Mishnayot for Saba
An incredible story occurred to me on Shabbat Hol Hamo'ed Pesah that I feel compelled to share.
I was in my living room on Shabbat morning before Shaharit and my son asked me out of the blue, "How many mesechtot are there in Shas?"
I've learned Torah Shebe'al Peh all my life, but I still didn't really know the exact answer, but doing a quick calculation in my head, I replied to him, "There must be about 60 or 70."
Later, I go to the synagogue, we pray, and I go to Kiddush (we're one of the few synagogues that actually has a Kiddush on Pesah). At the Kiddush, a 20-something-year-old man asks me the same question, "How many mesechtot are there in Shas?" I tell him that it's funny that he should ask that since my son just asked me that same question that very morning. I told him that there must be about 60 or 70. Another man who hears this tells me "No, there are exactly 60*." I replied something like, "Oh, I didn't know that - thanks." (It turns out that the one who asked really wanted to know how many Mesechtot were in Talmud Bavli - but that didn't really matter.)
Afterwards, on Motza'ei Shabbat, I'm reading my Google Reader and among the articles is this one from Daily Zohar.com, where it quotes Tikunei Zohar 21-15 (which you can also see on page 5634 here) that talks about the סלע (rock) that Moshe Rabbeinu hit being composed of the letters "על ס" (on 60) meaning the 60 Mesechtot in Shas.
When I saw that, I almost hit the floor. What are the chances that I would get 3 separate messages coming to me from 3 different sources about the same issue - all on the same day? It seemed very odd to me - especially since I don't remember hearing that question before in my life.
But then it hit me.
My grandfather's first yahrtzeit was coming up on Shabbat Parshat Shemini, and I had written down that I would learn Mishnayot for his Neshama before the 12 months are up - Mesechetot Zevahim and Menahot. Being the procrastinator that I am, I hadn't even started. I needed to do it all in a week.
This was it. This must have been the message to me. I was getting the message that 60 mesechtot needed to be completed and I wasn't pulling my weight.
I immediately got down to work. It was almost 3:00 AM before I decided to stop after the first 3 Perakim of Zevahim. I used the free afternoons of the 2 days of Yom Tov and the following Shabbat plus other times as well to learn it. I owe my wife a great deal of Hakarat Hatov for letting me do it. Finally, with an hour to spare before Minha on Shabbat afternoon, I learned the very last Mishna of Menahot, which says אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שיכוון אדם את דעתו לשמים - whether one does a lot or a little, as long as one's mind is directed toward heaven, it's considered sweet-smelling to Hashem.
Now, the point of all this is not to toot my own horn, especially since if you would test me on what I learned, I probably wouldn't do so well (I definitely need to review). The point is to show that heavenly messages are coming down to earth if you just know where to find them.
* There are really 63 mesechtot, but as the Wikipedia article says, "(The current total is 63, but Makkot was originally part of Sanhedrin, and Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia and Bava Batra may be regarded as subdivisions of a single tractate Nezikin.)"