A Hadran On Shas
When we complete studying a mesechta, and surely when completing the whole Shas, we say “Hadran alach.” What does “hadran” mean?
Hadran Means To Revisit
“Hadran” means “to revisit” and the intention of the person saying it is that he will review the subject matter he just finished studying. A person may think that he already knows the subject matter, but he must review it for there is an explicit verse: “Just be careful and watch yourself very much lest you forget the things” (Devarim 4:9, cited in Menachos 99b). It is interesting that Rishonim write that in the past only people who had already reviewed the tractate would say “hadran” (see Sefer Haeshkol, Hilchos Sefer Torah, 14, p. 160 in the Albek edition).
Chazak, Chazak Venischazek
Eliyahu Rabah states (139, cited in Peri Megadim, ibid.) that the same rationale, of “revisiting,” is why we call out “Chazak” on finishing any of the five Books of Moses in shul. We are wishing the person who received the last aliyah to be strong and review it and not be satisfied that he successfully concluded it.
Many people maintain that “hadran” was not meant to be said at every siyum. In old editions of the Gemara, the words “selika lah maseches” appear at the end of some tractates while the word “hadran” appears at the end of other tractates. It all depended on how the tractate concluded. Generally, one would say “selika lach maseches – the tractate is finished,” but if the last sentence of the tractate dealt with something negative, one would say “hadran.” In other words, the person was declaring that he should learn the tractate again in order not to finish with something negative. Over the years “hadran” replaced “selika lah” in all tractates (Minhagei Yeshurun at the end of the book in the name of Sefer Takanos Utefilos). All the aforesaid is based on the assumption that “hadran” means “to revisit.”
Hadran Means Glory
However, some believe that “hadran” comes from the word “hadar – glory.” In the long version of the siyum, we say “Hadran alach vehadrach alan.” Rabbi Chayim, the Maharal’s brother, explains that the glory of our holy Torah is recognized through us, the Jews, as we are the ones who learn it, and our glory is similarly recognized through the Torah (Sefer Hachayim, Sefer Zechuyos, 1:3). From the version of Sefer Hakeidah for the siyum (Devarim, sha’ar 87), this explanation is plainly evident, as it reads: “Hadrach alan vehadran alach, zivach alan vezivan alach – …your radiance is upon us” (see Minhagei Yisrael, 1:228 et al.).
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