April 18, 2024
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Thoughts and Feelings About the Siyum HaShas

Here are some of my thoughts and feelings on yesterday’s Siyum HaShas at MetLife stadium.

There was no January blizzard as feared, but it was very cold. Thank God there were complimentary hot drinks provided by the organizers. It was an amazing feeling to be there with almost 90,000 people celebrating the Siyum HaShas, the completion of a 7.5-year-long learning of the entire Talmud referred to as the Daf Yomi cycle. It was my third time attending the Siyum HaShas but neither of the previous times were they in an outside venue in January. The next siyum will be held in June 2027 so there is no concern of a blizzard or below-freezing temperatures. At the previous Siyum HaShas back in August 2012, also at MetLife stadium, I was inspired to begin learning the next Daf Yomi cycle. I said to myself that night that in 7.5 years at the next Siyum HaShas I didn’t want to say to myself again “Why didn’t I just try learning the Daf?”! I love learning Torah but this is a different type of learning commitment. It also meant that I would probably not spend as much time learning in other areas of Torah study. I continued with the Daf Yomi cycle for over two years, attending a daily shiur at 5:30 a.m. and then spending the entire day reviewing that day’s Daf with all the Artscroll commentaries. The intense schedule I was following took a lot of time and effort. For every masechta (tractate) I completed, I would make a Facebook post counting down the remaining masechtas I had left to complete the Daf Yomi cycle. Besides for the countdown motivating me to continue this endeavor and a display of accomplishment, I hoped it might also inspire others to take upon themselves additional learning. After a couple of years, for various reasons I decided to scale back this effort and learn the Daf at my own less-intense pace. So, at the Siyum HaShas yesterday, I didn’t finish the complete learning cycle of 2711 folios (2 pages per folio), but I was very proud that I completed almost 1500 folios. My goal is to complete the rest by the next Siyum HaShas. However, the most important aspect still remains and that is to consistently learn Torah. Whatever you do, just keep on learning and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

The highlights for me from the January 1 siyum were:

(1) Three of my kids also attended the siyum. Both of my boys were sitting next to me (each having been to a previous Siyum HaShas before when they were about 8 years old) and my youngest daughter attended her first one. I’m proud that they can say that they were part of this special event. Also, my middle daughter, studying in Israel, went to a Siyum HaShas the next evening.

(2) Dancing after the actual siyum—this was an uplifting and emotional time. Everyone singing and enjoying the happy moment all together. To me it also was an opportunity to think about my personal learning accomplishments these past 7.5 years with all of the challenges and my perseverance.

(3) 90,000 people davening Mincha and Maariv all together was unbelievable. It is practically the only setting in which to have so many people davening in unison. A quiet Mincha Shmone Esrei where you could hear a pin drop and then to a loud response during Kaddish. To hear in unison the Shema being said out loud was memorable.

4) Rabbi Frand’s speech. He always has a meaningful message to share and he speaks with a lot of passion!

In all, it was a gathering of many different types of people from all walks of Jewish life. It was a time to put one’s background and differences aside and join in a celebration of something important and dear. It was a meaningful way to spend a New Year’s Day off from work.

Next siyum in Yerushalayim!

By David Sheer

 

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