On Shabbos Parashas Mishpatim, Pirchei Agudath Israel of Montreal hosted a gala Shabbos, celebrating a siyum Mishnayos. Approximately 200 boys, in fourth through seventh grades, came from other communities, including Toronto, Providence, Rhode Island, and Passaic, New Jersey, to participate in this special Shabbos. The out-of-town guests were graciously hosted by local Montreal families.
The excitement began on Friday morning, while the Montreal boys were in yeshivah, as the out-of-town guests were treated to a variety of shiurim and special presentations. These included a shaatnez demonstration from Rabbi Tzvi Kuhnreich; a safrus presentation from Rabbi Yossi Kuhnreich; a presentation on kashrus from Rabbi Saul Emanuel from MK Kosher; and a shiur from Rabbi Dovid Merling, Rav of Agudath Israel of Montreal.
Later in the afternoon, all the boys went on a bowling trip, and then enjoyed a pizza lunch.
On Shabbos, davening was held in Yeshivah Gedola of Montreal. On Leil Shabbos, Harav Moshe Glustein, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal, spoke and delivered divrei brachah. A beautiful Leil Shabbos seudah was held in the yeshivah, as over 300 boys joined together b’achdus. The seudah was enhanced by beautiful singing, dancing, and divrei Torah.
The entire Shabbos was dedicated l’iluy nishmas, Harav Shimon Zeffren, zt”l, beloved and revered Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal, who was niftar recently. His son, Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Zeffren of Lakewood, joined the siyum Mishnayos, and delivered divrei zikaron about his father several times over Shabbos. At the seudah on Leil Shabbos, he shared many stories that inspired the listeners.
Following the seudah, an oneg Shabbos was held for the Pirchei leaders who had accompanied the boys from out of town, and Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Zeffren shared more in-depth impressions of his father.
On Shabbos morning, the guests davened and ate the seudah together with their hosts. Later in the afternoon, they gathered together for Pirchei groups, where they heard a story from Rabbi Avi Frank, the well-known storyteller from Monsey.
After Minchah, the boys ate seudah shelishis together, and enjoyed an incredible story from Rabbi Moshe Blaustein, master storyteller and head counselor of Camp Agudah of Toronto.
The main event was held on Motzoei Shabbos, at the TBDJ Hall, with the attendance of over 600 people. The program included an opening address by Harav Binyomin Weiss, Chief Rabbi of Montreal; and an address by Rabbi Ephraim Levy, National Director of Pirchei Agudath Israel. Rabbi Yossi Treisser, Director of Pirchei of Montreal, also addressed the crowd, and thanked everyone who is involved in Pirchei all year long, and all of those who contributed to the success of the siyum Mishnayos, and congratulated the boys for all of their accomplishments in limud Mishnayos.
Rabbi Sholie Meisels, Director of Chemed, then called up Shaya Solomon to say the Hadran and Shmuel Hassan for the Ha’schalas Mishnayos. Hasmadah Awards were then distributed to Yisroel Meir Delmar and Elimelech Solomon. This award is presented to boys who display meritorious effort and hasmadah throughout the year, regardless of the number of Mishnayos actually completed.
The large crowd made quite an impact on all of the attendees. As Moshe Yudkowsky, an eighth-grader at Providence Hebrew Day School, commented, “I was so inspired by the resounding Amen yehei Shemei Rabbah during Kaddish after the siyum! The whole room shook!”
The Mishnayos program of Pirchei Agudath Israel of Montreal, known as Chemed, is a robust program, in which boys learn Mishnayos throughout the year and take tests on what they learned. Each boy is assigned a special bar code, which is used to track all the Mishnayos that he learns and on which he is tested via a sophisticated computer system. This year alone, about 300 participants learned and were tested on approximately 36,000 Mishnayos. All of Shishah Sidrei Mishnah were completed more than once.
Each participant is awarded points based on the number of Mishnayos learned, and those points can be used to “purchase” prizes. Boys who received a certain number of points were honored with seats at the head table at the Siyum Mishnayos melaveh malkah. Those boys were also eligible to take a farher from the Roshei Yeshivah of Yeshiva Gedola and Mesivta Raishis Chochma of Montreal. Two winners, chosen from those boys who took the farher, are selected to say the Hadran and the Has’chalas Mishnayos at the siyum.
Following the siyum, there was much leibedig music and dancing, with music by Yo Aisenstark and Shmuel Schiffer. A new program entitled “Mission Mitzvah” was then launched, in memory of Raphael Goldberg, z”l, a 9-year-old boy from Montreal who was niftar earlier this year. In this program, each boy will receive a mission card, with a different weekly mitzvah mission noted for the next four weeks. The boys will call into a special hotline, hear the “Mitzvah of the Day,” and when they do that mitzvah, they can check it off on their card. At the end of the month, prizes will be distributed based on the number of checks received.
The siyum program continued with a video presentation in memory of Mr. Bob Ament, z”l, founder of Pirchei of Montreal, on his 20th yahrtzeit. Following that presentation, a video on Harav Shimon Zeffren, zt”l, was shown.
Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Zeffren addressed the crowd one more time, and the evening concluded with an upbeat video produced by Mr. Aharon Bensimon, “Around the Year with Pirchei of Montreal,” highlighting all of the programs, thus concluding a most successful and exciting weekend.
Rabbi Ephraim Levy commented on the success of the weekend. “The inspiration gleaned from such an event arranged by none other than Pirchei Agudas Yisroel is something the participants will remember for a lifetime!”