I'm planning to attend the siyum at the Metlife stadium, and I'm very excited about joining this unprecedented gathering. The sense of Kiddush Hashem, the feeling that the Jew's love affair with the Torah is unquenchable by the passage of millenia and galus and wholesale destruction and continues to grow, cannot be better expressed than at such a gathering.
Most of the people in my shiur will be staying in Chicago and attending the local siyum. I was disappointed to learn that some of the chaveirim are not excited about going to the siyum gathering. Some feel they don't remember enough, or that it's too big of a gathering, or that too many people who didn't learn will be there, or they have a bad history with some of the organizers, and so on. I strongly feel they should go. As I was contemplating the upcoming event, I was reminded of the marathons that are held in many large cities, and how excited people are to finish, even though they take hours longer than the Kenyans. Just finishing, imagine how satisfying that is.... this is a visual thing, and I recommend that you try to visualize this as you read it. (It would make a great video, and I spoke to Aish about making one, but it doesn't speak to their demographic.)
A man wakes up early every morning and puts on his running shoes. He goes out in all weather, snow, rain, hail, baking heat, freezing cold, it doesn't matter. If it's impossible to run outside, bedi'eved, he'll get on the treadmill, but it's not the same at all. The point is, that his determination and discipline drive him to just do it, no matter how tired or lazy he's feeling that day, and he does it every single day.
A Ben Torah gets up early every morning, no matter what the weather is, no matter how tired he is, and he goes to the shiur and focuses as best as he can on the words of Torah. It's dark outside, it's freezing, it's boiling, doesn't matter. You have to go to the shiur. If you think you're going to turn over and learn later on the train, your wife kicks you out of the bedroom. You go, every day, tired, hot, cold, wet, no excuses.
After months of training, the day comes, and you've finally gotten yourself in good enough shape to join the other runners. There are thirty thousand people there. Some are bronzed and lithe, like animated beef jerky, some are overweight, some are in wheelchairs, but the excitement is in the air. They're off- and finally, many hours later, the last one drags himself over the line, as proud as can be. Look what I've accomplished! I would have regretted my whole life that I could have done this, but I was lucky and smart and disciplined enough to follow through!
It doesn't matter that by the time he's finished, all the reporters are in bed and all that's left is cups and cleaning crews. He did it!
How proud he is to get a certificate, Ploni finished the Boston Marathon! He'll buy a t-shirt that heralds his achievement, he might mention it in conversation, when he meets someone else that's done it, he somehow senses that this is a compatriot with whom he's shared so much pain and joy.
After seven and a half years of learning, they come together to celebrate Torah, and to celebrate Klal Yisrael's love of Limud Hatorah. The speeches, well, some are magnificent and to the point. The singing is inspiring. The different kinds of people- with yeshiva backgrounds, without, srugies, blacker than black, professionals, businessmen, Kollel Yungeleit, men, women, children, no two of whom totally agree on any point- gathered for only one common purpose: to celebrate our beloved Torah.
Runners usually are healthier, they are usually trim and fit. They're less prone to minor ailments, other than knee problems, and running generally improves the quality of life. But it only improves life. It's what we call חיי שעה. It does nothing for your existence after this life, for your חיי עולם. Ultimately, the benefits of running end in the same place life ends, sooner or later, in the grave.
People who learn the daf, people who are קובע עתים לתורה , they run, too. It doesn't do much for their bodies, but it does make their soul fit. It doesn't get them from place A to place B in a hurry, but it is a chariot of fire that transports them to the eternal world of truth. !אשר נתן לנו תורת אמת, וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו It gives them Olam Haba, it gives them Techiyas Hameisim.
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