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Tens Of Thousands Celebrate Historic Siyum HaShas

Participants in the MetLife Stadium Siyum HaShas recite the Minchah prayer.

Participants in the MetLife Stadium Siyum HaShas recite the Minchah prayer.

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According to a medrash the origins of holding a celebration upon the completion of studying a part of Torah derive from Shlomo Hamelech, who, upon receiving knowledge from God, made a party. As Shlomo only received the wisdom to be able to learn, the question arises as to how this could be the source for holding a celebratory siyum. After all, he hadn’t yet finished learning anything. We learn from Shlomo’s action that the celebration of a siyum takes place due to one’s receiving of newfound strength to begin learning again. Shlomo Hamelech made a party in celebration of having received new strength to continue learning.

In the beginning of Maseches Avodah Zarah, it is written that at the end of time God will judge all the nations. The Gemara further says that each nation will put forth a claim of how they helped the Jews by building certain structures and bridges. God will answer those claims by saying that they did not do so in order to better the lot of the Jews, but rather for their own benefit.

On this point, the Brisker Rav asks how the nations of the world, at the end of time, can try to deceive God. Based on the Rambam, in his introduction to Perush HaMishnayos, God will allow a man to build a palace because one day a righteous man will benefit from it. At the end of time the nations of the world will realize that all the structures that they built were in fact done so in order for the Jews to better serve God. So despite their attempt to claim credit for building the structures for the Jews’ sake, God will deny them this credit due to the aforementioned reason of having done so for themselves – not for the Jews.

I speculated with some participants that while MetLife Stadium’s builders might one day claim that it was built for the purpose of celebrating the 12th Siyum HaShas, bringing about a Kiddush Hashem, God’s answer will be that that was indeed the reason He allowed for the stadium’s construction – even though that was not the original intent of its builders.

Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler
(Photo courtesy of Menachem Adelman/Agudath Israel)

Joining in the evening’s celebration was Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, the world’s largest yeshiva. Rabbi Kotler concluded this cycle of the Shas.

The final Kaddish was recited by Jay Schottenstein, son of Jerome Schottenstein, a”h, in whose memory the siyum was dedicated. Numerous students worldwide have become prolific in Talmud study through the Schottenstein family’s philanthropy to ArtScroll, an imprint of translations, books and commentaries on the Talmud, among other biblical and scholarly publications.

The 13th cycle of the Daf Yomi was dedicated through the generosity of renowned philanthropist Marcos Katz of Mexico. Rabbi Yaakov Hillel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Chevrat Ahavat Shalom in Jerusalem, led the new cycle of study, Maseches Berachos, the first tractate in Shas.

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