My father in law passed away last month. Jewish law legislates stages of mourning for the year following death. First is shiva, the seven days of ‘sitting’ while people come to visit the house of the mourner. Then follows the shloshim, the thirty days, following the day of burial. This is traditionally marked by a gathering of people to mark the learning of a section of the Torah, as an aliyah (elevation) of the person’s neshama. Last night, our son, Meir Simcha, made a siyum (completion party) on the six orders of Mishnah at Telshe Yeshiva. This is an enormous undertaking and many of the boys in the yeshiva helped complete the mishnahs (including our eldest son, Yisrael Tzvi, who is learning in Israel). Today, Nachman, made his very first siyum of an entire tractate of the Talmud, Makkos. He learned part in school last year, part with Meir Simcha, and part with me. He made the siyum at his school this morning. In the passage read after the completion and before the kaddish, the words ‘they get up early, we get up early’ are written to show the distinction between the Jewish people who rise early to learn Torah and others who rise early to engage in unproductive activities.
My father in law was an avid baseball fan and followed the Angels for many years. We spoke often about his team and the Chicago teams. I know he would have loved to have seen the Cubs win the World Series and we would have spoken today about the game tonight. Instead, as we mark his shloshim two of his grandchild, honored his memory by celebrating the learning of Torah. Where he is right now, with the real angels, he is celebrating with us too.