by Sandy Eller
Photo Credits: https://www.shmuelheinemannphoto.com
For some it was a once in a lifetime opportunity while for others it has become an annual tradition, but whether they were first-timers or veterans, everyone who came the Yarchei Kallah left transformed, their lives forever enriched by the experience.
While the first segment of the annual five day-long learning program in Eretz Yisroel was held on February 16th, the Yarchei Kallah actually began months ago, with participants all across the globe eagerly embracing the sugyah d’kallah. Devoting themselves to the topic of inyanei tefilah through shiurim, teleconferences and studious review of the mareh mekomos, Yarchei Kallah-goers spent countless hours readying themselves for their upcoming journey into the world of davening and its many complexities.
The Yarchei Kallah has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings in 2001 under the guidance of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman in response to the first intifada. Those who attended the earliest programs returned home ecstatic, their hislahavus prompting friends and family members to sign up for the next year’s Yarchei Kallah. Over time, both an English track and a women’s program have been added, and today the Yarchei Kallah is highly regarded and features the largest number of prominent maggidei shiur in Yerushalayim.
Continuing a tradition established in 2017, the 20th annual Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah opened with a flourish in Bnei Brak, where participants were inspired by HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Slobodka. Moving to the Lederman Shul, members of the Yarchei Kallah heard from HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Rosh Kollel, Bais Dovid, Cholon Rov, Ramat Elchanan, Bnei Brak and were awed by the opportunity to be in the presence of the Sar HaTorah, Maran Rav Chaim Kanievsky and to receive his brachos. Mundane matters like jetlag and business commitments were relegated to the back burner as participants of all ages made their way to their home base in Yerushalayim, ready to rejuvenate themselves from the wellsprings of Torah.
Throughout the entire week, the Ramada Jerusalem Hotel was infused with a special glow, participants reveling in the opportunity to immerse themselves completely in the yeshiva experience and explore a topic with significant relevance to their day to day lives. The Yarchei Kallah bais medrash was perpetually full and the shiurim were packed, with participants mesmerized as they heard shiurei iyun from luminaries of the Torah world including HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel, Harav Boruch Dov Povarsky, Rosh Yeshiva, Ponovez, HaRav Yosef Chevroni, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Chevron, HaRav Dovid Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Chevron, HaRav Pinchos Friedman, Rosh Hakollelim, Belz, HaRav Yosef Elefant, R”M, Yeshivas Mir and HaRav Meir Tzvi Spitzer, R”M Yeshivas Mir. Equally enthralling were in depth shiurim highlighting various aspects of tefilah given by HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, HaRav Asher Weiss, Av Beis Din, Darchei Hora’ah, HaRav Yaakov Hillel, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Chevrat Ahavat Shalom, HaRav Nissan Kaplan, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Das Aaron, HaRav Yitzchak Blau, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Ateres Tzvi, HaRav Shragi Kallus, Rav Imrei Pi, Ramat Shlomo, Rosh Kollel, Machon L’Horaah L’Rabbonim and HaRav Chaim Mordechai Ausband, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Ateres Shlomo. Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman, co-chair of Agudath Israel of America’s Torah Projects Commission, and Rabbi Shlomo Cynamon, Rav, Khal Bnai Torah, Flatbush, assisted lomdim in their quest, equipping them with the tools to truly acquire the many topics covered through daily hachanah and chazara shiurim. Rounding out an already full day of learning was an impressive lineup of night shiurim given by Rabbi Daniel Travis, Rosh Kollel, Toras Chaim, Yerushalayim, HaRav Mordechai Kuber, Rabbi, Ohel Avraham Nachlas Tzvi, Telz Stone and HaRav Yehoshua Yankelowitz focusing on the influence of kabbalah in the development of our tefilos, the intricacies of zmanim and historical insights into the Siddur.
Organized by co-chairmen Rabbi Gedalia Weinberger and Rabbi Gottesman together with Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl and Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Bamberger, the Yarchei Kallah has earned its rightful place as the highlight of the year for Agudath Israel of America’s Torah Projects Commission. While the level of excitement for the Yarchei Kallah was already at a high level on the first morning, it continued to soar with every passing hour as participants saw the words “ayn Torah k’Toras Eretz Yisroel” coming to life before their very eyes. Eagerly drinking up concepts and halachos related to tefilah, lomdim maximized their time in the bais medrash, throwing themselves into their learning with even greater exuberance as the week wore on. By the time Thursday morning dawned, reluctance to see the program end was evident on every face, with everyone taking advantage of every precious moment until the doors of the Ramada bais medrash closed for another year.
Agudah special events and registration coordinator Mrs. Debby Jacobs arranged the women’s program which had participants inspired in their tefilos by speakers including Mrs. Rena Tarshish, menaheles of Masores Rochel, and Rabbi Spitzer. Multiple trips and tours on the itinerary had the women’s contingent of the Yarchei Kallah uplifted by the inherent beauty and kedushah that permeate every inch of Eretz Yisroel.
One participant observed that he registered for the program after hearing his chavrusah describe his own experiences at the 2019 Yarchei Kallah. Despite being prepared for an extremely rewarding week of hasmadah, he found that the Yarchei Kallah surpassed his already high expectations.
“This was one of the most unbelievable weeks I have ever experienced,” said the participant. “The Yarchei Kallah was like a throwback to my yeshiva days and is something that will stay with me for a long, long time.”
This year marked the third trip to the Yarchei Kallah for Esther Buchbinder of Teaneck who described the program as “a win-win for the men and the women.” Those thoughts were echoed by Nosson Weldler of Monsey, who classified being able to attend Yarchei Kallah with both his son and son in law as a life-altering experience. Like all of the participants, Mr. Weldler left the Yarchei Kallah with both priceless memories and an invaluable body of knowledge that will change his davening forever.
“I have children who are learning in kollel and, Baruch Hashem, I have the privilege of supporting them but I have never experienced anything like this firsthand,” said Mr. Weldler. “I can’t even begin to explain how wonderful it has been to be able learn with my son and son in law like this for four days. Everyone should come to the Yarchei Kallah because there is nothing else like it.”
While the five day program at the Ramada has officially concluded, in actuality, the Yarchei Kallah never ends. Over 20 shiurim with full mareh mekomos are available for online viewing, as is downloadable audio of 15 shiurei hachanah at www.aiayk.org.
“The Yarchei Kallah isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination,” said Rabbi Labish Becker, executive director of the Agudah. “Go to the website, watch the shiurim and take advantage of the opportunity to learn the sugyah d’kallah. Even if you couldn’t join us in Yerushalayim, you still have the ability to be a part of the Yarchei Kallah and to gain invaluable insights into inyanei tefilah that can significantly impact your life on a daily basis.”
View full Yarchei Kallah shiurim, as well as preparatory shiurim, teleconferences and mareh mekomos online at www.aiayk.org
Videos by Moshe Coopersmith; Video Editing by Dovid Gross.
Photo Credits: https://www.shmuelheinemannphoto.com