Rav Binyamin Cohen Delivers Five Shiurim at LINK Kollel
Rabbi Eli Stern
The LINK Kollel in Los Angeles was privileged to host Rav Binyamin Cohen, Rosh Kollel of Mesivta Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, on June 26th-27th for a series of in-depth shiurim. Rav Cohen, a well-known posek and author of the acclaimed Chelkas Binyamin on various areas of Shulchan Aruch, was in L.A. to farher the yungeleit of the Kollel on their knowledge of Hilchos Niddah, which they have studied in depth this past year (under the tutelage of Rosh Kollel, Rav Mordechai Lebhar).
After testing the avreichim all of Monday afternoon, Rav Cohen was duly impressed with the caliber of their scholarship, both in terms of their knowledge of the sugyos with rishonim and achronim as well as their aptitude in halachah l’meiseh. Rav Cohen had come to LINK several years earlier to test the avreichim on the sugyos of ribis and their concomitant knowledge of Shulchan Aruch.
Rav Cohen’s visit was a continuation of LINK’s close connection to Chaim Berlin and its rosh yeshiva, HaRav Aharon Schechter, shlita (who gave his warm brachah and encouragement to Rav Cohen’s visit). Rav Schechter for many years gave of his precious time to meet with the yungeleit of LINK in his yearly visit to L.A. LINK is indebted to Rav Avrohom Fructhandler, a long-time friend, mentor, and a visionary supporter of LINK, for being the “shadchan” for this partnership.
Rav Cohen gave a variety of in-depth shiurim. For the general community, he gave a wide-ranging shiur in Hilchos Bishul Akum on Monday night, which drew a packed crowd to the Beis Medrash. Amongst other topics, he dealt with the issues of when the food in question was “partly” cooked by a gentile and then “partially” cooked by a Jew (and vice versa).
He then offered words of chizzuk, emphasizing how Rashi in Chumash attributes Moshe’s influence to his being a student and a teacher of Torah rather than merely the political leader of Klal Yisrael. He exhorted his audience to seek guidance from the avreichim of the Kollel, whom he personally could attest were of a very high caliber of learning. He also adduced from the Terumas HaDeshen that one can (if necessary) fulfill his obligation of hearing the leyning on Shavuos by merely hearing that part of Parshas Yisro that dealt with the preparations for Kabbalas HaTorah, without actually hearing the Aseres HaDibros. This, he averred, was proof that the main emphasis should be to become a proper receptacle for receiving the Torah.
The next day, Rav Cohen gave four shiurim to the yungeleit and to other talmidei chachamim of the L.A. community. The first shiur was a halachic analysis of the subject of vestos and separating in anticipation of them. He then delivered a wide-ranging shiur on medical/gynecological issues that arise in Hilchos Niddah.
The centerpiece of the day was his shiur for the rabbonim of L.A., organized by the Rabbinical Council of California. Rav Cohen gave halachic guidance on the complicated and sensitive questions dealing with what information can – and must – be given in shidduchim when a rav is called as a reference. This touched upon questions of mental and physical limitations of the prospective partner as well as questions of middos, temperament, and religious observance. Finally, he gave a masterful shiur in Chumash on the parshah (Chukkas).
The avreichim and community members were deeply inspired and awed by Rav Cohen’s indefatigable stamina in presenting so many profound shiurim in such a brief time period, all delivered with his characteristic humility and clarity. Most of all, they expressed their immense hakaras hatov for his undertaking this arduous trip, packing in so much Torah wisdom into a 24-hour period sandwiched in between two long, transcontinental flights. Each of the yungeleit will receive from Rabbi Cohen a written certificate attesting to their mastery of Hilchos Niddah.