Thursday, August 23, 2012


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Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shoftim – Pirkei Avos, perek 6
6 Elul 5772/August 25, 2012  
   The Siyum Hashas at Metlife stadium three weeks ago generated a great deal of worthy discussion and deserved fascination. Also, like everything else, by now its discussion has begun to fade, as new occurrences warrant our attention.
   Personally, I feel that the profundity of the experience can only be appreciated after the fact. It was a privilege and a merit to be part of the event, but even more than that night itself, looking back and reviewing it in my mind garners new appreciation each time I think about it. It’s analogous to one’s wedding which passes all too soon and can hardly be appreciated in the moment. But the memories of the event cause a surge of nostalgic joy to the choson, kallah, and their families perpetually.       
   One of the greatest aspects of the Siyum for me, even beyond the diversified yet unified crowd, and even beyond the inspiration of hearing some of the greatest Torah leaders of our time, was the moments of silence. Stadiums by definition are created to be arenas of noise and fanfare. The cries and ovations of the throngs of crowds who seek emotional outlets and entertainment are commonplace during such events. The mere murmurs of tens of thousands of people, even without raucous cheering, itself lends to a high level of noise.
   Yet on the night of the Siyum there were moments of almost absolute silence. The entering crowds, despite constant rain, long lines for parking and security checks, was emotionally charged and excited. Yet as soon as kaddish was said following ashrei during Mincha a hush descended on the burgeoning crowd. The stadium was silent.
   Hours later, after impassioned speeches, vivacious dancing, and energized camaraderie, when it came time for Shemoneh Esrei during Maariv, again a hush descended upon the stadium, as the remaining tens of thousands swayed gently in the stands in silent concentration.
   In addition, each time one of our great Torah leaders arose to speak, instantly the 92,000 strong rose to their feet and, for a few moments, the packed stadium was utterly silent.
   To me those moments of silence spoke more volumes than all of the clapping and responses throughout that august evening. That silence symbolized the respect and reverence we maintain for the Torah and for what we were celebrating.
   In that stadium, and in all sports stadiums, victory celebrations are conducted by the victors with open bottles of champagne being exploded in all directions, along with whopping and jovial shouting. There is no silence during those moments. Suffice it to say that our celebrations are vastly different. While the celebration may not be silent, it incorporates a sense of reverence for its accomplishment. 
     The great Siyum included not only many powerful and inspirational words but also very powerful and inspirational silence. That silence is something we need to capture in our noisy busy world. It is a silence which allows us to think about the blessings we have, the greatness of our accomplishments, and our responsibilities towards the future.
   We need to hear that silence, especially in Elul, as we prepare for a new year of blessing and growth!  
      Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
   R’ Dani and Chani Staum 
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