Opinion: The Siyum Hashas | Rabbi Chaim Goldwag

Let’s get straight to the heart of it all:

Bottom line, what is our takeaway? What do we walk away with?

The Siyum itself is over, yet its effect lingers on. Its afterglow continues to shine brightly. The impeccable program. The immense Kiddush Hashem. Over 90,000 Yidden joined together in a unifying display of Kavod HaTorah. And, yes, who can forget the bone-chilling cold.

All true, but what is the takeaway? What are we walking home with?

On a superficial level, one cannot help but feel a sense of admiration and appreciation for the gargantuan efforts invested by Agudas Yisroel. A wise colleague once posited, that the risk of flawless implementation is the perception of effortlessness and simplicity. Indeed, the flawless execution of a seven hour program belies the vast amount of work, time and resources that was invested in making the Siyum the tremendous success that it was. No detail was overlooked. No factor left to chance. A colossal undertaking; an impressive accomplishment.

On a deeper, more specific note, a big takeaway lesson from the Siyum is the importance of ignoring the naysayers. This Siyum Hashas had naysayers. Many of them! In the dead of winter? Too cold. During the afternoon? Nobody will come. It can’t be done. It will never sell out. It’s too expensive.

Agudas Yisroel ignored all the naysayers. Well, they didn’t really ignore them. They listened. Intently. But they refused to be deterred. They listened, internalized, tweaked and planned accordingly. They didn’t let the negativity throw them off course. The cynics kept at it – and so did Agudas Yisroel. And aren’t we glad they did!

This is a truly valuable lesson; one that every one of us would do well internalizing and incorporating into our daily lives.

However, the above truths duly noted, let us take a more introspective look at the Siyum. We all walked away inspired, invigorated, and moved. We no doubt left with a strong resolve to grow spiritually. We also certainly all recognize that spiritual growth is dependent on physical action and productivity.

This, then, begs the question: what universal lesson can we all integrate into our daily lives? Into our own learning? What undertaking can we all universally relate to and accept upon ourselves in our quest for spiritual growth?

Let us be honest: Is the ‘Daf’ for everyone? Perhaps not. For scores of our less-learned brethren, a Daf a day is an unrealistic expectation. It is simply too great an undertaking. A mission that might breed more disappointment than success.

For innumerable others, our B’nei Torah and Kollel Yungeleit, surely their time would be better spent plumbing the depths of the vast Yam Hatalmud.

Many of our baalebatim, perhaps, would make better use of their time available for learning by delving b’iyun into a specific topic or mesechta: exploring its wondrous intricacies, sweating through its difficulties, tasting its sweetness.

The spiritual takeaway from the Siyum can, and should, be for all of us a sense of commitment. Not just any commitment, but an unwavering pledge of relentless productivity.

So many of those learning the Daf speak of how there is never a break. No vacations. No letup. Day after day, week after week, the Daf continues. Every day another page. A new page. Constant, relentless productivity.

This is a small, but powerful, commitment which affects each and every one of us. The Daf is too much for you? Fine. Learn less. learn something else. But learn every day. Day after day. Keep at it! Continuous productivity.

Spending a portion of your day in the Bais Medrash? Learning full-time in Kollel? Great! Don’t let the continuous and complete immersion in the sea of Torah study cause you to overlook an important truth: It is not enough to tread. You must swim! Continuous productivity. Don’t allow yourself a false sense of spiritual contentment.

Let us all walk away from the Siyum with this inspiration: Productivity is our goal. Complacency is our enemy. We cannot tread! We must swim! It makes no difference who you are. It doesn’t matter your individual level. What you learn is irrelevant; be it a Pasuk, a Mishna, a Daf, a Sugya, a Rishon or a Sevara.

Let us learn from the lomdei Daf HaYomi and internalize:

Productivity is our goal. Complacency is our enemy.

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  1. Beautifully said!!! For those that can do the daf, that’s amazing! But as you said so eloquently the point is to keep striving and commit to what you can do.

    I recently came across the Oraysah program which does 1 amud a day X 5 days a week. It is a structured program with recourses to help all.

    I will be trying this and anyone that feels a daf a day is too much I highly encourage them to check out Oraysah. They have a website and I think I may have seen them advertise on this site…

  2. This article, while drawn out is absolutely right. The main maaleh of the daf is the commitment. And, indeed, for many people it is not the ultimate way to spend time in learning. But the Daf commitment is amazing. And for me, I think that’s also too much. Over Pesaach & Sukkos, I wanna learn Yom Tov topics, not the Daf. But you gotta commit to something ! Every day !! No vacation !!

  3. On the other end of the spectrum, the Nachlas Moshe Kollel Network in Eretz Yisroel, run by the Mayor of Bnei Brak, Harav Avraham Rubinstein, has HUNDREDS of Kollel yungerleit (full and part time) learning Daf Yomi B’Iyun!

  4. Well said.

    So much to criticize and so many things could have been different. Bottom line – Agudah did it and did a great job. I see no reason to go to criticism when there’s so much to appreciate and be grateful for.

    I look forward to the next siyum and further inspiration.

  5. Well said!

    2 points to share on this if I may

    1 – Maran Rav Chaim Shlita, with a twinkle in his eye and a smile breaking out as he said it, responded to the request for a Bracha to the 100,000 people watching said……:”next time KNOW shas”. The takeaway here is that learning the Daf is wonderful but let’s focus on what we are learning when we are learning because we need to know shas

    2 – Klal Yisroel is made up of all types of Yidden. Daf Yomi learners are from every part of klal yisroel. Yeshivish, litvish, chasidish, misnagdish. From Ultra orthodox to modern orthodox. Lakewood, Telshe, YU, Chaim Berlin, Bobov, Satmar, Skvere and every other camp you can name. Takeaway? Don’t look at who was chosen to speak or who was given which seat. Look at the 100,000+ who gathered together and realize while perhaps we have different backgrounds and various hashkofos – we are all equal in the eyes of Hashem because every parent LOVES each of their children just as much as the other regardless of how they are doing spiritually. We are all children of Hashem no matter where we daven or where we learn(ed)

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