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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
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We’ve Learned Nothing in 2000 Years

Ultra orthodox Jewish boys study the Talmud

Al eleh ani Bo’chiya“. This is why we cry on Tisha B’av. How crazy are we? For 2,000 years we have been divided, split, segregated and compartmentalized and our answer to solve this problem? More splits, more divisions.

This is why I have decided not to attend any of the Siyumei Ha’Shas in Israel. Simply put, I will not be part of this circus. I made aliyah 22 years ago (July 1990) and thank Hashem for every day that I have lived in this incredible land. But I want more. With every fiber of my being I want Jewish unity. I truly love every Yid, regardless of their level of observance. They are my family and they are all welcomed in my home. This is why I began a movement, together with my dear friend Moshe Feiglin, called “Manhigut Yehudit” (The Jewish Leadership Movement). Our goal is to lead the Jewish people under the banner of Jewish identity via Torah principles, values and concepts. No more divisions in our people. No more “us” and “them”. Just tolerance for our brothers and sisters, unwavering love – even for those who don’t act like they should – and education for every Yid in this country, especially for those who need it the most. We are truly a Daf Yomi nation who needs to constantly be “on the same page” as each other.

This is the message that needs to be sent – loud and clear – especially by the Torah world. If we neglect this message and choose instead to focus events such as the Siyum Ha’Shas based on one’s kippa, I am afraid that we will be sitting on the floor for many Tisha B’avs to come.

May Hashem save us – from ourselves.

This article originally appeared in the Queens Jewish Link newspaper on July 26th.

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8 Responses to “We’ve Learned Nothing in 2000 Years”

  1. Beryl Cohen says:

    MOST SENSIBLE ARTICLE I HAVE READ IN AGES!

  2. Mazel tov on your completion. Could it be though, that the celebrations are spread out so that one could celebrate with all three groups? While I'm not accusing you of this, many people confuse unity with uniformity (as long as you conform with me, that is), but really uniformity, or the demand for it, actually can hamper and even prevent unity. While I agree there is nothing intrinsically different for a Daf Yomi celebration amongst the various tribes of Israel, there is nothing that says that, while we are all on the same page, we have to do it the same way, at the same time, in the same place. In fact, as long as every Jew is welcome to attend the celebration in every "tribe's" respective home, the unity is maintained. Just as you were a welcome guest in the various synagogues around the world where you learned the Daf, I'm sure you would be welcome at any of the celebrations. But just as you didn't set the agenda at those various places, but went with the program as it was presented in the various places, so to the various tribes will have their nuanced celebration. If you were refused entry because of your kipa's color/style, or someone refused to attend one of the many celebrations because of whose "home" it was hosted in, then that would be a blow to Jewish unity. If there had only been one celebration, and it was only in the nuance of one of the particular tribes that wouldn't be unity, it would be forced conformity. Think about it.

  3. I envy you & others who have completed the cycle. I just turned 88 and have registered to join the next cycle next week at my Young Israel of East Talpiot in Jerusalem. We are on the same wavelength. Let us reconnect and resurrect Joe Hochstein z'l'".

  4. Daniel David Moskovich says:

    Mazal Tov. I've just pretty-much completed the cycle for the first time (thanks to my wife!), also through about 10 countries, many different communities. Well, not quite- I left the latter half of 73a unstudied. Why? Essentially for reasons close to yours. I want to make the siyyum in a setting where Jews are just Jews, and the only way that will happen is if I organize a mini-event myself, at a different time and place. Breaking the unity of "same daf same day" (which I was never too strict on anyway- I was often a few dapim in front, and more often a few dapim behind) in favour of a more important unity. Maybe this is something other people could also consider.

  5. Grace Acosta says:

    Excellent comment! We must "judge favorably" and assume that people have the best intentions, even if we don't like the results.

    Don't automatically assume that you are being excluded! Perhaps there wasn't enough room for everyone at the stadiums, and they wanted to make sure that as many people as possible had the opportunity to attend the celebrations. Siyum tickets sell out FAST!

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I have always felt that the Daf Yomi would be the leader of that “Ahavat Chinam”. In all my experiences attending those various Daf Yomis across the globe, nobody ever asked me what Kashrut I observe, how big my Kippa was or if my wife covers her hair. We were all one nation, one people studying the same page of Gemara. And then it came crashing down.

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