Dirshu, an international organization based in Israel promoting Torah Study initiatives in the US, Israel and Europe, has begun a series of celebrations this week to mark the completion of the first cycle of a new study project.
In the Daf Yomi B’halacha project, participants commit themselves to studying one page every day of the Mishna Brurah, a well-known and widely studied compendium of Jewish law written in the 19th Century by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, otherwise known as the Chafetz Chayim, a renowned Torah scholar who lived in present-day Belarus.
The Mishna Brurah is a commentary and explanation of the first section of an earlier codification of Jewish law known as the Shulchan Aruch, written in the 16th Century by Rabbi Yosef Karo, in Safed. The first section of the Shulchan Aruch is called Orach Haim and relates to Jewish laws pertaining to prayer, Shabbat, Jewish holidays and other aspects of daily religious life.
The Daf Yomi B’halacha initiative, which translates as “One Page of Jewish Law a Day,” is modelled on the highly successful Daf Yomi program, begun in 1923, in which participants study one double-sided page of Talmud every day and completing the entire Talmud every seven and a half years.
Like the Talmud version of the program, those studying in the Daf Yomi B’halacha initiative complete their study program every seven years as well. Dirshu states that at least 10,000 people have signed up to the program world-wide.
This past Shabbat, some 1,000 participants attended the Dirshu Convention staged in the Crowne Plaza Hotel of Stamford, Connecticut, while hundreds more arrived on Saturday night to celebrate the completion of the first seven-year cycle of the Daf Yomi B’halacha project.
It was attended by some of the leading figures of the Orthodox and haredi community in the US, including Rabbi Aharon Feldman, the dean of the Ner Yisrael yeshiva in Baltimore, Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, dean of the Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, New Jersey, Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, dean of the Yeshiva of Staten Island, as well as Rabbi David Hofstedter, the president of Dirshu and numerous others.
“Perhaps the great test of our days, is ensuring that our internal nature is in step with our outer Jewish appearance,” Rabbi Hofstedter told participants at the convention.
“We are being judged to determine whether it is only the clothes we wear and the language we speak that mark us as Jews, or whether we are retaining our Jewishness within our hearts as well.
“Our challenge is to maintain our clarity; to understand what it means to be true Jews in this era of superficiality and materialism.
“We are here in a concentrated effort to serve God. If, however, we don’t know what Hashem wants from us how can we say that we want to fulfill His will? Only when we learn the laws of everyday living, every single day, can we know what God wants of us!”
Celebrations for the completion of the first cycle of the Daf Yomi B’halacha have also been staged in London and France in recent days, and a massive gala event will be held in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night at the 12,000 capacity Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv.
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