Op-Ed: Siyum Hashas – An Appreciation

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Let’s get straight to the heart of it all:

Bottom line, what is our takeaway? What do we walk away with?

The Siyum itself is over, yet its effect lingers on. Its afterglow continues to shine brightly. The impeccable program. The immense Kiddush Hashem. Over 90,000 Yidden joined together in a unifying display of Kavod HaTorah. And, yes, who can forget the bone-chilling cold.

All true, but what is the takeaway? What are we walking home with?

On a superficial level, one cannot help but feel a sense of admiration and appreciation for the gargantuan efforts invested by Agudas Yisroel. A wise colleague once posit-ed, that the risk of flawless implementation is the perception of effortlessness and simplicity. Indeed, the flawless execution of a seven hour program belies the vast amount of work, time and re-sources that was invested in making the Siyum the tremendous success that it was. No detail was over-looked. No factor left to chance. A colossal undertaking; an impressive accomplishment.

On a deeper, more specific note, a big takeaway lesson from the Siyum is the importance of ignoring the naysayers. This Siyum Hashas had naysayers. Many of them! In the dead of winter? Too cold. During the afternoon? Nobody will come. It can’t be done. It will never sell out. It’s too expensive.

Agudas Yisroel ignored all the naysayers. Well, they didn’t really ignore them. They listened. Intently. But they refused to be deterred. They listened, internalized, tweaked and planned accordingly. They didn’t let the negativity through them off course. The cynics kept at it – and so did Agudas Yisroel. And aren’t we glad they did!

This is a truly valuable lesson; one that every one of us would do well internalizing and incorporating into our daily lives.

However, the above truths duly noted, let us take a more introspective look at the Siyum. We all walked away inspired, invigorated, and moved. We no doubt left with a strong resolve to grow spiritually. We also certainly all recognize that spiritual growth is dependent on physical action and productivity.

This, then, begs the question: what universal lesson can we all integrate into our daily lives? Into our own learning? What undertaking can we all universally relate to and accept upon ourselves in our quest for spiritual growth?

Let us be honest: Is the ‘Daf’ for everyone? Perhaps not. For scores of our less-learned brethren, a Daf a day is an unrealistic expectation. It is simply too great an undertaking. A mission that might breed more disappointment than success.

For innumerable others, our B’nei Torah and Kollel Yungeleit, surely their time would be better spent plumbing the depths of the vast Yam Hatalmud.

Many of our baalebatim, perhaps, would make better use of their time available for learning by delving b’iyun into a specific topic or mesechta: exploring its wondrous intricacies, sweating through its difficulties, tasting its sweetness.

The spiritual takeaway from the Siyum can, and should, be for all of us a sense of commitment. Not just any commitment, but an unwavering pledge of relentless productivity.

So many of those learning the Daf speak of how there is never a break. No vacations. No letup. Day after day, week after week, the Daf continues. Every day another page. A new page. Constant, relentless productivity.

This is a small, but powerful, commitment which affects each and every one of us. The Daf is too much for you? Fine. Learn less. learn something else. But learn every day. Day after day. Keep at it! Continuous productivity.

Spending a portion of your day in the Bais Medrash? Learning full-time in Kollel? Great! Don’t let the continuous and complete immersion in the sea of Torah study cause you to overlook an important truth: It is not enough to tread. You must swim! Continuous productivity. Don’t allow yourself a false sense of spiritual contentment.

Let us all walk away from the Siyum with this inspiration: Productivity is our goal. Complacency is our enemy. We cannot tread! We must swim! It makes no difference who you are. It doesn’t matter your individual level. What you learn is irrelevant; be it a Pasuk, a Mishna, a Daf, a Sugya, a Rishon or a Se-vara.
Let us learn from the lomdei Daf HaYomi and internalize:

Productivity is our goal. Complacency is our enemy.

Rabbi Chaim Goldwag

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The takeaway for me was simple. I was so inspired about the idea of never missing a day of Daf that I joined my local 6:00 AM Daf Shiur. The last two days I had a fever and spent most of the day in bed but I still got up at 5:15 in the morning to make sure I didn’t miss my Shiur.

    The Siyum Hashas was the most inspiring event I’ve ever been to in my entire life.