Brightening ‘The Nine Days,’ Sacramento Celebrates Talmud Completion –

Posted By on July 26, 2017

Sacramento has a small Jewish community, with perhaps no more than two-dozen households where Shabbat and kashrut are kept. Yet it will host a big celebration on Thursday night, when a group of dedicated students will celebrate the completion of the 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud.

Since Talmudic times, such a celebrationcalled a siyumhas been a festive affair, marking the culmination of weeks, months, and in this case, years of achievement.

Participate in the daily Nine Days siyumim at

Talmud-class participant Harry Weiss, who has lived in Sacramento since 1979, says he began studying on his own years ago, ordering cassette tapes with recorded classes from New York. Having a regular Talmud class with Rabbi Mendy Cohen, who co-directs Chabad of Sacramento, Calif., with his wife, Dinie, has allowed him to master the material. While the rabbi mostly focuses on the straightforward meaning of the Talmud, he occasionally adds the insights of the medieval commentaries, as well as pertinent teachings of the RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Weiss reports that participation in the class fluctuates between three and eight attendees, a significant group for a community of that size.

On a personal level, Cohen says the milestone marks the closing of a circle that opened 30 years ago. I was 18 years old, and I was at the Rebbes farbrengen, he recalls. As is customary, I lifted up a small cup of wine to wish the Rebbe lchaim. The Rebbe acknowledged the person on my right and the person on my left, but not me. I stood up as tall as I could, but again, the Rebbe nodded to the people around me, but not me. I felt that I needed to do something, so I put down my head and thought for a moment. On the spot, I decided to learn the entire tractate of Ketubot, which we were studying in yeshivah at that time.

By the time I lifted my head up, he continues, the singing had concluded, and the Rebbe was about to begin to speak. Suddenly, the Rebbe turned to me, wished me lchaim velivrachah and started his talk. This is what got me startedand this is what keeps me motivated and focused.

In conjunction with teaching the daily Talmud class, the rabbi also learned regularly with Rick Brodovsky, learning their way through the entire 24 books of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). Tanach taught me that Gd is very real and very present in our world, says Brodovsky, who began learning with the rabbi after a series of health crises prompted him to redirect his life. He loves us more than we can imagine.

The siyum will also celebrate their having completed the entire work over the past several years. The timing of the celebration is also significant.

We are now in the Nine Days, the saddest time of the year for the Jewish people, notes the rabbi. And the Rebbe encouraged us to brighten up the gloom with the spiritual brightness of Torah.

Of course, a siyum is not just the end of one cycle, but the beginning of another. In addition to continuing his efforts in Talmud, Weiss has embarked on another program as well: the daily study of Maimonides Mishneh Torah.

Join Chabad.orgs daily Talmud class with Rabbi Avraham Zajac

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Brightening 'The Nine Days,' Sacramento Celebrates Talmud Completion -

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