Attending the Siyum Hashas
Esther Green, Twelfth Grade
Crowds have a notorious habit of breeding loneliness. Throngs of people gathered with the purpose of uniting can oftentimes leave an individual questioning his or her value as one person amongst many. One who attends a large gathering may wonder why he or she feels distant or lacking connection with the multitudes of people seemingly gathered with an identical intention. Speaking for myself, I know that the time when I have felt most alone was when participating in such a gathering, yet feeling cold and empty inside. However, on January 1, 2020, I attended the Siyum Hashas, just one girl in an enormous crowd of 90,000, and I have never felt more inspired, more united, and more connected in my entire life.
I woke up that morning feeling extremely excited, with just a hint of trepidation. Arriving at school, I entered an auditorium abuzz with chatter, murmurs of tefilah, and the frantic voices of a few girls who had forgotten to pack their lunches. We were running right on schedule, when the auditorium swiftly emptied at the announcement that the buses had arrived. Both of the senior buses were noisy with cheerful and enthusiastic talk, and my friends and I quickly found seats, as teachers ushered us aboard. The bus erupted in cheers when we finally pulled out of the Bais Yaakov parking lot, the thrill of the moment and anticipation shining on every girl’s face.
We spent the four hour long drive singing, joking, eating, schmoozing, (sleeping!) and having a grand time all around. My bus split up Sefer Tehillim at a teacher’s advice, since this was an auspicious time, and we all felt good and prepared to participate in a massive celebration of Hashem’s Torah. As we were steadily approaching our destination, we were delighted to find that we could distinguish our teachers, relatives and members of our community from within various cars that were traveling alongside us. Our enthusiasm was heightened tremendously when we caught a glimpse of the MetLife Stadium. After navigating the traffic, we received our tickets and stepped off the bus, ready to enter the Siyum Hashas!
Ninety thousand is a number that the human mind cannot fathom, unless having experienced or visualized such a number before. The largest crowd I had ever been part of prior to the Siyum was a gathering of 3,000 children who had gathered for a quick picture before dispersing. I could not stop marveling at the people streaming towards the entrances of the MetLife Stadium, most of them frum and all of them Hashem’s children. We had come together to bring nachas to Hashem, to celebrate His Torah, and to glorify His Name with this huge Kiddush Hashem. We had not yet entered the stadium, yet I was already impassioned. After passing security, we received a bag with a schedule, a few booklets, and warmers. Initially, our group was meant to stick together until we found our seats, yet a few friends and I were separated. We went up and down various escalators until a kind volunteer pointed the way to our section. With the sound of thousands davening Mincha booming in our ears, we quickly found our seats, proudly picking out our Bais Yaakov school davening amongst the packed bleachers.
It was hard to remain focused on the speakers when the view from my seat was downright astonishing. The word “incredible” cannot adequately describe the scene. My hands were numb and red and I could not feel my face due to the cold, but my heart was on fire, sparked by a passion for Torah that could be seen on radiant faces and heard in talmidei chachamim’s fervent speeches. Many of the talks addressed the children at the Siyum, encouraging and infusing them with an enthusiasm for the future – that one day they too might IY”H complete Shas. I saw true simcha that day when the men danced and sang. I saw miracles when survivors of the Holocaust beheld the Siyum with tears in their eyes. The stories and divrei Torah shared created a powerful, once in a lifetime moment that will have a profound effect on me forever. I know that one day IY”H I want my husband and my children to be fiercely dedicated to Torah, and I will do my upmost to support them in this quest.
My favorite part of the Siyum Hashas was being mekabel Ol Malchus Shamayim by saying Shema Yisrael with this great multitude. For me personally, it was the most intense, awesome moment of the event, and I cannot recall concentrating as hard on Shema as I did then. Right after saying Shema, we exited the stadium and headed back to the buses, as it was getting late. The Siyum Hashas was such a memorable event, such a precious opportunity to take part in, and I am grateful to Bais Yaaakov for giving me the privilege to attend. As I am writing this, I picture the crowd at the MetLife Stadium, and I can feel the love and awe I felt at that moment beginning to reawaken inside of me…