This is an exciting week in the world of Jewish learning. This past Sunday January 5, 2020 saw the start of the 14th cycle of Daf Yomi, studying a page a day of Talmud, until its completion. The Talmud consists of dozens of tractates that total 2,711 pages. It takes seven and a half years to complete each cycle.
Daf Yomi started back in 1923 as a project promoted by Rabbi Meir Shapiro the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chochmei Lublin in Poland. Rabbi Shapiro saw it as a way of uniting the whole world around the study of a common text each day. No matter where you are in the world, everyone is studying the same page of Talmud. If you happen to find yourself in Berlin or Shang Hai, Copenhagen or Syndey, Texas or Buenos Aries, you can find a group of people getting together to study that days daf or page.
This past Sunday the world celebrated with a siyyum or finishing party of the 13th cycle of study. The celebration was headquartered at Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands, New Jersey and simulcast around the world.
With the translations and commentaries of the Talmud that have come out in the last thirty years from the likes of Art Scroll and Rabbi Adin Stienzoltz, which has allowed access to the Talmud to more people today than at any other time in human history.
This past summer, as part of my Summer Reading Book Club, we read a book written by Ilana Kurshan entitled If All The Seas Were Ink, which chronicled her experience as a woman, wife and mother who also happened to be committed to studying a page a day of Talmud.
If ever you wanted to start studying Talmud, there is no time like the present. You can try it on your own or come weekly to our Talmud class at 10 AM, where we have just begun the tractate Sanhedrin.
Here are some resources to start you off:
If All the Seas Were Ink, Ilana Kurshan
Shabbat Shalom and happy studying.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.