Photo Credit: Courtesy
David Biale and Asher Goren

The sign displayed here celebrates one of the most astonishing achievements imaginable.

“Welcome to the sixth completion of the Shas by Moshav residents David Biale and Asher Goren,” the sign proclaims and then, in smaller print, “May you merit good health and pleasure from your progeny as you continue to make the Torah great and glorious.” (Note: Shas, written with a shin and a samech, is an acronym for shisha sedarim or “six orders” or categories of the Mishnah, along with their Gemara commentary, which are known collectively as Talmud. There are a total of 2,711 two-sided pages of the Talmud.)


This celebration was held in honor of two residents of Kfar Maimon, a religious moshav in southern Israel. Asher is an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor from Hungary. He lived through two death marches in the snow, immigrated to Israel at the age of 8, and was among the founders of Kfar Maimon.

David is 91, born into the sixth generation of a family that had dwelled in the Land of Israel for more than a century. He was born in Jerusalem, fought in the religious unit of the Lehi underground prior to the founding of the State, studied in the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, and worked for many years doing research associated with mineral extraction at the Dead Sea Works company.

The two friends have been studying together every day for 42 years and are completing the Talmud for the sixth time.

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn how each individual can connect their personal story to that of the nation by bringing their first fruits to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem Look at the faces of these two friends and you can read in them the amazing story of us all: the triumph of both body and soul during a lifetime of perseverance, humility, continuous building and lasting friendship. And, to cap it all off – 42 years of a daily meeting with the sages of the Talmud.


30 Days To Find Ourselves Before Yom Kippur

It’s around thirty days before Yom Kippur, one month until Kol Nidrei. Are you prepared?

The Torah portion we just read in the synagogue on Shabbat provides a valuable perspective on the task before us. The parasha of Ki Teitzei describes the mitzvah of returning a lost object. If we find something (whether a donkey, money or a cell phone), we cannot ignore it or take it for ourselves. Instead, we must try to return it to its owner.

Yet our commentators explain that the mitzvah of returning a lost object has a deeper meaning as well. We too, as well as those around us, are sometimes lost. We are obligated to return to the best version of ourselves and, beyond this, to the dream we dreamed of who we could be.

Chodesh Elul presents us with a golden opportunity to take stock and ask ourselves, before the holidays of Tishrei, where we got lost during the previous year. Where did we get confused and go astray? Who and where are we truly supposed to be? Do we belong to other persons, places, or things – or to ourselves, and to our dreams?


Translation by Yehoshua Siskin.

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