The first week of August 2012 is a momentous time. On Wednesday, August 1, 2012 one of the largest gatherings of Jews will take place at Met Life Stadium in NJ to celebrate the completion of the Daf Yomi Cycle. It promises to be an awe inspiring event.
The current cycle is actually scheduled to end on Thursday on the Daf calendar, but the last Daf is short and they will actually complete it at the Siyum HaShas on Wednesday. It will be completed after nightfall so perhaps technically, it will be Thursday’s Daf.
On Friday, August 3rd, the Daf Yomi will begin the new cycle with Mesechta Brochos. My Rav is a proponent of deeper learning of Gemora wherever possible, and I asked whether I should learn the Daf when I was inspired at the Siyum HaShas 14 years ago in Madison Square Garden. He told me that if I didn’t give up any of the sedorim (learning sessions) I had at that time, it would be ok.
My experience over the past 14 years is that the Daf is a very fast pace and it’s hard to retain the information. In addition, you really don’t have the time to give each Daf the mental workout it requires. However, I think it is valuable to learn the Daf because:
1) It commits you to learning Gemora every day and it’s hard to catch up when you fall behind so you usually meet that committment.
2) You get exposed to many different Gemora sugyas and structures.
3) You’re connected on a regular basis with others who are learning the same Daf. It’s nice to be able to say to your friend, did you see the Daf today. My Rav calls the NY Times OP-Ed page, the Daf Yomi of the secular world, so it’s nice to be on the same page with the real Torah thing.
4) Art Scroll can get you through any Daf. It takes about 30 minutes to learn the Daf with all the Art Scroll notes. Of course, your mileage may vary.
5) If you spend more time on it with review, you will retain more material.
6) Although in theory you can use that time to learn something else, in reality the 30-60 minutes on the Daf will certainly be among the best spiritual hours of your day.
I’m still a big proponent of deeper Gemora learning, but I think BTs (and FFBs) should at least give the Daf a try, as long as they don’t give up any existing sedorim. I know there will be some who will discourage you from starting, but show them this article and if that doesn’t work have them send me an email or call me, I’m still waiting to hear a strong general case against giving it a try.
– Are you going to the Siyum HaShas? Why? Why not?
– Are you starting Daf Yomi? Why? Why not?