Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Siyyum Mishnayot

Every year, a member of our synagogue organizes a siyyum mishnayot - everyone who signs up gets a tractate of Mishnah (2nd C CE codification of Jewish law, divided into six parts, or seders, and then into tractates) such that we complete at least three s'dorim. It's a tremendous effort - he has to match people up with their choices and pick interesting ones for those who let him choose. This is capped off with a siyyum - a celebration of completing this. People learn the tractates however they wish - alone, as a family, with a partner, in Hebrew, in English, with a taped class. It doesn't matter, so long as they are finished by the day of the siyyum.

It's open to all members, but most of those who sign up are men. This year, 7 out of forty were women, and this is actually more than usual. This would be my fifth time doing this.

This means "Foreign worship" - idolatry. And normally, I wouldn't be writing this post at all because I've done it before - I use an English Kehati (Kehati wrote the commentary) and it takes me a few nights, or a few hours of cramming. I all but finished it, in fact, on the night of Shavuot as something to learn while staying up all night. I saved the last mishnah for the day of the siyyum. Not necessary, but I thought it would be nice.

But Michael asked me to say something at the siyyum. He'd left the message while I was away, and we didn't respond until Tuesday, and he'd already found someone when I emailed him back, and the rabbi only wanted so many people to speak, so that was okay. And then he emailed me back and said that he wanted a feminine voice, and could I do three minutes? I said yes, figuring I had two weeks and not a problem.

The siyyum was, of course, this past Shabbos. Less than a week later. I read the last mishnah and tried to think of what to say, and then, on Friday, I couldn't find my book. And I went nuts and I couldn't figure it out and then Jonathan gave me an idea of where to look (is it between the beds? - it was!) and there the book was and I looked at it and I came up with a theme (practical laws, not philosophy *and* borders and boundaries - pretty much how all the mishnahs are.) So I went over my speech three times with Jonathan and once more on the way to the shul that afternoon - I found a way to put a lot of it in historical perspective, too. And it went over well. The rabbi made a point of telling me he enjoyed it - and he said the same to Jonathan.

I did go over three minutes, though. :(
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