Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Maseches Shvuous Siyum Speech (for Mendy)

Good Shabbos! The reason I'm doing the siyum today is for a very important and very personal reason. That reason is that Iddo has become sick and tired of always doing this all by himself and wanted to hand this off to somebody else for a change.

But in all seriousness, there is an important and personal reason I'm doing this, and if Iddo had not asked me to pinch-hit for him, I would have volunteered.

I have learned this masechte and the masechte before for a single individual.

As you probably all know by now from all my annoying e-mails, I participated in a relay race a few weeks ago from Prospect Park in Brooklyn to South Fallsburg which was staged so that the proceeds could benefit a person and a friend of the race organizers. His name is Mendy.

Just this last Tuesday, we all got together again for an Appreciation Event to reminisce about the race and learn about future programs from this new Jrunners organization.

Each team of runners had a representative step up to the podium to speak about their experiences, and to a man, the one thought they all had in common was that they could spend all night talking about the amazing things that transpired, but we all had day jobs we had to get back to.

I have the same problem here. There are amazing stories to tell, but we have to get to Ma'ariv, so I will make mention of another common thread we experienced on this run.

This was the monumental physical effort the runners put themselves through, and they put themselves through this strain all so they could give of themselves to this one person.

Rabbi Seth Nadel was here a few weeks ago, and he spoke about being "in the parsha" of fundraising for his new Yeshiva. He said that he was advised by fundraising experts that when you send an envelope out, to be aware that placing the logo of an organization on the cover doesn't tug at the heartstrings as much as placing the face of a single child.

So we didn't run for an organization. We ran for a man, and we put so much physical effort into our runs that four of us actually vomited along the course from the exertion. There were sixty of us, which means that one of 15 of us literally left our guts out there on the West Side Highway, in Fort Lee, in Harriman State Park. All of us gave our sweat, some of us gave our blood when we took some spills and some of us literally ran our guts out.

So in addition to this physical effort that I put in, I also put in some spiritual effort, and I've learned the last two masechtes in honor of Mendy.

I haven't spoken to the Rabbi about this yet, but I have discussed this with others: I feel a little weird saying "refuah sheleimah" to a person or about a person when it comes to a terminal disease. I discussed this with my mother, who mentioned that she too had recently posed this question to her Rabbi. He told her that to say refuah sheleimah is our job, to determine what IS the refuah is not up to us. The person may get a refuas hanefesh, a refuas haguf, or a refuah in the form of moving on to the next plane of existence. We have to do our part, but we don't make the decisions around here. We leave that to other forces. Remember, man proposes, but G-d disposes.

Before I conclude the masechte, I'd like to point out to anyone in this room, and anybody beyond this room who is still holding with the daf yomi cycle, that we now have less than two years left! The cycle ends in early August of 2012. We're in the home stretch. It's very exciting. I'm very excited.

And now in honor of Menachem Mendel ben Gella, who should have a refuah sheleimah, lumer endigen masechtes Shviis. Zoogt der heiligeh gemooreh...

The last mishna talks about – oh, it doesn't matter, I'm going to do it in Yiddish, and you all won't be able to follow anyway.

Oh, just kidding, maseches Shvuous talks about...


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