On New Year’s Day, over 90,000 Jews gathered at MetLife Stadium, 14,000 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and countless others in cities worldwide to mark the 13th annual Global Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi: the completion of a study program, running on a seven-and-a-half year cycle, wherein participants study a page a day (literally a daf yomi, daily page) of the Babylonian Talmud. That amounts to 2,711 pages studied annually by people around the world, of all ages and at all levels of Jewish learning. In daily Daf Yomi classes, in person and online, rabbis and laypeople help readers explore the laws, insights, and rabbinical discussions that comprise these foundational Jewish texts.
Suburban Orthodox Congregation in Pikesville marked the event with its Gala Siyum dinner at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore. The dinner, which drew 154 people, honored those who completed the entire cycle of Talmud study as well as those who participated and learned at any level.
Wives in particular were honored for giving their husbands the time and support to allow them to devote their time to learning; many in attendance acknowledged that the true credit and honor for the success in learning the daf was due to the wives.
A short video expressed the thoughts and ideas of those individuals who were mesayim (completed) the entire Babylonian Talmud. Participants Alan Wiseman, Saeed Hakin, and Mel Pachino talked about the friendship, comraderie, and respect created over the years of learning together at 5:45 in the morning at Suburban Orthodox.
After the video, the ceremony of completing the last tractate of the Talmud was given over by Ari Lerner, who recited the last few lines of Tractate Niddah, laws dealing with ritual purity. Aryeh Gross then recited the Hadran, the short prayer upon completion of the tractate, and Joshua Erez recited the final Kaddish.
The event was filled with hakarat hatov (expression of gratitude) for the success of the Daf Yomi program at Suburban Orthodox and Rabbi Shmuel Silber’s love of teaching and giving over his tremendous knowledge of the Daf to reach the minds and hearts of those in attendance. What began as a group of about 15 to 20 men and a 20-cup coffee pot in the small chapel of the synagogue eventually became a group of 50 to 80 that took over two rooms to near capacity (and demanded a hundred-pot coffeemaker) specifically because of Rabbi Silber.
During his remarks, Rabbi Silber expressed his appreciation to God for allowing him to teach Torah to his congregants, and his appreciation to his wife and family for giving him the time and support to accomplish his teaching.
The day after the celebration, 140 people came to the Daf Yomi class at Suburban Orthodox to learn the first daf in the Tractacte Brachot, as the cycle of learning began anew.
—Gregg Levitan and JT Staff