With most of the “siyum season” over, we welcome the new lomdei hadaf to our shiurim and the new chavrusos in our batei medrash. It’s now time to tidy up the countless reports and pictures that appeared in the media, selecting parts that we wish to keep as mementoes and souvenirs. For me, the attached picture bears much significance to what was a tremendous hisorerus and a chizuk to each and every one of the siyumim. Let me explain why.
Most, if not all, of the big siyumim were held in sports stadiums or entertainment arenas, places which are not normally frequented by heimishe Yidden. We all know that the askanim worked tirelessly to ensure the lighting, sound, logistics and all technical details were well taken care of. Indeed, they excelled in all these areas, and we are all very grateful to them for it. But another aspect of their askanus was to ensure that these venues, which are normally used for settings that are common to other activities and audiences, were made fitting for any Yid to feel at ease. (Billboards, vending machines, washrooms and seasonal decorations all had to be inspected and made suitable.)
The picture of crowds at the Siyum is significant because it shows that every person had a place. Grown-ups as well as children — each had their own seat where they could relax, enjoy, participate and be enchanted by the atmosphere despite the length of the program. Each one having a seat was an important detail in the success of the Siyum.
Having a place for everyone is a very important aspect in our Yiddishe lives and should not be underestimated, nor taken for granted. At our Shabbos tables, everyone has a place; even when there are guests, each of our children still has a place. Also, each child has a place in school/cheder/yeshivah/seminary, and if they haven’t, then it’s takke och un vei. It’s only when a child/person has a place that he/she can shteig.
Let’s look at our batei medrash. Do our children have a place they can call their own? Or do they only get a seat until a latecomer arrives, or have to sit on a folding chair in the hall or stand in the back? Where we daven on Shabbos is nowadays considered as being our makom kavuah (where we belong). Friday night davening takes at least one hour and Shabbos morning tefillos a minimum of two hours. If we want our children to appreciate and participate in tefillah, surely they need a proper place of their own, just like at your Shabbos table, in the mosad they attend, or at the Siyum.
This writer has many a time advised fathers to either insist on getting a fixed place for their children or daven somewhere else where the children can have a place, even if it is a different chevrah. Many, in time, have been appreciative of this advice.
May the sincere tefillos of our children stand us all in good stead.
Aaron Leitner, Manchester