Incredible.

Life changing.

Electrifying.

Those were only some of the phrases used by participants to describe Agudath Israel of America’s 17th annual Yarchei Kallah. A project of the Agudah’s Torah Projects Commission, the Yarchei Kallah has grown exponentially since its inception in 2001, expanding from a three day program attracting several dozen men, to a five day event attended by more than ten times the number of participants. All through the program the atmosphere in the Beis Medrash was laden with passion with the Kol Torah reverberating throughout the room, and as concentration gave way to the euphoria of clarity, those who put their lives on hold for five precious days to immerse themselves in the sweetness of learning radiated triumphant joy.

The opportunity to hear shiurim and divrei machshava from rabbonim of this caliber is unparalleled, observed Rabbi Labish Becker, Agudath Israel executive director.

“The Yarchei Kallah has the top Magidei Shiur and Roshei Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel,” explained Rabbi Becker. “Under normal circumstances if you wanted to hear all of them speak you would have to spend a month running around to different yeshivos and here you get them all in four days.”

While the Yarchei Kallah may have gotten underway on January 15th, many began preparing for the event weeks earlier. Hakdama shiurim were given in Brooklyn, Lakewood and Passaic, and eleven weekly teleconferences given by Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman allowed participants an additional opportunity to familiarize themselves with the sugyos being covered well in advance.

After an incredible pre-opening day in Bnei Brak where more than 200 Yarchei Kallah attendees basked in the presence of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita while hearing divrei bracha and chizuk from HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Rosh Kollel, Bais Dovid, Cholon and Rav, Ramat Elchanan, Bnei Brak, and Rav Eliyahu Mann, M’Roshei Yeshiva, Yeshiva Ohr Yisroel, the incredible hasmada began in earnest on Monday morning. The newly enlarged Yarchei Kallah Beis Medrash in the Jerusalem Ramada Hotel was a microcosm of klal yisroel, with men of all ages, some dressed in suits and ties and others in shirts and sweaters, plunging headfirst into the fascinating depths of Maseches Sukkah.

For all shiurim and pictures you can also visit www.aiayk.org

After a morning of hachana and limud b’chavrusa on Monday, the first official day of the Yarchei Kallah, Rav Pinchos Friedman, Rosh Hakollelim, Belz, spoke at length about the interplay between simcha and the chag of Succos and how we can use the inherent simchas yom tov to attain an even higher level of closeness to Hashem. Rav Asher Weiss, Av Beis Din, Darchei Hora’ah and Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Darchei Torah, discussed hiddur mitzvah and the incredible power of tefilla. While many stayed in the Beis Medrash until late into the night, others took advantage of an opportunity to take busses provided by Yarchei Kallah organizers to visit Kever Rochel and, with their new understanding of koach hatefilla, poured their hearts out to the Ribono Shel Olam.
Day 1: (More photo galleries below. For all shiurim and pictures you can also visit www.aiayk.org)
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The learning began on Tuesday morning with 6:30 AM Daf Yomi and nearly three hours of limud b’chavrusa. HaRav Dovid Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Chevron, gave shiur in Yiddish on the concepts of the arba minim and spoke about Rav Moshe Shapiro zt’l whose shiva had just been completed, describing his greatness in all aspects of Torah and his total dedication to the concept of emes. A parallel English shiur given by Rav Yosef Elefant, R’M Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim discussed the halachos of ownership of a lulav and esrog. An afternoon shiur by HaRav Nisan Kaplan, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim, explored whether someone who took lulav and esrog outside the Old City would need to do so again to fulfill the chiyuv d’oraysa of daled minim and HaRav Tzvi Kushelefsky, Rosh HaYeshiva, Heichal HaTorah, discussed the sedra of the week, Parshas Shemos. Tuesday drew to a close with an audio visual presentation on the source of the mesorah of esrogim by Rabbi Yechiel Goldhaber, author of Sefer Minhagei Hakehilos.
Day 2:
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After Wednesday morning’s Daf Yomi and limud b’chavrusa, the first shiur of the day was given in Yiddish by HaRav Baruch Dov Povarsky, Rosh Yeshiva, Ponovez, on the concept of bal tosif with a parallel English shiur by HaRav Yaakov Friedman, Rosh HaYeshiva, Birchas Mordechai, on the applicable laws of a lulav that is assur b’hanaah. A stimulating two part audio visual presentation by HaRav Avi Wiesenfeld, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Gevuras Yitzchok, offered fascinating, dynamic insight into the arba minim. Rav Yehoshua Eichenstein, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yad Aron, Yerushalayim, shared remembrances of Rav Moshe Shapiro zt’l, detailing the growth of the mussar movement in today’s world and Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim, delivered a beautiful exposition of the concept of gratitude.
Day 3:
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One of the unquestionable highlights of the Yarchei Kallah came on Thursday morning, when Rav Zilberstein, a world renowned halachic authority, presented several intriguing scenarios that can arise when taking lulav and esrog as well as other interesting topics. Participants were mesmerized by Rav Zilberstein’s words, with many animatedly discussing the many different halachic aspects of the matters at hand. After a session of limud b’chavrusa, the shiurim resumed with Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel, speaking about beautifying the mitzvah of luluv and esrog, and Rav Shrage Kallus, Rav, K’hal Imri Pi, Ramat Shlomo and Rosh Kollel Machon L’Horaah L’Rabbonim, sharing divrei halacha for the English track, giving a very practical demonstration of qualifications for a kosher esrog.
Day 4:
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Afternoon shiurim in halacha and iyun were given respectively by HaRav Yaakov Avrohom Cohen, Chaver Beis Din of HaRav Nissim Karelitz, and Rav, Ramat HaTzafon, Yerushalayim, and Rav Chaim Tzvi Senter, Rosh HaYeshiva of Aderes Torah, Yerushalayim, discussing yom tov sheini shel galuyos. The final two speakers of the program were HaRav Chaim Aryeh Chodosh, Rosh HaYeshiva, Ohr Elchonon, speaking about his father Rav Moshe Chodosh zt’l of Chevron, who addressed the Yarchei Kallah numerous times in his lifetime, and HaRav Avraham Chaim Feuer, Rosh Yeshiva Mesoras Mordechai, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Rav, B’Khal Chasidim, Sha’arei Chesed, Yerushalayim, elaborating on the mesorah of Klal Yisroel through the lens of Rav Yochanan ben Zakai, Rav Yonasan ben Uziel, Abaya, Rava, and others.

More than 100 women enjoyed a sold out program that had participants touring mekomos hakedoshim in Yerushalayim as well as Kever Rochel, Gush Etzion and the northern regions of Eretz Yisroel. Additionally, thought provoking shiurim given by Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi, Rebbetzin Rina Tarshish and Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller attracted large crowds of ladies who came to be enriched and inspired by these world renowned speakers.

Having spent the past several days swept up in the whirlwind of an intense experience, excitement was palpable as the Yarchei Kallah ended on a high note with a magnificent tzeischem l’shalom. Energized by the incredible Limud HaTorah that took place during the program, participants parted on a spiritual high note, filled with exuberance and fortified by their learning. The bracha L’shana Habaa B’Yerushalayim was repeated countless times, and as the group wished each other farewell, many were already making mental plans to attend Agudath Israel of America’s 18th annual Yarchei Kallah where they will once again have the opportunity to drink their fill at the magnificent Torah wellsprings of Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh.