Yeshiva University Scholars Reflect on the Daf Yomi Phenomenon
Last night some 90,000 people gathered at the MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for a ceremony celebrating the 12th completion of the daily reading of the Talmud (Siyum ha-Shas). The event followed similar ceremonies, in Jerusalem,Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, London, Melbourne, and other cities and communities around the world, in which thousands more participated in person or via closed-circuit TV.
These events honor the conclusion and re-commencement of a seven-and-a-half-year cycle in which people—individually, with partners, or in groups—learn a folio page (two facing pages) of the Babylonian Talmud each day in a tradition known as daf yomi, “a page a day.”
The tradition was established by Rabbi Meir Shapiro, the Hasidic rebbe of Lublin. Rabbi Shapiro proposed the idea to the Agudath Israel convention in Vienna in August, 1923, and the enterprise was launched with much fanfare the following Rosh Hashanah. Over the course of the 12 cycles completed thus far, the number of learners has burgeoned to many tens of thousands around the world.
To mark the occasion, Jewish Ideas Daily invited several prominent thinkers, including Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter and Moshe Sokolow to reflect on the phenomenon of daf yomi and their own engagement with the practice. Read the rest of this entry…