…to all the lomdei hadaf, who have just completed another seven and a half year cycle, and particularly to my husband, who completed his second cycle last week!
About 15 years ago, we moved to London to our first rabbinic post. A few weeks later, a daf yomi siyum hashass took place, attended by a few hundred people. My husband went and was inspired to try to learn a double page a day of the Talmud Bavli – daf yomi. As he progressed through the cycle we had several children and moved jobs and house twice. He promised himself that if he completed he would attend the huge siyum in New York/New Jersey, which he did. I was at a bar mitzvah, while he was away, expecting a baby, and observed to a friend that by the time of the next siyum, the unborn baby would be seven and our oldest son would be nearly bar mitzvah! At the time it was laughable, but 7 1/2 years later, he’s done it again, having moved house, but not jobs, and had that baby and another one!
Daf yomi is so engrained into our lives that when someone asked our oldest son what important event was happening in 2012, expecting the answer: The Olympics, he responded, only half in jest, “My bar mitzvah and the daf yomi siyum.”
We marked the occasion with a small siyum at home, during the Nine Days, with a meaty meal and wine. If a siyum on Shas doesn’t merit that, I’m not sure what does!
I’m very proud of my husband’s achievement, and was quite surprised when, speaking about completing the cycle, he mentioned that he had wondered what to do next. He decided pretty quickly to do it again, but it hadn’t even occurred to me that he might not.
Daf Yomi has become increasingly popular: the previous siyum was in Alexandra Palace, attended by a much larger crowd, and this time, having struggled for a suitable venue, due to one of the other important events taking place this year, nearly 3000 people packed into the Royal Festival Hall for the official siyum. Other large siyumum took place round the Jewish world and there will no doubt be a surge in the numbers of people learning “the daf”.
Several publishers and app manufacturers, as well as various musicians, have taken advantage of the siyum to launch new editions/apps and songs, but my favourite siyum spin-off has to be the bumper-sticker I saw advertised: “My husband made a siyum on Shass!” WIth the increasing number of women who also learn daf yomi, maybe next time round, we can look forward to “My wife made a siyum on Shass.”!