Shoneh Halachos is a program for eighth grade boys to encourage and guide them in the study of Halacha with the Alter Rebbe’s Psak which is clearly explained through notations made by Rabbi Levi Bistritzky a”h – former Rav of Tzfat. It was established by the Igud Menahalei Yeshivos of Crown Heights for Oholei Menachem and United Lubavitcher Yeshiva of Crown Street in the goal to expand the knowledge of Halacha and Yiras Shamayim of the talmidim of our community.
The program was founded in memory of HaRav Marlow a”h whom the Rebbe referred to as ‘Ish Halacha’ – a man of Jewish Law; HaRav Marlow’s life was dedicated to the knowledge and clarification of Halacha. This evening commemorated the 12th yahrzeit of HaRav Marlow which is on 20 Sivan.
The learning thereof is leilui nishmas HaChosid Reb Schneur Zalman Gurary a”h to whom the interests of the Rebbe were very dear. The program is sponsored by Y. Sternberg, grandson of Reb Zalman and surely this serves as a fitting tribute to an individual who was legendary for his hiskashrus, limud and hidur in performing mitzvos. A story is shared that clearly depicts how every detail of halacha was dear to him. The mitzvah of the lulav and esrog has many variables in regards to specifications for esrog. Reb Zalman would buy dozens of esrogim, would make the brocho on the one that was deemed exceptionally beautiful and then proceed to shake the lulav with each of the esrogim. One year his grandson asked if he could use one of the esrogim for his mivtzoyim route. Upon returning home he did not put it back with the collection of esrogim as it was discolored and bruised from the amount of people that had held it that day. The following morning [at 5:00 a.m.] Reb Zalman could not find the esrog and awoke his grandson with an urgency. When asked why he needed this particular esrog when there were so many others available Reb Zalman answered: ‘an esrog that so many Yidden made a brocho on and shook is definitely beautiful in the eyes of the Aibishter’.
Eligibility to be a participant in the Chidon is through receiving above an 80% on written tests. Each boy receives monetary reward for excelling in this area and boys that join in the Chidon receive additional money plus seforim.
The finale of the program was a Chidon amongst 31 contestants which was help on Monday evening – Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan. Rabbi Moshe Wiener, Rabbi Yosef Shechter [son-in-law of Rabbi Marlow a”h] and HaTamim R’ Sholom Zirkind son of Rabbi Yitzchok Zirkind a”h form the panel of judges. The audience of parents, melamdim, community members and fellow students were astounded at the ability of the participants to quote the Halocho almost verbatim. The event was chaired by Rabbi Hershel Lustig – Dean of Oholei Menachem who also serves as coordinator of the program.
The winners of the Chidon were: Yisroel Brook, Chaim Eliezer HaLevi Heber, Menachem Mendel Baran, Moshe Dovid Huminer, Yisroel Yaakov HaKohen Blasberg, Yecheskel Meir Bensimchon, Tzvi Yisroel Yoel HaKohen Cohen.