The Daf Yomi celebrations: Inspiring, but more unity is needed – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 11, 2020

It has been a week filled with celebrations of the completion of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, as tens of thousands of Jews worldwide completed the 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud after studying one page per day for seven-and-a-half years.The most impressive siyum meaning finishing, the word used to describe the celebration of completing a section of Torah study took place at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, where 92,000 people attended to rejoice over this accomplishment. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn held another 20,000, and arenas and convention halls in Israel were also filled on consecutive nights as part of the many celebrations.As inspiring as it was to see so many people completing the entire Talmud and celebrating the study of Torah, the fact that there were so many separate and disconnected siyums demonstrates a disheartening level of polarization in our nation.Shas, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party, held its own siyum in the Payis Arena in Jerusalem. United Torah Judaism, representing the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox population, held its own celebration in the same arena on a different night. The religious Zionist community held its siyum at the Jerusalem Convention Center, and in an amazing, new development, there was a siyum held for women at the Convention Center a few nights later. When Rabbi Meir Shapiro first proposed the idea of Daf Yomi in August 1923 in Vienna at the First World Congress of the Agudat Israel organization, he told the audience: What an incredible thing. A Jew travels by boat and takes the tractate about blessings under his arm. He travels for 15 days from the Land of Israel to America, and each day he learns the daily page. When he arrives in America, he enters a place of worship in New York and finds Jews learning the same page that he studied that day, and he gladly joins them. Another Jew leaves the States and travels to Brazil or Japan, and he first goes to the synagogue where he finds everyone learning the same page that he himself learned that day. Could there be greater unity than this?There is no doubt that Daf Yomi has generated unity. That everyone participating in this project is literally on the same page as everyone else who is learning it wherever they go is nothing short of remarkable. And I understand that there is no one location that can hold the close to 200,000 people who participated in the various major celebrations. But imagine if all would come together in one major siyum held in different venues but connected to one another via technology. The siyum at Metlife was shown via video to dozens of other locations, and the big screen at the stadium showed footage of people celebrating simultaneously in numerous US cities and Israel.Now imagine if that was broadened beyond the network of Agudat Israel, which arranged that incredible event. Imagine if that celebration connected to arenas and stadiums throughout Israel with mixed crowds made up of Shas, United Torah Judaism and religious Zionist populations. Imagine if at Metlife Stadium and Barclays Center there were rabbis from Yeshiva University and non-yeshivish communities on the dais alongside the Agudah rabbis. That type of unity would be the ultimate fulfillment of the unity which Rabbi Shapiro described. We now have seven-and-a-half years to try to correct this flaw. Despite all the disagreements and differences of focus and approach of the various populations, there is no reason why all cannot come together for one, unified, interconnected siyum of the Talmud. I plan to do everything I can to try to make this happen, and call on anyone who wants to get involved in this effort to be in touch with me.It is likely that we wont succeed. But at least we will be able to say that we didnt remain silent in the face of such polarization, and that we tried to bridge the gaps, heal the wounds and coordinate an incredible sign of Jewish unity at a time when unity is what we so desperately need.The writer served as a member of the 19th Knesset.

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The Daf Yomi celebrations: Inspiring, but more unity is needed - The Jerusalem Post

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