Celebrating the Anniversary of the 11th Siyum HaShas and Getting Ready for the Upcoming 13th Siyum HaShas (New Video)
Today, Monday, 20 Adar I, February 25, marks the anniversary of Agudath Israel’s 11th Siyum Hashas of the Daf Yomi which took place in 2005. Because of the then unprecedented sold-out attendance, Klal Yisroel celebrated the 11th Siyum in two locations: Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey. The overwhelming surge of new attendees demanded that a third location to be added, the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan. The addition of a third location indicated that we were reaching an exciting turning point for the Daf Yomi.
The 11th Siyum HaShas marked a paradigm shift in the American Torah experience and a new era of dedication to advanced learning in America and around the world. Experiencing the Siyum together with the enormous numbers of people in attendance and the exciting technological advancement of live video-hook-ups, the Siyum itself embodied the spirit of Torah learning in the 21st century. The associated feelings of accomplishment, exponential growth, and interconnectivity launched the Daf Yomi into uncharted territory. Just like at all Daf Yomi Siyumei HaShas that came before it there was a recognition of the expansion of the Daf Yomi, but the gravitas of the 11th Siyum was different. It set the tone for the unbelievable change that was about to take hold of Klal Yisroel.
The Siyum began with a moving address by Rabbi Chaskel Besser A’H, the late founding chairman of the Daf Yomi Commission, declaring that the Siyum was a Yom Tov not only for those who were being mesayeim Shas but also for all of Klal Yisroel. These remarks captured the spirit of the Siyum and set the tone for Daf Yomi going forward through time. Notably, Rabbi Besser began his address in Yiddish and continued in English, to mark the bridge between the past Siyumim back to Lublin and into the future. The Siyum was also graced with moving remarks from Gedolim across the spectrum of American Jewry including Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, Rabbi Yosef Harari-Raful, the Bostoner Rebbe A’H, the Novomisker Rebbe, Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, and Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon. The late Telshe Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Stein A’H, was mesayeim Shas, and Rabbi Pinchos Friedman led the Hadran. Rabbi Fishel Herskowitz read the beginning of the new cycle of Shas and Tehilim was led by other Gedolim.
With each Siyum eclipsing the previous one in size, the impact of the Siyum has an even more significant effect with each new cycle of the Daf Yomi. The original Siyum at Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, with Rabbi Meir Shapiro presiding, launched a celebration and continuous escalation of Torah learning. But, in addition to that, because it is celebrated so infrequently, each Siyum HaShas associates itself with world events in ways that serve as markers of our shared experience as part of Klal Yisroel. Each Siyum records a time stamp on our collective memory.
The 11th Siyum took place in the years of the aftershock of 9-11, within the recent passing of Rav Pam A’H, and with the new realities of the 21st century starting to change our experience in America and around the world. Most of us remember the impact of the tefillos, Kaddish and kabbalas ol Malchus Shamayim that were recited at the Siyum as we all felt connected in new ways. With over 65 cities around the world linked together in a momentous experience, the 11th Siyum marked a step forward in an exponential outburst of learning in America, and it also set the tone for the historic 12th Siyum HaShas in Metlife Stadium.
At this auspicious anniversary of the 11th Siyum HaShas, the heartfelt memories and continuing impact are fueling the excitement that the Agudath Israel Daf Yomi Commission is experiencing while planning for the upcoming 13th Siyum HaShas on January 1, 2020. It is also serving as a tremendous chizuk for the thousands of Jews around the world who are re-dedicating themselves to learning Daf Yomi and general study of Torah as they prepare to physically and mentally participate in the upcoming historical event, an event that has proven cycle over cycle to resonate with impact on all of Klal Yisrael.
In advance of the upcoming Siyum HaShas, worldwide Torah initiatives are quickly taking hold in communities across the country. Chavrei HaSiyum, an innovative program through which shuls and communities are dividing masechtos and Shas to make siyumim in conjunction with The Siyum, is already being implemented in over 60 kehillos around the world. To have your kehillah join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Masmidei HaSiyum program is also getting ready to launch with schools around the country getting ready for children to learn even more Mishnayos and Gemara than the last cycle. And, our Daf Yomi committee is hard at work helping communities who would like to start or grow Daf Yomi Chaburos.