Wednesday, October 21, 2020

‘You have the best of both worlds!’

This Sunday, on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, a monumental event occurred all over the world. No, it had nothing to do with the coronavirus, although it was affected by it. And it wasn’t connected to the political fallout from the virus. Rather, it was a preparation for kabbalas haTorah that spanned the globe. As the well-known Rashi writes, the acceptance of the Torah hinges on the unity of klal Yisrael—“k’ish echad b’leiv echad.” And on this day, Jews from Australia to Ashdod, from France to Far Rockaway took part in the siyum of Seder Moed of the weekly daf learning program Daf Hashovua. After an amazing 14 years of learning, reviewing and in-depth learning of page after page of Seder Moed, this amazing milestone has finally been reached.

The virtual siyum began with words from R’ Duvy Gross, an early supporter of Daf Hashovua who related that although we are in unusual circumstances now, a Holocaust survivor related to him how when the Nazis closed all the shuls and yeshivos, this survivor joined a group of partisans who spent most of their time trying to live daily. But at the end of each day, they would all learn together, which infused them with life and vigor to keep them going. R’ Duvy said that this is always true for Bnei Yisrael; the gaf Gemara gives us our support and strength to continue.


Divrei bracha were then given by Maran HaRav Shmuel Kaminetsky, shlita, who expressed his joy over the siyum and especially the fact that the Daf Hashovua program is spearheaded by R’ Shimi Globman, a native of Philadelphia. HaRav Shmuel gave all the participants a fervent bracha to be able to continue their shteiging.

Rav Moshe Ahron Friedman, shlita, R”M of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim and maggid shiur of Daf Hashovua, then spoke in his inimitable way, drawing from all moadim to weave a tapestry of our connection to the Yomim Tovim. He explained that the days of sefira are a form of a moed, as the Ramban refers to them as a Chol Hamoed, and our job is to “count” them by making each day count.

HaRav Yisroel Reisman, rosh yeshiva Torah Voda’as, then addressed the participants. He spoke about the benefits of consistency in learning as well as the benefits of learning bi’iyun. “You have the best of both worlds,” enthused Rav Reisman, by learning with iyun and with a consistent pace. He explained how ol Torah that was given at Har Sinai created a new nature in the world. While mitzvos before Shavuos were merely commandments, the giving of the Torah had a profound effect on the world as the Torah changed the world. Rav Reisman explained that nowhere is this more evident than in a person himself. A person holding in learning, who is bothered by a difficulty, is a totally different person.

After some slow heartfelt songs from R’ Boruch Levine, Rav Daniel Glatstein spoke. He explained how in just a few years after joining, his kehilla had the satisfaction of having 180 blatt Gemara under their belts. He said that since they have joined Daf Hashovua, the kehilla has had a significant change for the better and have special chizuk from being in a wonderful program.

R’ Moshe Hellman, who sponsored Seder Moed in honor of his mother, then spoke, telling the viewers how middos of his mother had a profound effect on him. This was then followed by the siyum, with the Hadran being recited by R’ Shimi Globman, the man who almost single-handedly has turned Daf Hashovua from a small fledgling movement into a worldwide revolution. The simcha etched on R’ Shimi’s face was definitely seen and felt worldwide, and as the music began, the joy of this amazing event spread to all participants.

Rav Larry Rothwachs, of Teaneck, then spoke, explaining how when his shul began learning Daf Hashovua it was an instant success. He then spoke about one of the bnei kehilla, R’ Shelly Mermelstein, an avid participant of Daf Hashovua, who was tragically taken from this world a few months ago. R’ Shelly surely would have rejoiced very much seeing the kehillah complete the masechta.

Rav Eitan Feiner also addressed the siyum, stressing the importance of constantly reviewing what one has learned. In Megillas Rus, Rus was called “misemetzes,” pushing herself stubbornly to follow Naomi. The strength in pushing oneself to constantly review brings a great kavod shamayim and the person who does that is deserving of royalty, just as Rus is called “eim hamalchus,” mother of kings. This is testified to by Chazal, who call talmidei chachamim “melachim” kings.

HaRav Yosef Elefant Shlita, a maggid shiur in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, congratulated the mesaymim and offered some advice for Seder Nashim. Rav Yosef explained that one should make themselves a “tamim,” a complete person, by utilizing every day and every moment for the unique opportunity that comes with it. As opposed to a person who always pushes things off with the hope that tomorrow will bring a brighter future, the “tamim” won’t miss out on seizing the moment and making each day count, whether it be a difficult day or not. Such a person can accomplish anything and everything.

A video of “Around the World” was played by the siyum, with short clips from people from all parts of the globe explaining how Daf Hashovua has had a positive change on their communities. A doctor from Vancouver explained how joining Daf Hashovua was his first steps into Gemara, while a rav from Texas said that his congregation’s WhatsApp was used solely to share thoughts on the weekly daf.

As the siyum came to an end, there is no question that the chizzuk all the individuals and groups watching together (where legal) received will take them into Maseches Yevamos and keep up their desire for the words of our holy Torah, even in these trying times. Anyone wanting to join is invited to log on to dafaweek.org and find a chavrusa or chabura in his neighborhood. Now is the time to join and be part of a kabbalas haTorah that will have a lasting impact!