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Friday, August 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Vaeschanan

Today, 15 Av, is the yahrtzeit of my Opa, Mr. George Jakobovits, z"l. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Tovia Yehuda ben Yoel.

Reflections on the Siyum HaShas

I was not able to attend the main event in New Jersey this past Wednesday evening but I was in attendance at the Toronto venue which featured most of the New Jersey program along with some local flavour. I thought there ought to be a way to connect this event to this week's parsha and there was a simple thought that came to me during this special celebration.

I'm sure most of you have, at some point, received one of those emails  with a long list of impressive accomplishments from Jewish individuals over the years - Nobel Prizes, significant inventions, medical discoveries, etc. The general gist of these messages is usually to highlight Jews' contribution to society and by extension, justify our continued existence. Indeed, we are taught in the gemara (Shabbos 75a) that it is incumbent upon a Torah Jew to engross in astronomical calculations. The pasuk that is brought in support of this assertion is from this week's parsha (4:6) "and you shall observe and do for this your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations." Our proficiency in these matters makes a unique impression upon the nations around us. (It is for this reason that this pasuk adorns the logo of the AstroTorah blog.)

Following the siyum , as the crowd in Toronto was dancing in the aisles of the Sony Centre simultaneously with the tremendous crowd in New Jersey and probably thousands more across the world, it occurred to me that Jewish mastery of worldly matters, not to be downplayed, may indeed be what makes the nations appreciate us. But what really makes us great is that to which the nations simply cannot relate. To link up hundreds of communities around the world for a night of inspiration in celebration of the completion of Shas and to rejoice together in song and dance is something I could not possibly fathom trying to explain to a Gentile. And yet, during that very moment, being a Jew had never felt more special.

Have a good Shabbos and a hearty Mazal Tov to all those who completed shas!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: You were shown
AstroTorah: A Midsummer Night's Learning by R' Ari Storch
AstroTorah: 15 Av is the Wrong Date? by R' Ari Storch
Al Pi Cheshbon: Moshe's Pleas
Al Pi Cheshbon: Gemtrias off by 1

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