Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Siyum ha-Shas

It's not that I'm worried - he called and I know where he was when he called and he wouldn't be able to leave for a long time - half hour before it was over and then there's the whole leaving thing the area thing and then the getting the taxi thing, or finding a ride home with someone (I mean, the odds are pretty damn good someone there lives near us) or giving up and taking a train, so if he gets home by midnight, I'd be surprised.

But it's nearly eleven and Jonathan's not home yet.

It's called the "Siyum Ha-Shas", which is not much less confusing, is it?

A siyum is a celebration made after the completion of a unit of Jewish study - a chapter, a tractate, a series of tractates. "Shas" is another word for the entire Babylonian Talmud. In this case, it's the end of a massive, world-wide coordinated learning program called "Daf Yomi", wherein one learns a page (that's both sides) a day. And it's not done at random - everyone learns the same page the same day. This takes seven and a half years, and the cycle has been completed about seven times since the inception. This can be done independently or with a learning partner, but it's normally done in classes, and there are tapes of classes or of lectures and even a translation of the Talmud into English designed for this in terms of the size of the books.

So today, the last cycle ended, and there has been a worldwide celebration, filling stadiums with a great many men and a few women. The main celebration is in Madison Square Garden, and my husband is there.

It's not that he has actually completed it, because he hasn't. He started in the middle by going to a local class, augmented by tapes and independent reading, and he managed to complete two tractates before losing patience and getting lost and overwhelmed with catching up. He's not the only one there like that, either. However, he has been part of this, and it's a mitzvah to help with the celebration even if one isn't part of it, and maybe this will give him strength, if he wants it, to start the cycle at the beginning tomorrow night. Or not.

He called me about an hour ago to say they were about to say the evening service and then there would be the leaving. I'm proud of him, and I'm happy for him, and I wish he were home.

ETA: He's home.
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