On Shabbos Parashas Yisro, the Minneapolis Community Kollel hosted a community-wide Shabbos of Torah, celebrating limud haTorah, with special guest, Harav Mordechai Finkelman, Mashgiach Ruchani, Yeshiva Ohr HaChaim and Mesivta Yesodei Yeshurun.
Rabbi Avigdor Goldberger, Menahel of the Minneapolis Kollel, explained. “When the Agudath Israel of America was organizing the Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas, they put together the Chavrei HaSiyum program, encouraging communities and shuls to finish Shas together as a group. So here in Minneapolis, approximately 70 people from various shuls in the community joined together to finish Shas in less than a year.
“It was very exciting, and we all wanted to continue the momentum and create something more lasting. Therefore, capitalizing on this energy, and on the excitement of Daf Yomi, we created an initiative to encourage everyone to learn every day.”
Consequently, the incredible Shabbos of Torah was planned, featuring several key components. There was the simchas haTorah of the Siyum HaShas, the presence of Rav Finkelman, and the kickoff of the community initiative to encourage all to be kovei’a itim. All were encouraged to sign up with a commitment to learn for at least 20 minutes each day, at a set time, with a chavrusa or by attending an in-person shiur.
“One of the beauties of this program and the Shabbos of Torah was that participation was community-wide,” says Rabbi Goldberger. “It was not just one shul or one institution. In fact, at the melaveh malkah, … a chart documenting all available shiurim in the kollel, Congregation Bais Yisroel, and Congregation Kenesseth Israel, and in private homes, was posted, for easy reference.”
A highlight of the Shabbos was the participation of Rav Finkelman, who delivered several riveting drashos. These included a dvar Torah at an oneg Shabbos on Leil Shabbos held at the Idstein home, a drashah on Shabbos morning at Kenesseth Israel, an address for women on Shabbos afternoon at the Jaffa home, and a drashah during seudah shelishis at Congregation Bais Yisroel.
Some of the main messages delivered were about the chashivus of the zman of Mattan Torah, realizing that we are Hashem’s Queen and we have to act that way, and the importance of the commitment to kvias itim. He shared practical tips on committing to regular learning, including suggesting that when one walks into the beis medrash, he should pause momentarily to clear his mind from all other concerns, and prepare himself to learn with retzifus, without interruption, as much as possible.
Rabbi Mordechai Kalatsky, Rav of Kenesseth Israel, summed up the Shabbos: “The Shabbos of Torah was an infusion into our community of the beauty of limud haTorah and the connection it creates with Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”
On Motzoei Shabbos, the program began in the beis medrash of the Yeshiva of Minneapolis, with hespeidim for Mrs. Bertha Kutoff, a”h, who was recently niftar. A matriarch of the Minneapolis community, Mrs. Kutoff’s dedication to limud haTorah helped build the Minneapolis community, and caused it to develop into the makom Torah that it is today.
As Rabbi Goldberger asserted, “We fulfilled the passuk in Koheles that states, ‘Eis lispod, v’eis lirkod.’ Mrs. Kutoff lived for limud haTorah, she would not have wanted it any other way.”
The Siyum itself began with the Hadran, said by Harav Chaim Gibber, Rosh Kollel. This was followed by spirited dancing and a festive melaveh malkah, held in the yeshivah’s dining room.
Rav Finkelman delivered the keynote address at the melaveh malkah. He emphasized the tremendous simchah of such a siyum and praised the women for their dedication to their husband’s learning, and the equal s’char that they will receive.
He then reiterated the importance of being completely focused on one’s learning, and in general, on concentrating fully on whatever one is doing at any given moment.
Rav Finkelman then powerfully elaborated on the concept of how those who learn Torah give life and power to the entire Creation. “Hashem renews and gives power to the entire Creation every day. Hashem can be compared to the main power switch in the basement of a building, while Klal Yisrael can be compared to the circuit breakers. However, it is only if we live correctly and learn Torah, that we give power to the world.”
He continued to explain that what seems to be terrible punishments enumerated in the Tochachah, are not meant to scare us, but rather to make us realize that when we do what is right, everything will run correctly, to enable us to keep on learning. However, if not we are not learning as we should, then Hashem does not give power to the world, and consequently, things will happen that will make life very difficult. This is just a result of not learning Torah.
Consequently, Rav Finkelman continued, “Limud haTorah is the best protection against anti-Semitism, because [anti-Semitism] only starts because we are assimilating too much. Then Hashem causes the non-Jews to hate us, and chase us out of their stadiums, etc, so that we will take learning Torah more seriously.”
Rav Finkelman then added, “Learning Torah seriously, by the way, means that one cannot learn Torah while munching on peanuts and drinking Coke. Learning should not be happenstance. In fact, every mitzvah should be done with sheleimus, which will bring us to dveikus b’Hashem.”
The evening ended on a high note, as many were inspired to make commitments to kvias itim l’Torah.
Rabbi Yechezkel Greenberg, Rav of Bais Yisroel, remarked, “Just the idea of devoting an entire Shabbos to the idea of kvias itim l’Torah was itself reason enough to be energized to the idea! Add to that the wonderful guest speaker, Rav Mordechai Finkelman, who really kept the olam enthralled with his passion, wit and endless inspirational stories, and all the efforts that Rabbi Avigdor Goldberger infused into the Shabbos. All who were here certainly walked away with the urge to be part of this movement!”
On Sunday morning, Rav Finkelman gave a Shovavim shiur at the Minneapolis Community Kollel, emphasizing the kedushah of Klal Yisrael, ending a most magnificent weekend.