Thousands of Orthodox Jews fill Sony Centre for 12th Siyum Hashas
August 7, 2012 | Peter Miller - Correspondent
TORONTO – “We’re all on the same page,” quipped Rabbi Yechiel Teichman as he gathered with more than 3,000 orthodox Jews to celebrate the 12th Siyum Hashas at Toronto’s Sony Center last Wednesday.
Siyum Hashas (completion of the six [orders of the Talmud]) celebrates the completion of the seven-and-a-half-year cycle of daily study of the Talmud undertaken by tens of thousands of Jews around the world. Everyone studies the same daf (page) yomi (daily) until all 63 tractates of the Talmud, including accompanying commentaries, are completed.
For everyone it is at once a daunting yet exhilarating accomplishment.
Rabbi Teichman, a senior Rabbinic coordinator at the Kashrus Council of Canada noted, “It’s pretty amazing to think about it. Thousands of devoted Yidden studying the same text, literally on the same page, every day for 2,771 days. And as soon as we have finished celebrating the completion of one cycle, the next day we begin again.”
The Siyum is an international affair, with study groups from synagogues, yeshivas, private office groups, from all over the world gathering in their respective cities and wishing each other “Mazel Tov” on their achievement…. And what an achievement it is, negotiating through thousands of folios written in Aramaic and Hebrew without benefit of vowels or punctuation and yet comprehending the profundity and beauty of the Oral Law.
And it is an exercise not just confined to the learned. Rabbis, businessmen, professionals, young and old all gather every day to delve into the extraordinary and unique wisdom that is the Talmud’s hallmark.
The excitement in the Sony Centre was palpable as a live feed from the MetLife stadium, home of the New York Jets and Giants, flashed streaming video of the Gedolei Yisroel (Giants of the Jewish world). More than 90,000 were there. Tens of thousands gathered in Yad Eliyahu arena in Tel Aviv where Toronto philanthropist Rabbi Dovid Hofstedter hosted a gathering of his special study group. Dirshu.
Alex Leibovitz, a Toronto businessman, gets up every morning at five a.m. to attend his Dirshu daf group.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to learn every day,” said Leibovitz. “There is no better start to the day than to sharpen my mind with a shtikle (piece) Gemorah (a combination of commentary upon a commentary). At 7:30 a.m. we daven shacharis followed by a little breakfast and it’s off to work. But I can hardly wait to tackle tomorrow’s daf.”
The Sony Centre evening recognized the commitment of the women of Toronto.
Headline speaker, Harav Tuvia Lieff and many others, praised the strength and encouragement given by wives. Indeed, without the ‘participation’ of wives, it would be impossible for husbands and sons to bury their heads in the daunting task of a ‘daf a day.’ The balcony was full of ladies there to schepp naches from their men folk.
Much mention was made of the tragedies of the Jewish people throughout the ages and how despite all the diabolical attempts to eradicate the Jews by many so-called ‘civilizations,’ our life blood, Torah learning, is vibrant testimony to the memory of those who died Al Kiddish Hashem. In fact, at the seventh Siyum in 1975, the sages dedicated future siyums to the memory of the six million.
Following live streaming from the New Jersey event and the recitation of the special Kaddish, the Sony Centre erupted with song, dance and jubilant celebration.
In every sense this was an evening celebrating the continuum of our people while remembering the past.
And so it was with thousands of Jews all over the world.
Kol hacovod to all who participated and mazel tov.