web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » Blogs » DovBear »

You Never Forget your First

By:
More than 90,000 people packed MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the Siyum HaShas, celebrating the completion of the Daf Yomi page-a-day Talmud study cycle, Aug. 1, 2012.

More than 90,000 people packed MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the Siyum HaShas, celebrating the completion of the Daf Yomi page-a-day Talmud study cycle, Aug. 1, 2012.
Photo Credit: Siyumphotos

A guest post by Y. Bloch It’s true what they say. It’s been a quarter-century, but I still feel intimately connected to my first. I was preparing to become a bar mitzva, and my father felt that to become a man in the eyes of the Jewish world, I needed to make my first conquest: Sukka.

The height of Venetian fashion, in a fetching Daniel Bomberg typeset.

The height of Venetian fashion, in a fetching Daniel Bomberg typeset.

Sukka (rhymes with looka) is a Talmudic tractate which discusses Sukkot, the most important Jewish holiday most people have never heard of. Sukkot is light on the histrionics and historicity; instead, quite literally, it’s “the time of our rejoicing.” Sukka deals with the festival’s three central mitzvot: a) chilling in a flora-roofed shelter; b) singing and dancing with the fruit and fronds of the Four Species; c) holding an OG House (of God) Party. Sukka has a great balance of lore and law, of history and hermeneutics. It’s not one of those twiggy treatises that’s an easy layn for those looking to seal the deal quickly, nor is it one of those intractable tractates that endlessly ponders arcana. Sukka, quite simply, has it all.

I bring this all up not only because of my own quadranscentennial, but because myriads of enthusiastic Talmudists will begin studying Sukka tomorrow, as part of the Daf Yomi system. The idea behind Daf Yomi (not to be confused with Daft Yomi, which involves silently studying Talmud while wearing metallic headgear) is shockingly simple: one folio, one double-sided page, every day of the year. Using this method, it takes about 7 1/2 years to study every tractate in the Babylonian Talmud (with some extras). This ancient practice dates back to the Coolidge administration, when Rabbi Meir Shapiro of Poland first noticed that many tractates were sadly neglected. Yeshivot kept coming back to the same few chapters in the same few treatises, leaving huge expanses of the Sea of Talmud uncharted and unknown. R. Shapiro, launching the project at a conference in Vienna, believed that Daf Yomi would unite and edify world Jewry, saving tractates like Sukka from obscurity.

But has it worked? On the one hand, hundreds of thousands of Jews participate in Daf Yomi at some point; on the other hand, if the point was to broaden the exposure of yeshiva students to obscure material, it has been an abject failure. Daf Yomi became so popular that it is viewed by the yeshiva elite as balebatish, fine for the common folk who only have an hour or so to dedicate to daily Talmud study, but not for the full-time scholars.

So let’s review what we expect from a yeshiva curriculum. Scripture? Good luck even finding a volume of the Prophets or Hagiographa; as for the Pentateuch, that’s for Sabbath sermonizing, not serious study. Halakha? Don’t be silly; that’s kid stuff, relegated to a half-hour of independent study before breakfast or supper. Even a rabbinical student preparing for ordination has no reason to open two out of four volumes of the Code of Jewish Law, and on each of the handful of subjects he’ll be tested on, he’ll only need to know a few dozen chapters out of the remaining 1,100. Philosophy? Most of it is probably heresy, so let’s look at only a few pre-approved books; more than an hour a day will certainly mess with your mind. Essentially, yeshivot, which are supposed to be institutions of higher Jewish learning, ignore three-quarters of Jewish writing. But what about the Talmud? That’s their bread and butter, right?

About the Author: DovBear blogs at: DovBear. For lack of a better metaphor, please consider this blog a very large shabbos table, where we sit together and discuss the parsha, the news, and other events of the day. Sometimes we yell, often we gossip, and, once in a while, the talk turns salacious. Our arguments are lively, but at the end of the day, its all just talk. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “You Never Forget your First”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab butchers in the Har Nof massacre left Canadian-Israeli Howie Rothman in a coma. Above: Rothman and two of his children.
Canadian-Israeli in Coma from Har Nof Massacre
Latest Blogs Stories
President Ruby Rivlin

President Rivlin’s recent statements are only half right, and that’s why he’s completely wrong.

i_love_jerusalem

This is our song “Learn to Love;” May joy and light be restored to Jerusalem speedily in our days.

Free-Jonathan-Pollard-Poster

I have a dream…President Obama will go to that prison, Pardon Jonathan Pollard and set him free

Rabbi-Twersky-112114

The burden of proof that a person is against Israel but not anti-Semitic rests on that person.

Bibi’s promising a good battle, not a victory in the war; We need to WIN the war against terrorism!

For 1000s of years it was perfectly OK for Jews to pray on Herod’s Extension of the Temple Mount.

The focus on the “Occupation” since 1967 is yet another invention to justify hatred and murder.

It should be clear Israel’s existence is not the real issue; the issue is Islamic fundamentalism.

But I am not afraid.I know this is Jewish land, not because of UN/foreign gov’ts saying we can exist

A grassroots initiative of hundreds of Chareidim from Har Nof is underway to attend the funeral of Zidan Saif and to pay their respects to the fallen policeman and to the Druze community in the village of Yanuch-Jat in Northern Israel.

Discover the world of NY high society and its intrigue.

A Jew is no more exempt in this war by living in the US or UK than I am enlisted by living in Efrat

Officer Zidan Sayif saved lives in the Har Nof Massacre, but was shot in the head and is now fighting for his life.

“Y.E.” a United Hatzalah paramedic was injured while treating the wounded under fire in the Har Nof Massacre.

It is time the leaders in Israel and the world realize this has nothing to do with settlements or the Temple Mount or a fake claim of occupation and everything to do with radical Islamic barbarism!

The Leftist Israeli media has always been unabashedly political;To them “objective”=”in my opinion”

More Articles from DovBear

All groups have a mix of both good and bad people; it’s the ratio that differentiates us.

haredi protest with hat

Those who live lives of no sports, entertainment, or outdoor activities take what they can get.

Here is why opponents of R Shteinman think you should oppose him too.

Bring the professor and tell him off in a way the students can respect and understand.

This reduces the halachic process to an entirely ad hoc system.

Saul is neither the first nor the last of the wolf pack to unite the tribes.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews participate in Daf Yomi at some point.

Sinai is not history, Sinai is a happening.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/dovbear/164460/2014/02/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: