By Rabbi Peretz Chein, Director of Chabad House of Brandeis University
Last week during my son Mendel‘s Bar-Mitzvah celebration I also celebrated the completion of studying the entire Babylonian Talmud. Four years ago I undertook this project to infuse Torah study into the home which Mendel and his siblings are growing up in.
At first I was intimidated by the Talmud (due to its complexity, subtlety and enormity), but that evolved into a love and obsession.
My experience running my first marathon and its theme of Ufaratzta, breaking out of one’s inhibitions and fears, allowed me to achieve something I never thought I would do.
The time and work it required was greater than many marathons combined. I utilized every moment I had and did not have-early mornings, late evenings, during my travels and on long summer Shabbats.
Studying the Talmud is like being atop Mt. Sinai with G-d and Moses during the forty days the Torah was being transmitted.
It is the factory of Judaism, where an array of components are combined to create this extraordinary product. While it may not always be pretty, it’s fascinating and rich. It brings you into an ancient world, yet it’s contemporary and present. You meet fascinating individuals while being engaged in analytical thinking that fires all the cylinders in your brain.
Most importantly it gives you a love, appreciation, and commitment to Judaism; after all, you are witness to it being made.
It was a particular honor to recite the concluding lines from a 120-year-old Talmud my grandfather, Reb Laibel Chatzernov salvaged from a Soviet synagogue in the 60’s and brought with him to Israel when he emigrated with his family in the 70’s.
I thank my wife Chanie who sacrificed many hours carrying the load herself as I was immersed in another world and allowed me to be oblivious of my surroundings. What’s mine is yours.
To paraphrase the words of Yeshayahu (Isaiah) the Prophet, “may this Torah not depart from my children and children’s children, forever.” Amen.