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May 8, 2006

Going to the Movies!!!

Last night I heard the above phrase as a description of someone who goes to a daf yomi shiur.

I have heard similar attacks on daf yomi many times before. This one was new and a fresh comparison that I never heard before so I felt like ranting about it.

The fellow (A) who said it was upset about someone (B) who is beginning to learn gemarra, at a later stage in his life (58 years) than most people. "A" wants "B" to invest more time in learning the basics rather than getting the general picture. These are legitimate arguments and can be discussed and decided one way or the other. During the discussion "A" finds out that the student learns daf yomi. "A" began to criticize it as a waste of time and "B" should spend his time using the system "A" was pushing, which stresses fundamentals. As part of the criticism he said, "Daf Yomi is like going to the movies". Meaning all you do is sit back and listen to someone talking and it is not participatory, so you are not really learning.

Many people over the years have criticized Daf Yomi. That bothers me. yes, I learn daf yomi, so maybe there is some personal offense taken, but I think/hope it is not personal. I have no problem if a person does not want to learn daf yomi. Everybody has to find the style that talks to them and allows them to learn. Some people do not like daf yomi because it is too superficial, some because they do not have a chance to review so they forget it all. Some do not like "iyun" learning because it is very tedious, some do not because they want to see the scope of the Torah, which is limited by iyun (in depth learning).

I have no problem with someone coming along and evaluating that Daf Yomi is not right for you. You will gain more by learning like this or that. That is legitimate. It is wrong to criticize Daf Yomi in general as a bad system of learning. First of all, for some people it is very good. Second, does this guy (whoever is doing the criticizing at the time) think he knows more than Rabbi Shapiro, the founder of Daf Yomi, and all the gedolim throught the past 7 decades who have supported it? Who are you to talk about how daf yomi is bad? Third, how can you deride the thousands, and tens of thousands of people, ehrliche yidden, who are learning daf yomi, some more thouroughly than others, and many more thousands over the years who have learned it? Who made you so great that you can talk Lashon hara about the Jews like that? Even Moshe was punished by Hashem for suggesting that the jews were doing something that might be wrong. And now people are talking about how learning daf yomi is like going to the movies?

And finally, if it is like going to the movies, I must be watching the wrong movie. there are some very enjoyable movies playing in the theaters, I hear. I might as well go there instead of the beis medrash at night.. :-)

5 comments:

  1. First of all, did anyone bring popcorn?
    Secondly, I have the following comments. Number 1 - I don't mean to put anyone down, or claim to know people's upbringings, however I do know that it is not that easy to start learning the basics at 52 years old. I suspect that someone at that age would more desire to cover some ground and get a feel of what he is doing, rather than go back to kindergarten. But certainly to be considered like that fellow is going to the movies is a very harsh statement. Thirdly, there are many types of daf yomis, and very many ways to learn it. Perhaps he will learn in depth later. perharps he will have tests. Why do we insist on illiciting our opinion on everyone else's decisions. It is very possible to make more or less of daf yomi, that is up to us. At the same time I can work on my basic skills, and I can work more b'iyun - its the beauty of "shivim panim l'torah". I recently asked someone why he doesn't do daf yomi, and he told me it was because he wanted to learn more b'iyun. Me, being a good yeshiva bachur agreed with it, and tried to take the same road. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as I planned. What a lot of "non-daf yomi folk" miss, I think, is that it will be a set thing, going everyday, whether you are there or not. That's the beauty of it. You always feel a push to keep going. Like anything in Judaism - its a beautiful idea, use it for your personal benefit, and you will find good in it.

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  2. driver - in my shiur we almost always have refreshments of some sort, sometimes even popcorn.. but not the buttered kind they used to serve in the movie theaters when I was growing up...

    Amen to the rest of it!!

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  3. regardless of my or anyone elses feeling for the practiocality of daf yomi, the cavalier and fliipant remark, comparing it to the movies, is pushing it too far. Yes, rafi, even for me. Whether someone finds daf yomi enriching, or can't stay awake at the 5 am shiur, remember any part of it 20 minutes later, and still claims to have finished shas, it is a chutzpah to compare any type of learning, to going to the movies. And I am a fan of the movies. For some, DY is phenomenal, for others, they are just keeping up with the joneses.

    BUT THEY ARE ALL STILL LEARNING!!!!!

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  4. Bain adam l'chavaro needs to be practiced as no one should belittle those who learn and support the daf. The daf is a derech that may be suitable for one and not the other. I have a good friend whose schedule changed a year ago. He attends the daf every morning and absorbs quite a bit of the gemarah as his yiras shamyim has grown immensely. Others I have noticed listen in the car or attend 35 minute shiurim where it sounds more like a rodeo.

    The best situation is when you can hear the daf in the morning and you can set aside at least an hour to review it. We all have busy lives and our families deserve our time as well. My biggest issue is that we need to learn more basic halachah as I see many people who attend the daf religiously stumbling upon basic laws. The right thing to do is speak to a rav about your specific situation.

    Thanks for reading

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  5. very well said Mordechai. My feeligns exactly...

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