The Jewish community is aflame with excitement over next Tuesday’s Siyyum HaShas. As wonderful as this is I believe an even greater event will occur the day after on Wednesday when Jews begin the new journey of starting Shas again with Masechtos Berachos.
This is a golden opportunity that comes only once every seven-and-a-half years (or roughly six to seven times during one’s adult lifetime). Shlomo Hamelech teaches us that chacham leiv yikach mitzvos – the wise at heart seizes mitzvos (Mishlei 10:9). This refers for example to Moshe Rabbeinu who had the smarts to seize the mitzvah of retrieving Yosef HaTzadik’s body while everyone else was busy taking the lucrative spoils of Egypt. It takes wisdom and foresight to recognize when a great opportunity is at hand.
I am writing this as a salesman. I desperately want to convince the reader to set aside any other plans next Wednesday bite the bullet and start with us the new Talmudic cycle. This has the potential to be one of the most important decisions you will make in your entire life. The change that the daily daf makes on a person is multi-faceted and truly wonderful.
Let’s first discuss some advantages to be gained from embracing this pursuit. We believe in the afterlife. We also believe that this world is a preparation for the eternal rewards of the World to Come. The Gemora informs us Ashrei mi sheba l’kan v’talmudo b’yado – fortunate is he who comes to the next world with his Gemora in hand. The ultimate VIP status in the Next World is granted to those who dedicate this life to the study of Hashem’s Talmud.
But it’s not only eternal success that one attains with Daf HaYomi. Chazal teach us that Ein simcha k’simchas HaTorah – there is no joy like the joy of Torah. There’s also the issue of knowing that you are doing with your time that which you were created to do. As Rashi teaches us in the beginning of Bereishis Bereishis bara Elokim: bishvil Torah shenikra reishis – In the beginning Hashem created: because of the Torah. This is the purpose of the entire world. Similarly the Mishna teaches us in Pirkei Avos (2:8) Im lamadta Torah harbeh al tachzik tova latz’mcha ki l’kach notzarta – If you learned a lot of Torah don’t be full of yourself for this is why you were created.
Then there are the protective qualities of regular Torah study. Mishlei (4:22) states Ki chaim heim l’motzeihem ulchol b’saro marpei – It [the Torah] brings life to all those who find it and brings cure to all of one’s flesh. In the same vein we know that when the Angel of Death engaged in combat with Yaakov he couldn’t prevail over him because of Yaakov’s dedication to Torah study.
Another great benefit of the Daf Yomi discipline is the example it sets for our children. When our young ones see that no matter what we make sure to learn our daily page it teaches them life’s priorities more than any lecture could. When they see that we always pack a Gemora even when we go on vacation it teaches them that there is no time off from Torah. And when they see us open a Gemora even when we come home late after a wedding or when we are exhausted from a hard day’s work or after enduring root canal it teaches them mounds about sacrificing for Torah.
Yet another very important benefit that Daf Yomi brings is shalom bayis marital harmony. The Netzi v promoted that one who introduces regular Torah study in his life greatly enhances his shalom bayis. This is in part because wives will have a new respect for husbands when they see them dedicating themselves to such a lofty and spiritual goal on a consistent basis. It is also because the Torah radiates Shalom as it says D’racheha darchei noam v’chol n’sivoseha Shalom – It’s [Torah’s] ways are ways of sweetness and all its paths are paths of peace (Mishlei 3:17).