On rosh chodesh Elul 5764 (August 18, 2004), a new study program – a collel for halachic studies – dedicated in memory of Rav Yitzchok Zilber, ztz'l was opened by Toldos Yeshurun for the leaders of its evening learning centers. This program was organized at the advice and with the blessing of Gedolei Yisroel in Israel and in the United States.
Russian-speaking avrechim who themselves have founded and are running evening learning programs for Russian speakers are invited to learn in the new collel with the purpose of obtaining smicha at the end of the program.
The collels five year program is based on daily studies, nine hours a day. The program includes the main rabbinical areas of the Jewish Law – the laws of Shabbos and Nidda. These two topics will be studied in depth – be-iyun. Not much time is allocated for other subjects. For example, there is only one hour to an hour and a half per day dedicated to Mishna Brurah (at the pace of one page a day) or Gemara (at the pace of 4 folios a week).
The collel is led by a well known halachic authority, Rav Moshe Petrower, shlit'a. It is interesting that many of the collels students wanted to learn Torah from him long ago. As one of them put it, «my cherished dream came true».
Rav Moshe Petrower says, «In the previous generations there were many generals and few soldiers. That is to say, there were many outstanding rabbis while relatively few people learned in yeshivas and collels. Today, there is, boruch Hashem, a lot of yeshivas and collels but not so many rabbis».
«The main reason why people do not become talmidei chachamim after many years of learning is that they were not taught thoroughness and depth in their approach to learning. A rabbi must be formed by another rabbi. For example, I learned from Rav Elifant, shlit'a, and from Rav Michael Zilber, shlit'a, and, finally, from Rav Shmuel Auerbach, shlit'a. And I continued consulting Rav Shmuel afterwards. I was built by the communication with these people, by their advice, by learning from them.»
«My task, as I see it, is to nurture talmidei chachamim – may it be G-ds will that they will become such.»
This collel is in essence the maka be-patish, the final missing link in building a viable Russian-speaking religious community in Israel. Indeed, there have appeared a lot of places for Torah learning for Russian-speakers as well as hundreds of new Russian-speaking bnei Torah families. But leaders, rabbis, real authorities and talmidei chachamim are still missing in the Russian street. May it be G-ds will that this collel will produce them.
At present, the collel is located at Rav Yitzchok Zilbers former apartment. The home of the Russian Rabbi, which has always welcomed talmidim, fills up with Torah again.