On Wednesday night, I, along with approximately 89,999 people, went to the Siyum Hashas at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. The siyum hashas was the completion of a 7 and 1/2 year cycle to complete the entire Talmud. Many, many, many people participated in the learning of what is called “daf yomi,” in which men learn two sides of a page of Talmud a day.
The idea of daf yomi was suggested by R’ Meir Shapiro in Lublin, Poland, 89 years ago. R’ Shapiro, who was the youngest rav speaking at the first Agudas Yisrael convention, proposed the idea and suggested how amazing it would be that a person learning in Eretz Yisrael (Israel) could travel to New York and go to a shul and be up to the same thing as the people there. He could learn with them and feel a real connection to his brothers.
Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), the idea caught on and as one of the speakers put it, the amount of people learning daf yomi has grown exponentially. Last night, almost 100,000 people, kein yirbu-we should continue to increase, went to celebrate the joyous occasion of the completion of the 12th cycle of daf yomi, which was learned by tens of thousands of men. There were so many aspects that I found inspiring and so I’d like to share a few.
Firstly, the concept of achdus (unity) and the idea that we are all brothers was felt so strongly. Some of the speakers mentioned how Jews from all different backgrounds were there celebrating together. Not only were there 90,000 Jews, bli ayin hara, from all walks of life at MetLife Stadium, there were siyumim all over the world, and Jews from all over the U.S. and even internationally (including Lublin, Poland) were able to watch the siyum via satellite. Part of achdus is feeling each other’s happiness. Although not everyone there finished learning shas, we were all joining in the simcha (happy occasion). Even from the women’s section, where girls were not celebrating their personal completion of shas (the whole Talmud), the joy was palpable.
The knowledge of why we were gathered together was overwhelming. We all came together out of our love for Torah and the sense of joy we felt when so much Torah learning was completed. I felt such a surge of pride at being part of such a special people. After the siyum was said, I watched the men all begin to dance, not only on the elegantly covered football field below, but all over the stands, and I was so proud to be part of this group of people to whom Torah means so much.
There were many amazing people and rabbanim who spoke during the course of the siyum. One of them, Rabbi Yissachar Frand, one of the Roshei Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael in Baltimore, brought up the idea that while we were there at the siyum, everyone had to make a plan. For many of the men this plan would be to start learning daf yomi (the 13th cycle begins im yirtzah Hashem-with G-d’s help-this Friday). However, even for those of us who wouldn’t be doing so, it’s important to make a plan of how to continue our growth in Torah learning.
I hope I was able to share with you a small portion of the tremendous inspiration I gained from last night’s siyum. I hope to be celebrating the next siyum hashas, celebrating the completion of 13th cycle of daf yomi with you and all of klal Yisrael (the Jewish people) in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) habenuya (rebulit) on January 4, 2020.
Pictures courtesy of Yeshiva World News (unless otherwise specified).
Signs on the New Jersey Turnpike informed travelers of the right direction to the Siyum.
The large crowd at the siyum.
Men dancing at the siyum.