As we approach the High Holiday season, many Jews are searching for ways to “up their game” — to progress both personally and spiritually during the coming year. This practice of taking on something new can be daunting. On one hand, we all want any additional practice or observance that we take on to be meaningful and significant. On the other hand, if we reach too high we doom ourselves to failure. I may want to commit myself to full focus and concentration every time I recite Shemoneh Esreh. That’s quite a laudable goal. But for most of us (myself included), it’s not really all that realistic.
What’s a reasonable goal that would also be meaningful and significant? Daily Torah study.
Many Jews have taken on the practice of learning a set amount of Torah each and every day. In Israel, there’s a program in Hebrew to study a chapter of Rambam’s Yad Hachazakah every day. You may have heard of the Daf Yomi program, where Jews around the world study a page of Talmud each and every day. I joined the Daf at the beginning of the last cycle. A full daf each day represents a frenetic, demanding pace. Truthfully I cannot say that I remember all that much. But the study allows me to revisit Talmudic topics I studied in my yeshiva years, and it also does something more important: it forces me to learn each and every day. Because of the relentless pace of the Daf, you simply cannot take days off. You’ll fall too far behind. But that structure also creates a space in my busy to be Kovea Ittim L’torah – to set aside a set time for Torah study – a practice that anchors a day of observance and growth.
While the investment may be minimal, studies indicate that benefits – both in this world and the next – of setting aside time for Torah study each day are literally priceless!
Still, many people are not ready to take on a project of the magnitude of Daf Yomi. While joining a daily study program sounds appealing, doing the Daf seems daunting. Is there another, more manageable program that people can join?
It just so happens that there is: Mishnah Yomit — two Mishnayot each and every day. And it also just so happens that I teach Mishnah Yomit via YouTube, making the study of Mishnayot open and accessible to people around the world.
For the past six months, from the beginning of the recent Mishnah Yomit cycle, I have been uploading two Mishnayot each and every day to my YouTube channel. Each Mishnah is a screencast, with the text in the main frame and the instructor (me) in the corner. The benefit of the screencast is that the student doesn’t need his or her own text – it’s already on the screen. Moreover, I can (and often do) bring in sources from the Internet, charts, pictures, even videos – to bring the study of Mishnah to life. Each class is between three and twelve minutes (depending on the topic, length of the Mishnah, and how much I have to say), so you can cover two Mishnayot during your daily commute (assuming that you’re not driving) or on your lunch break. I also just launched a website where the Mishnayot will be archived (I’m uploading them slowly, so bear with me…). Hopefully, over time, people looking to study Mishnayot will have a full archive of classes to assist them in their study.
So, if you’ve been thinking about taking on a new practice that will help you grow in your Judaic knowledge and increase your connection to Torah, join the Mishnah Yomit revolution! The cycle will begin a new tractate this Sunday (Terumot!) so it’s a great time to join. Learning Mishnah Yomit costs absolutely no money, and requires nothing but your time, energy, and passion to learn and grow. And, while the investment may be minimal, studies indicate that benefits – both in this world and the next — of setting aside time for Torah study each day are literally priceless!