Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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9 Tammuz 5766 - July 5, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Derech HaMelech to Open Smicha Program for English- Speakers

by B. Berman

Halochoh is the cornerstone of life as a religious Jew. It is an integral part of all our actions. It can also be the key to awakening a young man's love of learning. This latter point is the fuel behind the smicha program currently being put together at Yeshivas Derech HaMelech.

Yeshivas Derech HaMelech, which opened its doors this past Elul, is the brainchild of R' Boruch Gartner. His goal was to create a yeshiva which combined intensive learning with a focus on avodas Hashem. His dream was to offer the English-speaking bochur and avreich the warmth of chassidus, the uplift of heartfelt tefilloh, and the fulfillment of personal growth, all in a yeshiva setting.

R' Gartner garnered the backing of a number of tzadikim before setting out to build Derech HaMelech. R' Tzvi Meir Zilberberg gave the project his support and brochoh. He sent R' Gartner across the ocean to involve R' Moshe Weinberger and to observe his Aish Kodesh community. It was R' Weinberger who suggested asking HaRav Osher Weiss to accept the post of rosh yeshiva. To R' Gartner's delight, HaRav Weiss accepted.

Rav Weiss is often asked what sets Derech HaMelech apart from other institutions. "What is unique about this yeshiva is its holistic approach to the spiritual needs of its talmidim," he explains. "It is our mission to give our students the highest level of learning and produce talmidei chachomim [as well as to give them] the warmth of chassidus and the warmth of mussar. What we need is not only Torah knowledge, but the depth and warmth of avodas Hashem, and the beauty of middos tovos."

The rosh kollel and maggid shiur of the highest shiur, is R' Shmuel Rosenbaum. R' Rosenbaum studied in Torah Vodaas, and received smicha from R' Elya Chazzan, R' Avrohom Pam, and R' Gedaliah Shorr. Twenty-two years ago he moved to Israel, and since then has served as rosh kollel in both Karlin Stolin and Nezer HaTorah. Among the hundreds of his former students many are rabbonim, poskim and dayanim.

R' Rosenbaum created the smicha program which is to begin in Elul. His shiur this year contained a great deal of halochoh, and he saw the positive effect it had upon the boys. Seeing the full picture, from the gemora down to modern-day poskim, lent excitement and relevance to the boys' learning.

Next year, he plans to build on this year's success and offer an intensive smicha program. The program will span three years: one year devoted to hilchos Shabbos, one to hilchos kashrus, and a third to family purity, yom tov and miscellaneous halochos. The mornings will be spent learning in-depth the gemoras covering the halachic topics which will be studied in the afternoon. The goal is not to memorize psakim, but to understand them from the source, and to give the students the tools to tackle any area of halochoh. Practicality will be emphasized: if hilchos esrog is the current topic, for example, esrogim will be brought in for examination, giving the students hands-on experience.

"I feel that a program like this has two major advantages," says R' Rosenbaum. "First, analyzing how the halochoh is derived from the original sources helps hone students' analytical abilities. Second, by bringing learning into the realm of day-to-day living, the students see the relevancy of their leaning and this helps them retain what they learn."

Few people are more suited to run such a program than R' Rosenbaum. Not only is he fully immersed in the sea of halochoh, he is also extremely devoted to his students, spending endless time imparting his knowledge. "R' Rosenbaum completes Shas with every one of his sons before their marriage," related R' Gartner. "And he has quite a few boys. Aside from the wonder of the actual accomplishment, it underscores the fact that he is ready to spend hours and hours with people in order to give them Torah."

The bochurim are effusive about their feelings for R' Rosenbaum. "I've never enjoyed learning halochoh so much," says Yaakov, one of the yeshiva's first students. "We go through the background so we have the entire picture. R' Rosenbaum is also highly skilled at building people. I've had a tremendous growth in my learning since I came here, mainly because of his encouragement and influence."

R' Rosenbaum's influence reaches far beyond the classroom. "R' Rosenbaum is my rebbe in every aspect of life," declares Yaakov. "He is a person of total chessed. I've never had anyone in my life help me in so many ways. He helped me through dating, advised me on where to buy jewelry for my kallah, and even washed my tallis!

"With R' Rosenbaum, R' Gartner, and the other rebbeim here I feel that I want to become entirely like them — not just their learning, but who they are as people."

For their part, the rebbeim devote themselves wholeheartedly to the boys. "R' Gartner cares about each boy as a son," says R' Rosenbaum. "He can call me at midnight because he's worrying about one of them. His whole neshomoh is devoted to the success of the yeshiva. R' Gartner is a dreamer, who works until his dreams materialize."

Yeshivas Derech HaMelech has succeeded in answering the need of dozens of searching young men. Their smicha program will help extend their efforts.

To contact Derech HaMelech: 057-311-6036. Fax: 02-538-9026. Baal Shem Tov 7, Jerusalem, Israel. Email:


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