Sunday, October 07, 2012

Thoughts on My First "Successful" Hadran

Two months ago I merited completing Shas. My wife threw me a grand banquet, invited family and friends, and spoke wonderfully before I delivered a speech that I had written over the course of years. We rejoiced together and were positively jubilant. The experience was joyful and uplifting to a degree I did not even anticipate.

A few days ago I completed maseches Brachos for the second time. In a poignantly significant way concerning a facet of the accomplishment, the personal joy I experienced may even have surpassed the joy I felt upon my completion of Shas: it was the first time I merited returning to a completion of a masechte. It was my first successful Hadran. This is perhaps an even fuller, and more satisfying, circle than the completion of Shas.

Whenever I have said "Hadran" at the end of a masechte, I meant it earnestly. I wanted to return. I also meant it hopefully. I did not just read the words and think to myself what the translation actually meant. "I will return to you" is nice, and good lip-service, but in my mind I gave it more credence. I also spoke it as a prayer. When I spoke the words, I mentally inserted "yehi ratzon" before each phrasing, because I also offered supplications to God to allow me to indeed return. I wanted my desire to not be just mine, but also His. 7.5 years is a long time, and as we know, "A mentsch tracht in Gut lacht." Man proposes and God disposes. I wanted my "tracht" and my proposal to be in consonance with His as well.

I have applied this sincere hopefulness in other areas as well. My wife and I merited to go to Eretz Yisroel 7 years ago, when I was 30 years old. At that time, it had been 22 years since I had last been there when I was 8 years old.

In a similar way that I treated the Hadran, I also treated every time I said "l'shona habo biyerushalayim." This comes up on Pesach and at the end of Neilah on Yom Kippur. Every time I've said it, my entire life, I took it to heart, I said it sincerely and I said it as a prayer. I remember saying to my wife when we landed in Ben Gurion 7 years ago, "Look at that, last year I said 'loshono habo,' and now we're here. Boruch Hashem."

Ironically, but perhaps not coincidentally, in the closing pages of Brachos, on daf nun hey amed beis, the gemorah says, "Amar R. Levi, 'l'olam yetzapeh adam l'chalom tov al yud beis shono. Minalan? MiYosef." R. Levi says, a person should remain hopeful for a maximum of 22 years. From where do we know this? From the story of Joseph." His father Jacob mourned for him, sincerely and hopefully, for 22 years, and he was rewarded. I too, was sincere and hopeful for 22 years, and I was rewarded.

And here now, I have said "Hadran" for 7.5 years, and I have finally been rewarded.

This completion is dedicated to my son, Yonah Avraham, who we all know as Freddy. His bar mitzvah will occur 3 months after the next completion of Shas. I intend to complete it in his honor at his bar mitzvah (since my wife is now used to throwing huge parties for my siyumim), therefore I find it appropriate to start it in his honor as well (this is only fair, as my first completion of Brochas was in honor of our daughter Naava).

This is my hope and my prayer: that I complete it again at the time of his bar mitzvah, that I will continue hadraning and hadraning, returning and returning, shteiging and shteiging. That my hopes and dreams will be rewarded because of their sincerity. That way past the time that I become physically frail in my own old age, I should please have the mental faculties to continue learning, that every Hadran I ever say should be a realistic goal, and that I should merit the blessing that also occurs in the final pages of maseches Brachos on daf nun hey, amud alef, which quotes Yeshayahu, which ironically, but not perhaps coincidentally, I'm in middle of learning as I try to complete Nach Yomi for the first time: "visachlimeinu vihachayeynu." "May you make me dream and give me life."


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