JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The Gerer rebbe’s face shone with satisfaction at a huge gathering which took place Tuesday night in the Jerusalem Conference Center. 200 of his chasidim underwent a grueling test on the entire Shas from prominent rabbinic figures in the Lithuanian Torah world, Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein, Rabbi of Ramat Elchanan and Rabbi Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi ,the head of the Ateres Yisrael yeshiva.
The chasidim displayed tremendous erudition and answered all the questions posed to them, citing numerous sources from around Shas to buttress their positions. The event took place on 7th of Cheshvan, marking the yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Shapira, who founded the Daf Yomi to increase knowledge of Shas among Jews worldwide.
20 years ago, the Gerer Rebbe initiated a significant change in the style of study in the Gur yeshivos, cutting down the more in-depth study in favor of covering ground and attaining mastery over the entire Shas. The rebbe also encouraged study of the the Yerushalmi and large parts of the Shulchan Aruch which are not usually studied in yeshivos. The change did not come easily and because some, including the rebbe’s cousin Rabbi Shaul, did not want to relinquish the in-depth study in favor of covering ground, the chasidus has become split in recent years.
Despite this, the rebbe is now reaping the fruits of the new style of study and the knowledge displayed by the chasidim astounded even the learned rabbis who were testing them.
The rebbe’s son, Rabbi Shlomo Zvi Alter, presides over the “Toraso” organization which promotes an absolute mastery of Shas and large portions of the Shulchan Aruch. Every year, more scholars are given the title of Chasan Shas, Chasan Dayanus and Chasan Hora’ah after they have undergone comprehensive tests on the subject matter studied.
The scholars study for months on end prior to the tests, reviewing huge numbers of folios off by heart. The Toraso initiative seeks to make even regular members of the chasidus review by heart whatever they have studied on a specific day. Three thousand members of the chasidus have joined the Toraso initiative and have been tested on over 250,000 folios of gemara.