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An article in the Arizona Republic on the new Holocaust memorial in Berlin (“Memorial divides Berlin,” Sunday May 8, 2005) reports: “The memorial is a maze of 2,711 unadorned concrete rectangles, or steles….Organizers said the number of steles had no symbolic significance but was dictated by the size of the site.”
Isn’t it remarkable that 2,711 is the number of pages in the seven-year cycle of daily Talmud study known as Daf Ha’Yomi (page of the day).Even more remarkable is that at the completion of seventh cycle in 1975, the leading Torah scholars in America declared that each Siyum (event marking the completion of the seven-year cycle) be dedicated to the six million holy ones who perished in the destruction of European Jewry.
If that wasn’t enough, each side of a page of Talmud is referred to as an amud, literally a pillar, aptly describing the concrete rectangles of the memorial. Add to this the fact that the pillars are different shapes and sizes just as each page of the Talmud is a different length.
No doubt many more similarities exist but the message is already clear. Out of the ashes of every persecution rises our Holy Torah, giving Jews the opportunity to pull themselves up by the pillars of strength found in the pages of our Holy writings.
Starting with just 300 people in 1930, the Siyum just completed on March 1, 2005 included 120,000 people in 60 cities around the world. Everyday since March 2, I have learned the Daf Ha’Yomi in Scottsdale with Rabbi Ariel Shoshan, Director of the Phoenix Community Kollel. Even though I have no Talmudic skills to speak of, I have never before been exposed to such a wide breadth of Judaism in such a short time, never before been so mentally challenged, never laughed harder at times and never had such a deep sense of accomplishment as when I participated in the Siyum for first tractate of the Talmud on May 1st. For this event the Scottsdale Daf Ha’Yomi class joined with a group 15 others learning the Daf in Phoenix with Rabbi Zvi Holland, Dean of the Phoenix Community Kollel.
If the message of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial speaks to you then please join us for a Daf Yomi class. As Rabbi Dovid Goldman, also of the Phoenix Community Kollel, told me after I took just one class: “It’s already worth it.” Boy was he right.