Daf Yomi: The Sea of Talmud

Question

I saw in the news that 100,000 Orthodox Jews got together last week at Metlife Stadium for some special celebration. Would you please tell me more about it? I live in New York and I’m really interested. Thanks.

3 weeks

Answers

  1. This event was a celebration for the completion of a project that took some seven and a half years. This project is unusual in that it was the thirteenth time it was completed in the previous one hundred years. Not only that, but immediately the project was started again, with the plan to complete in 2027.

    What exactly is this project? It is called “Daf Hayomi,” meaning the daily page of Talmud that is studied worldwide. On each succeeding day, the following page is studied. This continues until the study of the entire Talmud is completed. And then it begins again, because the study of Torah is never really complete. It is a lifetime process.

    When Rabbi Meir Shapiro, the rabbi of Lublin between the two World Wars, initiated this program for Jews all over the world, it was both revolutionary and universally accepted by all leading Rabbis. Rabbi Shapiro explained the significance of this project by means of the following story about Rabbi Akiva:

    The great Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva was tossed into a stormy sea when his ship was wrecked, and was given up for lost. After his rescue, Rabbi Akiva described his miraculous rescue to Rabbi Gamliel: “A daf (Hebrew for “a plank”) from the ship suddenly appeared nearby, and I somehow grabbed hold and just let the waves pass over me.” Rabbi Meir Shapiro explained that in the same way that the “daf” was an instrument to save Rabbi Akiva, “A daf of Gemara is the instrument of our survival in the stormy seas of today. If we cling to it faithfully, all the waves of tribulation will pass over us.”

    Study groups and individuals throughout the world are now beginning the fourteenth cycle of this historic project. People in all places, of any level of religious observance, and from any background all share the same page each day. Everyone is on the same page!

    The famous author Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny, This Is My God, and others), who passed away 2019, described his personal experience with Daf Yomi in a diary. He wrote, “Why Daf Yomi? Because, by now the Talmud is in my bones. Its elegant and arcane ethical algebra, its soaked-in quintessential Jewishness, its fun, its difficulty, its accumulative virtue all balance… Anyway, I love it. That’s reason enough. My father once said to me, “If I had enough breath left in me for only one last word, I’d say to you, ‘Study the Talmud.’” I’m just beginning to understand him. I would say the same thing to my own sons. Above and beyond all its other intellectual and cultural values, the Talmud is, for people like us, ‘identity,’ pure and ever-springing.”

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team