Talmud Study a Bigger Draw than Ed Sheeran, U2, or the Super Bowl

Talmud Study a Bigger Draw than Ed Sheeran, U2, or the Super Bowl

English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran appeared at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday. While many media claimed the  89,106 concertgoers represented a record for the venue, other sources disputed that claim, suggesting that Bible study was a bigger draw.

Ed Sheeran (Photo via Wikipedia)

Pop Crave, the self-acclaimed “go-to source for everything pop culture” that has  1.4 million followers on Twitter, posted a tweet claiming that Sheeran had set a record.

The claim to have set a new record was announced by an Atlantic Records spokesperson Monday and confirmed by a spokesperson for MetLife Stadium. Sheeran also made the claim on his social media. This should come as no surprise as Sheeran has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. The Met  Life concert was certainly his biggest US show to date. 

Sheeran concert in Helsinki, August 2022. (Photo via Wikipedia)

The previous MetLife concert record was held by U2, whose July 20, 2011 show — on the band’s worldwide 360-degree tour — amassed 88,491 fans.

The tweet claiming Sheeran had set a record was viewed six million times before a notice popped up, suggesting the claim needed context.

“The all-time attendance record for MetLife Stadium of 93,000 people was set by the 12th Siyum HaShas on August 1, 2012,” the disclaimer stated, linking to a Wikipedia page about Met Stadium. The record attendance for the Siyum is listed in the sidebar. It is interesting to note that the Wikipedia page states that the stadium’s capacity is 82,500,  which would mean that the celebration of studying the Talmud exceeded capacity by more than 10,500 thanks to on-field seating. It is believed that over 92,000 people attended the 13th Siyum HaShas at Met Stadium on January 1, 2020. The Siyum HaShas is organized by Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization for ultra-Orthodox Jews headquartered in New York City. The website also noted that the siyum was a Department of Homeland Security level two security event, the most critical short of a presidential visit

The Siyum celebrates the completion of a daily cycle of learning one page of Talmud every day. A complete cycle requires 2,711 days,  roughly seven-and-a-half years, as there are 2,711 pages in the Babylonian Talmud. The practice is coordinated with people around the world studying the same page every day.  The first Daf Yomi cycle began on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5684 (11 September 1923); the thirteenth cycle concluded on 4 January 2020 and the fourteenth cycle began the following day, to be concluded on 7 June 2027. Despite the learning being exceedingly difficult and the schedule particularly grueling, the practice is growing exponentially in popularity. 

In comparison, Super Bowl XLVIII played on February 2, 2014, only drew 82,529 fans to the MetLife Stadium.  The Siyum was even more impressive when it is considered that other events were held simultaneously around the world, including an overflow crowd of nearly 20,000 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The event was also broadcast to over 80 cities in 15 countries around the world.  

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