U’vahem Nehgeh: Chazarah Chaburah “You can do it in every community around the world” Learning The Daf is an incredible, life changing experience: Every yid can complete Shas! As meaningful and rewarding as it is to complete Shas every seven-and-a-half years, can one imagine what it means to complete it twice over that time period? Shortly before the last Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi, one chaburah of Daf Yomi learners came up with an idea as simple as it is ingenious. There are seven members in the chaburah. Each member would be responsible to review one Daf a week thoroughly and present its shakla v’tarya summary to fellow chaburah members. Each Daf chazarah takes about eight minutes. Within one hour, an entire week’s learning of The Daf has been reviewed. Anyone can attest to the substantially enhanced clarity and memory of any limud that has been reviewed, compared to having learned it only once. Each chaburah member learns his designated Daf each week with a particularly high level of clarity. And all this enhanced mastery of Shas can be accomplished within a time frame that even the busiest businessman and professional can adhere to with the proper commitment. This special chaburah recently celebrated a special Siyum on Shas, each Daf twice. Shimmy Yarmark, a member of the chaburah, hopes that others in Klal Yisroel get to enjoy the same level of limud haTorah and simchah as he and his peers enjoy. “We have no copyright or trademark,” he says. “You can do this in every community around the world.” As over 100,000 yidden worldwide look forward to celebrating, in just a few months, the greatest Siyum HaShas ever, what better time can there be to start? To take part in this historic experience, please visit thesiyum.org to reserve tickets while they are still available. For general information and updates, please visit thesiyum.org or text siyum to 313131
BaltimoreJewishLife.com (BJL) is proud to partner with STAR-K CERTIFICATION that realizes that there is no substitute for a person’s own Rav. In an effort to offer a possible solution, it has launched its Institute of Halachah as a public service. Over the years, the agency’s Kashrus Hotline has answered generic halachic questions from kosher consumers the world over, including inquiries regarding the kosher status of foods and certified Sabbath mode appliances. The formation of a separate official division within STAR-K testifies to the need for addressing these issues.
The Institute of Halachah is directed by HaRav Mordechai Frankel, under the guidance of HaRav Moshe Heinemann, STAR-K’s Rabbinic Administrator. It is an invaluable resource for a diverse array of rabbis to discuss general halachic matters, as well as gain access to source materials for shiurim and answers to congregants’ questions.
Shailos for regular or Kashrus shailos may emailed or discussed using this widget.
During the Second Temple, the Greek empire reigned (over Israel),1 and they (the Greeks) passed decrees against the Jews and (tried) to erase their religion, and did not allow them to carry out Torah (study) or the commandments. They put their hands on their property and their daughters. They entered the Temple, destroyed and made the pure unclean. The Jews were in great distress because of them and were much oppressed, until the G-d of their fathers had mercy on them, delivering them from their hands and saving them. Then overcame, the sons of the Hasmonean High Priest, (the Greeks) and killed them and saved the Jews from their hands. They appointed a king from the Priests, and the kingdom of Israel was restored for more than 200 years until the destruction of (the) second (Temple). When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them, it was the 25th of Kislev2 when they entered the Sanctuary (inner room) and did not find pure (olive) oil in the Temple, except one jar sealed with seal of the High Priest, and it did not contain enough to light except for one day only. But they lit from it the lamps of the Menorah3 for eight days, until they could crush olives and produce a (new quantity) of pure oil. For these reasons, decreed the Sages of that generation that these eight days that begin on the 25th Kislev, will be days of joy and praise. One lights on them lamps at evening at the entrance to the houses, every evening of the eight nights to show off and demonstrate the miracle. These days are called ''Hanukah'' that is to say ''they rested'' (chanu) on the ''25'' ('th of the month) because on the 25th they rested from their enemies. and also because of those days they (re)-dedicated the house (Temple) which their foes had defiled. Also some say that it is a commandment to increase slightly the festive meals on Hanukah. Another reason is because the work of (building) the Sanctuary (in the desert) was completed in these days. One should tell one's children the story of the miracles that were done for our fore-fathers in those days, (see Josephus) However, these meals are not considered as part of the commandment unless one says at the meal songs of praise. One should increase charity in these Hanukah days, for this can help mend any defects in our souls. This charity, should be given particularly to poor Torah scholars. (KSA 139:1)
1) 352 BCE until 70 CE
2) 139 BCE
3) The Menorah was made of gold and had seven branches.
The festival of Sukkot isn’t anchored to a particular historical period, or geographical location. It doesn’t commemorate a particular event which occurred on a specific day in history. Sitting under the sky in sheltered huts symbolizes G-d’s compassion and care for his creation in general, and for Man in particular. He safeguards us even in dangerous or hazardous conditions- such as the Jewish journey through the desert. Exiting our homes and sitting under makeshift and “improvised” huts, highlights our reliance upon Divine care rather than upon human structures.
As this holiday isn’t tethered to a particular historical event, its range extends beyond that of other Jewish holidays. Sukkot celebrates G-d’s care for all humanity – Jew and non-Jew alike. Highlighting this international scope of Sukkot, the Temple ceremonies of this holiday were calibrated to address an international audience. Over the course of the seven-day celebration of “Divine Providence”, seventy sacrifices were tendered - correlating to the seventy nations of classic antiquity.
Sukkot reminds a Jew of a universalist mission: to represent G-d and true monotheism in this world while challenging humanity to higher standards of morality. The holiday is pivoted upon the Temple, drawing foreign monarchs and dignitaries from across the globe. Though legal entry into the Temple was barred to non-Jews, all visitors would still direct their tributes and devotions to this international house of prayer.
Toward the conclusion of this holiday the international celebration transitioned into a one-day private rendezvous between G-d and his chosen nation- Shmini Atzeret (Eighth day of repose). The nation G-d selected to represent Him was personally beckoned to sojourn an extra day “alone” in His house. After the fanfare has subsided, and before we embarked home from Jerusalem, our stay was extended for an additional day of quiet seclusion with G-d in our Temple. This two-part holiday of Sukkot- including the one-day extension distills our distinctive historical mission as well as G-d’s unique affection for His people.
This grand Jewish mission be put to the test. For two thousand years, Jews would wander this planet bereft of common culture, deprived of national homeland, all the while longing for their extinct Temple – the icon of this international mission. During this period, part of our historical handicap was the absence of a judiciary body or Sanhedrin to properly and accurately adjust the calendar. Absent of this ability, Jews observed two days of Shmini Atzeret, hoping one day to return to land and Temple, reestablish autonomy, and restore authority of calendar regulation. Two days of Shmini Atzeret (and for that matter every other holiday) became a conspicuous symbol of life in Exile.
About a thousand years ago, the second day of Shmini Atzeret accrued new meaning and morphed into Simchat Torah. Given the fact that the yearly Torah reading cycle concludes on the second day of Shmini Atzeret, Jews began initiating festivities and celebration rituals surrounding the Torah on this second day of Shmini Atzeret. Ultimately, these customs became enshrined as Jewish law and the day transformed into an autonomous day of Simchat Torah.
This process of transforming the second day of Shmini Atzeret into Simchat Torah is a direct outcome of Exile. The existence of an extra day of Shmini Atzeret, and the termination of the Torah reading cycle, invited a separate holiday. The extra day of Shmini Atzeret in Exile was critical to the emergence of Simchat Torah.
While the holiday evolved under conditions of Exile, it also frames the Jewish response to the enormous challenges of exile. How did the Jews survive against such unspeakable odds? How did a nation, scattered across the globe, stripped of common national identity, despised and persecuted not just survive, but thrive, and not just thrive but constantly advance civilization and reshape the human imagination? Though we lacked a Temple we always possessed, a different pivot of national identity and a different rallying point to encounter G-d. The directly revealed word of G-d, his Torah, served as a geographically independent reinforcement of Jewish identity and, of course, a conduit for religious encounter. Our steadfast commitment to studying and applying His word has been, and will always be, the secret of Jewish survival. Transforming the second day of Shmini Atzeret into a Torah celebration signifies the triumph of the Jewish spirit throughout this long journey of exile. Without Torah, we would have barely survived, and the ‘spare’ day of Shmini Atzeret was designated to mark this monumental achievement.
If the first day of Shmini Atzeret comprised G-d’s special invitation to his people, the “transformed” second day of Simchat Torah represented our gift to Him, and the testament of our faith. During the Temple era, on Shmini Atzeret, G-d invited us ‘back’ because our hurried departure would be too difficult to bear; on the day of Simchat Torah, as we clutch Torah scrolls, we respond to G-d “indeed it has been difficult but we aren’t going anywhere”. You delivered Your word to us and for over two millennia it has protected our faith and preserved our relationship, even without our private rendezvous in the Temple. Ultimately, the two components of Shmni Atzeret complement each other- the first day represents our selection and our mission while the second day signifies the manner in which this mission triumphed against all odds.