Sunday evening a truly special event marked the end of the ninth year of Yeshivas Lubavitch of Baltimore. Bochur Saadia Yarmoush spent one and a half years learning and completing Gemoro Shas and made a siyum in the yeshiva's Beis HaMedrash on Park Heights Avenue. Yeshiva bochurim, Rabbonim from the yeshiva, friends and family of Mr. Yarmush, and many baalei batim from Baltimore attended the event. Baltimore Rabbonim R. Nesanel Kostelitz, Rav of Machzikei Torah and Rosh Kollel of The Baltimore Community Kollel, as well as Rav Dovid Heber of Khal Ahavas Yisroel Tzemach Tzedek addressed the event. Several bochurim who learned at the yeshiva in years past drove from New York and New Jersey to be present as well. Some Yidden walking by the yeshiva entered the crowded Bais HaMedrash sensing an important simcha.
The siyum took place in the week of Yud-Beis Tammuz - the birthday and day of liberation from Soviet prison of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Shneerson, zt'l. Mr. Yarmush's dedication to learning the entire Shas exemplifies the Frierdicker Rebbe's mission statement, "America is not different." Yiddishkeit can survive and thrive here as it did in the bastions of the European Torah world. Saadia accomplished his goal of learning Shas in a year and a half amidst his "regular" learning schedule of the yeshiva. Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon, shaliach of Chabad of Park Heights, was one of the first speakers to address the crowd. He emphasized that Saadia's accomplishment required consistency and dedication; however, it is his "chayus" in learning and love of Toras haChassidus that provided the warmth and fuel to achieve his goal.
Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, head shaliach of Chabad of Maryland, further explained the depth of Mr. Yarmoush's accomplishment:
"It's not just a goal. It's not simply an impressive number of hours in a year. Learning this way establishes a person for a lifetime. The Torah Sh'Bal Peh sets the foundation of a person and upholds him. It is a life preserver developing the strength of emunah within the Yid. It establishes within him a foundation - one that assists swimming through life's challenges."
We live in a time of constant stimulation from the outside world. Our technology begs us to keep up with its innovations and accomplishments. Primarily, it can be used for very worthwhile and even Torahdik pursuits. Yet, we can misunderstand these advancements. We can fool ourselves into believing that certain accomplishments in Yiddishkeit are only relegated to a certain type of Jew sitting in a certain type of environment. Mr. Yarmoush's accomplishment argues to the contrary. A Yid can make a commitment and enter the zal at five o'clock in the morning just like the Yid in Vilna or Nevel. A Yid can put in extra time until late at night going over and over a sugeya in Gemoro until it is part of him. A Yid is never held back from accomplishing anything in limud haTorah or kiyum hamitzvos if he puts the time in with a chayus. It's not the "old-fashioned" way. It's the way. America is not different.
The directive of the Frierdicker Rebbe and his son-in-law, the Rebbe, was and still is: to always increase in one's avodas Hashem. They demanded that today must bring forth more from us than yesterday. Saadia Yarmoush quietly worked towards his goal of finishing Shas with little fanfare. His learning of Chassidus and halacha never lessened in light of the awesome task at hand. He represents the quality of the Rebbe's talmidim who learn with an earnestness and work to inculcate that learning into their middos.
The Baltimore community celebrates with Saadia on his accomplishment and wishes him, his family, and his fellow bochurim continued health and success, b'gashmius and b'ruchnius.