Striving and Thriving
January 26, 2023
Lakewood, the beating heart of Torah life in the US, abounds with yeshivos, kollelim, and shuls. But even here, where every style and topic of Torah learning has its place, a new concept sometimes emerges that fills a niche in a new and exciting way.
Such as Kollel Cheshek Shlomo, which has electrified the Torah world.
The brainchild of Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Appel, the kollel launched in 2018 with a vision. It would be not just a place for a few uniquely gifted people to learn, but an environment that would take high-achieving, motivated yungerleit and support them in the pursuit of continuous growth, guiding them toward levels previously considered unattainable.
In the kollel’s supportive embrace, the ba’alei kisharon and masmidim of today are given the opportunity to become the gedolim of tomorrow.
Greatness in the making
The 24 founding yungerleit brought varied and complementary strengths to the nascent kollel. Despite their range of backgrounds—from the yeshivos of Fallsburg, Philadelphia, Keren HaTorah, Rabbi Slomowitz, and others—they were bound by a common thread: their drive to achieve gadlus b’Torah.
In the four and a half years since its launch, the kollel has expanded to over 70 members. Of the four to six new members the kollel accepts each zman, several join from one of the three affiliated chaburos in BMG that follow a similar second-seder model.
But the kollel’s growth isn’t measured by numbers; it is demonstated through the development of the yungerleit, who become different people as they progress from zman to zman. Following the kollel’s distinctive structure, serious bnei Torah learn and retain vast amounts of Torah. Here, knowing Torah is not a privilege reserved only for the select few who are born geniuses; it is attainable by any metzuyan who is given the opportunity.
The kollel stresses an intense first seder, in which the sugyos are developed to their full depth and breadth. The sugyos of each limud are covered thoroughly, and the yungerleit are both koneh the miktzo’a and mechadesh sevaros on topics as varied as nizkei mamon, agunos, and eiruvin.
Second seder is no less pivotal and dynamic than first. Yungerleit complete entire masechtos thoroughly and clearly without compromising quality for quantity. By now, the yungerleit command exceptional clarity in Eiruvin, Bava Basra, Makkos, Sukkah, Bava Kama, Gittin, Yevamos, and Chulin. The rischa d’Oraysa and systematic review ensure both maximum retention and tremendous satisfaction. As Rav Asher Dovid May said at a recent visit to farher the kollel on the entire Maseches Eiruvin, “The oilam really knows!”
Although people often assume that distinguished institutions are characterized by elitism and competition, Kollel Cheshek Shlomo stands out with its warm, respectful camaraderie which animates the beis medrash. Everyone, from visiting roshei yeshivah to the janitor, is treated with respect, and yungerleit are noted for their tendency to build each other up.
In fact, shortly after the new beis medrash was inaugurated, several tradesmen were completing the finishing touches on the building’s woodwork. Upon finishing his job, one of the workers approached Rabbi Appel with tears in his eyes to share that in all his years working in Lakewood institutions, he’d never witnessed young men who treated each other with such esteem.
Similarly, a local rosh mosad toured the kollel and expressed his astonishment to the roshei kollel. He’d expected to see a high-pressure, anxious environment but instead found that the warmth and simchah far surpassed those of any institution he was familiar with in Lakewood.
A supportive framework
One of the kollel’s guiding principles is that nurturing talmidei chachamim and their families enables them to attain gadlus more easily. With the pressures of parnassah, child care, and daily logistics minimized, a yungerman has more time and focus to immerse himself in his learning. As Rabbi Appel often says, “You can’t produce a gadol, but you can provide the right environment that lets the yungerman achieve gadlus.”
To help yungerleit achieve single-minded focus, the kollel offers numerous amenities in addition to the very generous monthly stipends. Two daily meals are served in the beautiful dining room, which doubles as a simchah hall for the yungerleit’s use. The beis medrash building is stocked with an outstanding otzar sefarim and numerous chaburah rooms. Additionally, the kollel maintains a dorm for the yungerleit to rest bein hasedarim without going home.
In addition, families of the yungerleit are entitled to subsidized child care at Circle Time, the state-of-the-art day-care center located just a few hundred feet from the beis medrash. Open early and late every single day of seder, the day care facilitates hours of learning time that would otherwise have been spent sitting in traffic while doing drop-offs and pickups. Just this past Asarah B’Teves, Circle Time offered the families of the yungerleit extended hours, even providing clubs for school-aged children, enabling a packed second seder to continue as usual until Ma’ariv at the end of the fast.
Due to all these amenities, the yungerleit are able to learn b’retzifus from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Having already completed two strong sedarim, they can then join their families for supper, homework, and bedtime before returning to a full night seder, which, along with the well-attended pre-Shacharis seder, contributes to a vibrant kol Torah in the beis medrash.
In keeping with its mission to provide an immersive, seamless incubator for growth, the kollel wives are welcomed into the Cheshek Shlomo family and supported. Regular n’shei events for women and fun afternoons out for children help the entire family feel connected to something bigger, fostering a sense of community that young families in a bustling city don’t often experience.
Recently, the kollel embarked on a campus-expansion project. As home prices in Lakewood skyrocketed, causing housing to become prohibitively expensive for many young families, the kollel had the foresight to purchase a 54-acre parcel of land. In that space, 32 duplexes, for a total of 64 new housing units, can be constructed adjacent to the beis medrash, allowing the yungerleit to live near their kollel and enjoy total, uninterrupted focus on their ascent to gadlus in the company of like-minded, supportive community members.
Two of the kollel’s defining characteristics—willingness to do whatever it takes to support learning and family-like warmth—found expression in the early days of covid. When batei medrash around the world were shuttered, the enterprising rosh kollel moved 30 families, approximately two thirds of the kollel at the time, to a camp in Upstate New York, where the kollel banded together like a family to keep the kol Torah going strong. They learned, played, and ate in a group quarantine for seven weeks, watching each other’s children to allow the mothers to work, and turned a time of terrible adversity in other places into a period of uplift and bonding.
Over the next few weeks, the kollel will be launching an ambitious fundraising project to make the dream of providing housing for the kollel’s yungerleit a reality.
To partner with Kollel Cheshek Shlomo in its mission to cultivate future gedolei Torah, either by applying or by donating, please reach out to the kollel office at 732-719-124.
Meet the hanhalah
R’ Avraham Yeshaya is a talmid of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rav Asher Arieli. He is the force behind the kollel and leads its second seder. With his outstanding style of extracting common themes from across a masechta, he ignites the yungerleit’s ambition to be koneh entire masechtos. Additionally, his dedication, encouragement, and positivity are a constant source of inspiration and motivation.
R’ Asher is the renowned mechaber of the Lev Hamelech series on sugyos haShas. With his celebrated style of plumbing the depth of a sevarah from the cheshbon of Rishonim and poskim, he encourages the yungerleit to use first seder to cover the depth and breadth of a miktzo’a. Additionally, as a close talmid of many gedolei Yisrael, including Rav Elya Svei, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, and Rav Dovid Cohen, he injects an uplifting atmosphere into the beis medrash and lives of the yungerleit.
First-seder rosh chaburah, kollel masechtos
R’ Yeshaya is known as one of the premier talmidim of the Noviminsker and Brisker yeshivos. Previously well-known as the go-to person in Beis Medrash Govoha’s Princeton upstairs beis medrash, he is a powerhouse of clear thinking and intense hasmadah.
Second-seder rosh chaburah, kollel masechtos
R’ Yehuda is a legend of Kamenitz, Brisk, and Beis Medrash Govoha. As a talmid of Rav Chaim Shlomo Leibovitz and a remarkable baki and mechadesh in all of Shas, he is an extraordinary role model in the beis medrash.
R’ Shmuel is a talmid of Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Shamai Gross, and Rav Shmuel Mayer Katz. He is a leading rosh chaburah in Beis Medrash Govoha’s Bais Aharon and is famous for his ability to combine the lomdus of Halachah with clear psak. In addition to his role as the moreh hora’ah of the kollel, he runs a very successful Halachah seder where the yungerleit examine the sugyos aliba d’hilchisa. His program has covered hilchos eiruvin, yichud, refuah, and more in addition to various timely topics.
Coming from varied yeshivos and upbringings, the members of Kollel Cheshek Shlomo bring a unique blend of characteristics, talents, and aspirations. Within the kollel, each finds avenues to develop his strengths. Meet a few of them below.
A talmid of Bais HaTalmud and Brisk, R’ Amram has a unique gift for clarifying interconnected and complex sugyos. He is the mechaber of the sefer Eitz Pri on Yevamos, which is dedicated to elucidating and decompartmentalizing Rav Baruch Ber’s and Rav Shlomo’s Yevamos. His current work in progress is a 600-page encapsulation of the sugyos of geneivah and gezeilah.
A talmid of Rav Shlomo Feivel Schustal and Mir Yerushalayim, R’ Tzvi was privileged to maintain a unique personal chavrusahshaft with Rav Asher Arieli. R’ Tzvi has just published a sefer on Eiruvin titled Toras Hakarfef, which showcases his mastery of the sugyos and lomdus of this challenging topic. Rav Avrohom Bromberg, rosh yeshivas Shaar HaTalmud, a premier expert on Maseches Eiruvin, writes in his approbation, “I am sure he will be a moreh hora’ah in Klal Yisrael.”
One of Rav Eli Yagid’s closest talmidim, R’ Shaul is a leading talmid of Keren HaTorah and Brisk. An incredible ma’amik and masmid, R’ Shaul is a powerful force in the beis medrash. His exceptional depth coupled with his mastery over the subjects has enabled him to formulate yesodos on a huge portion of the shvere sugyos. R’ Shaul’s penetrating intellect finds expression in his crystal-clear powers of explanation.