On Sunday, January 24, Kesher Yisrael hosted an Asifas Tefillah V’Chizuk for children of all ages and their parents in response to the continued lockdown, and consequent closure of yeshivos and chadarim that is taking place in Ontario. The lockdown is scheduled to continue until at least February 11.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, Rabbi Leib Irons, Director of Kesher Yisrael, has been developing programs to address the difficulties that families are facing. He developed the “Lockdown Response Program,” now in its third round, to motivate the children to spend extra time learning, davening, engaged in chessed and working on their middos during this challenging time.
In addition, he arranged two asifos of chizuk, held via teleconference, geared to the children of the community.
Sunday’s event featured divrei chizuk delivered by Rabbi Mordechai Scheiner, Rosh Kollel of Kollel Ohr Yosef of Thornhill; Rabbi Fishel Schachter, master storyteller; and Rabbi Yisroel Bollag, Rosh Kollel of Kollel Oholei Yom Tov of Toronto.
Rabbi Scheiner encouraged the children to continue learning despite the difficulties and quoted a Tanna Dvei Eliyahu that states that we will only be redeemed from galus in the zechus of those who are sitting and learning together. He explained that when a person puts forth extra effort during difficult times, that shows his true abilities.
“There is a battle out here,” declared Rabbi Scheiner. “We all want to go back to school so we can learn … You are doing extra learning, extra mitzvos — anything a person does during this milchamah, he can go very far. You are doing an amazing job.”
Rabbi Fishel Schachter, renowned speaker, urged the listeners to choose to be happy rather than to be complaining and angry.
He first described how the Shomer Shabbos shul in Boro Park was created with mesirus nefesh, as its founding members would only allow others who were strictly shomer Shabbos to join the kehillah. Today, the shul has more “Amein, yehei Shmei Rabbah…” recited daily than almost any other shul in the world (except perhaps for shuls in Eretz Yisrael). Rabbi Schachter suggested that this was due to the mesirus nefesh of its founders and encouraged the listeners to show mesirus nefesh in the current situation, and work to maintain shalom and positive attitudes within their homes.
Rabbi Schachter related several captivating stories and meshalim, illustrating how a person should and could choose to be happy, regardless of his situation. He asserted, “Some people always find things to be happy about, and some always find things to be angry about … It is our decision — do we want to be happy, or do we want to be always complaining? A person can be zocheh to simchah wherever he is. What do you want to be? That is a decision that you and I have to make.”
Rabbi Bollag delivered divrei chizuk, prior to leading the listeners in saying Tehillim.
“Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu, we are never lost. We have a very powerful tool that always help us, and it works! This is the tool of a Sefer Tehillim; Hakadosh Baruch Hu listens to our tefillos. The Eibershter has a special love for Tehillim, and He has a special love for the Tehillim of children.
“We are b’tzaar that our yeshivos and chadarim are closed. Hakadosh Baruch Hu loves to see kinderlach come together to learn, and when the yeshivos are closed, Hakadosh Baruch Hu is in pain. He will take every word of Tehillim and listen, and it will make a big difference!”
He then thanked Rabbi Leib Irons for providing the lockdown programs and praised the children for their participation in the program, noting again that mitzvos done under difficult circumstances have a much greater value.
After the saying of Tehillim, the program concluded as Rabbi Irons drew exciting raffles prizes for the listeners.
Rabbi Irons shared, “A chashuve Rav just told me that the Kesher Yisrael programs are literally keeping his son on track in his Yiddishkeit during this difficult time. This prolonged lockdown is much more difficult than the original lockdown last year, and everyone is looking for eitzos on how to come out of this matzav with their ruchniyus and gashmiyus intact. It’s a big for Kesher Yisrael to be able to answer the critical call of our children and parents. We daven that the lockdown will end and that Moshiach will be waiting for us.”