Thoughts on the Siyum HaShas
I was fortunate to be one of the misaymim of the daf yomi last week. Unlike many of your readers, for me it was the first time. As a close talmid of Rav Avrohom Yaakov Pam, zt’l, I had asked one of his sons, “How many times has the rebbe finished Shas?” He answered me that his father never made a siyum haShas. He just kept learning again and again; there was no beginning and end. I felt that though all the years I have had chavrusos to learn both iyun and bekius, the time had come in my life that I should at least study those masechtos that are not usually covered by bnei Torah at least once. I started and was hooked. I eventually began to give the shiur myself to a small group.
Back to the Siyum HaShas. I have been to every Siyum HaShas since 1975 in Manhattan Center. It was a very special feeling to be among the gedolim of that generation in one room in close proximity with a small (by today’s standards) group of devoted bnei Torah. To contrast that with the last siyum in MetLife Stadium seven and a half years ago overflowing with 90,000 Yidden who had come “Lishmoa, lilmod, u’lilamed.”
This past siyum, though it was very inspiring and I’m sure has motivated many newcomers to learn the daf, had some aspect missing. First, it was cold. Sitting for five or six hours in 40-degree weather made many of us sick. Thousands of people left after the Hadran because of the cold. Second, there was no dais of gedolim that we all could see. Most were indoors, and even the cameras never scanned the dais so we could get a look at our beloved roshei yeshiva and rabbanim. It is vital to the youngsters to see our gedolim. Third, the amazing tefillah of Minchah b’tzibbur was so inspiring, except they left out Tachanun. Imagine saying Shlosh Esrei Middos together with 90,000 mispallim. Again a mixed message to send to our young people. I was told that the moetzes missed Minchah because they didn’t hear the announcement and made their own minyan indoors with Tachanun. The program, which I’m sure was intensely scrutinized and planned, had one major flaw. There was not one speaker who was a maggid shiur of the daf through this cycle. The firsthand knowledge of giving the daf day in and day out deserved recognition at the podium. I’m sure Rabbi Moshe Brown or Rabbi Yisroel Reisman could have eminently qualified as an inspirational speaker. There was a lack of spontaneity. Everything was prearranged and programmed, to the very last song that was played. My son who was at the Barclays Center was very inspired by the spontaneity there. The dancing in the center was open to all who were part of the simcha.
There were obvious glitches, as with all well-laid plans. The mic system was very loud but unclear. The bus situation was a disaster. No one could find their buses upon leaving, because they had all been moved to different locations. Would I be part of it again on June 7, 2027? Of course, b’ezras Hashem.
After all the hype is over, sitting down with a group of dear chaverim with our mesechta Berachos or Shabbos or Zevachim (and a hot cup of coffee) day in and day out is the real satisfaction and joy of learning the daf.
A Life Worth Giving
I want to let you know that someone who writes quite often sent a really kind e-mail to me last night regarding “A Life Worth Giving” (January 24). I was so touched.
In the last few hours, I have received countless emails regarding the article and my Bubby. I would love to share them with you, but do not want to burden you with them. The feedback has been touching to say the least.
I want you to know how people have been impacted and how I in turn have been touched further by their responses.
I sent a link to my mother who could not sleep last night. She was incredibly moved and appreciated everything about your sensitivity — she was so happy that the community recognized how much we appreciate their support. She was moved to tears by it all.
I always said that I want to make a difference in the lives of others and through your sensitivity and your paper, you have been a true inspiration for me.
There are so many ways to touch another and each article that you print truly touches people.
There are many fans of your paper in Queens, and most definitely in Hillcrest, the community in which I live.
May we be zocheh to share in many simchas, b’ezras Hashem, and may the tears of pain transform into tears of simcha. May you always share articles with the community that move people and inspire them to be great.
Wishing you all the best,
No Cash Bail Law
Let’s be honest in this debate over the sudden rise in crime following 20-plus years of decline. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea just stated, “With a 30% increase in robberies over the same period last year, you assume one of two things: either the NYPD has become suddenly incompetent in fighting crime, or the No Cash Bail law is responsible.”
What he did not say is that the Democrats see this law as some kind of perverse “affirmative action” for criminals.
Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld