Siyum Hashas During the Olympics
The twelfth Siyum Hashas will take place BE"H on י"ג אב תשע"ב or Aug. 1st, 2012. Many locations are holding this event worldwide, including MetLife Stadium in New York and the Akoo Theater in Chicago (formerly the Rosemont Theater. Akoo is עקו - the gematria of 176, the highest Daf amount in Shas - in Bava Batra - which was the obvious reason why they picked this site. OK, maybe not).
Does anyone remember this picture from the last (11th) Siyum Hashas?
It was taken by Point of Pinchas and made the rounds of blogs at the time and had some captions like "Anu Ratzim Veheim Ratzim" or "Eileh Varechev Ve'eileh Vasusim Va'anahnu Besheim Hashem Elokeinu Nazkir".
Well, the same can be said of the 12th Siyum Hashas. The whole world will be focused on the Games of the XXX Olympiad while Torah-focused Jews around the world will be concentrating on joining the completion of the Daf Yomi Cycle for the 12th time. What a contrast! This time, not only the jockeys on the horses will be Ratzim, but many others will be Ratzim and many more others will be watching those who are Ratzim. But we will make mention of Hashem's holy name by sanctifying it that night.
And not lost in all this is the epic battle between the Greeks and the Hashmona'im, where Matityahu Kohen Gadol declared, "Mi LaHashem Eilai". We need to be on the side of Hashem and Torah and we are declaring that on August 1st. While the Olympics may be fun to watch, that's not who we are as a people - we have a higher purpose.
What is interesting is that both the Olympics and the Siyum Hashas will take place in stadiums. And the gemara in Megilla 6a states (per the Aruch's translation):
The Ketav Sofer asks why we need to teach Torah in the theaters and circuses? Are there not going to be enough locations for us to teach Torah in the future? He answers that we Jews need to learn from the nations - how they spend their time, energy, and money. They spend all their time, energy, and money going to these theaters and stadiums to drink and enjoy themselves. We Jews need to make a Kal Vahomer and say, "If these people are spending all their time, energy, and money for such stupidities, we can surely spend our time, energy, and money on learning Torah." So, when Rav Nehunia Ben Hakana said "Anu Mashkimim Veheim Mashkimim", it means that we only arise early in the morning for Divrei Torah because of how we see the nations arise early in the morning for their stupidities. See the Ketav Sofer inside. (h/t Hebrew Artscroll gemara)והיה כאלוף ביהודה ועקרון כיבוסי אלו תראטריות וקרקסיות שבאדום שעתידין שרי יהודה ללמד בהן תורה ברביםand he shall be as a chief in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite - these refer to theaters and circuses that are in Edom where in the future, the officers of Yehuda will teach Torah in them in public.
There is no better example of this than the Siyum Hashas being in the same kind of stadium as the Olympics. We see how these athletes train for their sport Yomam Valayla and spend years of their life in order to be the best and win the gold medal in their sport. And there are people who will watch it Yomam Valayla in order to stay on top of it. Those of us who learn Torah need to learn from them and make our own Kal Vahomers.
Why else would someone go to the Akoo Theater? (Gezundheit.)