Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Siyyum

    Siyyum means conclusion or finishing, (deriving from the verb som, meaning to place) which comes to mean a marker. The word sprang to prominence last month with the Siyyum Hashas, the culmination of the seven-and a-half-year Daf Yomi cycle, when tens of thousands of Jews round the world celebrated completing the Babylonian Talmud.

    Its common to hold a siyyum also to mark more modest achievements in Jewish learning. People will often break open a bottle of schnapps and a box of biscuits after shul on a weekday morning to celebrate completing a tractate of Talmud.

    Theres widespread tradition of holding a siyyum after shul on the morning of the Fast of the Firstborn, immediately before Pesach.

    The rationale is that firstborns who would otherwise have to fast may eat at the siyyum, in order to participate in the seudat mitzvah, the meal that celebrates a significant religious achievement. Having broken their fast at the siyyum, they are allowed to carry on eating throughout the day.

    Ive heard this custom described as a cop-out. Why should you get out of fasting because you hear someone read the last few lines of a talmudic tractate?

    I suspect that only someone who hasnt felt the joy of completing a volume of the Talmud could raise such an objection. The investment of intense mental and spiritual effort, which yields a measure of mastery over an area of Torah, and an appreciation of its intricate, interwoven themes, is a big enough cause for celebration, whether the achievement is yours or your friends.

Jewish words

Darchei Shalom

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Darchei Shalom
Jewish words

Chizuk

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Chizuk
Jewish words

Harat Olam

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Harat Olam
Jewish words

Ga'agua

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Ga'agua
Jewish words

Nafka Mina

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Nafka Mina
Jewish words

Machzor

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Machzor
Jewish words

Geshmack

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Geshmack
Jewish words

Neilah

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Neilah
Jewish words

Taharah

Rabbi Julian Sinclair

Taharah