Amazingly we are already seven weeks into the new Daf Yomi cycle. In two weeks, with the help of Hashem, the daf community will finish its first masechta, the amazing tractate of Berachos. This juncture is a good time to reflect and take stock.
The men inspired by the Siyum HaShas to learn Daf Yomi have experienced a heady and intoxicating ride. Many are just a few weeks away from finishing the first masechta of their lives! They ask themselves, “Is it only because it was Berachos? Will the cessation of constant agadata be my undoing?”
My answer is a resounding, “No!” If you’ve hung in till now, you’ve created a new nature within yourself. The Zetel Katan teaches us that one has to do something consecutively for 40 days to create a new habit and become a natural at something. Since we’ve passed the 40-day mark, you can confidently say, “I am now officially a Daf Yomi personality, a true member of this lofty club.”
In a way, Masechtas Shabbos is easier than Masechtas Berachos. The average daf in Berachos is double that of a daf in Shabbos. That means the maggid shiur will have more time to explain and clarify. The dafim in Eruvin are even smaller and, with today’s elaborate picture sefarim, Eruvin is actually quite easy to learn.
If you were able to master Masechtas Berachos, you will find smooth sailing in Masechtas Shabbos except for a week-long portion on tumah and an intricate discussion later on weaving. After Shabbos and Eruvin, you can look forward to many enjoyable masechtas with the next rough patch only coming much later with the 30 blat of Yerushalmi Shekalim. But by then, you will have many hundreds of blat under your belt and will be a grizzled veteran of the daf, ready for any challenge.
If you struggled with inconsistency and missed some days, just make sure to flag those dafim. Maybe you’ll be able to make them up in the summer or you’ll get to them the next time around. Daf Yomi is not about looking back; it’s about looking forward. There’s plenty of exciting terrain and exhilarating fulfillment ahead.
As you prepare to start Masechtas Shabbos, consider learning the mishnayos of Shabbos in advance. You will find doing so an enormous benefit in helping you absorb the new masechta.
And as you plan to celebrate finishing Mesechtas Berachos, keep your wife in mind if you are married. Celebrate with her; make her feel like she’s your partner – for she truly is – in your accomplishment. And make sure to reimburse your maggid shiur for his time, travel, and hours of preparation.
We learned recently that we make berachos on food because it’s only logical that we shouldn’t benefit from this world without payment. It should be just as obvious that we shouldn’t freeload, taking advantage of a shiur without compensating the dedicated rebbe.
We should also look to see if we can convince a friend to sign up for Masechtas Shabbos. What better gift can we give a friend than to get him to join such a life-changing endeavor? To have him experience the thrill of accomplishment and benefit of belonging to a Torah group? Become an ambassador for Rav Meir Shapiro’s army, and make sure to tell your children what a wonderful feeling the Daf Yomi experience is. It will sow seeds for their future foray into Shas.
To all of you out there who didn’t learn the beginning of Berachos, it’s not too late! A great place to begin is the ninth perek of Berachos, which contains a fascinating discussion on dreams and a host of other riveting subjects. Please consider coming on board. It will be one of the best decisions you ever make!
In the merit of our learning, may Hashem bless us all to finish Shas together in good health, and may we merit, together with our loved ones, to enjoy long life, good health, and everything wonderful.