21 Jan Strategies & Tips for Daf Yomi Learners (Part 2)
A LONGTIME DAF YOMI MAGGID SHIUR OFFERS SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW AND SEASONED LEARNERS OF DAF YOMI
11. Train yourself before starting to learn the Daf to have in mind to fulfill the mitzvas aseh, the positive commandment, of vedibarta bam. (The Ran in Nedarim says that this is the mitzvah of learning Torah). This ensures that the Torah you are learning is lishmah, which Rabi Meir says in the sixth chapter of Pirkei Avos guarantees that we will merit many things.
12. If attending an evening shiur, try to be as rested as possible. Take a short nap if you can. If you aren’t able, try drinking a caffeinated beverage. Glancing over the material beforehand can make a world of difference in your ability to concentrate, even when you are tired. At the conclusion of the shiur, upon returning home, make sure to be nice to your spouse, your parents, and your children. The Tosafos HaRosh says that the Torah was given in darkness and smoke because we sinned right afterwards with the Eigel, and therefore we were not granted the light and the shine of Torah.
13. Bring your own Gemara to the shiur. Your chasunah Shas works fine, and it’s a good way to put it to use instead of having it sit on a shelf just collecting dust. Having your own Gemara enables you to write notes in it. Your Shas will become an important heirloom in the future. If you are not using an ArtScroll Gemara, you might want to write the translation of a word you didn’t know inside the Gemara. It will help you the next time around. On the front or back of the Gemara, mark down the dafim together with any aggadeta or halachah that made a special impression upon you. As the masechtos you finish grow, you’ll have quite a collection of memorable highlights.
14. If you had to be absent for a daf, carefully mark down the daf you missed. You might be able to make it up before you finish the masechta. If not, you’ll give it special attention during the next cycle.
15. It is a worthwhile investment to make a festive siyum for the completion of each masechta. Besides the fact that it is a wonderful seudas mitzvah, it concretizes the fraternity of your Daf family and gives everyone great chizuk. Invite outsiders to attend. Your Talmudic successes are infectious. They will attract others to want to participate.
16. At the conclusion of a masechta, make it a point to celebrate with your wife. Either take her out to rejoice or buy her something. This will help her feel that she is a partner in your Daf Yomi achievements. After all, she sacrifices at prime time, when you leave the house at night, when you go out on Friday night after the meal, when you leave early from a wedding, and the like.
17. If you go to a nighttime Daf Yomi shiur, try to occasionally attend a different shiur or listen to one on the phone or online in order to have a date night with your wife.
18. Retention of the Daf has always been a great challenge. If you are retired or have extra discretionary time, you might try to attend more than one shiur each day. Getting a chavrusah to review the Daf with you is also a great idea. Another method is to listen to a “speed Daf” for review. Some shiurim review the shakla v’tarya of the previous day’s daf before learning the new one. Another helpful method is to utilize Shabbos to skim the previous week’s shakla v’tarya.
19. If you have the opportunity to review the Daf with your son or parent, that’s even better. It can be done even on the phone or by Skype. This synthesizes the ability to chazer with the glorious mitzvos of veshinantam levanecha or kibbud av.After finishing a masechta, it is very helpful to review the Mishnayos of that masechta. This helps cement in your mind the basic concepts that you just studied. It also helps to follow Rashi’s advice at the beginning of Maseches Avodah Zarah. There he says to pray for Hashem to help us remember our learning in the blessing of Atah Chonein.
20. Make it a habit to regularly talk about the Daf at home. Your family watching you sacrifice for the Daf and hearing about it often breeds future Daf Yomi devotees.
21. If this is not your first time doing Daf Yomi, don’t fall prey to the yeitzer hara of BTDT, Been There Done That. The reason Shas starts with daf bais and not daf alef is to teach us an important lesson: We never truly finish. It is just a continuation of our lifelong mission to learn Shas as well and as much as we can. It is a good idea to try to upgrade your learning the next time around. If during the previous cycle you used ArtScroll and didn’t learn Rashi inside, perhaps this time you can try to learn Rashi. If you did learn Rashi, perhaps now it’s time to make an attempt at some of the Tosafos, especially since we will have as a powerful aid this cycle the new ArtScroll Tosafos series.
22. In general, be an ambassador for Daf Yomi. Tell people how it has changed your life and impacted on your family, and how amazing it feels to finish many masechtos, one after another, from cover to cover. Remember: If someone starts on their career of Daf Yomi because of you, you get shares in every daf that they learn.