After reading the letter forwarded the other day, I feel obliged to add a few words.
I attended the opening of the Berlin Memorial yesterday, and asked the architect, Peter Eisenman, whether indeed the number 2,711 was incidental. He responded that it was not only incidental but accidental. The number of columns intended at the site was much higher, but was reduced due to various considerations. He was shocked and amazed when I told him that the number of pages in the Talmud is none other than precisely 2,711. He asked for verification. I rushed to the business center of a nearby hotel and printed out several articles about the recent Siyum Hashas and gave them to Eisenman.
One of the Jewish speakers at the ceremony yesterday, the President of the Council of Jews in Germany, Paul Spiegel, said that this memorial is not ours — it is of, for and by, rather, the Germans. He said that our memorial is Yad Vashem.
He is partially right. While Yad Vashem and other sites of commemoration, including of course the preserved death and concentration camps, are important — very important, no doubt — one cannot but think that living, breathing, thriving Judaism is the best memorial. Our 2,711 are the pages of Shas, the Talmud, which should form the basis, indeed the very structure, of our world — our modes of thought, our means of conduct, our way of life.
Some five kilometers away from the Berlin Memorial, in a corner of the Beis Midrash of our Yeshiva, late in the evening after night Seder (study session) and Maariv (evening services), a small group joined the new cycle of Daf Yomi a few weeks ago. This is the first Daf Yomi chabura in Berlin in…, well, we all know in at least how many years.
May they succeed in building and rebuilding authentically Jewish memorials of 2,711 over and over again. In Berlin and everywhere that Hakadosh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed be He) should deem that Jews should live. This is our way.
Kol Tuv (All the Best),
Beit Midrash D’Berlin