Success Stories

Many have been utilizing this unique program for the last few years -- with remarkable results.

The originator of this program, R' Sender Dolgin, recently made his eleventh siyum on all of Shas. His first after four-and-a- half years of diligent study, along with numerous chazorahs, culminated with his learning every single blatt in Shas, at least three -- and as many as nine -- times during that period. After he reached his original goal, he now reviews all of Shas every year culminating with a siyum haShas on his father'sd yartzeit. Imagine that! Finishing Shas every single year.

In the ten years since its inception, Reb Sender has reached out to thousands who are now learning utilizing the method. Numerous talmidim have already completed Shas while hundreds more are well on their way.

A young man who had been attending a regular daf yomi shiur found that he was having trouble concentrating and staying focused on what was being taught. A good friend told him about this learning and chazorah program. Though he did not have the time to learn a full blatt of gemora along with chazorah each day, he was able to learn an amud a day. After working with this program for a few short weeks he commented to his friend, "You can't believe the difference this has made in my entire household. I, myself, have my daily learning to which to look forward, my wife is very proud of me, and I've even heard my young son say, `Don't bother Tatty now, he has to learn.' " He now recommends this program to all of his friends.

Another fellow who recently opened his own business and would put in a very long day at the office, has taught himself to find time that didn't exist. For instance, instead of driving to business meetings, he now tries to find a way to take public transportation. Why? Because this will create a couple of extra hours to learn. He told someone, "If I would not be using this program, I would have gone through the last three years without learning a word -- and I really would have had a good excuse!"

The same fellow once found himself in the waiting room in an area hospital at two o'clock in the morning. What was he doing? Why learning of course!

A kollel yungerman, after several years in yeshiva, started to feel that he was "burning out" and began looking to leave the yeshiva. A friend of his told him about the chaburah that was using this learning and chazorah program. After a very short time in the chabura, this yungerman has developed a new eagerness for learning, and has accepted upon himself to learn at least 1,000 blatt before leaving kollel. He is now learning in the beis medrash, day and night.

Interestingly enough, the most enthusiastic proponents of this system are the wives. Recently, a kollel yungerman who was in this learning and chazorah chabura was offered an opportunity to join a prestigious out-of-town kollel. While this was an exciting offer, it meant that he would no longer be able to continue with this program. As soon as his wife heard about the offer -- she vetoed the idea saying she was so happy with her "new" husband and wanted him to continue with the program.

Several years ago, a Lakewood balabus, who had limited time available to dedicate to Torah study made a decision that he was going to give this method a shot. He diligently followed the program every single day - for thirteen years - and just celebrated a siyum on all of Talmud Bavli (at least four times each gemara) and on Shisha Sidrei Mishna. He claims that the structure and goal oriented method of this program forced him to find the time to learn every single day and reach this accomplishment.

Rabbi Dolgin tells a great story.

One evening – about two years ago, I was sitting down to dinner when I received an interesting phone call. “Reb Sender” the man said, “I am calling to express hakoras hatov to you – you saved my life”!

He went on to explain that his nine-year-old son had been acting up in Cheder, and he was advised by the menahel that his child was “the most difficult child I have seen in all my years of chinuch” and if there won’t be a drastic change in his performance and behavior, he will be asked to leave the Cheder.

“I didn’t know the source of my son’s problem and I was exasperated because I did not know where to turn” he said “but someone showed me a brochure describing the Shas Chabura method of learning and how it has changed the lives of many people. Well, Reb Sender, it has been nearly two years since that day and we have learned and chazered all of Seder Moed and half of Seder Nizikin. Now my son’s Rebbe calls regularly to compliment my son for being the best talmid in his class and for his ability to grasp new material and retain older material through chazara. It made me very proud”. “Furthermore” he said, “This seder has created such a strong emotional and physical bond between my son and I – one that could only be created through limud haTorah – and for all of this I thank you. It’s come to a point that my son refuses to go to bed every night until we have learned our prescribed quota. May the Ribino Shel Olam give you and your wonderful method siyata dishmaya to help others as you have helped me”.

I was humbled by his warm words and could only respond by thanking him and by telling him “Reb Yid, you don’t begin to understand what you have done for your child. Not only have you given him a feeling of accomplishment in his actions, but you have given him the greatest gift of all – the appreciation of Chazara. In addition he has acquired a skill that he will enjoy all of his life, one that many are never zocheh to achieve – the ability to set clear goals in their learning. I’ll tell you another thing, when one continuously chazars his learning – the different sugyos begin to come together causing an unbelievable amount of satisfaction. This brings a simchas hachayim and an areivos – a sweetness in his ahavas haTorah.“

As I hung up the phone on this father I couldn’t help but ask myself;

  • Where would this child be today if the hanhala had actually expelled the boy from their Cheder as planned or if his father didn’t think of this idea?
  • As mechanchim, are we giving the children entrusted in our care the tools they need to succeed in their learning and to become true talmidei chachamim?

What is chazara and why is it important? The gemara in brachos (5a) brings a machlokas whether if one is a talmid chacham must he say krias shema on his bed or not. Rashi defines the term “talmid chacham” in six words – shragil b’mishnaso lachzor al girsaso tamid – he is consistent in his studies to review them constantly. Rashi infers that a talmid chacham is a person who continuously chazars what he has learned to be familiar with it and not forget it. What does Rashi mean when he says that one must be familiar with his learning, and what does Rashi mean by constantly chazaring?

Perhaps a simple analogy will enlighten us. Imagine a person who is eager to wade into an ocean to search for treasures rumored to be in its depths. It would be futile to attempt to immediately plunge into the deep water to begin his search. Rather, on the first day – he will enter to allow his feet to familiarize themselves with the feel of the ocean water. Each subsequent day will find him wading a bit farther in the depths of the ocean – slowly building the stamina needed to succeed in his ambitious quest. Only after days and weeks of building upon what he did the day before, will he be capable to navigate the depths of the ocean. 

A person who is struggles to comprehend the intricacies of daf beis in any mesechta is analogous to the treasure hunter we’ve described above. For one, he lacks the basic background, knowledge and skills necessary to comprehend what is incorporated into the words of daf beis; and furthermore, until he has acquired a basic blueprint of the entire sugya – and that of other related sugyos in shas – it is virtually impossible to appreciate and comprehend the complex reasoning of the rishonim and achronim in the sugya. In this vein, Rashi is telling us that a talmid chacham is one who continually reviews everything he has learned in the past – as he goes on to amass new material. Of course, a person cannot understand the intricacies of the sugya on daf bais, but if he chazers daf bais as he learns daf gimmel and daf daled and daf heh – utilizing a clear and goal oriented review schedule – he will ultimately have a deep and comprehensive understanding of the entire mesechta – and eventually the entire shas.

Rashi – the Rebbe of all of klal yisroel – tells us another important yesod in Torah learning. The gemara in Shabbos (63a) says: ligmor, v’achar kach lisbor, one must complete (his learning) and afterwards explain it. Rashi explains this to mean ligros shmatse m’rabei – v’hadar ligros taime - he person must first learn the entire sugya from his Rebbe and only then go on to explain its’ intricacies. Rav Elchonan Wasserman (Kovetz Mamarim) testifies that when he learned through an entire mesachta – or at least learned from mishna to mishna with Rashi (and some Tosofos) MANY TIMES – before learning anything b’iyun – he met with tremendous success in his havona. And at those times that he was unable to learn this way – he did not merit the same success. Now, this seems to be a conundrum – how can one learn up an entire sugya before learning in any depth – when he is missing the basic essentials to understand what the gemara is saying? 

Once again we turn to Rashi for guidance. In the above-mentioned Rashi we noted that one must ligros shmatse m’rabei he must learn from his Rebbe. Our job as rebbeim and mechanchim is to give our talmidim a thorough understanding of the basic concepts and the shakla v’tarya of an entire sugya – before we attempt to expound upon them through the words of the rishonim and achronim. Only after the talmid is well versed in the sugya can he hope to be mephalpel and be medame milse l’milse. Imagine if each of our talmidim thoroughly understood the pushut pshat of the sugya before we attempted to teach him the Reb Akiva Eiger or the K’tzos. They would certainly end up with a complete havona of the sugya and love what they have learned. In fact, many bocurim and yungerleit constantly complain that they lack havona and enjoyment in their learning. Think of the long-term success and simchas hachayim these talmidim will enjoy for their entire lives – even after they leave the walls of the Yeshiva and/or Kollel – if they have the skills and method they need to learn, understand and retain their learning.

So, to answer the questions we asked above, Hashem yerachem, if the hanhala would have expelled that talmid, or his father had not heard about Shas Chabura – he would most likely have been lost in the downward spiral so prevalent among our youth today; and, yes, we mechanchim must arm ourselves and our talmidim with the tools they need to succeed in their learning – both during their tenure in Yeshivos and Kollelim and in the future. It is indeed up to us to teach our talmidim to have an organized and goal oriented method to succeed in their learning.

Rabbi Dolgin tell another story how one day he received a call "Rabbi - I called to express my hakoras hatov - you saved my life!". Eight years ago, at the age of 36, I was working many hours a day and did not learn a word - tomorrow I am making a siyum on Shas. He said, one day I came across your learn and review program and began to learn a blatt a day. For eight years I did not miss a day - except for a week when I was running a high fever. Rabbi Dolgin asked him - if you have been doing a blatt a day for all this time you should have finished after seven and a half years, why are you only making your siyum now? He answered that he decided to dedicate an additional half a year to finishing all of the mishnayos ig Zeraim amd Taharos before making a siyum. Rabbi Dolgin was noticeably impressed and asked him - if you work so hard, when did you find the time to do this? To which he answered "I get up every morning at 3 AM so I can learn for 3 and a half hours before davening"! WOW Mi Kiamcha Yisrael

The Chaburas Shas office in Israel called with this fascinating story. One day they got a call from a Bal teshuva from Eilat asking for printouts outlining the program to finish all of Shas. The person in the office suggested that he start with one mesechta to see if this will work for him. He said NO and told the following story. Three years earlier he was a non-from person who had never studied a gemara in his life. By chance (?) he came upon a brochure describing this learning program. For curiosities sake he picked up a Shottenstein gemara and began learning a blatt a day. Now, three years later the Torah he had learned had completely turned him around and he was a shomer Torah u'mitzvos and he wanted to see to it that he had the program properly so that he would finish all of Shas.

So they're all doing it - Why Not You?

 

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