The observant Jewish community was filled with excitement as Talmud study celebrations opened in Israel and around the world.
The events, called “Siyum HaShas” take place once every seven and a half years and mark the completion of a cycle of Torah study of the Babylonian Talmud called the Daf Yomi, the study of two sides of a page of Talmud per day. Literally thousands of groups of Daf Yomi study take place in synagogues and yeshivas all over the world, generally at the time of morning or evening prayers.
Scholars study the debates of the Torah sages who debated legal and communal issues of the Oral Law given at Mount Sinai and many other topics relating to humanity while living in ancient Babylon – today known as Iraq – nearly 2,000 years ago. These discussions and legal rulings were assembled in the Talmud, consisting of the Oral Law, codified in the 3rd century CE and called the Mishna and the 7th century CE Gemara, which explains and discusses the the Oral Law, and are studied today by Jews around the world.
Huge celebrations are being held in honor of the Torah, on the occasion of the completion of the 12th cycle of Daf Yomi study of these texts. Many tens of thousands of Jews will complete the current cycle and begin a new one, in Israel and in the Diaspora, re-starting their study of the Talmud. Many groups will hold private celebrations, some with wives and families.
Three massive central rallies for the hareidi community in Israel are being held, on Monday and Tuesday, with tens of thousands of Torah scholars participating in the events.
The first such celebration, sponsored by the global Dirshu organization, is to be a week-long event that began Monday at the Yad Eliyahu stadium in Tel Aviv. Three of the greatest Torah sages of the Lithuanian hareidi community took part, with Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman completing the cycle of study, Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, considered the new halakhic decisor taking over from Rabbi Yossef Shalom Eliashiv who passed away a week ago, beginning the new cycle of Talmud. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the son in law of Rav Eliashiv, was expected to say the Kaddish for the multitudes. Also present was the Rosh Yeshiva of Belz, the Belzer Rebbe, the Rebbe of Sered Vizhnitz and the head of Dirshu, Rabbi Hofstader.
Dirshu is an organization whose motto is Torah accountability. It conducts regular examinations at the end of each tractate of Talmud in various locations in Israel and abroad for those who register to study the Daf Yomi. Successful students are entitled to a monetary prize. Their program provides learning schedules and guidance to help participants with their learning, while the tests insure review and better recall.
Meanwhile, a huge celebration was held simultaneously by the Sephardic Spiritual Leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, where more than 25,000 participants packed the bleachers. World renowned Chassidic singing star Mordechai Ben David and Sephardic vocalist Moshe Habusha were to perform with a huge choir, conducted by the famous Mona Rosenblum. Also participating in the Jerusalem event were esteemed Chassidic leaders, including the Arloi Rebbe, the Admor of Boyan and the Kalever Rebbe.
The third event, scheduled for Tuesday, is to be held at the Light Rail parking area near Givat Ram in Jerusalem. Due to high demand and because the compound only can hold 15,000 seats, the proceedings will be broadcast to some 800 centers nationwide. The event will also feature Mona Rosenblum's orchestra, playing on a stage built especially for the occasion. Among the Torah luminaries expected to grace the stage at this event will be Rabbi Steinman, the Erloi Rebbe, Rabbi Wosner, the Belzer Rebbe and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.
At all events, security personnel and emergency medical services, including hundreds of medics, doctors and paramedics will secure the key Talmud celebrations.
On Thursday, the Talmud study cycle completion in the national religious public sector will take place at Jerusalem's International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha'Uma) and next Thursday, Yeshiva University, RCA and Young Israel will sponsor an event in English at Heichal Shlomo. This event will be broadcast on live video on Arutz Sheva.