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A Glorious Return
‘Tam V’nishlam’
(Niddah 73a)



When we complete a mesechta (and certainly when we complete Shas), we say, “Hadran alach.” “Hadran” means “return.” A person who completes a mesechta promises to return to review what he learned since the Torah warns us, “Just be careful and watch yourself very much lest you forget the things” (Devarim 4:9).

Interestingly, some Rishonim write that, in the past, “Hadran alach” was only said by someone who already reviewed the tractate (see Sefer HaEshkol, Hilchos Sefer Torah, 14, p. 160 in the Albek edition).

Chazak, Chazak Venischazek

Eliyahu Rabah (139, cited in Peri Megadim, ibid.) states that we call out “Chazak” after the completion of each sefer in Chumash in shul for the same reason we say “Hadran alach.” We are declaring that the person who received the last aliyah of the sefer should be strong to review it and not be satisfied with finishing it.


Hadran Vs. Siyum

Some people assume that “Hadran alach” was not meant to be said at every siyum. In ancient editions of the Gemara, the words “Selika lah maseches” appear at the end of some mesechtos while others conclude with “Hadran alach.” Generally, one would say “Selika lach maseches – The tractate is finished,” but if the last sentence of the tractate concerned something negative, one would say “Hadran alach,” as if to say that one will learn the tractate again so as not to finish with something negative.

Over the years, “Hadran alach” took the place of “Selika lah maseches” at the end of every tractate (Minhagei Yeshurun in the name of Sefer Takanos Utefilos).

Glory Upon Us

All the aforesaid is based on the assumption that “hadran” means return. Some people, however, believe “hadran” comes from the word “hadar – glory.” We say, “Hadran alach vehadrach alan.” Rabbi Chayim, the Maharal’s brother, explains these words as follows: The glory of our holy Torah is recognized only on us, the Jews, as we are the ones who learn it, and our glory is similarly on the Torah (Sefer HaChayim, Sefer Zechuyos, 1:3).

Interestingly, Sefer HaAkeidah’s text of the siyum (Devarim, sha’ar 87) is “Hadrach alan vehadran alach, zivach alan vezivan alach – …your radiance is upon us” (see Minhagei Yisrael, 1:228 et al.). In this version, it is clear that the meaning of “hadran” is glory.

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.