Last night, many, many people gathered together to celebrate the completion of the entire shas. It only took one day. One day at a time of working and trying, of learning and understanding...and totaled seven and a half years of dedication and perseverance.
Sure, there are so many lessons to take from this. About how much can be accomplished from a few moments of learning the same thing daily. About taking baby steps to achieve big things in life. About perseverance. About not giving up. About the power of a group of people doing something good together...and how that can give someone the push to continue doing it. About using time wisely and utilizing every minute. About the beauty of Torah and how every single person, no matter what they do, can have a part in it.
For those who went, it was powerful to spend a few hours with so many people to celebrate this huge accomplishment.
Many people turned their schedules around so they could be at this special event. There were those who left work early and young children who left day camp early. Some people got babysitters, some got rides, some took buses. People did whatever they had to. All so they could be there and be part of the experience. Yet still, there were plenty of people who were unable to make it to the siyum hashas.
And then there were those...
Those who didn't even know there was a siyum.
Those who don't even know what Torah is. Who don't know what a letter in the aleph bais looks like.
They have no idea what beauty they are missing out on. They don't even know such beauty exists.
Just a few days ago, we sat on the floor and mourned the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh.
A friend of mine, Temima, shared the following thought with me from R’ Shimshon Pincus zt”l.
When we mourn over the churban and tragedies written about in the kinnos, we must keep in mind that today we are also undergoing tragedies as a result of the churban. During the churban it was the loss of millions of Jewish bodies. But today’s loss is millions of neshamos. Forever. In the kinnos we read that the navi saw mounds of tefillin removed from slain boys and men and he cried out, “Hashem, here are the tefillin but where are the heads?!”
Today we have to cry out, “Oy! Ribbono Shel Olam, here are the heads but where are the tefillin?!”
The churban is still very much with us in our time. It is just a different kind of churban.
What can we do about it?
What can you do about it?
It may sound harder than it is. But every person can do something.
You can sign up to learn with someone on the phone once a week with Partners in Torah. Through kiruv.com you can learn with someone in person, one on one. You can host a kiruv training seminar in your house or donate some of your ma’aser money to any of the organizations who are involved in kiruv. Oorah also has many ways of getting involved.
And...you can make a kiddush Hashem. Because wherever you go, whatever you do, people you know and people you don't are watching you and may be passing judgement about all Jews...when they see you. You represent the entire Jewish Nation.
So today, when I was outside and I saw an old neighbor of mine who grew up in a totally non-frum home, walking her dog with her non-Jewish boyfriend, I gave her a hug, talked to her for two minutes and treated her the way she should be treated. Like a person. I smiled at her and wished her well. I don't know what she thought when I left but I know I did mine. That tiny spark inside her will never go out. It may be dimmed for a while but there is hope for her and for those like her.
So...when I think about the siyum hashas and the beauty and power of so many people gathering together to celebrate this milestone, I also think about those who do not know of such beauty, who are unaware of what they are missing.
I will daven for them. I will hope for them. And I will do something real, something practical to make sure I can make a difference in someone else's life.
Do you think you can too?