Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

Daf Yomi is Over, For Me, But You Should Continue

The sign says it all
Finishing Daf Yomi

7.5 years.

That is how long it takes to complete the Daf Yomi cycle.

Almost 3 weeks ago, was one of the numerous Siyum Hashas events around the world, here in Jerusalem, and I was there. It was in English, because Yiddish was not going to work for me, and neither would all the speeches in Hebrew, unfortunately.

Why write about it now? Life gets in the way is a nice way of saying it was not a priority.

It should have been, it is a major accomplishment, one few have done.

But what does one achieve after 7.5 years? My non Jewish friends probably think I am a Rabbi now, far from it actually, you learn exactly how much you don’t know or don’t remember.

Do you find yourself? Spiritually, or some other way? No, well, I did not, maybe some of you out there did, good for you.

Does it make you more religious or less? I think it is hard to learn it all and not be influenced by it in some way, shape or form. If one is already religious, you at least gain further insight to some things you may not have known. There are people who are not even Jewish that complete Daf Yomi, love to know what they get out of it aside from the pure benefit of knowledge and if it influences them.

Am I know capable of being a teacher? No, teaching requires formal certification, while I have been giving classes over the years, and taught 1,000s of business people over the years,  no, Daf Yomi does not help me to be a teacher. However, the daily interaction with the Daf which crisscrosses one’s life on a daily basis does provide more talking points than expected. My shul asked if I wanted to teach the next cycle of Daf Yomi. I demurred, I am far from knowledgeable, but I do appreciate the offer.

Is it a burden lifted, now that it is completed? Yes, for me. You see when I decided to do it, and this was my 2nd time trying. You know how you get experience? You Fuc*Up the first time. Well, I crashed and burned fast the first time, within the first 2 weeks or so. I knew what i was getting into, still, it creates a pattern that leaves a void afterwards. I needed the space to find something new to learn. Still no decision, but I have once again picked up my trusty Meam Loez מעם לועז  for now because one should learn every day.

Did my kids and family benefit from it? Hard to say on a daily basis. Hopefully, in the long run, they have listened to me when I describe the why, and how, we do things, and where it comes from in our history.

What would my school Rabbanim think? Pretty sure a couple have passed on, but I would like to think they all received some benefit, if not some personal pleasure, in knowing they each put a block together for me to have a base, and I am not lying here, for what was my least favorite class. I even got thrown out of my gemora shiur when I was a senior in college for, well, if you know me, ask me sometime.

The dais had 100 Rabbanim from across Israel and the world

Do you need to be a good student to do Daf Yomi or learned in Yeshiva or speak fluent Hebrew? No, but obviously you will get more out of it if you do. The gemora was written in Aramaic so Hebrew is helpful but not always what you need. I was not a great student, straight B/C+, but found I retained more over time, so your mileage may vary.

What advice do I offer those who recently started the 14th cycle? You need a purpose, and a schedule that works for you, because missing a day is not a big deal, missing 3 becomes a problem, and then it all unravels. If you travel to work, or drive, podcasts are your friend, so are the trains and buses that have scheduled shiurim. There are so many ways to learn the Daf, and in so many languages, there is no reason anyone can not do it, aside from a lack of purpose and desire.

Why am I not doing it again? While it is true, repetition helps you remember, I have other things going on that need my time. Some day, when I retire, I may start again. There is always a shiur after minyan, and when you don’t have the dog to walk, kids to wake up, or make food for them, or be at work, then it is easier, and more relaxing, to do it. Will see. First, Hashem should bless me with a parnasa that allows me to retire.

It was also meant to be a happy time for me, but with the loss of my grandfather just before Rosh Hashana at the age of 99, he would be 100 on Feb 3, finishing Daf Yomi did not have the excitement I thought it would for me. Luckily, my friends in Rehovot would not let me shy away from it, and we had a nice siyum hashas oneg shabbat. Thanks go to Adam, David, my wife Vanessa, and everyone who came to it so I had a minyan.

Finally, I end with the wise words of the ending of Tractate Niddah which also ends the Daf Yomi cycle, with the following (Taken from the awesome online translation

תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא שנאמר (חבקוק ג, ו) הליכות עולם לו אל תקרי הליכות אלא הלכות

The Gemara concludes the tractate with a general statement with regard to Torah study. The school of Elijah taught: Anyone who studies halakhot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the World-to-Come, as it is stated: “His ways [halikhot] are eternal” (Habakkuk 3:6). Do not read the verse as halikhot; rather, read it as halakhot. The verse indicates that the study of halakhot brings one to eternal life in the future world.

May everyone return to Zion and Jerusalem be the Capital of the World again in our days soon.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor, an HCL Master and an IBM Champion.
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