By Rabbi Shlomo Weinrib
The question on the mind of every yiddishe tatte and mamme as their son begins to enter into adulthood is, “With all the distractions pulling in every direction, can gemara become an integral part of my son’s life, to the point that he will willingly take out a gemara to learn in his free time?”
On Motzei Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz, the Atrium Ballroom in Monsey was filled with over 1,400 boys and their fathers who had come to take part in the Annual Bonai Chavivai Melava Malka and Siyum, knowing the answer to this question.
These Bar-Mitzvah-aged boys experienced the remarkable results of Bonai Chavivai, and had come from Lakewood, Monsey, Staten Island, Five Towns, Brooklyn, Queens, Philidelphia, Cleveland, Passaic, and Miami, to celebrate the simchas hatorah of truly owning a masechta. The scene of hundreds of boys excitedly streaming into the Atrium has a new freshness each year, bringing new neshamos that have enjoyed the sweetness of gemara learned with clarity and chazara.
Bonai Chavivai is a program that gives Bar-Mitzvah-aged boys the recipe to truly appreciate and absorb the message of ki heim chayeinu through owning a masechta with meticulous clarity and extensive chazaros. “What makes Bonai Chavivai so beautiful”, explains Rabbi Dovid Newman, founder of Bonai Chavivai, “Is that the only ‘prize’ waiting for the boys at the end, is the masechta that will be theirs forever. The work they put in is self-motivated, driven by an internal desire to ‘own’ a masechta.” Through this incredible program, thousands of boys the world over have come to their Bar Mitzvah with a masechta they know thoroughly and feel deeply connected with.
The evening began with a chazara seder during which each boy reviewed yet again from their beloved, well-worn gemaras. They then entered the main ballroom, packed with tables set beautifully with a lavish Seudas Siyum and Melava Malka.
During the seudah, a few boys shared with the crowd how Bonai Chavivai had impacted their life. For one boy it was his kabbalah to chazer an amud a day after shacharis which sparked a movement of learning after shacharis for his classmates. For another it was the fact that he now knew ‘his’ masechta so well that he could teach it to others. For yet a third it was the how the word ‘learn’ was redefined for him. “Now, when I say I’m going to learn something,” he shared, “I automatically mean that I’m going to learn it, chazer it and know it well”.
But above all, every boy in attendance felt the shared sentiment that Bonai Chavivai had given them an appreciation of what it means to learn – not because they have to – but because they want to, taking achrayus for their learning, and investing the effort it takes to acquire a masechta.
Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, who was the guest speaker, highlighted the greatness of the members of Bonai Chavivai, who in our times, can learn and know a masechta to the point that they can attest to the Beis Din Shel Maalah, ‘I know this masechta!’ “This is a modern-day neis Chanukah, to witness a room full of such bochurim! This is gilui shechina right here!”
The highlight of the event is the grand siyum, made by over 300 mesaymim that had completed their masechta again in honor of the event. The picture was magical, as their younger peers, newer to the program, looked on, envisioning themselves in a year’s time being mesayem their own masechta with the same joy and satisfaction.
The siyum was followed by leibidige dancing, the boys’ faces shining with the light of the masechta aflame in their neshamos. Next was a hartzige kuzmitz, an additional expression of a desire to become closer, more connected to Hashem and His Torah. Every boy left the evening with a renewed appreciation for the masechta they owned and recharged with a new vigor to learn and chazer.
To bring this program to your community, or for more information, email Rabbi Dovid Newman – email@example.com