The famous maxim attributed to Harav Saadiah Gaon — “Ein umosenu umah elah b’Torasah” — has seldom proved more true than it will this Shabbos in Dallas. United through ahavas haTorah and ahavas Yisrael, a wide array of guests who, superficially, could not be more different will be coming from both coasts and from Eretz Yisrael to celebrate Dallas Jewry’s past accomplishments and to provide strength, support and encouragement that will help this rapidly growing community to flourish even more.
With the guidance and blessing of Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, Harav Yerachmiel Dovid Fried came to Dallas 22 years ago to establish the DATA (Dallas Area Torah Association) Community Kollel. As the name suggests, DATA is all about Torah and community. A talmid chacham who has published sefarim on hilchos Yom Tov Sheini, Perek Arvei Pesachim, an index to the hashkafic teachings of the Ramban on Chumash and, soon, on inyanei geirus, Harav Fried was an early pioneer in Jewish community building who understands both the urgency of kiruv rechokim and that the only healthy, wholesome way to go about it is to guide the incremental growth of the late-beginners through authentic and resonant limud haTorah.
Rabbi Mayer Hurwitz, current Rosh Chaburah at DATA, related that “this is a very serious, two-sedarim-a-day, halachah-based kollel. The Rosh Kollel’s own mentoring under gedolei horaah affords the yungeleit the opportunity to develop an approach to learning sugyos in a way that culminates in halachah l’maaseh. Yet unlike many other serious kollelim of this kind, DATA’s yungeleit are expected to do frontline kiruv — for example, at professional offices where no one is yet observant, or in Jewish Community Centers that are not under frum auspices. B’ezras Hashem our yungeleit have been very successful both in their limudim and kiruv activities.”
To illustrate just how serious and high-level the learning at DATA is, Harav Fried told this reporter that twice every year he invites the renowned Posek Harav Hillel David, shlita, from Brooklyn to be bochen the yungeleit and that, as a result of these bechinos, many have received and gone on to become shul Rabbanim who pasken she’eilos for their congregants.
Harav Aryeh Feigenbaum of Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Dallas is a DATA kollel alumnus.
Harav Fried feels that there is no contradiction or tension, between the two missions of DATA. On the contrary; he says that the typical chozer b’teshuvah of the Dallas community views the DATA yungeleit as role models. “The kiruv is a spillover of the dedication to serious limud HaTorah. Their yegiah and ahavas haTorah are contagious.”
In a 1993 letter that he received from Harav Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l, the latter wrote, “I am confident that the shining example of your kollel will do what it should in motivating and providing ‘a push’ to other Jewish communities to copy your model.”
Several years ago, Reb Zvi Ryzman, a successful businessman residing in Los Angeles and himself a talmid chacham, maggid shiur and mechaber of sefarim, “discovered” Harav Fried through his sefarim. They began corresponding on Torah topics and “talking in learning” and soon formed a strong bond. Reb Zvi, who grew up in Tel Aviv where the previous Modzitzer Rebbe, the Nachlas Dan, zy”a, served as a Dayan for many decades, is a childhood yedid and yeshivah-days chavrusa of the Modzitzer Rebbe, shlita.
Collaboratively, he and Harav Fried seized upon the idea of bringing the Rebbe and a representative group of Chassidim to Dallas to be mechazek the local mosdos and to expose the community to what will be an unprecedented Shabbos experience. Harav Fried said that in anticipation of the Rebbe’s visit “the community is very excited and looking forward to a unique and different experience.” He also said that “we very much appreciate Reb Zvika Ryzman’s dedication to the Dallas community.”
Recognizing the essential truth of human nature — that every individual is as unique as a snowflake, and that what motivates and resonates with one individual may not work for another — the DATA Community Kollel and Congregation Ohr HaTorah, which grew out of it, have brought the widest imaginable array of Gedolim, Rabbanim and motivational speakers to Dallas over the past two decades. The list includes, shlita, Harav Aharon Schechter, Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Harav Mattisyahu Salomon, Harav Shmuel Dishon, Harav Michel Twerski, and his Rebbetzin Feige Twerski. Other speakers have included Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Mr. Charlie Harary, Esq., Rabbi Paysach Krohn, and Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein.
Rabbi Nosson Scherman, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and Reb Tzvi Ryzman will be enhancing the Rebbe’s Dallas visit with shiurim and presentations of their own.
While many of DATA’s and Ohr HaTorah’s mekuravim are cerebral, professional types — doctors, attorneys, CPAs, builders and the like — these mosdos have also served as magnets for poetic souls and musicians. The local leadership was very receptive to the idea that the unique blend of a Torah-centric Chassidus that blends in strong elements of koach haneginah, kiruv halevavos and ahavas Yisrael that defines Modzitz would elevate and greatly benefit many in the Dallas community.
Today, Erev Shabbos, the Modzitzer Rebbe will visit the Torah Day School of Dallas, which already boasts an enrollment of 320 children, ken yirbu. His regal and empathetic bearing will expose the developing tinokos shel beis rabban to a baal tzurah that will, no doubt, leave a lifelong, positive and derhoibene impression upon them. The tischen and tefillos on Shabbos will do the same for their parents.