Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah
The Society for Mishnah Study
By Libi Astaire
He had a birthday coming up – one of those big, milestone birthdays – and his wife asked him how he wanted to mark the occasion. Go to a fancy restaurant? Go away for Shabbos? Then a friend mentioned that his family could commission a Torah scholar to learn Mishnah on his behalf.
Learn Mishnah? For his birthday?
“Sure,” replied his friend. “It’s a great gift. You’ll get merit for all the Mishnah learned, plus you’ll get merit for supporting a Torah scholar. And these are birthday presents that will last forever!”
If the thought of giving someone a present of learning Mishnah for a joyous occasion seems odd, you probably haven’t yet met the founder of Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah.
“When someone wants to accrue merits for a loved one, there’s no better way to do it than to bring more Torah study in the world,” he explains. “And learning Mishnah isn’t just for elevating the soul of a person who has passed away. It can benefit anyone, including a person who needs a refuah, or a shidduch, or a good livelihood.”
Of course, many of the people who contact Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah are mourners – and some of them are in a panic.
“The idea for the organization came about a few years ago, when someone asked me if I would learn Mishnayos for a relative’s yahrtzeit,” the founder recalls. “He was frantic. He said his family would even pay, because they had no one who could do it.’”
That incident opened his eyes to an astounding fact: Although most Jews would like to do something on a yahrtzeit or shloshim to elevate a loved one’s soul, many don’t have the ability to do it themselves. And it’s not just people from outside the Orthodox community who are affected.
“The people who contact us come from almost the full spectrum of the Jewish people,” he says. “Some need us to say Kaddish for a deceased parent. But there are others who are themselves avreichim, and they want to do more learning than they can accomplish on their own.”
As an example, a staff member cites the person who wants to make a siyum on the shloshim or yahrtzeit, but they aren’t able to complete the entire Mishnah themselves. He therefore decided to create several programs of study, each one tailored to a different need. In addition to Kaddish and Yizkor recital, Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah’s team of almost fifty yungeleit can learn a portion of the Mishnah, the entire Mishnah, and – if the organization has enough advance notice – they can even learn the entire Mishnah in one day.
In addition, this is serious learning. All of the scholars learn in prestigious Torah institutions, and every person or neshamah receives learning that is done in their own name.
Opening the Gates of Shamayim
When Shoshi saw that her older sister was having trouble finding her bashert, Shoshi and her other siblings decided to storm the Gates of Shamayim. They davened, they poured their hearts out over their Tehillim – and they pooled their allowance money together and contacted Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah’s ‘Better Than a Segulah’ program. In the merit of the learning done on their sister’s behalf, they hoped that they would soon be dancing at her wedding.
“So many people are facing difficult challenges today,” the founder comments. “For some people it’s finding a shidduch, while others have been hit hard by the economic downturn. Then there are those who have been childless for so many years. When the problem doesn’t go away, it’s only natural to look for segulah. But the truth is that Torah learning is the best segulah there is. Its merits are so great that it can bring about a miraculous salvation.”
In times of mourning, in times of challenge – and in times of joy – the best thing a person can do is go straight to the source of blessing: Torah study. And thanks to Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, enjoying the merits of Torah study is now attainable for everyone.