By Rabbi Shloimy Dickman, Reviewed by Gavriel Sharf
Hilchos Shabbos issues are part of our lives on a weekly basis. How often do we come across a questionable situation on Shabbos and are uncertain as to how to proceed? Or worse yet, how many of us don’t even realize that we are faced with a hilchos Shabbos issue?
Daf Yomi revolutionized Gemara learning for thousands of people by dividing the long journey through Shas into small, daily steps. This concept has now been applied to hilchos Shabbos in a new and exciting program in the recently released sefer Hilchos Shabbos B’Shabbato. Rabbi Shloimy Dickman, mechaber of the sefer Shloshim Yom Kodem Hachag, has now compiled hilchos Shabbos in a clear format that allows one to learn all the halachos in a one-year cycle. Intrigued by this innovative idea, I spoke Rabbi Dickman about his new sefer.
Q. Your first sefer, Shloshim Yom, made its debut almost eight years ago. How has the feedback from people who learnt Shloshim Yom influenced your new sefer?
A. Shloshim Yom arranged all halachos that are applicable for the Yomim Tovim in a daily learning format. By following the prearranged schedule for a few weeks before each Chag, one is able to enter Yom Tov confident in knowing all applicable halachos. We know that one has an obligation to prepare appropriately for each Chag, and Shloshim Yom allows us to achieve that goal by setting aside just a few minutes a day.
Boruch Hashem, this program has proven to be quite successful and the feedback was extremely positive. In addition to individuals, a number of shuls have established daily shiurim based on the sefer, while others add on fifteen minutes to their Daf Yomi shiur. Additionally, many high school halacha rabbeim and teachers have found Shloshim Yom to be an excellent source text for their classes.
Q. Tell us about the new hilchos Shabbos program.
A. When I saw the public enthusiasm about the concept of Shloshim Yom, I realized that bnei Torah and baalei batim want to be able to learn halacha properly, but are lacking the proper format which would fit into their daily schedule. Many people feel intimidated by the enormity and intricacies of learning halacha properly and feel that they lack the necessary skills. Hilchos Shabbos B’Shabbato takes all of hilchos Shabbos and presents it in three easy-to-learn portions per week. It should take between fifteen and twenty minutes to learn each section. Be’ezras Hashem, by maintaining this schedule, one can master all of hilchos Shabbos in just one year! What originally seemed overwhelming, can, with a little effort, be mastered in a timely fashion.
Q. That really sounds fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to go into Shabbos feeling more confident in their knowledge? Tell me about the format of the sefer.
A. The sefer is based on the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah, using their actual wording where possible. However, to make things clearer, it also includes explanations quoting leading poskim, which is particularly helpful to those who are already knowledgeable in the basic halachos.
Q. Which parts of hilchos Shabbos do you cover in this sefer?
A. All of hilchos Shabbos is included, from preparing for Shabbos and ushering it into our homes through Havdalah – not to mention everything in between. All of the thirty-nine melachos, muktzah, amira l’akum, refuah and much more are incorporated in the sefer.
Q. That sounds like an enormous amount of work. Did anyone assist you in the compilation?
A. Fortunately, I had the support of many talmidei chachomim who are experts in hilchos Shabbos. For example, Rav Shmuel Felder, renowned senior posek at Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood, NJ, reviewed much of the sefer and gave many helpful insights. In addition, many noted authorities on specific topics of hilchos Shabbos were kind enough to read through the topics of their field of expertise. For example, Rav Pinchas Bodner, noted author of seforim on hilchos muktzah and refuah, reviewed the portions that covered those topics.
Q. For who is this program appropriate for? Who can benefit from this sefer?
A. Anyone who is comfortable with a basic Hebrew can benefit from this program. It is simple and clear enough for someone with a limited background in hilchos Shabbos, yet it provides detailed information so that those who have already learned through the appropriate sugyos will find it to be helpful in terms of review and reference.
The main purpose is to serve as an introduction to learning hilchos Shabbos from the original sources. Many people find learning hilchos Shabbos from the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah to be a formidable challenge. I am hoping that by learning Hilchos Shabbos B’Shabbato, they will acquire the necessary background to feel comfortable learning the sources in depth. After all, what better way is there to start the new year than with a new determination to keep Shabbos the way Hashem wants us to?
Q. What better way, indeed. Do you have any last message for the readers?
A. I would like to reiterate the message which the Chofetz Chaim teaches us in his introduction to the Mishnah Berurah, and that is that only through the proper study of hilchos Shabbos can one properly keep Shabbos. When we take the time to study hilchos Shabbos, we can hopefully keep that one Shabbos that we are waiting so long for.
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