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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 8, 2005 / 27 Adar I, 5765

Between

By Rabbi Avi Shafran


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Tuesday is the last day of the week that the end-of-the-Sabbath Havdalah blessing may be recited if it was forgotten on Saturday night. Although I recited the blessing as usual on Saturday night, the words of Havdalah seemed to push their way into my mind this past Tuesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, one of three New York-area venues that together hosted approximately 50,000 Jewish men, women and children who turned out locally to celebrate the "Siyum HaShas," the most recent cycle-completion of the 7 1/2 -year page-per-day Talmud study program known as Daf Yomi. What sparked the Havdalah — thought was the astonishing aptness of the blessing's words.


Worldwide, there were aproximately 120,000 participants.


Midtown Manhattan, with all its din and shameless commercialism, seemed like a different planet from the vast arena within, which was quickly filling with modestly-dressed Jews of all ages — men and boys taking their seats in one section; women and girls in another. The juxtaposition of the two worlds marvelously embodied the idea of contrast that forms the essence of Havdalah (literally, "separation").


"Blessed are You, G-d...," the blessing begins, "hamavdil bein kodesh lichol" — "Who separates between holy and mundane." "... Bein Yisroel lo'amim"

The Jewish community, even the observant one, is not particularly known for its internal harmony. We Jews can be a fractious and quarrelsome people; we care deeply, after all, about many things.

But at the Siyum HaShas, Jews from different backgrounds and of different approaches to life were fused for those hours by a superceding unity of purpose. And there was no denying what obliterated their differences.



Gazing out onto the arena floor, usually a place of performers singing, or athletes running, jumping and throwing balls, I watched celebrants engrossed in their afternoon Mincha-prayers. The two images were similarly dissonant. The stands, normally the scene of raucous cheering and shouting (and worse), were packed with people honoring "players" of a very different sort from the usual - accomplished not in physical prowess and ephemeral things, but rather in spiritual strength and eternal ones.


"... Bein ohr lachoshech," Havdalah continues, "... Between light and darkness ..."


At a later point during the evening's proceedings, an announcement was made that the event was being dedicated, as it has been in the past, to the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Before Kaddish was recited in their memory, one speaker noted how, seven and a half years earlier, two Holocaust survivors who had been in attendance at the previous Siyum Hashas had independently made the same observation. Each had looked around at the tens of thousands of Jews present, and thought the same unthinkable thought: At the height of the Holocaust, more Jews than this were killed in a single day.


The mere post-war survival of any degree of Jewish determination and continuity would have constituted a minor miracle. The formidable flourishing of both over recent decades is nothing short of astounding, a tribute to the wondrous Jewish ability (sadly, much challenged over history) to persevere and rebound from even the most grievous sorts of adversity. The Siyum itself, in fact, was powerful testimony to that.


A contrast whose sheer power one had to personally experience to fully appreciate was manifest later in the evening, after the completion of the Talmud and its beginning anew, after the inspiring addresses and heartfelt songs, after the memorial Kaddish and the tears — and, after the Talmud-completion itself, the dancing that suffused the arena in joy.


The program ended with Maariv, the evening prayer. And when the first verse of Shma — the Jewish credo declaring G-d's relationship to the Jewish people and His unity — was pronounced loudly in unison, the sound of tens of thousands of people proclaiming those truths with all of their hearts and all of their souls was overpowering. It seemed to shake time and space themselves.


And yet, somehow, no less powerful was the absolute stillness that marked the silent Amidah-prayer that followed shortly thereafter. The transition reminded me of how the holy, determined activity of every Friday's waning hours yield to the utter calm and peace of the Sabbath.


"...Bein yom hashvi'i li'sheshes yimei hama'aseh..." — "...between the seventh day and the six days of action."


And then there was a final contrast, too, one that underlay the very fact of the gathering.


The Jewish community, even the observant one, is not particularly known for its internal harmony. We Jews can be a fractious and quarrelsome people; we care deeply, after all, about many things.


But at the Siyum HaShas, Jews from different backgrounds and of different approaches to life were fused for those hours by a superceding unity of purpose. And there was no denying what obliterated their differences. It was precisely what forged the original Jewish unity at Mount Sinai.


It was the holiness that is the Torah.


"Blessed are You, G-d," Havdalah concludes, as it begins, "Who separates between holy and mundane."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America. Comment by clicking here.



© 2005, Am Echad Resources