Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Other Siyum HaShas

In an earlier post entitled "Unsung Heroes of Daf Yomi," I lamented the fact that the enormous Siyum HaShas organized by Agudas Yisroel is always a promo for Daas Torah instead of giving proper honor to the true heroes of Daf Yomi. I am glad to see that this time, there is an alternative. The New York Modern Orthodox community is organizing a two-part celebration. The first part is two sessions of parallel classes on various aspects of Talmud study taught by a variety of people (including, I was intrigued to see, Rabbi Nosson Scherman of ArtScroll). Then comes the siyum, which is described in the press release as follows:
Participants will then gather for the siyum ceremony. Various rabbinic luminaries will speak at the ceremony, but the focus will be on the magidei shiurim (those who teach the daf on a daily basis), the daily attendees of these classes, and those who are actually making the siyum. These people, men and women, young and old, will perform the siyum, read the Kaddish, and share words with the community.
It's good to see that there are people who know how to give honor where honor is due.

In other news, I am pleased to announce that The Challenge Of Creation has just been republished (with very minor changes from the previous edition). Unfortunately it was necessary to raise the retail price to $34.95, but you can still buy it directly from my website for the old price of $29.95 plus $10 international shipping. To order with PayPal or credit card, click the button below. It should reach the bookstores in North America by the end of August.


Turning to some tragic news, I am deeply saddened to report the untimely passing of Rabbi Josh Cohen of Elizabeth, NJ. May Hashem comfort his wife and children.

33 comments:

  1. Rabbi Natan, Where can the book be bought in Israel?

    Thanks so much!

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  2. Please email me at zoorabbi@zootorah.com

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  3. "Men and women . . . will perform the siyum, read the Kaddish, and share words with the community."

    And you think that's something to be proud of. Nebach. You've gone from advocating for rationalism, a very worthy cause, to advocating for conservative Jewry. How sad. If this keeps up, you will forever be held up as THE modern-day example of how inevitable it is to slide from questioning chazal into outright heresy. Far from furthering your cause, you have irreparably damaged it.

    Clear Vision

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  4. I was wondering how many people would get distracted by that one word and miss the point of the post. You're the first, congratulations.

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  5. Hi Rabbi -

    "Clear Vision"'s remarks suggest a cloudied, muddled perspective

    I think it's a GREAT thing that "men and women" are performing the siyum because it shows how much the modern orthodox world has progressed while maintaining its commitment to serious Torah/Talmud study.

    It's also GREAT that Rabbi Scherman is attending because we should give the utmost hakarat hatov to Artscroll, without whose immense scholarship and publishing many people (like myself) would never have approached the Talmud. I can say confidently that it is precisely BECAUSE of "Rabbi Artscroll" that Talmud learning is flourishing among young and old, men and women. For the first time in Jewish history, the Talmud is at its most accessible, all thanks to the brilliant minds at Artscroll.

    Great post!
    M. Singer

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  6. Here are some sources on permitting women to say kaddish. Apparently it was an accepted practice in Europe.
    http://halachayomit.co.il/Default.asp?HalachaID=1302

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  7. Uh....2 words, "and women"

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  8. @Charlie Hall: I see you are on the committee of this Siyum HaShas. About 4 months ago in a comment in response to a post here "One Way Street" I said "If they don't seat our Gedolim at the dais at the Siyum Hashas, we start our own." to which you responded:

    "Ok, I'm up for it. Anyone else?

    Rabbi Dov Linzer of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is one of the very few RYs who actually teaches a daf yomi shiur..."


    I'm just curious - did that exchange plant the initial seed for organizing this event?

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  9. It's unfortunate that this may well be seen as another division within modern orthodoxy, I wonder if the sponsors tried and failed to line up some RWMO(or even MWMO) support.

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  10. I see that they didn't forget to add on the bottom of the page "Don't forget to order your tickets for the Agudath Israel siyum at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium!".

    Also, when will מפלצות מן האגדה be published?

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  11. "I was wondering how many people would get distracted by that one word . . ."

    That's embarassing. Everyone noticed it, of course. Do you think you and me are somehow unique? It was supposed to get noticed, because the fringe left wing group you are now promoting was deliberately trying to be provocative.

    And please, look how you try to convince yourself with phrases like "distract" or "one word." This group wants women to learn talmud, make siyumim on it, and say kaddish, all in public. If you think thats fine, how could you possibly object to women rabbis? You can't, and that's exactly the slope this group would like to see. And yet you tell yourself that it's just a minor little distraction, its just "one word", but REALLY this group just wants to recognize the achievements of the ballei battim and their efforts and it's about learning and Torah . . . . Wake up.

    Clear Vision

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  12. Joel Rich, if Agudah didn't make their siyum haShas a party event where only their rabbinic figures speak, then there would not be much point in separate siyumim in NYC. As it is, the planned siyum in the UWS is quite appropriate.

    Given the list of speakers, I fail to see why you believe that Centrists or RWMO aren't represented. Is Rabbi Dr. TH Weinreb not sufficiently right wing for you or Rabbi N. Scherman? If you are addressing sponsoring organizations, I note that KJ and YU's High School for Girls are among the sponsors.

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  13. @Clear Visions:
    Or perhaps this should be a wake-up call for yourself. If your only argument against women learning Gemara and saying kadish is that it's only a matter of time before they become rabbis, maybe we should start thinking about the subject of women as rabbis. Is there a fundamental difference between making a siyum on Gemara and being a rabbi? If not, could it be that our reluctance to instate women as rabbis comes more from our desire to cling to old social norms than to actual halachah?

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  14. "did that exchange plant the initial seed for organizing this event? "

    It certainly was an impetus.

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  15. Did anyone else notice that picture they chose for the Shas on the homepage is actually a set of Shulchan Aruch HaRav published by Kehos?

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  16. And please, look how you try to convince yourself with phrases like "distract" or "one word." This group wants women to learn talmud, make siyumim on it, and say kaddish, all in public. If you think thats fine, how could you possibly object to women rabbis? You can't, and that's exactly the slope this group would like to see. And yet you tell yourself that it's just a minor little distraction, its just "one word", but REALLY this group just wants to recognize the achievements of the ballei battim and their efforts and it's about learning and Torah . . . . Wake up.

    Clear Vision

    Clear Vision,
    You would have stoned Devorah or Bruriah, wouldn't you have?

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  17. To "Clear Vision" - I have no interest in women's issues. My point was to commend them for giving honor to the people who actually learn Daf Yomi. I do not know why you think that that is not something they should be commended for.

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  18. Rabbi Natan, I think it's interesting you say you have no interest in women's issues. Because you are so willing to take on tough honest critism of the Charedi community, why would you shy away from such a HUGE and important issue?
    Men in kollel are not the only ones that suffer from poverty and ignorance and abuses within the Charedi community.
    Rabbi Natan, please clarify!

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  19. I didn't say that I was shying away. I said that I wasn't interested.

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  20. "Clear" vision:

    If you parse the sentence correctly, it does not say that women will be doing ALL of "perform the siyum, read the Kaddish, and share words with the community", but rather, that they will be doing any one of them. It is unlikely that women will be asked to say the Kaddish because there are Halachic problems with that, nor is it necessary in order to acknowledge their achievements.

    If someone finished all of Shas in Daf Yomi, Kol HaKavod to her, and only fair that she share a few words with the community. It is a true accomplishment, and belittling it and calling it names like "conservative" and "outright heresy" is an insult to the Torah that they learned.

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  21. I remember R' Scherman spoke (very well) at the opening of the YU Museum exhibit ( http://www.printingthetalmud.org/ ) on the publishing of the Talmud, along with R' Steinsaltz and R' Lamm (via video). One thing I learned was that the whole Artscroll Talmud project was due to R' Lamm- Artscroll asked the Schottensteins, they asked R' Lamm (they went to YU and give a lot to it), and he told them to do it.

    And speaking of R' Scherman, here's a photo I love to link to: http://www.printingthetalmud.org/ , from here: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/10/books/10talm.html?_r=1

    Charlie, kol hakavod! And speaking of the link to the Agudah, I think it's interesting that it's on the OU site. It isn't the first time they've used the OU in this way. (They do for their Mincha map as well, for example.)

    By the way, there will be an MO siyum in Israel as well, sponsored by YU, the Young Israel, and others, at the Great Synagogue; R' Steinsaltz, R' Riskin, I think R' Lau, and others will speak. There's also an English language charedi one advertised in the OU Torah Tidbits.

    "Did anyone else notice that picture they chose for the Shas on the homepage is actually a set of Shulchan Aruch HaRav published by Kehos?"

    I don't see it. But let me say that when Artscroll began publishing the Yerushalmi, their ads had pictures of Yerushalayim- even though, of course, the Yerushalmi was not written anywhere near Yerushalayim. :-)

    Kira, good point but let me point out, again ("It is unlikely that women will be asked to say the Kaddish because there are Halachic problems with that") that there are *no* halachic problems with it.

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  22. The event is not intended as a statement regarding women rabbis but simply a celebration of the completion of Talmud Bavli. It is not intended to compete with the big Siyum HaShas in New Jersey; as the seating capacity of MetLife Stadium is about 100 times that of the main beit knesset at Shearith Israel, such an idea is clearly absurd. We support the Agudath Israel Siyum HaShas and encourage all who can to attend.


    Regarding women saying Kaddish, Shearith Israel permits it and it would certainly be inappropriate not to follow the minhagim of the host congregation. I've personally heard women recite Kaddish there and at most of the other sponsoring congregations, all of whom are Orthodox. (The Western Sefardic tradition has had women saying Kaddish for about 400 years -- the reference in the statement by Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef was in fact to Amsterdam's Sefardic community.)

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  23. This will be last comment on this sorry post. I have no interest in women's issues either. But I do have interest in the differences between orthodox Judaism and the reform/conservative versions thereof, and giving in to feminisim is a hallmark of the latter. You can scream about no halachic problems, blah blah blah, and you can point to isolated individual events of women saying kaddish, blah blah blah - suffice to say, it's not traditional judaism, and its a quick slide from there into women rabbis. Indeed, one of your supporters in the comments asks exactly that, and says perhaps it is me that should wake up, not you, as there really is no problem with women rabbis . . . .

    That's where you're heading. You may already be there. And in doing so, you've killed of whatever contributions you had made towards rationalism in the frum community.

    Clear Vision

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  24. So praising a siyum for giving kavod to those who learned the material means that I am endorsing a feminist agenda? You are very strange!

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  25. Clear vision, on the topic of authentic judaism the title of rabbi is only about 2000 years old. so your logic doesn't make sense how can a recent institution (yes even though it's 2000 years old judaism has been around for about 3000-3500 years) be authentic judaism. Old doesn't mean authentic it just means old! You wanna talk authentic judaism when pesach comes around will you be eating kitnios, it's authentic judaism right, oh weight recent rabbinic logic doesn't flow in the same direction mist of the time. So let's talk about kabbalah and how authentic it is. something that doesn't have a legitimate mesora but yet is excepted by masses as authentic judaism even though logic dictates otherwise.
    So next time before you open your mouth learn some history.

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  26. R'YA,
    Looking at the list of sponsors I think the average Joel would assume that it is primarily sponsored by organizations that tend towards what one might call LWMO.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  27. Charlie: Please tell me it'll be recorded and/or broadcast.

    Clear Vision is going home, boo-hoo, but it should be pointed out once more that women *always* said Kaddish. It's *his* Judaism that's not "traditional."

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  28. "Please tell me it'll be recorded and/or broadcast."

    We are working on a livestream of part of the program, and plan to make audio recordings of everything.

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  29. acc. to avos 6:3 david called ahitofel his רבי.
    acc. to brachos 4a he did the same to mefiboshes.
    IIRC elsewhere moshe is called that.

    kt

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  30. Reject , that's pre the concept of what we call rabbi .that's just referring to a teacher. rabbi means teacher.

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  31. acc. to temurah 17a yehoshuah called moshe
    רבי

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  32. FYI R' Scherman is no longer listed as a speaker for the siyum: http://siyumhashas12.com/speakers.php

    ~Miriam

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  33. From http://grestudentblog.blogspot.com/
    For they backed out of the event in Shearith Israel because they don't speak at modern orthodox events. For they believe that the modern orthodox is heretical and anyone involved "Can no longer trust their Kashrus? …or drink from their wine? …or intermarry with them without a Yichus check? …or accept their children into our schools? …or even allow our children to play with theirs?" (http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2012/07/moving-backwards.html). Are you kidding? Did Rabbi Scherman not write in publication together with Dr. Marc Shapiro and Rabbi Adam Mintz (http://www.yumuseum.org/pdf/order_talmud.pdf)? Did Rabbi Weinreb not defend the poster boy of modern day heretical accusations, Rabbi Natan Slifkin? Perhaps Rabbis Weinreb and Scherman were misled or given misinformation? Maybe.

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