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History of the Daf
1919, R’ Alexander Zusha Friedman
(1899-1943), created and served as editor for the first Agudas Yisrael
publication titled “Digleinu” (our banner). The 1920, Av 5681, issue of
contained a proposal by R’ Moshe Menachem Mendel Spivak
to organize a worldwide “Chevra Shas,” involving businessmen, laborers, and
workers to study a Daf Gemara daily to finish
Shas. So the idea
of Jews in all parts of the world studying the same daf each day, with the
goal of completing Shas, was proposed by R’ Spivak. When
the idea didn’t take hold that R’ Spivak, then the rabbi of Krasnobrod near
Lublin, felt it deserved, he approached R’ Meir Shapiro (1887-1933).
R’ Spivak’s idea was for R’ Shapiro to speak about the Daf Yomi plan
at the May, 1924, cornerstone-laying ceremony for the construction of the
Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin building. Feeling that this wasn’t the right forum to
introduce the concept, R’ Shapiro, instead chose to speak about it at the first
Knessia Gedola, held in Vienna in August 1923, which would be attended by the
greatest rabbis of the generation.
According to reports, R’ Shapiro had second thoughts about introducing the
concept as he was concerned that the idea was controversial. Before speaking,
he approached the Chofetz Chaim about the idea who advised R’ Shapiro to come
late to the stage. When he entered the Chofetz Chaim rose and greeted him and
ushered him to the podium. This gave R’ Shapiro the support he needed.
The idea quickly took hold.
R’ Meir Shapiro introduced
the idea of Daf Yomi
at the Knessia Gedola in 1923 at age 35,
in front of many Gedolim who were much older than him, like this: The Gemara relates that Rabban Gamliel
said that he was once on a ship when the ship was sinking and he was pained by
the thought of R’ Akiva who had been on that ship since he was now surely lost.
When he came up to dry land, R’ Akiva came and deliberated before Rabban
Gamliel in a matter of law. Rabban Gamliel asked him, “Who raised you out of
the water.” The reply: I took hold of a ãó, board from the ship and before every wave that came, I bowed
my head and it passed over me. R’ Shapiro said there are so many waves—secularism,
immorality, materialism...These need to be fought with a Daf of Gemara daily.
R’ Shapiro also viewed the program as a way to unify
the Jewish people. As he explained to the Congress delegates: What
a great thing! A Jew travels by boat and takes Gemara Brachos under his arm. He
travels for 15 days from Eretz Yisrael to America, and each day he learns
the daf. When he arrives in America, he enters a Beis Midrash in New York and
finds Jews learning the very same daf that he studied on that day, and he
gladly joins them. Another Jew leaves the States and travels to Brazil or
Japan, and he first goes to the Beis Midrash, where he finds everyone
learning the same daf that he himself learned that day.
Could there be greater unity of hearts than this?
asked how R’ Meir Shapiro merited the unparalleled public learning of Daf Yomi?
He said that R’ Meir Shapiro had an aspiration to exalt Torah and the Jews. He
was a leader, great in Torah and Yirah and loved Jews. This was surely his
the Siyum Hashas at
Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, which took place on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, where over 90,000
a Jew that lived in Monsey was pulled over by a New Jersey State Trooper
although he was doing nothing wrong. The police officer asked the man if he had
done the Daf yet. Startled, the man responded, “I’m starting the new cycle on
Sunday.” The man then asked, “So, why did I get pulled over?” The officer told
him, “I am Jewish and observe Shabbos and all that but I have no connection to
Judaism. I am looking for a learning partner to do the Daf with every day.” The
officer pulled this Monsey Jew over because he was in search for someone to
learn the Daf with! They then scheduled to begin the Daf together for that
Sunday and to continue it for the 7½ year cycle. What happened now that the
officer decided to learn the Daf? The officer told the man, “I wasn’t
patrolling at MetLife Stadium but I heard from my friends how beautiful it was.
I want to be a part of it.”
Now let us mention Kiddush Hashem’s that were caused due to
the Daf Yomi—at the Siyum Hashas. After the Siyum Hashas at MetLife Stadium, Rosemary Yacono wrote: “There have
been only a handful of events at MetLife Stadium that have so totally moved me
emotionally during my tenure since 2001; today definitely qualified. Despite
the horrific hate crimes as of late, Jews defied fear and chose to rise above
what would have been the natural instinct to postpone—and they did so with real
joy, the likes of which I probably will not see again…there is a sense of
community that these people truly embrace which can’t help but be envied by its
counterparts. It was a genuine pleasure to be part of this experience, that
only occurs every 7 years. In all likelihood I will probably not be employed by
the stadium for the next round; however it is extremely likely I will be
attending as a spectator. Yeah…one for sure, for the Bucket List.”
Becky Syrett, the Operations Manager at the SSE Arena in
London for the Siyum Hashas in January 2020, wrote the following in a letter to
the organizers of this Siyum Hashas: Dear Siyum Team, it is 2 am as I write
this to you having just got home after the Siyum. On behalf of all the team I
must express our deepest pride and pleasure at being given the opportunity to
host the Siyum event…6,748 tickets were scanned at the door, aside from the top
table, Rabbi’s who entered via the VIP entrance, and of course all your volunteers
and crew. There are a number of points that have blown us away: 1. We have a
security cupboard in which we allow guests to deposit anything deemed dangerous
or inappropriate. At an event this size we would normally collect anything
between 700-1,000 items. Tonight we held nothing. 2. There was not a single
incident of drunkenness, boisterous or rowdy behavior. Not a single one. I have
been at the Arena for 28 months and accommodated over 300 events in that time.
Never have we had no incident. 3. All the team were blown away by the amount of
thank you’s that we received at the end of the evening. I actually thought
everyone had been instructed to do this! She concludes: I am devestated that
the Siyum only takes place once every seven years. This event was a delight for
all of us.
On January 2, 2020, the day after the Siyum
Hashas at MetLife Stadium, R’ Binyomin Ginsberg, who lives in Toms River, New
Jersey, was pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation. When the
officer saw him with his yarmulke, he asked, “Did you learn your page today?”
Stunned, he responded in astonishment, “What?” The officer said, “I was at
MetLife Stadium. I know that you Jews celebrated all those pages. So did you
learn your page today?” When R’ Ginsberg said that he hadn’t yet learned it,
the officer told him, “If you promise me that you’ll learn your page, I won’t
give you a ticket.” He continued that he was so impressed that 93,000 people
gathered to celebrate, and there was not one intoxicated or disorderly person.
Then the officer related that there was another officer who worked with him at
the Siyum Hashas and he said he wishes he could be Jewish because the Jewish
people celebrated that they read and understood a page. What a nation! No other
nation would do that.
Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’
Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from
R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for
various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a
suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is
passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
Shapiro, also known as the Lubliner Rav, was a descendant of R’ Pinchas
Koritzer, a student of the Baal Shem Tov. After
cheder, he studied with his grandfather, the Baal Minchas Shai, R’ Shmuel
Yitzchak Schor. Another of his early teachers was the Shotzer Rebbe, R’ Shulem
Moshkovitz. From an early age, he was known as an outstanding leader and gifted
speaker. He was soon ordained by many great scholars, including the Maharsham.
His grandfather introduced him to the Chortkover Rebbe, and thus began his
passion for Chassidus, and the beginning of his relationship with the
Chortkover Rebbe. His first rabbinical posting came in 1911 when he was
appointed Rav of Galina, spending ten years in the city, during which time he
established a Yeshiva called Bnei Torah. During the years 1922 to 1927, R’
Shapiro became the first Orthodox Jew to become a member in the Sejm
(Parliament) of the Second Polish Republic representing the Jewish
minority of the country. He established the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva in
1930. Over one hundred thousand Jews took part in the celebration of its
opening. The students in the Yeshiva were of the highest caliber, many of them
were of genius quality and the Yeshiva produced many great leaders among the
Jewish people until its tragic end in the Second World War. In 1931, he was appointed
rabbi of Lublin in the old shul of the Maharshal. R’
Shapiro died without children. His death was mourned in both Jewish and
non-Jewish Poland. Countless newspapers across the entire political spectrum,
from Orthodox to Yiddishist to socialist, featured front-page biographies
of R’ Shapiro.
The Knessia Gedola lasted for 10 days. The Knessia introduced two
programs that would forever change education in the Jewish world. Formal
schooling for girls under Sarah Schenirer’s Beis Yaakov and the Daf Yomi.
December 13, 2013, the tenth of Teves, an extremely unusual occurrence
continued to take place in Eretz Yisrael, as the tremendous snowstorm continued
to hit Yerushalayim. The Daf Yomi of that day was Yoma 35 where it relates that
one time Hillel didn’t find the means to earn money and the guard of the Beis
Midrash didn’t let him enter. So he climbed up to the roof, suspended himself
and sat at the edge of the skylight to hear words of Torah from Shemaya and
Avtalyon. That day was Erev Shabbos, in the Teves season (ú÷åôú èáú) and snow
descended…Similarly, in 2013, on Erev Shabbos in Teves, an enormous amount of snow fell.