Monday, July 30, 2012

הדרן עלך תלמוד בבלי

I just returned from the Modi’in City Siyim HaShs, together with the city Chief Rabbis, as well as Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau (who in Modi’in is known as “Rabbi Lau’s Father"), Rabbi Bakshi Daron, and about 300 other people.DafYomiCertificate

This wasn’t in a football stadium or large hall, rather it was a deliberately smaller affair in the Yeshiva Beit Midrash for the Rabbanim and participants who have spent the last 7 1/2 years working our way through the 2711 pages of the Talmud Bavli.

However, with great sadness, I have decided that after 7 1/2 years of effort, I won’t be continuing with the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi (although אי”ה I will return to Daf Yomi at some point).

Daf Yomi is an excellent learning cycle, the gruelling pace means that you are always struggling to keep up, always looking for an extra 10 minutes to learn, always have a book to open if you have some free time.

Also, for children in a family to see their father (or mother?) going out to a shiur every evening or morning (or both) is an important educational message.

However Daf Yomi comes at a price. The many hours and fast pace mean that there is little time for real learning; you almost never use your thumb in a Daf Yomi shiur. Even a serious student will only understand a limited amount of each daf, some students not even that.

It is for these reasons that I have decided that for the next while, instead of Daf Yomi, I’ll start learning some of the things that I’ve wanted to learn but never had time. This includes:
  • Mishna Yomi – 2 Mishnayot a day only takes a few minutes, however in those few minutes it is possible to get a good understanding of the Mishna and within a few years it is possible to finish all of Shas Mishnayot (even without booking a football stadium)
  • Nach Yomi – A Perek of Nach each day, also only takes a few minutes, and in just over a year it is possible to finish all of Nach – how many people are Baki in Gemara, but aren’t familiar with basic stories in Tanach?
  • Gemara B’Iyun – Instead of a Daf a Day, I’m planning to join Rabbi Lau’s weekly Baba Metzia Shiur. He doesn’t cover a daf each session, on a good day he will cover a few lines. To learn gemara and build a personal relationship with someone who has a serious understanding of Shas has enormous value.
  • Learn with a Chavruta – I have set up two Chavrutot, one to learn Nach, the other Gemara. The active process of learning with a Chavruta is far more valuable than have Maggid Shiur do all the learning for you
  • And Acharon Acharon Chaviv, learning with my kids – last year I started learning Rosh Hashana with my son, and nothing gives me greater joy. If I have time in the evening when I’m not running out to Daf Yomi, that would be an excellent opportunity to learn with my other kids, each at there own level.
Even with this limited learning schedule (and we’ll see if I can keep any of it up), I think that I will get more value out of my time learning and still have more time free to spend with my family or help out around the house.

And אי”ה I will still be able to return to Daf Yomi (Hadran Alach), maybe not this year, but maybe next year or the year after – or maybe not until the next cylcle in 7 1/2 years time.

So, if you have 40 minutes extra each day to learn Torah - how would you spend the time?


Eli said...

Did you try having a SET time to learn the Daf each day, bechavrusa instead of a shiur, and for 60 minutes instead of 40?

Michael Sedley said...

Thanks for the comment Eli, I recently started a new job and am thinking about setting up a fixed Chavruta here (although probably less than 60 minutes). But why do you think that a daily chavruta at a Daf Yomi pace is better than spending the same time and learning B'iyun?

Eli said...

Learning b'iyun is great, but for myself having the firm schedule and a fixed daily amount of material to cover is key to learning every day.

Were I to start learning the same 60 minutes a day b'iyun, I would not last even a week (I tried several times, and ended up pretty much not learning Gemorroh at all for over 5 years). The same is true for most people.

As far as "ameilus," I am not sure whether the b'iyun amelus of a yeshivishe kollel yungerman, learning an hour b'iyun after eating his daily warm lunch at home is greater than "ameilus" of a baal habayis who wakes up daily at 5am to treck through the winter gloom of the night to the beis medrish to have his precious 60 minutes of Artscroll.