Daf Yomi

This post has to be short, because I’m exhausted.  I woke up early this morning to attend a daf yomi lesson.  Daf Yomi, or “daily page” is a system of Gemara study, whereby the entire Oral Torah is studied, one bit at a time, each day.  The breadth of the Jewish oral tradition is so vast, that learning just one page (two folios) a day, takes seven years!

What did I sign myself up for?

Luckily, I didn’t sign up for anything, just took a deep breath and walked in, not knowing what to expect.  Living in Jerusalem is terrific, because there are such lessons going on at least once a day in most synagogues, and synagogues can be found within a five-minute walking distance from pretty much anywhere.

The one that I attended was for women in particular at a seminary called Matan.  Women’s study of Oral Torah is an issue of contention in some circles of observant Jews that I’d like to address at a later time.

Basically, I was in over my head.  Despite having learned Gemara for 6 hours a week last year, I barely understand anything.  It often discusses issues I have little familiarity with, is written in Aramaic, commentary is in ancient Hebrew, and there is no punctuation.  So I cut myself a little slack.  And I actually found it fun.

I wonder if there is a way to study daf shavui, a page a week?  I’m going to try to keep up with this pace, but somehow I don’t think it’s going to last for seven years.

Part of the reason for my ability to get up this morning is that I’ve been waylaid for a while by a foot injury.  Normally if I get up early, it’s to work out.  If I pray with proper intention, learn and workout before beginning my workday, it’ll start at about noon.  Sounds good, right?  For now, I’m just taking the injury as an impetus to try something new kind of workout program.  A mental one.


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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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