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19 Adar II 5765 - March 30, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
HaRav Eliashiv's Message to the Participants in the Siyum HaShas in Yerushalayim

As Delivered by Rav Y. Efrati

The Inception of Daf Yomi

With our master's permission and that of the gedolei haTorah . . .

On the seventh of Elul 5683 (1923), the gaon Rav Meir Shapiro ztvk'l, addressed a session on chinuch at the Knessia Gedolah. Towards the end of his remarks he proposed the idea of Daf Yomi. He added that the following year, 5624, would be a Shmittah year and expressed his hope that, since Chazal tell us that "[Moshiach] ben Dovid will come in the year following a Shmittah," everyone would merit celebrating the Siyum HaShas in Yerushalayim.

Sadly, we have not yet merited the arrival of [Moshiach] ben Dovid. Neither, sadly, have we merited the participation of many of the two hundred thousand who used to learn Daf Yomi in Poland alone, as Rav Meir Shapiro wrote in a letter that was recently published (in Kol Hatorah, issue 58). However, we do have the merit of taking part in the siyum of the eleventh cycle of Daf Yomi, led by our teachers, the gedolei Yisroel.

Rav Meir Shapiro's innovation has become a permanent fixture in every place Jews live. Rav Meir himself attributed this to the merit of his work in the field of Torah education and his dedication to bnei Torah. There is virtually nothing that can compare with the extent to which Daf Yomi has proliferated. It is said that our master the Chofetz Chaim ztvk'l, would call Rav Meir, "Rebbe Daf Yomi."

What Was Daf Yomi Supposed to Achieve?

I have been directed to elucidate one aspect of this institution. On numerous occasions when he spoke, Rav Meir emphasized that the idea of Daf Yomi unites all of Klal Yisroel. He eloquently described how the Talmud Bavli and its commentaries were put together by Klal Yisroel in all the centers of its dispersion. The Mishnah was compiled in Eretz Yisroel, the Talmud Bavli in Bovel, the Rif and the Rambam in the Spanish (North Africa) lands and so on.

This is also the aim of Daf Yomi, to serve as genuine bridge, uniting Torah. When one Jew meets another, no matter from where, Daf Yomi bridges between them and unites them.

But the purpose and the essence of the idea must be remembered — connecting every Jew to Torah, everyone according to their own level. The Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes ztvk'l — whose addition on Rosh Hashonoh 5684 to the ranks of those who learn Daf Yomi had tremendous repercussions, inspiring many others to join too — wrote in a letter that Torah scholars can learn in depth and develop new insights into whatever portion of Torah they feel drawn to, but should still learn Daf Yomi so as not to be separate from the rest of the community (Rav Meir Shapiro, vol. II, pg. 450).

Rav Meir Shapiro's intention was thus to merit the entire community with fulfilling the mitzvah of Torah study, everyone on his own level. Tanna Debei Eliyahu (Zuta, perek 2) writes that even someone who merely sits and reads the words ve'achos Lotan Timna, receives the reward for Torah study. There is a concept of toil in Torah (see Peleh Yoetz entry on Tehillim) and [also] of everyone learning according to his individual level.

Rav Meir therefore viewed Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin as being "closely connected with the study of the Daf," as he wrote in an announcement that he circulated in advance of the yeshiva's establishment, noting his aim to bring talmidim to the level of "broad fluency with deep comprehension of Shas."

Practical Application of Halachos in the Daf

Thus, as we embark upon the twelfth cycle and speak about learning Torah, gedolei Yisroel are pointing to the remarks of the commentators to Yoreh Deah siman 246 and Orach Chaim siman 155 regarding the obligation — that rests particularly upon those who engage in working for their livelihoods and devote only part of their time to Torah study — to devote some of their time to the study of halochoh which will be put into practice.

Our master HaRav Shach ztvk'l, used to repeat an idea based upon the gemora's teaching, "Whoever learns halachos every day is assured of belonging in Olom Habo, as it says, `Halichos, olom lo (control of the world is His)' ( Chabbakuk 3:6). Don't read halichos but halachos (so that the words can be understood as, `[one who studies] halachos, the World to Come is his)' " (Niddah 73).

Yet, asked HaRav Shach, the word used is halichos [not halachos]. He explained that this teaches us that halachos must also be halichos — they must be realized in practice in the conduct of each and every Jew.

And particularly now, with darkness prevailing in the world, there is greater opportunity to acquire Torah, as is evident from today's Daf Yomi where the gemora says, "From the day the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed all that remains Hakodosh Boruch Hu's are the dalet amos of halochoh" (brochos 8). This is the conduit through which both the community and individuals are sustained. While the Beis Hamikdosh stood there was an additional conduit — that of the service of the Mikdosh and the sacrifices. But today everything must come through acquiring Torah.

The holy gaon, the author of Leshem Shevo Ve'achlomoh, explains that special powers and abilities were bestowed after the destruction of the Mikdosh (Sefer Hakelolim, quoted in Shaarei Leshem pg. 467 onwards) because Hakodosh Boruch Hu delights in the sacrifice made by the one who learns Torah. (A similar idea is quoted in Bikkurei Avrohom by Rav Avrohom Eliashiv ztvk'l from Medrash Talpiyos, see also Nefesh HaChaim shaar 1, perek 4.)

It is thus our duty to declare that the directive to study halochoh, as elucidated by our master and our crowning glory, is part and parcel of the [original] institution of Daf Yomi, whose purpose is to strengthen Torah study in Klal Yisroel. Be'ezras Hashem, may we merit the arrival of [Moshiach] ben David and the siyum celebration of the twelfth cycle on the mountain of Hashem's House.

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