Friday, August 3, 2012

Siyum HaShas retrospective

Seven and a half years ago, I passed up the opportunity to go to the Eleventh Siyum HaShas of the Daf Yomi. I recall my some of my justifications; while some were legitimate, for the most part my primary reasons for not attending stemmed from post-adolescent cynicism and a general desire to avoid anything that "everyone" was doing. While those non-conformist instincts still manifest themselves in subtle ways, I didn't let them get in the way of going to the Twelfth Siyum last night (my wife's gentle prodding helped significantly as well).

The experience was very inspiring, and emotional as well.

Some of my highlights:

The Masmidei HaDaf children's tribute - especially heartening and made me pray for my own children that they should love and live a Torah true life;

I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised to learn that not only did Rav Malkiel Kotler (who was honored with making the actual siyum) study the daf yomi, but that his grandfather Rav Aharon did as well. It makes the fact that there is a stigma associated with the daf in the yeshiva world all the more so perplexing;

Rav Frand rocks. 'Nuff said.

Rav Sheiner was charming. To see a gadol speak to such a tremendous crowd with such a lack of pretense is refreshing. And his rousing endorsement of Rav Frand (and many effusive praises throughout his speech) was particularly awesome;

Chacham Yaakov Moshe Hillel rocks. If you don't believe me, follow the below link to my recording of his speech.

Rav Lau was my personal highlight. The applause and ovation before he even began speaking was enough vindication in light of the "controversy" of last week. An elegant elder statesman, the former Chief Rabbi of the medina was eloquent in his gestures to his colleagues as well as the crowd. His speech can be found by following the link:

Kel moleh rachamim by Chazzan Helfgott:

All in all, a wonderful (albeit long) evening. No negativity, just positive energy all around and a sense of belonging to a larger idea...

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