June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Allow me to make a modest proposal—no, not related to the tuition crisis, although while I am here, wouldn’t it be more efficient if all the schools and shuls got together and created a buying group to negotiate better deals on tissues, office supplies and possibly insurance? Just saying, think about it.

On January 1, we celebrated the Siyum Hashas, and on Januray 2, I joined the throngs of Jews taking up the 7 ½-year challenge to finish Shas. And although this is based on nothing more than my own observation, this cycle appears to mark a historic departure from the past in that it seems there are more people undertaking this epic task by attending a digital shiur in solitude than are attending a shiur surrounded by real people sitting around an actual table. Only time will tell if this digital revolution is better because it affords access to those with limited time, limited access and long commutes, or if it will result in a lot more people dropping off without anyone noticing.

This is a concern I have for myself as a digital Talmudist. Initially I found some much-needed comradery amongst my neighbors who also took up this challenge in a digital format, but I felt that both accountability and encouragement were missing. A knowing glance and nod in shul or at a Friday night minyan just wasn’t enough. I felt that something more was needed to reinforce our commitment. Thus, my modest proposal is to establish a modest kiddush to celebrate our modest accomplishments. Every time we daffers complete a perek, a few digital daffers and non-digital daffers (why not?), should get together and have a small kiddush. No need for Glen-this or Glen-that; Johnny Walker Black Label (not Red Label, there have to be some standards) or, if you want to get old-school Hungarian, Slivovitz, is enough. I mean that was enough growing up. Add some basic herrings, a matjes or schmaltz, even cream sauce (pareve and yet strangely delicious) and Tam Tams, as well as some rugalach to round it out. Don’t get me wrong—if you want some Auchentushin, Glenfarc(l)as or Macallan 1926 with a side of crème fraiche herring with caviar and ghost peppers served on a garlic- and shallot-encrusted cracker and topped with shaved black truffles, go for it. The idea here is that in the 64 dapim of
Masechet Brachot there are nine perakim, nine chances to say good job and keep it up. I think this will become more important as we hit the long haul maschectot of Shabbos and Eurvin with their 157 blatt and 105 blatt, respectively. As it is says in Koheles, “If one should fall, his friend shall pick him up and woe is one who falls with no friend to raise him up” (4:10).

So, what should we call this gathering? Let me suggest we call it a Hadran Kiddush as it captures the very idea of this kiddush. That we return together from each of our independent ventures to celebrate and propel each other forward to return together again shortly.

That is my proposal, seven-and-a-half years, 2711 dapim, 63 mesechtot and 517 perakim and modest Hadran Kiddushim. Good luck to all of us virtual daffers and real-world daffers both.


Ari Farkas is a digital daffer, modest Hadran Kiddush participant, and an immigration law partner at Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz, LLP.

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