The Gra, Rav Moshe, the Rav, and … Rav Hirschhorn’s Sotah shiur
There is a famous, incredible story told about the Vilna Gaon. When he was a child, around the age of 11 or 12, he decided to learn all of Masechtos Zevachim and Menachos in one night. It was the night of Shavuos. He was learning very quickly. One of the chashuv rabbonim in Vilna came in and saw this young boy turning pages quickly in the Gemara. He approached the boy and said, “What are you doing? You are making a mockery of the Gemara!”
The Gra responded, “Maybe the Rav can test me.”
And the Rav tested him and the boy understood everything, and the Rav was very impressed that in one night the Gra was able to learn all of Zevachim and Menachos.
Rav Dovid Feinstein’s zt”l, Rav Moshe zt”l’s father, knew that Rav Moshe was very special, and he wanted Rav Moshe to have an experience similar to the Gra. When Rav Moshe was 9, his father learned all of Maseches Beitza with him on the night of Shavuos. Rav Moshe’s family writes (see Igros Moshe vol. 8, p. 9) that this night made a big impression on the young boy, and it became one of the foundations of Rav Moshe’s constant striving for greatness in Torah learning.
Rav Soloveitchik zt”l, on the yartzheit of his father Rav Moshe zt”l, would teach Mishnayos. He would teach Mishnayos for hours on end, from after Shacharis until a late Mincha. (I think it was sometimes 7-8 hours straight.) This was a special event in YU. People would stop by for half an hour, or an hour, to listen. The Dean of Students would stop by for a while. Rabbeim and professors would drop in. The Rav’s close talmidim, like Rav Schachter shlit”a, would stay for the entire shiur. The inspiration it gave to see a Gadol give shiur continuously for such a long time made a lasting impact on the talmidim.
Here in Netiv Aryeh, this week, we were fortunate to have an event that combined elements of the Gra, Rav Moshe and the Rav. Around ten years ago, the Yeshiva started a new tradition for Kayitz Z’man. We learn a ‘short’ masechta and make a unified siyum at the end of the z’man. This year we learned Maseches Sotah. Rav Hirschhorn shli”ta decided that he would teach all of Maseches Sotah in one day. Many talmidim had finished the masechta already (and many had finished more than one time), and this was a great way to do chazara before the siyum on Tuesday night.
Sotah actually is not so ‘short’. It has 48 dapim.
Nearly twenty!! talmidim took part. Some Rabbeim joined as well. They began 6:15 AM and learned the entire day. They took a break for lunch and mincha, and a short break every hour or so. (There was also an extra special snack towards the end…) Although they obviously moved quickly, the talmidim took the learning seriously, and there were questions, along with give and take with Rav Hirschhorn. He would ask the talmidim where else does this topic come up later in the masechta? And they knew.
This was similar to what the Gra and Rav Moshe did. And from Rav Hirschhorn’s side, this was similar to what the Rav did, to give shiur straight for hours on end.
Rav Hirschhorn did not just read the gemara. He added comments (some of them were “Hirschhonian”) as he went along to liven up the learning.
What a fabulous zechus for the yeshiva! What a fabulous experience for the talmidim! This event created a great excitement and inspiration for the entire Yeshiva.
One Rebbe said to me with a big smile,
“It is incredible what is going on in this place!”
We hope that just as Rav Moshe received such tremendous inspiration from learning all of Maseches Beitza in one night, so too all of these talmidim will take with them tremendous chizuk from learning all of Maseches Sotah in one day.
I want to include the names of the talmidim who were there for the whole masechta, as well as those who were there for part of the time.
Entire Masechta, 48 Dapim!!
Sammy Bernstein
Charlie Schachter
Jack Silber
Shaul Rabin
Adam Baron
Netanel Stein
Yosef Borochov
Kobi Stadtmouer
Daniel Blankleder
Jon Malek
Shiloh Friedman
Yoni Lazarus
Ryan Levian
Yitzi Felman
Michael Levi
Sammy Wietschner
Danny Jaspen
Tani Mayer
Part of the Masechta
Benji Katton
Josh Wertenteil
Tzvi Messinger
Dovie Baron
Yehuda Stock
Max Herskowitz
Pinchas Gamzu
Sam Poupko
Zach Swartz
Zachy Goldberg
Aharon Zarnigian
Ari Fuchs
Donny Blank
Dovid Schiffer
Isaac Ariel
Joseph Rafailov
Bryan Lavi
Ben Sponjer
Shaya Martin
Roey Kohanim
Adam Harari
Yoni Sokel
Yasher Koach to Rav Hirschhorn and the talmidim!