He Created a Place of Pure Torah in Crown Heights

With tens of overflowing shuls all around Crown Heights, why would there be a need for an exclusively designated Beis Midrash? Find out what all the rage about Yagdil Torah is- why there are hundreds of attendees there every single day- and meet the man behind it all.

By: Anash.org reporter

Fourteen years ago, there were many shuls open in Crown Heights, but aside for the kollel for yungerleit, there was no Beis Midrash dedicated exclusively to learning Torah. Levi Browd, founder of Yagdil Torah, envisioned a place that would be open day and night every single day of the year and would be a haven for all those who seek an inviting place to study.

For years, Rabbi Yosef Heller, the Rosh Kollel of the Crown Heights kollel, encouraged the avreichim to invest in Crown Heights. There are always many young men who are eager to head out on shlichus, and sometimes the growing needs of the Crown Heights community can get overlooked by passionate and talented avreichim who could make a difference.

One of the main areas Rabbi Heller encouraged his kollel learners to invest in, was specifically Limud HaTorah in Crown Heights. Rabbi Browd was learning under his tutelage at that time and was very taken by the idea.

“Another person who was a powerful inspiration behind the opening of Yagdil Torah, is Rabbi Moshe Bryski, shliach in Agoura Hills, CA,” shares Rabbi Browd. “Rabbi Bryski was always very passionate about making Limud HaTorah the focus of every shlichus.

“He would say, ‘If you ever go out on shlichus, your main thing should be teaching classes. If a shliach hires you to do other programs, have him call me and I’ll explain to him why you should be teaching Torah!’

“He explained that if someone stands in a mall and persuades a Yid to put on tefillin, that man put tefillin on once. Once, after Rabbi Bryski taught a class on the importance of donning tefillin each day, he had the whole class lining up to put on a pair, and some went out to purchase their own tefillin to wrap them every day,” said Rabbi Browd.

The summer after kollel was meant to be an exciting one for the Browd family, as they were expecting their first child. What they looked forward to with happy anticipation, unfortunately, turned into a sad tragedy. Young Menchem Mendel a”h lived for only a short while and then passed.

During Shiva, a friend came by and encouraged him to do something connected with Limud HaTorah, in honor of his newborn’s neshama. The friend shared that the Shach on the Torah who is a student of the Arizal, explains in Parshas Ki Sisa that the firstborn child is especially connected with Limud HaTorah, so it felt doubly meaningful.

The tragic passing gave him the push he needed to take the ideas and start something tangible. Thus, Yagdil Torah began in Crown Heights. The first initiative that began that year was starting a string of fifteen different shiurim all over the neighborhood.

Each class was led by a maggid shiur and hosted in his building. That year, fifteen such classes were started and were widely attended. The next year, the classes moved from private homes to shuls, and a new online site was created, with a list compiling all of the learning resources that are out there for people who are searching what to learn.

“The goal of Yagdil Torah is to get more people to learn. Those who are not yet learning, to start a chavrusa, a new kvius; and those who are already learning, to take on more,” explains Rabbi Browd.

As time passed, it was becoming more and more apparent that what was really needed here was a building that welcomed everyone to come learn. A place that would be open every day, all day, year round. Somewhere comfortable, with heating and air-conditioning, a coffee station, clean bathrooms, and a fully stocked library equipped with all the common sefarim someone might need.

“The Rebbe spoke about having such a place that was open 24/7. That the people who learned there would be the ones to lock up. A place that didn’t have to close for events, or pause throughout the day for minyanim or simchos. That’s what we aimed to do,” explains Browd.

When Yagdil Torah, the Beis Midrash, was established shortly after, at 574 Empire Blvd. some people were hesitant about the idea.

“I thought I’ll just go learn in my shul,” one of the learners said. “Why do I need to shlep all the way to Empire? But after I came by to learn there once, I realized that my focus and concentration was incomparable to my usual level of study. It was on a whole new level.”

Another yungerman who began coming all the time shared with Rabbi Browd more of his experience.

“I find myself clocking in hundreds of more hours than I used to in the past. The environment at Yagdil Torah is so conducive to learning, I often find myself planning to come for a short while and end up staying much later, because of how engrossed I’ve become.”

Over the years, the Empire location attendance has grown to over 130 visitors daily. In the years since, Yagdil Torah has partnered with a generous donor who helped them open a second facility, an even bigger and more beautiful building that has over 450 coming to learn each day. Recently, a third location was opened as well and has over 300 participants each day.

Multiple other communities around the world have observed the model of the Yagdil Torah Beis Midrash and have created similar learning spaces locally. The Crown Height branch has inspired a wave of Torah learning to spread and ripple across the Lubavitch world.

Yagdil Torah is currently in its fifteenth year and is going strong as ever. The time has come for them to purchase a building of their own to accommodate the growing needs of the community. Approaching landlords and asking for a location that is open at all hours of the day and night, makes them wary of the idea. Therefore, owning a building is an important next step in the growth of the organization.

Yagdil Torah is holding a large campaign next week for the growth of the organization. To partner is the next stage of this amazing initiative and donate, click here.

Highlighting Our Own is an Anash.org column that highlights our community’s wonderful initiatives and projects.

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  1. Thank you so much it’s great to learn there, rabbi browd is really nice too he really invests in the mossad

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