I C TURE T H E S CENE- hundreds of guests seated in a magnificently decorated social hall, berachot from Gedolei Yisrael, an elaborate dinner, top of the line entertainment… this may sound like a fancy VIP wedding, but it’s actually a union of a different sort. It’s the Annual Yeshivat Shaare Torah Mishnathon, the dream of Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hillel Haber, shlita. Now in its fifth year, the Mishnathon has truly become a community phenomenon. The guests are all study partners, or havrutot. Fathers pair off with sons, students with rebbes, friends and relatives unite. They sign up in pairs and commit to learn a designated portion of the Shisha Sidre Mishna for one hour, all together under the same roof, on Lag B’Omer in order to collectively complete the Siyum.
THE PARTICIPANTS COME F ROM A DIVERSE RANGE OF SCHOOLS AND SHULS IN THE COMMUNITY AND JOIN TOGETHER FOR THIS COMMON GOAL, ALL WHILE RAISING MONEY FOR Y ESHIVAT SHAARE TORAH, AN INSTITUTION THAT HAS BEEN PRODUCING RABBIS AND L EADERS OF THE COMMUNITY FOR THE PAST FORTY YEARS.
Once the teams are enrolled they receive preparation booklets for the portions they will be
learning, and work towards reaching their specified pledge amounts. And then the countdown begins… Seating plans are meticulously arranged, the menu is carefully selected, and every detail is mapped out by the Mishnathon team.
Since its inception in 2018, the event has certainly evolved, but the heart of the program has stayed the same. Hundreds of boys and men of all ages come together on Lag B’Omer to learn in unity, as one whole with a common goal – to complete the entire Shas Mishnayot.
The buildup is thrilling, and the night exceeds all expectations, year in and year out.
Last year, the attendees were especially privileged to be greeted by, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia Yeshiva, one of the Gedolei HaDor. The Rosh Yeshiva was invited to recite the Hadran, the closing portion of the Mishna, and complete the Siyum. The achdut and love of Torah that this event inspires is what prompted the Rosh Yeshiva to be a part of it. A special song was played by the band as the Rosh Yeshiva was escorted to the stage. His warm and regal bearing left a tremendous impression on the crowd. Also in attendance was famed author and internationally acclaimed speaker Rabbi Yechiel Spero. The audience was quite moved and inspired by his words.
Each stage of this endearing and spectacular evening is perfectly thought out and executed. Participants enter the lobby at cocktail hour and a delicious and vast array of hors d’oeuvres is set up for them to enjoy until the program begins. They then enter the main ballroom, and after praying minha and arbit, Rabbi David Haber, who puts his heart and soul into everything he does, makes the introductory remarks.
Last year, a special Yehi Ratzon was recited by Rabbi Hillel Haber, shlita, and a blessing for the entire kahal was recited by Rabbi Shlomo Diamond.
And then the learning begins! One hour of frenziedspirituality commences. The young boys see firsthand what it’s like to learn in the holy tumult of a large-scale yeshiva. As hundreds upon hundreds of voices clamor to be heard, fathers shout excitedly to their sons across the table. Everyone is engaged in the unified task of completing the Shas together – right there, in one hour.
As the night reaches a fevered pitch and the learning comes to a close, silence falls upon the crowd.
When the Siyum is completed, it’s the high point of the evening, and the realization of a dream.
Six benefactors, representing the six Sidre Mishna ascend the stage, one by one, and take their place to say kaddish. It’s a very spiritual and holy time, where the zechut of learning the entire Shas is dedicated in memory of loved ones. One previous benefactor reported that of all the dedications he’d made, and all of the causes he had donated to over the year of his father’s passing, the kaddish of this Mishnathon was the most moving and meaningful.
In this day and age, as technology encroaches on all but the most sacred of times, and when factions of our Jewish nation feel splintered and divided, the elements of the Mishnathon help us recalibrate what our priorities and goals are, or should be.
Last year, at the 2021 Mishnathon, fifty rabbis, representing various community schools and congregations, were honored, and received a beautiful token of appreciation. It was yet another lesson for our children to take home, showing them what our priorities are, and where our kavod is worthy of going.
After the ceremony is concluded, live music instantaneously erupts from the talented band and stellar performers. Last year, world famous superstars Yaakov Shwekey and Simcha Leiner serenaded the crowd, along with the Energy band keeping the beat.
Watching community icons break out in spontaneous dance along with the next generation of community leaders, you couldn’t help but want to part of the joyous celebration.
After 32 days without music due to the Omer, and coming off the spiritual high of the learning and Siyum, being a part of this spectacular live performance is a thrilling and unabashed delight.
A delicious seated dinner is then served, after which the dancing continues, and a candle is lit in a moving memorial to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The Kumzitz that follows is emotional and spiritual. Leaving the crowd warm and inspired, it’s the perfect cap to a high energy and powerful night.
PART OF THE BEAUTY OF THE NIGHT, ASIDE FROM THE SPECTACULAR LINEUP AND SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT, I S THE UNITY I T IMPARTS. BOYS AND MEN FROM ALL YESHIVOT AND CONGREGATIONS COME TOGETHER UNDER ONE ROOF. YESHIVAT SHAARE TORAH MAY BE THE HOST, BUT ALL ARE WELCOME AND EMBRACED. THE TREMENDOUS KIDDUSH HASHEM THIS INVOKES CAN NOT B E QUANTIFIED. AHAVAT YISRAEL, LOVING OUR FELLOW JEW, AND YIRAT SHAMAYIM, FEAR OF GD, ARE THE CORNERSTONES OF OUR RELIGION, AND THEY COME TOGETHER I N T H I S UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL EVENT.
Although each team of the Mishnathon has just a portion to contribute, the impact is immeasurable. 250 pairs of Havrutot are needed in order to make the Siyum complete, and each pair must do their part. But it doesn’t end there. The band, the musicians, the catering and decorating committee, the sponsors and donors are each an integral part of this uniquely beautiful and heart warming undertaking.
What an exemplary lesson in how every person in Am Yisrael is vital and necessary.
As one proud participant reflected on the experience, “There was something very special taking place, from the first minute to the last. It was the highlight of my year.”
May the Mishnathon continue to unite the community in this beautiful milestone year after year, in good health and shalom.
For more information visit themishnathon.com