Are You Going to the Siyum HaShas? Are You Starting Daf Yomi?

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?

14 comments on “Are You Going to the Siyum HaShas? Are You Starting Daf Yomi?

  1. Yes, Rabbi Wikler, but the women supported and encouraged their husbands to learn Daf Yomi. They woke up at 4:45 AM to push their husbands out to a 5:15 AM shiur, or sat with the kids helping with homework from 7 to 9:30 PM because, “Tatty’s at Maariv and his Daf Yomi shiur.” The kids are there for chinuch, so they can tell their grandchildren,”I was at the Twelfth Siyum HaShas in Av 5772. I was so proud of my father and my grandfather for learning Gantz Shas.”

  2. I just came across this interesting post. I have learned and taught Daf Yomi off and on man. But, the real reason I go to the Siym is for klal yisroel which is accomplishing tremendous Torah growth.

    If your brother would be making a personal siyum on shas would you attend? So…

    Last siyum, two not yet observant cousins commented on the siyum they had read about in the New York Times. I invited them to learn with me. My brother took over. They’ve made a siyum on some mishnayos and they continue.
    93,000 seats takes 93,000 people to fill them. A secret – most (espoecially women and children) did not learn through shas.

  3. Mr. Cohen-there are shiurim in many shuls in Mishnah Brurah. FYI, the Dirshu edition or any edition of MB that is”Mneukad” greatly aides one in learning MB.

  4. I was able to be Msayem the Machzor that ended in 1997 and attended the Siyum at MSG that year. I attended the Siyum in 2005 and decided to work my way through Shas without a great technological gift-the entire Shas that used to be on tapes in a Boro Park location was now on an Ipod. With the help of the Ipod, a small Gemara which acccompany me to and from work, etc, I have made my way BEzras HaShem from Brachos to about 2/3 of Bava Basra. The Talmud says that a person can buy his stake in Olam HaBaah in one second-just having shiurim on DY on an Ipod alone is one of those moments.

  5. I started with Berachot back in March 2005 and will, God-willing, finish Niddah next week. I can’t attend the big siyum next week in New Jersey as I will be in San Diego for a work trip. Anyone know of any group events in SD?

    I will be at the Leil Iyun and Siyum at Shearith Israel on Monday, August 6, and I hope to see others there as well:

    For those who can’t attend we are planning a livestream on The channel is siyumhashas12.

  6. I believe that for me, learning all of Shulchan Aruch is a much better goal than learning all of Shas.

    It is much easier, and what I learn is much more practical. You can study all of Shas and still not know how to put on tefillin correctly.

  7. IMHO, Daf Yomi is great for filling up what could have or would have been only wasted time. For example, a group of men in my area (Far Rockaway – Five Towns) started a Daf Yomi class on the Long Island Rail Road. During their daily commute to work, they listen to a shiur on the Daf.

  8. I will not be attending the siyum and I will not be participating in daf yomi. One reason I don’t plan to participate is the advice of my Rosh Yeshiva from a number of years ago who told me not to in quite strong terms. On top of that I have my own personal preferences in learning gemara: (1) to do it actively b’chavrusa and not passively listening to a shiur and (2) I could never go as fast as they go in daf yomi and feel like I understood anything. And using the translated artscroll or other such aids doesn’t work for me to gain an understanding (though the artscroll has been very useful for me from time to time in looking up certain things).

    It is clear there are a lot of people who view it differently, so to each his own in choosing what/how to learn, I guess. Yasher koach to all those being misayem and otherwise participating or starting daf yomi.

  9. I am looking forward to streaming online both the Siyum on August 1st at the Metlife Center and the Siyum at Shearith Israel on August 6th. I think that both of these will have something to offer the wide variety Jews of varying backgrounds and philosophical outlooks. I wish it were all one siyum but that is for another topic.

    I am starting Daf Yomi for the first time and with all due respect to Artscroll who I appreciate very much, I will be using the new Koren-Steinsaltz Shas because it really appeals to me a lot aesthetically and provides me access to aspects of the text of the mishna and gemara that I just cannot get using Artscroll.

  10. I started Daf Yomi a few weeks ago. I wanted to develop a practical study regimen by the start of the 13th cycle.

    I don’t have a printed copy of the Talmud, and my Hebrew is very limited, so I’ve been using some web resources:

    Soncino English Babylonian Talmud

    My current approach is to read the Mishnah extracts in the current daf at, and occasionally some of the Gemarra, the Revach l’Daf at, and then the daily article at

  11. Hopefully, if he agrees, I will be attending with my almost bar mitzvah aged son at the Chicago siyum…still undecided if I will be starting DY regularly.

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