This past week, the annual meeting of the Mashkimei
Kum project was held at the Tamir Hotel. It was
attended by roshei yeshiva and rabbonim, and
was the realization of the message of Purim: They
ratified their acceptance of Torah.
The dais was graced by HaRav Chaim Pinchos
Scheinberg, HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, HaRav
Shmuel Deutsch, HaRav Boruch Horowitz, HaRav M.
Weiss, HaRav Nissim Toledano, HaRav Y. Levi, HaRav
Dovid Man, HaRav Sholom Povarksi, HaRav M.
Kuperstein, and scores of other prominent
marbitzei Torah and mashgichim. The
meeting was attended by hundreds of bnei
Torah from all over the country , who had come
to participate in the melave malka dinner
along with the project's patron, Reb Dovid
Hofstater of Toronto, and to listen to the
divrei Torah and blessings of the roshei
yeshiva and their representatives.
HaRav Yerachmiel Kram, the moderator of the event,
opened the meeting by stressing that Rav Hofstater
didn't want to be personally mentioned or that the
evening should focus on him. Instead he wanted to
emphasize the importance of the program and the
idea, and to strengthen the ameilei haTorah.
But not to say anything about him is not possible,
since gratitude is the attribute on which the
entire Torah is based. We call Moshe by the very
name Pharaoh's daughter Batya gave him, in order to
remind us of the importance of gratitude.
"We then must recall the man on whose merit
hundreds of students rise early each morning, in
order to study an hour before prayers. He has the
zechus of 450 students from ten yeshivas who
participate in that program which will, in the near
future be expanded to include students from 17 more
yeshivos," HaRav Kram said.
The rosh yeshiva of Ateres Yisroel, HaRav
Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi delivered the main speech.
"Chazal coined the blessing: `Boruch chacham
harozim,' which means that just as every person
has his own name, he also has his own secret which
he bears under his heart. This secret is personal,
and not deciphered by anyone. Hakodosh Boruch
Hu is the Chacham Harozim. He is familiar with
each one of His creations, and only to Him have all
of the secrets of the world been revealed.
Therefore, let us try and sense the key and the
code, and the secret of Rav Dovid Hofstater, the
patron of this mighty enterprise. Who has revealed
his secret? If the wine of Torah enters, its secret
After these inspiring remarks, Rav Hofstater, the
rosh kollel of Dirshu Hashem Ve'uzo, who
came especially from Toronto for this event, said:
"The verse, `Mordechai will not bend or bow down,'
is written in the future tense. Mordechai dedicated
his life to the Jewish Nation and its spiritual
future. He didn't regard himself as an individual
against the wicked kingdom, but assumed
responsibility for the leadership of the Nation, in
order to raise the glory of Israel for generations.
Therefore he is said to have been Kish's descendant
since Shaul lost the kingship because of his
opposite leadership. There is nothing greater than
Torah, and one must dedicate all his powers to
Torah. Then we will merit, with Hashem's help, the
Crown of Torah which is greater than all."
What is the program of Mashkimei Kum?
One Hour Before: Daybreak Torah with
"Why didn't Chaim come to the family get together?"
complained Chaim's father to the Rosh Yeshiva.
"What's happening to him lately?"
The Rosh Yeshiva answered, "He wanted to learn! He
didn't want to travel and sleep at home; he was
afraid he would miss his early morning
"A true revolution," says a renowned rosh
yeshiva. "A new approach," notes a young
budding talmid chochom. It all began at a
meeting that took place early in the morning,
before shacharis. But why was the meeting
held at such an unearthly hour -- before
A very special idea has become a reality in the
study halls of our holy yeshivas. It's a private
matter between the initiator of the project and the
yeshiva students. We took a peek at the beis
medrash when the sun was just coming up -- and
we were "sold."
We said to ourselves: This project is meritorious
and must be publicized, for the honor of Torah.
Rav Dovid Hofstater is rosh kollel of Kollel
Dirshu Hashem Ve'uzo in Toronto, Canada. However,
in addition to giving a daf yomi shiur every
morning and a weekly shiur in iyun on
the same material, he is a busy businessman.
The kollel that he put together in Toronto
is intended mainly for ba'alei batim who
work for a living. It is interesting that
specifically those who go out to work every morning
get up one hour before tefilla to learn the
daf. Once a week, on Sundays, when most
businesses outside of Israel are closed, these men
devote a few more hours for in-depth study of the
When asked how he came up with this idea, Reb Dovid
replies by first telling us about the makeup of his
kollel in Toronto.
"The kollel that I set up in Toronto 2 years
ago came into being to fill a void that exists
among former yeshiva and kollel students: a
void in their lives as well as in that of the
general Jewish population. Anybody who once learned
in yeshiva longs for the gemora and the
learning to remind him of the atmosphere of Torah
in the yeshiva. Many of these men, who at difficult
times in their lives went out to work for their
livelihood, are still searching for the opportunity
to again `swim in the sea of the Talmud' as they
did in their youth.
"The whole day takes on new life when immediately
upon awakening one finds himself deep in Torah
study. The connection with the gemora
continues to make an impression throughout the
day when one finds himself surrounded by his
earthly activities outside of the beis
"Today, besiyata diShmaya, we have 70 young
men participating in the shiur. This is a
tremendous number, as anyone familiar with the
bnei Torah community in Toronto can
Through the initiative of Rav Hofstater, this idea
has been recently been brought to Eretz
Yisroel: to Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood.
About 90 men are in a similar program. A stipend
given to those who attend regularly and pass the
tests amounts to approximately $400 a month.
"What is the connection between the holy yeshivas
and all this," I injected during the steady flow of
Rav Dovid's account. "In yeshivas they don't learn
the daf yomi!"
Rav Hofstater, in his usual calm manner, answered.
"I once met with the rosh yeshiva of Ateres
Yisroel, HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi. I had
arranged the appointment before my daily
shiur since it was the only time available.
When HaRav Ezrachi arrived, he was astounded to see
scores of ba'alei batim learning with vigor
and hasmodoh at such an early hour.
"`Why can't we duplicate this wonderful concept of
learning with such enthusiasm and diligence at
daybreak in the yeshiva world?" he asked.
"As a result of his encouragement of the program, a
similar framework was designed for yeshiva
students. On a volunteer basis, one hour before
morning tefilla, they participate in a study
period of gemora with Rashi and Tosafos in
Rav Dovid Hofstater has taken upon himself the cost
of the stipend for the yeshiva boys.
So this concept has taken root and spread to other
yeshivas -- each yeshiva according to its needs.
Their common denominator is: One hour before
davening, 6 days a week, and weekly and
monthly tests on the material learned, and, of
course, the monthly stipend from Rav Dovid
A number of basic conditions must be met before one
can join the program: conditions that were decided
upon after much deliberation and approved by
roshei yeshivas. The material learned has to
be identical to the material studied in each
yeshiva. Second, a specific amount of material must
be covered: between one amud a day to a bit
more than a page, followed by a test on this
subject matter. Third, the students must always
take part in the morning tefilla in their
respective yeshivas after the study period. Fourth,
an exact account of the boys' attendance is
recorded, including any tardiness or absence.
We spoke with one student to hear the point of view
of a young yeshiva student who has recently joined
the program. What we heard was extremely
encouraging. Between the lines we understood what
was missing before: "Give the learned the
opportunity and they will become even more
"When they started with the new seder before
davening, I had my doubts about the whole
thing. But after a few days, and after only a few
tests, I was very happy. Suddenly I felt that I
know a few pages of gemora with Rashi and
Tosafos well. This hour, at the onset of the day,
provides great impetus for the rest of the day:
giving a special taste to the study as well as a
feeling of fulfillment. My friends and I see the
`sowing' as well as the `reaping' and we truly
should be paying the person who launched this whole
project: not the opposite."
I saw the sparkle in his eye when he spoke about a
snowy morning, about the biting cold that permeated
the entire city, and how despite all this, the
beis medrash was full at daybreak, before
shacharis, with boys who arose one hour
earlier in order to have time to study. This
feeling of responsibility and obligation build a
determination that lasts through the entire day.
Many yeshivas are soon going to be included in the
The following is a partial list of yeshivas that
have already begun the program:
Yeshivas Kol Torah, Yeshivas Ateres Yisroel,
Yeshivas Shearis Yosef, Yeshivas Chaim Ozer,
Yeshivas Or Elchonon, Yeshivas Kfar Chassidim,
Yeshivas Nachalas Halevi'im, Yeshivas Belz in
It is, perhaps, superfluous to mention the fact
that there is no intent to change the regular
framework of the yeshiva as has been established
and handed down by our Torah giants.
All activities connected with the program take
place outside of regular study hours: before
tefillas shacharis, and, of course, on an
entirely voluntary basis. It is an offering of the
heart, with the encouragement of NIS 350 for those
who satisfactorily pass the exams.
In a discussion with one of the roshei
yeshiva we were told the following:
"The gemora in Nedorim says, `Those
who say I will arise early and review my [Torah]
studies have made an important neder to the
L- rd of Israel.' There is a special emphasis on
the idea of hashkomo: awakening early.
"Why do we perceive this new framework of study as
the inception of a revolution? Because the fruits
of their labor are immediate. Boys who did not used
to `speak in learning' are now unafraid to study in
depth and unmask a difficult Tosafos or pursue a
question on the Maharsha. They review their
learning intently, poring over pages of the Talmud
until they know them by heart: resolved to
completely understand the sugya."
The rosh yeshiva continues, "The L-rd gives
the opportunity to do a mitzvah to those who are
ready and waiting to do his bidding. The day begins
one hour earlier, and that means that the night
starts on time. The shacharis prayer in the
morning starts promptly. The first seder
takes its full course. The boys are there from
beginning to end. You can see the satisfaction and
pleasure on the boys' faces while they're scurrying
about, happy and pressed for time; they don't have
extra time for anything else! They have to study in
all their `free time.'"
Many have won their future in one single hour --
that unique hour. One hour earlier. It is better to
rise "one hour before."