18 Feb As We Are Soon To Finish The First Masechta In Daf Yomi
With the writing of this article, amazingly we have already been learning the new cycle of Daf Yomi for seven weeks! In two weeks, with the help of Hashem, the daf community will finish its first masechta, the amazing tractate of Berachos. At this juncture, it’s a good time to reflect and take stock.
Those of us who were inspired by the Siyum HaShas to begin, have experienced a heady and intoxicating ride. Many are just a few weeks away from finishing the first masechta of their lives! They ask themselves, “Is it only because it was Berachos, or could I actually continue? When the agadata [the homiletics] stop, will that be my undoing?” My answer is a resounding, “No! If you’ve hung in until now, that means you’ve passed the forty day mark of creating within yourself a new nature.” The Zetel Katan teaches us that one has to do something consecutively for forty days to create a new habit and to become a natural at something. Since we’ve passed the forty day mark, you can confidently say, “I am now officially a Daf Yomi personality, a true member of this lofty club.”
In a way, Masechtas Shabbos has easier features than Masechtas Berachos. The average daf in Berachos was double the size of a daf in Shabbos. That means that the Magid Shiur will have more time to explain and clarify. The dafim in Eruvin are even smaller and with today’s elaborate pictures Eruvin is actually quite easy to study.
If you were able to master Masechtas Berachos, you will find smooth sailing in Masechtas Shabbos except for a week’s difficulty concerning tumah and an intricate discussion later on in the masechta about weaving. Then, after Shabbos and Eruvin, you can look forward to many enjoyable masechtas with the first rough patch coming much later when we learn the thirty blat of Yerushalmi Shekalim. But by then you will have many hundreds of blat under your belt and will be a grizzled veteran of the daf, ready for any challenge.
If you struggled with inconsistency and missed some days, just make sure to flag those dafim. Maybe you’ll be able to make them up in the summer or you’ll get them the next time around. Daf Yomi is not about looking back; it’s about looking forward. There’s plenty of exciting terrain and exhilarating fulfillment ahead.
As we are two weeks before Masechtas Shabbos, a great way to prepare for the transition is to try to learn the Mishnayos of Shabbos ahead of time. You will find this an enormous benefit in helping you to absorb the new kind of content.
Heading towards the celebration of the first masechta, if you are married, plan to celebrate with your wife. Make her feel she is your partner, as she truly is, with this lifetime accomplishment. Also importantly, are you participating in reimbursing your Magid Shiur for his time, for his travel, for his hours of preparation? We learned recently, that we know that we are supposed to make a bracha on food because it is only logical that we shouldn’t benefit from this world without payment. It should be just as obvious that we shouldn’t freeload at a shiur without the responsibility of compensating our dedicated Rebbe.
As we experience the thrill of accomplishment and fulfillment and the benefit of belonging to a Torah group, we should look to see if we can convince a friend to sign-up for Masechtas Shabbos. What better gift can we give a friend than to get them to join such a life-changing endeavor? Become an ambassador for Rav Meir Shapiro’s [zt”l, zy”a] army, and make sure to tell your children what a wonderful feeling the Daf Yomi experience is. It will be like sowing seeds for their future foray into Shas.
To all of you out there who just didn’t start with Brachos it is certainly not too late to start! A great place to begin is with the ninth Perek of Brachos which contains a fascinating discussion about dreams and a host of other riveting subjects. Please think about coming on board it will be one of the best decisions you will ever make!!
In the merit of our learning, may Hashem bless us all to finish Shas together in good health and may we merit, together with our loved ones, to enjoy long life, good health, and everything wonderful.