Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Brief Try at Daf Yomi

Seven and a half years ago, I was somewhat enchanted with an idea that appeared in the Jewish news of the week. On March 1, 2005, Jews around the world marked the end of the 11th cycle of Talmud study known as Daf Yomi (daily page).

I said to my husband....let's do it. Let's start the 12th cycle. It starts on March 5, 2005, and ends on August 2, 2012. He agreed. I said...I'm going to blog about it. He said....go for it.

Let's think March of 2005....

I had one kid. (Sam was born in November of 2005)
I didn't have a blog. (Not totally true. I did have a blog that chronicled a brief trip to Russia. But I didn't blog regularly.)
I had been out of rabbinical school for under 2 years.
Michael was still a few months shy of his ordination.

Life was so different. Was it easier? It's hard to remember back that far.

Remember, now I've got four kids.
And by the way, I didn't even have Facebook until May 9, 2007.
If you're interested, I joined Twitter on February 8, 2008.
And I started this blog in February of 2007.

And even then, with all those factors working in my favor, it didn't quite work out....

There are 17 posts on that Daf Yomi blog.
We read 20 pages of Talmud.

And then...we gave up.

I don't remember much about why we gave up, except that it was hard to do it. We didn't have a class or a podcast or anything that kept us going. Just two people sitting together, hoping to get through the whole daf. We were such amateur rookies!

I was excited to be a part of something big. Something that kept a whole bunch of Jews "on the same page" -- but I lost that enchantment quickly. I wonder if, doing it now, there might be more of a feeling of community. I'm sure there are Facebook groups. I bet someone tweets a dafyomi tweet (hey wait, if not...). I know there are bloggers and podcasters and tumblr'rs and all sorts of ways to share the Daf with the whole world. (And by the way, I re-read all the posts, and it seemed that I had a good time coming up with interesting things to write about each daf!)

But I'm not going to do it.

It's not because I don't see value in Talmud study. Heavens - I do! So much to be learned and to share.

And I'm not even going to do it because I'm "too busy."
Sure, it's a great excuse. There's a lot going on in my life, no question.

But it's not a good enough excuse to not study. I'm just not going to do this particular project.

I think the real reason is that I have so many things I'm interested in. There are so many books and blogs to read, so many newspaper columnists and writers and teachers who saying things that teach and inform me. There are people to see and talk to and engage with. And there are movies to watch and television shows to see and silly, wonderful stuff to take a picnic at the beach.

I am constantly learning. From so many places.
Daf Yomi can wait. (Forever, maybe!) I am loving the broad spectrum of learning that I gain on a daily basis from a variety of sources. I'm not prepared to focus my learning on one place, with one goal. It's admirable. But I'm interested in a broad-spectrum look right now.

Like Miriam Krule, I continue to love the study of Talmud. I don't do it every day. But when I do, I love the opportunity to read more than one page. Or to skip around. Or to only study a short passage in depth for a long time.

Each and every day brings new opportunities for learning...of all kinds.
May those opportunities all bring blessings.


Frume Sarah said...

SO glad to read this. Because I was contemplating. Not seriously. More like momentary contemplation. But I can't do it right now. Thank you for making me feel OK about that.


Unknown said...

I, too, was thinking of starting with this cycle (my uncle just finished the last cycle - kol hakavod) and even started to pull up some resources. I may still, but it feels very overwhelming and I agree, there is so much else out there that I haven't figured out how much to let in and how to balance it. Thank you.

Laura Lee said...

And clearly I don't know how to make my name show up - it is Laura Lee (or unknown, I guess).

Batya said...

Your time for Daf Yomi will come in a couple of cycles, when you guys find an empty nest. Right now you're too busy. Take a good look at the people, especially the women, who've actually completed it. They aren't of your generation. Raising a family is a greater mitzvah.