Just three months ago, a Siyum Hashas was concluded by the youngest of the Shas Yiden – 17-year old Yehuda Schwimmer in just four months. The Torah world was agog – how could he manage that? At 17 years of age? But at the Bais Medrash of Harav David Abuchatzeira, shlit”a, in Nahariya, he did just that.
So, one may ask, what other special follow-up could there be after that? Well this last Tuesday evening in Bnei Brak, the 7th Annual Shas Yiden Siyum Hashas was just that.
Instead of a large public gathering attended by the Gedolei Torah of Eretz Yisroel as has been done in past years, there was a new venue where all 21 avreichim gathered together with the Nasi of Shas Yiden, Hagon Harav Avrohom Eisen, shlit”a, the Pozna Rov, and the Rosh Kollel, Hagaon Harav Moshe Isaac Samet, shlit”a. Each of the avreichim had personally completed the entire Shas, as well as detailed exams on 225 blatt every month.
In the Home of the Sar Hatorah
In line with the current mood in Eretz Yisroel, as well as the need for acts that are clearly l’shem shamayim and b’tzin’a, in consultation with Sar Hatorah, Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, it was decided that he would host the siyum in his home. Reb Chaim has been an avid supporter of Shas Yiden and personally attended the last public siyum. He has also had great pleasure in farhering the avreichim on sugyos throughout shas.
For those individuals who managed to get in to attend the siyum, it was a unique, never-to-be-repeated occasion. There were no guests of honor, no Honorees, no dinner, no dinner journal or keepsakes. Yet, what those who attended took home with them were indelible memories of the scene that played out in that small gathering. Reb Chaim was beaming and led the singing that shook the rafters.
Never before has a siyum for any mosad taken place in Reb Chaim’s home. Most poignant for Reb Chaim, his son, Hagaon Harav Yitzchok Shaul, and grandson, Hagaon Harav Yaakov Yisroel, though, was the dedication of the siyum. In line with the dictum of ishto k’veiso (one’s wife is one’s home) – Reb Chaim and his family graciously allowed the Shas Yiden Siyum to be made in memory of the late Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky, a”h, whose life epitomized hatznei’a leches (walk modestly with thy G-d). It was particularly meaningful to Reb Chaim and his family, and he expressed his gratitude for that kindness.
The Siyum was prefaced by an impromptu farher by Reb Chaim with complicated and confusing questions from across shas. And as the avreichim pounced on each question and answered flawlessly, Reb Chaim kept nodding, his face creased in a smile, exclaiming: “Zayer gut, zayer gut” (Very good, very good). When he felt that he had tested their mettle, jestingly Rav Eisen asked if they had passed the farher. Reb Chaim looked at him and said: “Haym talmidei chachomim geonim muvhokim – meyuchod.” (They are outstanding scholars, geniuses – special.)
The hadran (conclusion of the Shas) was made by Harav Samet, the kaddish was recited by Harav Eisen and the beginning of Bochos was delivered by Sar Hatorah, Maran Harav Chaim. The simcha and joy were palpable. To augment the occasion, Harav David Abuchatzeira sent a case of wine with his own bracha and which was to be present at the brocho of Reb Chaim. Using a becher brought by the Nasi of Shas Yiden and filled with his own home-made wine, Reb Chaim wished everyone a personal l’chaim and gave each avreich an individual brocho. Tasty cakes and soda made up the rest of the fare.
Reb Chaim’s Chizuk to Klal Yisroel
When asked what message he had for klal Yisroel at this time and for a chizuk for the Jews of chutz la’aretz (the Diaspora), Harav Kanievsky solemnly declared: “The coming of Moshiach is immanent and he is on his way… It is stated in the Talmud that after the conclusion of the shmitta year Ben Dovid (the scion of Dovid) will come.” He then added that the avreichim of Shas Yiden will be among the first to welcome Moshiach Tzidkeinu. All left the 7th siyum of Shas Yiden with a message of hope and bitachon for Klal Yisroel.