Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Daily Dose of Talmud

Daf Yomi for Everyone: Following the recent worldwide celebration of Siyum haShas, Abq Jew was bitten - as many of you were - by the Daf Yomi bug.

Yes! Abq Jew is committed to learning (as we say in Yeshivish; we never say studying) one daf (in Hebrew; or blatt in Yiddish ; or double-sided page in English) of Talmud every day for the next seven-and-a-half years. At which point Abq Jew may be considerably older than he is now.

Or, as they say, not.

As many of you may surmise, Abq Jew has been committed before. And although he has been committed - to a peculiar set of institutions, and to a particular set of values since ... well, a while ago - Abq Jew has managed to successfully complete a complete Counting the Omer cycle (49 complete days, for those of you counting) in only a handful of years. A very small handful.

Even though he started out committed.

So. Just to make sure everyone here is on the same page (Abq Jew apologizes; he just had to), here is Wikipedia's take on Siyum haShas.
Siyum HaShas (Hebrew: סיום הש"ס‎, lit. "completion of the Six Orders [of the Talmud]") is a celebration of the completion of the Daf Yomi (daily Talmud folio) program, a roughly seven-and-a-half-year cycle of learning the Oral Torah and its commentaries, in which each of the 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud are covered in sequence - one page per day.
The first Daf Yomi cycle began on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5684 (11 September 1923); the thirteenth cycle concluded on January 4, 2020 [the Siyum's official website says January 1] and the fourteenth cycle began the following day, to be concluded on June 7, 2027. 
The Siyum HaShas marks both the end of the previous cycle and the beginning of the next, and is characterized by inspiring speeches and rousing singing and dancing.

The biggest Siyum celebration in the USA was held, naturally enough, at MetLife Stadium, in Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Which is located eight miles west of New York City. If you've heard of it, it's because it's the home stadium of the "New York" Giants and the "New York" Jets.

Yeah. New Jersey.

Which is still some 42 miles closer to New York than Santa Clara (where the "San Francisco" 49ers play) is to The City By The Bay. Don't get Abq Jew started! So -

Some 92K people attended the Siyum celebration in New Jersey. About a zillion more attended Siyum celebrations all over the world, even though Israel's liberal HaAretz says that Daf Yomi may be the wrong way to study Talmud.

Oh yeah.
Waldo showed up at MetLife Stadium.
Really. The Times of Israel even covered it.
Waldo, BTW, turns out to be Jonathan Gray (@udontchap).

If you look at the photos and read the official Siyum haShas literature, you might come away with the impression that Talmud is for Agudath Israel (of America and the World) only. For frummies, as we say.

But that's just not true. Talmud is for every Jew.

As Abq Jew pointed out in 2014, when he taught The Talmud @ A Taste of Honey. See also

A Map of the Talmud Page:     1. Mishna     2. Gemara     3. Rashi     4. Tosafot

Judaism is a civilization; Talmud defines that civilization.
When you study Jewish history and language,
music and literature, you learn about Judaism.
When you study Talmud, you learn Judaism.

After looking at the above image of a page of Talmud, you may suddenly be inspired to ask

How come everybody who learns Talmud is on the same page? Why is a worldwide Siyum even possible?
By which Abq Jew means: Every Berachot 2a page is exactly the same* - word for word, letter for letter - as every other Berachot 2a page. Eliezer Segal explains it for us.
The page format of the Babylonian Talmud has remained almost unchanged since the early printings in Italy. Some twenty-five individual tractates were printed by Joshua and Gershom Soncino between 1484 and 1519, culminating in the complete edition of the Talmud produced by Daniel Bomberg (a Christian) in 1520-30. 
As 63-year-old Michigan school teacher Annie Edson Taylor said after
she went over Niagara Falls in a barrel in 1901: "No one ought ever do that again.”
These editions established the familiar format of placing the original text in square formal letters the centre of the page, surrounded by the commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot, which are printed in a semi-cursive typeface. The page divisions used in the Bomberg edition have been used by all subsequent editions of the Talmud until the present day.
Almost all Talmuds in current use are copies of the famous Vilna (Wilno, Vilnyus) Talmuds, published in several versions from 1880 by the "Widow and Brothers Romm" in that renowned Lithuanian centre of Jewish scholarship. While retaining the same format and pagination as the previous editions, the Vilna Talmud added several new commentaries, along the margins and in supplementary pages at the ends of the respective volumes.
Get Your Daily Dose of Talmud

For those of us who are definitely not Agudah-niks, but who want to participate in this fourteenth cycle of Daf Yomi - even if we're starting a few days late (with some 2,700 to go!) - there are many, many opportunities to do so. Yes, even via a daily email. You can Google it!

Among them, the one that Abq Jew has selected is the Daf Yomi subscription via My Jewish Learning. My Jewish Learning says:

Around the world, thousands of Jews read
the entire Talmud one page at a time,
on a set schedule called Daf Yomi
(literally “a page a day”).
The new Daf Yomi cycle has begun
 and My Jewish Learning is excited to help you
dive into this worldwide Jewish learning project.

We shall return to you, Babylonian Talmud!

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