At the time of this writing on Friday, December 27th, the 13th Siyum HaShas is scheduled to take place on New Year's Day. This event will take place at MetLife Stadium, the home of the Giants and Jets football teams, and will be attended by tens of thousands of Jewish people from around the country and around the world.
What is the Siyum HaShas and what makes it so special?
The Siyum HaShas is a once in approximately seven years event, in which the completion of the study of the entire Babylonian Talmud according to the Daf Yomi (one page a day) study cycle is celebrated. The Daf Yomi program was initiated by Rabbi Meir Shapiro in Poland in 1923. Those individuals who choose to study Daf Yomi learn one page of Talmud a day. At this rate, the 2,711 pages of the Talmud, spread out over dozens of tractates, are studied in their entirety once in approximately seven and a half years.
There are several individuals in our community who study Daf Yomi and will be completing their study of the Talmud in its entirety the first week in January. On behalf of the congregation, I would like to congratulate those individuals on the completion of this monumental task.
The major innovation of the Daf Yomi program is that the participants in the program study the very same page of the Talmud on the same day, regardless of their locale. Thus, a businessman who lives in Brooklyn and attends a Daf Yomi class every day may attend a Daf Yomi class while on a business trip in Los Angeles without falling behind in the challenging page-a-day cycle.
Similarly, one of the beautiful aspects of our weekly Torah reading cycle is that, for the most part, all Jewish people worldwide are studying the same Parashat Hashevua each week. A person attends shul services in Connecticut and reads the same parasha that is being read in Jerusalem, Toronto or Johannesburg. Thus, this cycle of weekly Torah readings serves as an expression of Jewish unity, just as tens of thousands of Jewish people coming together to fill an NFL football stadium with words of Torah and prayer is a remarkable display of Jewish unity.
All the Best,
Rabbi Peretz Robinson