The art scroll edition quotes a footnote of Shabbos Shel mi suggesting a homiletical interpretation of the exchange between these two Amoraim. What is the interpretation? I am having siyyum with my chevruta on Monday and it would be great to have this to present then?
Daniel Ashkenazy, Jerusalem, Israel
The Shabbos Shel Mi in fact gives two homiletical interpretations.
1) When the Gemara says that Ula saw Rabah Bar Rav Huna bathing in the water, it means that he saw him planning to have a good time (bathing in the pleasures of this world, so to speak). This is also what is referred to when it says that he was "Mashach Ley," from a terminology of making oils and perfumes. Ula asked Rabah Bar Rav Huna that the only good times that one is allowed to "measure" is for Mitzvos, such as a Siyum or another Seudas Mitzvah. However, feasts that are not Mitzvah related, is it appropriate that one should be involved in planning them so meticulously? Rabah Bar Rav Huna answered that he is merely being "Misasek," meaning, of course, that he only involves himself in plannings of Seudos Mitzvah whenever they come up, which was rarely (he gives examples of Shevuos and Erev Yom Kippur). This is what he meant when he said he is merely "Misasek." He is only rarely involved in these things.
2) When the Gemara says that Ula saw Rabah Bar Rav Huna bathing in the water, it means that he was thinking about Torah which is compared to water. Ula thought that Rabah Bar Rav Huna was apparently becoming saddened because he was "measuring Torah." This means that he was thinking about how much Torah there is to learn, and how difficult it would be to finish it. Ula therefore told him that the only kind of measuring of this sort which is permitted is the measuring of a "Mitzvah," meaning other Mitzvos and Chesed, which a person must do as they come up (Chesed - A person must do a Chesed which cannot be performed by others, even if it disturbs his learning).
However, a person should not be upset by the fact that he cannot finish all of Torah, as the main Mitzvah of learning Torah is to learn as much of possible, not necessarily to "finish learning." Even if a person lived a long life, he would not be exempt from learning Torah. Rabah Bar Rav Huna answered that he wasn't bothered by not being able to finish Torah, but rather by the fact that he had problems making a living which prevented him from learning Torah.
Mazal Tov! May you merit to finish other Mesechtos as well, and eventually all of Shas! And if you have already done that, then may you merit to finish it many more times!