Some 7000 people flocked to Wembley Arena, part of the famous Wembley Stadium complex in North West London, on Tuesday evening to celebrate the 13th Siyum of the Daf Yomi cycle.
Following the grand entrance of the Rabbanim, to fill up four tiers on the dais, the evening was opened by Harav Yehuda Leib Wittler, Rosh Yeshivah Shaarei Chaim Manchester. Senior local Rabbanim led a line-by-line recital of four kapitlach Tehillim, followed by a yehi ratzon for cholim, led by Harav Yaakov Meir Rosenbaum, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Gur, London.
A charming video paid tribute to the Masmidei HaSiyum, a worldwide program in which young boys also prepared for the Siyum. It was enhanced by incredible statistics as well as voices of menahelim and mechanchim motivating the junior masmidim further. To give it a live touch, a row of local Masmidei HaSiyum stood beneath the screen proudly holding their certificates of achievement.
In the longstanding tradition of the Siyum HaShas, Keil Malei Rachamim was recited, in memory of the six million Kedoshim, Hy”d, as well as the legendary founder of Daf Yomi Harav Meir Shapiro, zt”l. The entire audience rose as Chazzan Chaim Adler sang a haunting rendition of Keil Malei Rachamim accompanied by his son, Chazzan Yisroel Adler.
Rabbi Wittler then introduced the first guest speaker, Harav Menashe Reisman from Eretz Yisrael. Rav Reisman spoke about the power of learning as a unifying force for Klal Yisrael, pointing out that the hatred which our enemies have shown for the Torah is merely another proof of its necessity as the lifeblood of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Leibel Stempel, a longtime Daf Yomi learner and a Holocaust survivor, was honored with being mesayem Shas. In a moving personal speech, he recounted some of his wartime experiences, bringing many of the audience to tears.
He then delivered the Hadran, followed with Kaddish by Reb Avrohom Maslo, who did so l’iluy nishmas his parents and parents-in-law.
The hall erupted into song and dance, accompanied by music from Yisroel Adler, the Neranena Choir and Yoeli Dikman’s orchestra. Whether dancing in place or in the huge circles that formed in front of the dais, the participants were unable to contain their simchah.
When the crowd settled down, Harav Menachem Ernster, Rosh Yeshivas Vizhnitz from Eretz Yisrael, read a letter of divrei brachah from his brother-in-law, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Harav Yisroel Hager, shlita.
Harav Avrohom Gurwicz, Rosh Yeshivah of Gateshead Yeshiva shared some thoughts on the relationship between bitachon and learning. He emphasized the need to review one’s learning when engaging in Daf Yomi, quoting a Chazal that learning without reviewing is like a farmer planting without reaping. The Rosh Yeshivah advised anyone who learns Daf Yomi to prepare beforehand and review afterwards, or at least to do the chazarah.
Harav Yaakov Hillel, Rosh Yeshivas Hamekubalim Ahavas Shalom, Yerushalayim, was honored with beginning Maseches Brachos in the new cycle. Following a video featuring many of the Daf Yomi shiurim around the U.K., particularly in London, and another musical interlude, Mr. Shia Chaim Grossgott thanked the many askanim and supporters who had made the Siyum possible. He also thanked the honorary officers of Agudas Yisroel, under the leadership of Harav Yakov Meir Rosenbaum. He thanked the incredibly dedicated Siyum committee who started work more than a year ago, headed by chairman of the committee and veteran askan Yossi Schleider, and assisted by Yechiel Leitner, Shaul Bodner, Yitzi Scharfer and Boruch Avrohom Stern.
The keynote speaker, Harav Yissochor Frand, took the last speaking slot. Quipping that he was not recycling his speech from the previous week in the MetLife Stadium, Rav Frand shared divrei Torah and inspirational stories, urging people to begin learning Daf Yomi. He concluded by saying that it is the Torah which has enabled the Jewish people to survive through the ages – Lulei Torascha…
In the closing program, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Harav Dovid Hager, shlita, wrapped up the evening with Kabbalos Ol Malchus Shamayim. He spoke briefly about the gadlus of Shema before reciting the eternal passuk together with a still, standing audience. Following the slow, meaningful recommitment, the music began again to accompany all the guests out of the hall, into the next cycle of Daf Yomi.