Photo Credits: https://www.shmuelheinemannphoto.com/
by Sandy Eller
By all accounts, it was an unbelievable transformation.
What hours earlier had been a typical hotel ballroom in the heart of Yerushalayim had become a full-fledged bais medrash, the kol Torah bouncing vigorously off the walls. Chavrusas of all ages pulled out their seforim and mareh mekomos as preparation for the first of many shiurim of the long awaited 20th annual Agudah Yarchei Kallah got underway. Each morning begins with limud b’chavrusah as well as a hachanah shiur by Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman, helping participants prepare for the day to come.
A long-awaited hakdamah shiur was delivered by HaRav Asher Weiss, Av Beis Din, Darchei Hora’ah, who spoke extensively and without any notes on the concepts of tefila and avoda. Rav Weiss cited numerous sources in an in-depth discussion of tefila as avoda shebalev and ascertaining its status as a chiyuv d’rabanan or a chiyuv d’oraysah.
HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel, Yerushalayim, delivered a shiur iyun for the Yiddish track. Despite being in his mid-nineties, Rabbi Ezrachi’s delivery was extremely energetic, his stature creating an excitement for limud haTorah and a feeling of connection to the previous generations. The concurrent English shiur was given by HaRav Meir Tzvi Spitzer, R”M Yeshivas Mir, Yerushalayim, who spoke eloquently and engagingly on proper hanhagos and kavanos in shemonah esrei, especially the first paragraph of Avos, advising listeners to take gradual steps in their quest to infuse their tefilos with proper kavanah.
The afternoon sessions concluded with a special address by HaRav Yaakov Hillel, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Chevrat Ahavat Shalom. Speaking with his signature wit and charm, HaRav Hillel offered fascinating insights into using tefila, emunah and bitachon as tools to become close to the Ribono Shel Olam and discussed kavanah and its related ramifications.
It was a packed house for the final component of Monday’s program, an audio-visual presentation of “The influence of Kabbalah and the Nusach of the Arizal in our Tefilos“, given by Rabbi Daniel Travis, Rosh Kollel, Toras Chaim, Yerushalayim. Delving into the intricacies of the different nuschaos of davening, Rabbi Travis shed light on how each one evolved into the versions we have in our siddurim today and offered insights on the influence of the Arizal on tefila.
The women of the Yarchei Kallah enjoyed an equally fulfilling day. It included a dynamic lecture given by the highly regarded Rebbetzin Rena Tarshish, menaheles of the Masores Rochel Seminary, whose annual address is always a highlight of the ladies’ program. Speaking to an audience that included many outsiders who came to be uplifted, Rebbetzin Tarshish held her audience spellbound as she expounded on the power of tefila in relation to the upcoming yom tov of Purim. Participants also took advantage of a golden opportunity to visit Kever Rochel and to pour their hearts out in poignant prayer, knowing that their bakashos were being heard at a makom tefila whose emotional properties and inherent kedushah holds special meaning, especially for Jewish mothers.
Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl, director of the Torah Projects Commission of Agudath Israel of America, noted that while each year’s Yarchei Kallah has its own special personality, there is an unparalleled sense of achdus and hislahavus this year.
“The bais medrash is filled to capacity and every shiur has been packed,” said Rabbi Perl. “It’s hard not to be amazed by the diligence and bonding that has already taken place. The million dollar smiles that you see as sugyas become clear are a reflection of the incredible love for Torah that is already making this year’s Yarchei Kallah one that will long be remembered.”
Audio and video recordings of the Yarchei Kallah are available on https://aiayk.org/audio-2020/.
Flatbush Participants at Yarchei Kallah