Skip to main content
Siyum on Masechta Shabbos -- 11 years in the making!
On Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5766, my chavrusa (really much more of a rebbi than a chavrusa) and I were zoche to be m'sayim masechta shabbos; a schedule we half jokingly call our "daf chodshi" (one page a month). The specific date was chosen because it is also R' Mannes's father's yahrtzeit, but the fact is we really did finish at that time. Hosting a siyum two weeks before Pesach is not easy; but my family has always celebrated siyumim together and we all worked hard to get everything together.

A year ago or so, someone commented to me, "11 years? wow... you have a lot of patience". But that is a mistake. For, (as pointed out to me by R' Mannes) in the hadran we say, "our minds are on you, and your mind is on us." The masechate is a living entity with which we have an eternal relationship. Eleven years is not a long time to spend developing that relationship.

I was honored to have R' Plotnik and R' Mannes offer divrei chizuk and torah. I cannot, and therefore will not try, to do justice to the words of these two talmidei chachamim. I will, however, express a couple of thoughts I was able to assimilate. R' Plotnik noted that the Chachmim call hilchos shabbos "harim t'luyim ba's'ara" -- mountains hanging be a hair. That is, the Torah warns us that to violate shabbos is a capital offense, and yet gives us almost no details! It is only through our masora that we can know how to experience "oneg shabbos" and avoid eternal suffering. (Comfy thought, eh?) My personal favorite example of this is a person who doesn't like onions and selects a piece of onion out of cholent. If the person has in mind to give it to her father (yes, my daughter likes to give me her onions), then is it kibud av; if, on the other hand, a person selects out the onion first and then asks if anyone knows it has just been m'chalel shabbos!

I cannot begin to thank R' Mannes for his chinuch and patience. Of course I grew from his Torah and Chochma... but at least as important was the way he would m'chanuich me... shaping the way I approach and assimilate a Torah. Guiding me in developing a mind and attitude that is a Torah production. One of the most touching thoughts that R' Mannes expressed was that he wasn't sure if he could really make a siyum with me... because the "me" of today is not the the "me" of 11 years ago. We have now begun Baba Kama and I look forward to many more years of guidance, growth, chochma, and Torah.

I also spoke briefly. As I was thking about what to say, I was as first sorry that after 11 years of learning, we were now spending only and hour or so to celebrate that achievement. But the truth is that no matter how much time was spent, we would not be able to express even as much as one drop compared to the oceans of wisdom contained in each daf... kal v'chomer ben beno shel kal v'chomer in 157 daf!

Sof kol sof, there is a thought I would like to express from the siyum.


תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף לא עמוד א
אמר רבא: בשעה שמכניסין אדם לדין אומרים לו: נשאת ונתת באמונה, קבעת עתים לתורה, עסקת בפריה ורביה, צפית לישועה, פלפלת בחכמה, הבנת דבר מתוך דבר? ואפילו הכי: אי יראת ה' היא אוצרו - אין, אי לא - לא.


The gemara on 31a says, "Rava teaches that when a person is taken for [his final] judgement they say to him: did you conduct your business with faithfulness, did you set time for Torah study, ... ?"

Obviously when a person is taken in for judgement, he will be asked the major issues first... you don't start with the details. It should absolutely give us pause to think that we will first be asked is about his business dealings. The tell a story about the Chafeitz Chaim. Someone complained to him about those frumme Jews who cheat in business, are rude, and tell vicious gossip. The Chafeitz Chaim responded, "I know... and those frumme Jews who don't keep kosher or shabbos." The man looked astounded and exclaimed, "but those aren't frum Jews!" Answered the heilege Chafeitz Chaim, "and neither are those who cheat in business and are rude frum Jews!" Our bein adam v'chaveiro will be questioned first.

The next question regards our Torah study. Not "Did you study Torah?", but "Did you fix time for Torah study?" Of course we need to work to make a living, and if we don't fix time for Torah study we can easily get involved in the day-to-day pressures of making a living (Rashi). By fixing time for Torah study, we make that the main thing. R' Chaim Volozhin in Nefesh haChaim says that if one spends his whole life trying to learn lishma, and only achieves a moment of lishma in his life... the fact that he could not have achieved the "lishma" without those years and years of "sh'lo lishma" transforms all those years into "lishma" -- lishma mamash! It would follow then, that fixing times for Torah study turns every moment of our lives into limud haTorah!

Hodos u'sh'vachos la'Shem yisbarach.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…