Baltimore, MD - Oct. 14, 2021 - On Sunday, October 10, 2021, Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim celebrated an event billed as a Simchas HaTorah, a Gala Siyum. It was a night intended to rejoice over three separate communal accomplishments that all concluded in close proximity: the completion of two tractates of daily Talmud study in the Daf Yomi cycle, Masechtos Sukkah and Beitzah, and the completion of a zman in the Semichas Chaver Program.
The Semichas Chaver Program, a project of the OU, is a practical halacha chabura that empowers participants with a broad yet deep understanding of timely and applicable halacha. Participants attend a weekly shiur which traces the halachos from their origins and early sources through contemporary poskim and provides an analytical framework and knowledge that enables participants to enhance their practice in their homes and communities. Participants are encouraged to review the material throughout the week in smaller chaburas or chavrusos, and at the end of the zman, participants undergo an examination.
The Suburban Semichas Chaver chabura has nearly 100 participants who show up weekly for the shiur and expend significant time, effort, and dedication to learn the practical halachos and inculcate them in their lives and families. 51 members of the Suburban chabura took the test at the conclusion of this zman, all of whom passed. This zman focused on portions of hilchos Shabbos, including melaben, borer, sechitas peiros, and the halachos of opening packages, bottles, and cans, such as boneh, stira, asiyas pesach, korea, mechatech, and mocheik. Thus, the combined siyum for completion of the zman of Semichas Chaver and two masechtos of Gemara was a celebration of the dedication and hard work of so many members of the kehilla on their extraordinary accomplishments in Torah learning. But this event was so much more.
Suburban underwent a physical transformation representative of the spiritual transformation that happens there daily. Beautiful floral decoration and elegant lighting created a feeling of kavod haTorah. Live musical accompaniment by the Zemer Orchestra, created a feeling of joy and inspiration. Bonds of friendship forged through the daily effort exerted in Torah study created an aura of brotherhood and congeniality. The focal point of the evening was the communal passion for Torah learning, which created such kedusha in the room that it was palpable.
The event kicked off with each of the members of Semichas Chaver being given a certificate for their accomplishment. Heartfelt remarks were delivered by members of the Daf Yomi group and the Semichas Chaver group about how their learning has positively impacted them and infused them with transformative changes in their lives. Attendees were overcome with emotion from the sincere and captivating words given by a pillar of the Daf Yomi shiur, Dovid Schwartz, who, despite battling significant illness and the associated physical and emotional toll that comes with it, has not missed one day of shiur, which he has to attend virtually due to his health. Dovid beautifully wove together concepts and ideas from the two masechtos, Sukkah and Beitzah, to express how learning the Daf has brought unparalleled meaning and purpose to his life each day, and has motivated and encouraged him to become a better person even in the face of such challenging circumstances. It was a poignant message of mesiras nefesh, and an inspiring reminder of what we are all capable of accomplishing if we set out to maximize every opportunity for growth.
The siyum was then made on the two Masechtos of Sukkah and Beitzah, which culminated in a lively round of joyous dancing. Culinary delights satiated everyone’s physical appetites, while words of chizuk, encouragement and inspiration were delivered by Rabbi Moshe Hauer, Executive Vice President of the OU, and Suburban's mara d’asra Rabbi Shmuel Silber.
Coming on the heels of the Yomim Noraim, Succos, Shemini Atzeres, and Simchas Torah, a time in which we, as individuals, set out goals for the new year and develop plans to attain those goals, this event truly lived up to its name – a Simchas HaTorah. It was a night of true rejoicing in the Torah. A siyum is, by definition, a completion, and its celebration is in recognition of that milestone. Yet the power of a siyum lies not in the completion itself, but in what comes next. As we have begun to put our plans for growth into action, this evening of Simchas HaTorah provided indelible inspiration to enable the kedusha of the holidays to uplift our everyday lives.
Join the Semichas Chaver program for the new zman by clicking here.
Dovid (above) beautifully wove together concepts and ideas from the two masechtos, Sukkah and Beitzah, to express how learning the Daf has brought unparalleled meaning and purpose to his life each day, and has motivated and encouraged him to become a better person even in the face of such challenging circumstances.