For the week ending 11 June 2005 / 4 Sivan 5765

Can I Join the Celebration?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: A friend of mine is about to complete learning an entire mesechta (tractate) of the Talmud and has invited me to participate in a Seudat Siyum (completion celebration) he is making in honor of this achievement. Is there any point in my celebrating even though I did not achieve this goal myself?

Answer: The source for celebrating a siyum is the account in the Talmud of what the Sage Abaye did when one of his disciples completed an entire Mesechta (Mesechta Shabbat 118b). He made a feast for all his disciples.

Based on this precedent the halachic authorities have ruled that the celebration of a completion of a mesechta is a seudat mitzvah for all who participate, even if they did not achieve that goal themselves. Abaye took a cue from King Shlomo who made a feast for all of his servants when he was granted superhuman wisdom by the Creator. The achievement of greater wisdom of Torah is a cause for all Jews to celebrate.

The massive celebrations which recently took place with the Siyum HaShas in the Daf Yomi cycle was an expression of this idea. Even though only a fraction of those celebrating had actually completed the study of the entire Talmud, it was a joyous occasion for all the men, women and children who honored the addition to the world of Torah wisdom.

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