A “Chag Ha’Semicha” was celebrated in an impressive ceremony that took place in Oholei Torah, in Crown Heights, along with the completion of the second cohort of Machon Limud Halacha Lemaan Yilmedu. Certificates were awarded 135 men who passed tests in three tracks: Semicha Issur v’Heter, Hilchos Shabbos – Halacha L’Maaseh, and Siddur Chuppa v’Kiddushin.
About half of those awarded certificates were at the event in person. The other half, who were unable to make it (many of them serve as shluchim who are very busy at this time of the year, and many live abroad) joined the live broadcast.
Rabbi Chaim Yisrael Wilhelm opened the evening’s program. This was followed by the recitation of the Rebbe’s chapter of Tehillim and watching a video of the Rebbe about the significance of Shnas Hakhel. He then called up the first speaker, Rabbi Rafael Dovid Banon, member of the beis din and rav of the Chabad community in Montreal, who is a member of the vaad ha’haskama of the Machon.
Rabbi Banon highlighted the special zechus the men have, being family men who work and devote time to in-depth learning of halacha. He said how impressed he was by the talmidim’s knowledge when he tested them.
A video was then shown of the unforgettable menahel of the Machon, Rabbi Yeshaya Zushe Wilhelm a’h, speaking at last year’s Chag Ha’Semicha. He concluded with a wish that was fulfilled, that more talmidim participate in the next celebration, and that the Machon continue to expand in quantity and quality.
The next speaker was Rabbi Gedalia Oberlander, rav of the Chabad community Heichal Menachem in Monsey, and member of the Machon’s vaad ha’haskama. He spoke warmly about R’ Wilhelm a’h in founding the Machon which emphasizes the study of practical halacha, and how this is a big zechus for his family.
Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun, mara d’asra and member of the Crown Heights beis din and member of the vaad ha’haskama of the Machon spoke passionately about Shnas Hakhel. The simplest way to fulfill this, he said, is with the Machon which is named for the pasuk, “Hakhel es ha’am – lemaan yilmedu.” He noted the investment required in consistent, regular study not only for the person learning but also for his wife and children, and the change in the home when they see the father/husband putting in time and effort into learning halacha.
Dr. Yosef Minkowitz of Toronto, representative of the students, told how his son, who completed semicha last year encouraged him to register to learn semicha himself, despite his other involvements. By the end of the year it was obvious to him that he needs to continue learning and register for the program in Orach Chaim.
The emcee thanked the director of the Machon, R’ Shraga Crombie, who works day and night for the success of the Machon, and gave a special thanks to Rabbi Yisrael Mehl, founded of Machon Lemaan Yilmedu in Eretz Yisrael, who came in especially to participate in this great celebration in honor of Torah.
A representative of the talmidim gave a gift of appreciation to the maggidei shiurim: Rabbi Yossi Barber, Rabbi Sholom Zirkind, and Rabbi Mordechai Farkash.
Certificates were given out as, one by one, the 135 names were announced. Those present went up to the stage to receive their certificate from the rabbanim and maggidei shiurim.
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