbe, shlit”a, left the hall, he grabbed the hand of the founder of Shas Yiden, the Pozna Rov and broke into an emotional rikud (dance)
* The Mashpiah, Hagaon Hatzadik Reb Elimelech Biderman, shlit”a: “At this time, the malachei hashoress on High are dancing in honor of the Shas Yiden avreichim, and singing: ‘M’ein Olam Hazeh’ with regard to this awesome gathering!”
A TORAH REVOLUTION
The Torah world has closely followed the exciting annual gathering at which the Shas Yiden geonim conclude the entire Shas, once again. Before the Siyum, they faced a public examination on the entire Shas, which, in the last year alone, they have EACH covered a minimum of FIVE times. As has been done each year, the gathering is honored by the appearance of Maranan v’Rabbanan the Gedolei Hatorah of our generation. They all came to express their appreciation of the young geonim of the Shas Yiden Network, founded by the Pozna Rov, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen, of Brooklyn, NY. During these last 13 years, Shas Yiden has brought about a worldwide Torah revolution. Its watchword is: “Lo bashomayim hee” – “It is not in Heaven” to know the entire Shas in depth with all-encompassing knowledge and comprehension.”
The magnificent gathering was an opportunity to recognize the rapid expansion of the Shas Yiden network. The dais seated some 94 avreichim geonim, all completely proficient in the entire Shas. The network has six kollelim: Yerushalayim, Beit Shemesh, Beitar, Bnei Brak, Kiryat Sefer and Stamford Hill in London, UK. This Torah reality crushes the long-believed myth that knowing Shas in its entirety is something from the past. Here, for all to see, is the fulfillment of the brocho of the Sar Hatorah, Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, the Nasi of Shas Yiden. For over a decade, when Kollel Shas Yiden was just a minyan of avreichim in a small room in Beit Shemesh, Rav Kanievsky spoke of the vision of the Pozna Rov, and blessed and encouraged him to establish additional branches of Shas Yiden. To many it appeared to be a distant and, maybe, an impossible vision, but today it is clearly a vibrant reality.
THE NACHSHON FOR “YEDIAS HASHAS KULO”
This year, especially, Hagaon Harav Chaim was so enthused by the great growth of Shas Yiden. Aside from his personal appearance at the event, he also brought his personal letter to be read aloud at the Siyum on his behalf by his chavrusa, Hagaon Harav Yisroel Meir Druk. In the letter, he praises the greatness of Shas Yiden. “Praiseworthy are these talmidei chachomim, outstanding in their great knowledge of Torah, the entire Shas Bavli in breadth and depth. These are Emesdike (true) Shas Yiden, whom I have personally tested, and I found them beki’im gedolim (exceptionally proficient) in the entire Shas.”
Maran Sar Hatorah also noted the great revolution in the Torah world that the Pozna Rov began 13 years ago. As a result, the concept of Shas Yiden is not confined to history – rather, the Shas Yiden story has inspired other efforts in the Torah world to learn the ‘whole Shas’. He also highlighted the fact that the Shas Yiden avreichim are not only au fait in the Gemora of the Shas, but they constantly review all the Gemora, Rashis and Tosfos throughout the year to know it all b’al peh. “Praised is the Pozna Rov that he merited to be the Nachshon (the very first) with this idea to establish such kollelim, and to raise up incredible talmidei chachomim who merit to study Gemora, Rashi and Tosfos, and to do a siyum of the entire Shas each year, through great effort and with great clarity.”
When he concluded reading the letter, Rav Druk added, in the name of Hagaon Yitzchak Shaul, son of Rav Chaim, how much his father enjoys and looks forward to the visits of the Shas Yiden avreichim when they come to be farherd.
A FATHER’S TEARS
It is difficult to find the words to adequately describe this incredible gathering. From entering to exiting, the atmosphere was electric. Prior to the farhers, the 94 avreichim geonim came in and took their places and were rocking back and forth… Each had a sefer in his hand. Every minute of the day, they are bound up with their pages of Shas, including the time at the Siyum gathering. The fact is that Shas Yiden Kollelim are not limited to specific times. The avreichim are not at Kollel – they are the Kollel. They do not have time for functions – they have 9 blatt a day with four revisions to complete. On erev Shabbos /Yom Tov, and on Shabbos and Yom Tov themselves, they are required to complete 4 blatt with four revisions – ALL to enable each of them to complete five times Shas every year – a minimum total of 13,555 blatt.
It was amazing to see all the Shas Yiden avreichim geonim all together, their faces shining with purity and Torah knowledge. ‘Ruach acheres’ – A different spirit encompassed them all. The test was about to begin. The avreichim from London and those from the newly established kollel in Kiryat Sefer, took their places among the others.
Suddenly an older member of the audience had a tear rolling down his cheek and he tried to brush it away. It appears that he was the father of two Shas Yiden – two not one, from the same home. “Yes, my boys are learning Gemora, Rashi and Tosfos, every day and night. Boruch Hashem, they really know Shas! As soon as the test starts, you will understand why I am so emotional and excited. Even though you don’t have a son here, you will be just as excited.” The father was asked, but isn’t this kollel for illu’im (remarkable scholars) – are both your sons illuim? “Actually, no. This kollel is for those who are serious about their Torah. It’s for those who learn with all their might and gevura, day and night. “Being an illui has never been a condition to becoming a godol in Torah,” finished the father.
A TORAH TIDAL WAVE – THE FARHERS
Two farhers were conducted. This was the moment to which all the avreichim geonim had been gearing themselves. As with all the farhers that they have had to date, there was no way to anticipate the questions and direction of the examiners. Simply, the questions could emanate from any gemora, each within its own context and the approach of the examiners. They were each eminent talmidei chachomim occupying significant scholarly positions in limud Hatorah.
The Rosh Hakollelim, Hagaon Harav Moshe Isaac Samet, shlit”a, opened the gathering with the following words: “We are again entering an awesome gathering that is unique in its combination of yir’ah (trepidation) and rachamim (mercy), a holy gathering before Hashem. Lift your eyes and look about you, how our avreichim have gathered from across Eretz Yisroel and from as far as London – the talmidei chachomim of Shas Yiden. “Vihi noam…” May the pleasantness of Hashem our G-d rest upon us etc.”
Without any further ado, he gave the microphone to the first examiner: Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Freund, shlit”a, Rosh Kollel of Yeshivas ‘Nachalas Moshe’ in Bnei Brak and Rav of Kehilas Lomdei Torah in Rechovot. After a brocho of good wishes he went to challenge the full complement of Shas Yiden with a barrage of questions. Each of the avreichim had a microphone and the collective and immediate responses sounded like a tidal wave of Torah, quoting sources from all over Shas and from the Rishonim. It was a battle of Torah titans.
The second examiner was Maran Hagaon Harav Avrohom Direnfeld, Rosh Kollelei Iyun of Belz, Rav of Kehillot Belz in Tel-Aviv and Beit Shemesh, a member of Badatz Machazikei Hadas. Interestingly one of the Shas Yiden avreichim being tested was his son. As with the first farher, no quarter was given in these Torah clashes. All those watching the farhers were ‘blown away.’ How could these young men master it all? But they certainly did.
Among the audience were many Americans studying in Yeshiva in Israel, and whose parents are supporters of Shas Yiden. They could not believe their eyes and immediately after the farhers, they were on their phones calling home telling their parents about the awesome gathering that they had just witnessed.
At the conclusion of the second farher, Maran Hagaon Harav Avrohom Direnfeld, shlit”a, said: “After so many tragedies over this last year, we are fortunate to witness such a simcha as this. That in our midst are great geonim who know the entire Shas. This is an amazing Kiddush Sheim Shomayim!”
470 SIYUMEI HASHAS IN ONE GREAT SIYUM
After the farhers, the entire gathering moved to the adjoining hall for a true seudas mitzvah celebrating the Siyum of Torah She’b’al Peh. The Shas Yiden geonim were surrounded by their families – including their parents and their children, all basking in the nachas of the moment. They had all concluded a year of toiling in Torah. Each family, a full partner with their Shas Yid Gaon. Once again, as in past years, the wives were each given a present, as well as a generous cash-filled envelope and a personal letter from the Pozna Rov.
Supporters of Shas Yiden participated, and were quite overcome by all that they were witnessing at this seudas mitzvah. The atmosphere became more intense with the arrival of the honored guests – Maranan V’rabbanan Gedolei Hatorah v’Hachassidus.
It was clear that the Shas Yiden geonim merited special attention from the Gedolei Hador, shlit”a. This is a result of the many public farhers that the Shas Yiden avreichim undergo every few months, closely tested by the Gedolei Torah from across the Torah spectrum. It all reached a crescendo with the arrival of the Nasi of the Shas Yiden Network, Maran Sar Hatorah. The glorious singing and dancing was something to behold. With him on the dais were Maranan Hageonim Hagedolim shlit”a, including: Harav Boruch Dov Povarsky, Harav Shimon Badani, the Sanzer Rebbe, the Boyaner Rebbe and Harav Shimon Galai.
Bearing in mind that each of the avreichim had concluded Shas 5 times during the course of the year, the total number of Shas completed by the avreichim geonim was 470! These were all combined into one grand and inspiring Siyum Gadol.
THE SANZER REBBE RECITES THE HADRAN
The Sanzer Rebbe recited the Hadran and was very emotional when he addressed the gathering. He said that if just one individual does a siyum of a gemora, we make a Yom Tov lerabanan. Here, at the Siyum Hagadol we consider that almost 100 geonim have completed the entire Shas, b’al peh, with chazoras (multiple revising) in-depth study and thorough comprehension. There is no greater Yom Tov than this! It is with wonderment that “we see before our eyes, the fulfilment of the Divine Promise “that the Torah will not be forgotten by his descendants.” What in yesteryear was the inheritance of the few, the Pozna Rov, shlit”a, has made into a gigantic revolution, and we see the Shas Yiden Network growing exponentially. It must be a mattonah (gift) that the Pozna Rov was granted from Heaven, for he is certainly doing the shlichus (mission) of Klal Yisroel.”
The Sanzer Rebbe pointed out that he knows some of the Shas Yiden avreichim personally. Their faces reflect their cleaving to Torah. The chein they acquired through toiling in Torah, envelops them. This all clearly negates the power of the yetzer, hastens the geulah, and is a source of salvation for all of Klal Yisroel.”
The honor of reciting the kaddish on behalf of all the geonim was given to Harav Hechossid Yisroel Moskowitz, shlit”a, of London and patron of the London Shas Yiden Kollel. His son-in-law, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Dovid Olevsky, shlit”a, was one of the leading talmidei chachomim of Shas Yiden-Yerushalayim. He was appointed to serve as the Rosh Kollel of Shas Yiden-London. A second son-in-law, Harav Yisroel Shvirtz, is also one of the avreichim geonim in Shas Yiden-Yerushalayim.
THE BOYANER REBBE TAKES HIS LEAVE
Quite a way into the evening’s program, an emotional moment took place. The Boyaner Rebbe, shlit”a, was about to leave and the Pozna Rov escorted him to the building entrance. Unexpectedly, as they exited the hall, the Rebbe grabbed the Pozna Rov by the hand and began to dance with him, with the abandonment of Simchas Torah. He was overcome by the specialness of the simcha and expressed his amazement at the Torah revolution engendered by Shas Yiden.
HAMASHPIA HAGADOL REB ELIMELECH
All were privileged to hear the inspiring and warm words of Maran Hamashpiah Hagadol, Hatzadik Reb Elimelech Biderman, shlit”a, who has a special and close connection with Shas Yiden. In a dramatic speech, he described how the vision of the Pozna Rov, some 13 years earlier developed “skin and bones, veins and sinews” in such an amazing manner that there are now almost 100 Shas Yiden, something that is almost unbelievable and a cause for consternation.
“In the beginning, I thought that this developing of Emesdike (true) Shas Yiden was an exaggeration,” said the Mashpia when interviewed. “Perhaps the avreichim don’t really know Shas, never mind the entire Shas. Who had ever heard of training large groups to know the entire Shas? However, after I personally sat with them and farhered them, I saw that this was no exaggeration. Each of them knows Shas from beginning to end – the words of Shas are on their lips.”
And then the Mashpia added excitedly: “On Shabbos Kodesh we are accustomed to sing “M’ein Olam Haba” (taste of the World-to-Come), but now, here at this time, the Malachei Hashores in Heaven, in honor of the Shas Yiden geonim, must be dancing and singing: “M’ein Olam Hazeh” (a taste of this world). These Shas Yiden have shown how it is possible to really be mesameach (to rejoice) with Hashem in this world. Even now, just to sit under the same roof with the Shas Yiden avreichim is a true fulfilment of experiencing Olam Hazeh in the fullest sense of what Olam Hazeh could and should be.
OTHER GEDOLIM IN ATTENDANCE
Other speakers and many Gedolim were in attendance. They included Maranan Hageonim Hagedolim, shlit”a: Harav Shimon Badani, Chaver Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah and Harav Binyamin Finkel, Mashgiach of Mir Yerushalayim who both addressed the gathering, as well as Harav Yerachmiel Ungarisher, Rosh Yeshiva Bais Medrash Elyon; Harav Moshe Shimon Edelstein, Rav Neof Yosef; Harav Moshe ben Shimon, Rav Bnei Brak and Rosh Yeshiva Or Elitzur; Harav Chaim Peretz Berman, Rosh Yeshiva Ponevez; Harav Shimon Galai, Kollel Taharos; Harav Itamar Garbuz, Rosh Yeshiva Orchot Torah; Harav Chaim Feinstein, Rosh Yeshiva Ateret Shlomo; Harav Shevach Tzvi Rosenblatt, Rav Bnei Brak. Many other Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva joined the dais during the gathering.
After many joyous hours at the gathering, the talmidei chachomim and geonim began dancing with the joy of Torah in their beings. The prayer in the hearts of the Shas Yiden avreichim was, Ribbono shel Olam, just as you enabled us to complete the Siyum Hashas for 5781, may You bless us to do so for 5782 and beyond. May the Torah never cease from our mouths and those of our children, through all generations.
London: UK Registered Charity # 1191225 – 2 Timberwharf Road, London N16 6DB, England
Some of the Shas-wide questions FIRED at the Grand Farher
-all in short succession
The avreichim hurled back page references and sources from all over Shas with a breathtaking knowledge. When they would pause, it was to refer and to determine the different sources and to debate with the examiners. All present were amazed at what their eyes were beholding.
- Where are kerem rivai and netta rivai mentioned in Shas, and what is the difference between them?
- What are the halochos learned from the posuk, “Lo sochlu al hadam – You shall not eat over the blood?”
- Where in Shas do we learn the din of biryah and in what context? How many halachos are derived from biryah?
- What is the reason that there are no lashes for a lav she’ayn bo maaseh (a negative precept that has no action)? And where is this mentioned in Shas?
- Why do we not learn that one who admits to a fine (knas) is freed from shvuas pikadon (an oath of deposit) rather from a different drasha? How many implications can be found in Shas regarding the din of modeh biknas (admits to the fine) and where?
- What is the source of tosefes (adding time to) Shabbos & Shmittah?
- Regarding bitul (annulling items in a mixture) – how many items are there that cannot be annulled in a mixture due to their importance? (This led to many unanticipated examples of chaticha hareuyah lehiskabed bah and davar shebeminyan mentioned in Shas)
- Who may a Beis Din put to death without giving him a hasro’o (warning)
- There are laws of mixtures regarding min bemino (an item in its same category) and besh’ein mino (or not in its same category). In what way are the two reflected? What if wine becomes vinegar? What about R. Yehuda and two bloods?
- Which halachos are derived from kabbalah (tradition)and not from Torah verses?
- Where is it better to live? With a son or a daughter?
- How many times and where in Shas, does it declare that the Torah is not in Heaven?
- How many times in Shas does it say that one should not do miraculous actions?
- How do we reconcile that the gemora says we do not listen to Eliyahu Hanavi and then mandates the opposite?
- Where does it refer to a transgression done by thought alone?
- If a person shoots an arrow at another and converts to being Jewish, or it is the targeted who converts, before the arrow strikes the targeted person, how do we derive the applicable law from Shas?
- Where in Shas do we learn a law from what occurred before Matan Torah? And where do we learn that it is not so? What does the Tosfos Yeshonim say in this regard? What does it say in Kesuvos, and where is this referenced in Yevamos and Zevachim?
- Where do we find that Bnei Aliyah (superior scholars) are few?
- Who is to be preferred – the migmar (who learns) or misbar (who explains)? Sinai (filled with knowledge) or the uprooter of mountains (great reasoning powers)? Sefer Torah or talmid chochom?
Rav Direnfeld commented that these choices do not apply to the Shas Yiden because they each comprise a combination of all these traits. To watch the live farher, please click on www.shasyiden.com
The Close of Cheshvan 5782 B”H
In honor of the Yom Tov for Rabbanan, the Annual Siyum Hashas of the avreichim geonim of the Shas Yiden Kollelim in Eretz Yisroel and in the Diaspora, under the leadership of our colleague, the Pozna Rov, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Halevi Eisen, shlit”a.
Praised are these talmidei chachomim, most outstanding in Torah, who know the entire Shas Bavli in breadth and depth. They are Emesdike (true) Shas Yiden whom I have tested personally, and I saw that they were extremely knowledgeable in the entire Shas.
And praised is the Pozna Rov, shlit”a, who merited to be the Nachshon (the very first) with this idea to establish these kollelim and to train outstanding Talmidei Chachomim who merit to learn Gemora, Rashi and Tosfos and to complete the entire Shas every year, through effort and with clear knowledge.
More recently, he added an additional kollel in the Torah city of Kiryat Sefer, in addition to the new kollel he opened in the city of London.
I send my blessing to the Rabbonim of these kollelim that they should merit to know the entire Torah, “to learn, to teach, to observe and to do, and to fulfill all the words of Your Torah in love.” And may our colleague, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen merit to open more and more kollelim and to increase and honor Torah.
And I bless them that, in this merit, all the wishes of their hearts will be fulfilled for the good with brocha v’hatzlocha in all matters; and for all the brochos that are said in the Torah – for a good livelihood, for healing and yeshuos until the coming of the Righteous Redeemer, Amen
The Shas Yiden geonim from the London Shas Yiden Kollel Arrived in Israel, and Graced Annual Siyum Hashas
On the morning after the Siyum they went to a Lechaim in the home of Maran Sar Hatorah, shlit”a.
One of the high points of this year’s annual gathering of Shas Yiden, with its oral farher (examination) on the entire Shas, as well as the Siyum Hashas, was the participation, for the first time, by the contingent from London, UK. Shas Yiden-London was opened a year and a half ago by the Pozna Rov, founder of Shas Yiden, with the encouragement of Maran Sar Hatorah, Hagaon Hagadol, Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a. the Nasi of Shas Yiden.
The London Shas Yiden geonim landed in Israel together with the patron of Shas Yiden-London, the honored philanthropist Harav Hechosid Reb Yisroel Moskowitz, shlit”a. Two of his sons-in-law are among the Shas Yiden geonim. One, formerly one of the top talmidei chachomim in Shas Yiden-Yerushalayim, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Dov Olevsky, shlit”a, serves as the Rosh Kolel of Shas Yiden-London. The other is Hagaon Harav Yisroel Shvirtz, shlit”a, who learns in Shas Yiden-Yerushalayim.
The London scholars joined all the other Shas Yiden geonim from Yerushalayim, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Beitar and Kiryat Sefer in the incredible public Shas examination. In just a few minutes it was clear that they all shared a deep knowledge of all the tractates in Shas. This received great acclaim in the Torah scholarship community that it had been established that the Shas Yiden kollelim had shattered the myth that such total knowledge only lay with talmidei chachomim of bygone times.
The achievements of the five Shas Yiden kollelim in Eretz Yisroel with these geonei Hashas who are also proficient in other Torah subjects, and with the addition of Shas Yiden-London have shown that such achievements are possible in chutz la’aretz (the Diaspora) and are able to face the same rigorous testing.
A special and unforgettable moment for the Shas Yiden-London avreichim geonim during their Israel trip, took place on the morrow of the Grand Farher and Siyum. They were invited to a Lechaim in the home of Maran Sar Hatorah, Hagaon Hagadol Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a. There Maran expressed his great excitement at the establishment of Shas Yiden branches in chutz la’aretz. He then made an exception to his custom by drinking a ‘lechaim’ with the visitors. Thereafter, each of the kollel rabbonim met with Maran Sar Hatorah individually, and who blessed them warmly that they should each merit to continue rising in Torah.