May 18, 2024
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Back to the Future With Daf Hashavua and Rav Teitz

The Torah’s identity has always been linked with the Jewish people; indeed, its study is the key to their longevity. Though its availability to the masses is something we take for granted, it wasn’t always the case. In the early 1950s, before the yeshiva system blossomed in America, Torah study was largely ignored. With few to teach it and few ways to disseminate it, Torah was quickly becoming lost to the generation. That changed when a single individual, Rav Pinchas Teitz, the rav of Elizabeth, New Jersey, brought the Talmud to the airwaves. R’ Pinchas innovated a weekly radio show of learning a page of Talmud each week. A pioneer his entire life, R’ Pinchas saw the radio as a way of reaching the masses who had neglected Torah study. In his pure European Yiddish, he spoke to the minds and hearts of a generation who themselves didn’t know how thirsty their souls were for the sweet waters of the Talmud.

R’ Pinchas’ radio show was called “Daf Hashavua.” Slowly but surely, R’ Pinchas covered many masechtot, as his radio show spanned four decades. The number of people who tuned in to grab the opportunity to learn was astounding! Government statistics showed that somewhere between 175,000 and 225,000 people listened each week. Multiply that number by the hours spent over 36 years and that amounts to hundreds of millions of hours of Torah study! An amazing legacy indeed!

Fast forward to March 5, 2005, when Daf Hashovua was reborn. It was the day of the 11th Siyum Hashas, when a group of working men, led by R’ Shlomo Abrahams, started from the beginning of the Talmud, Masechet Brachot, with the ambitious goal of affording all the opportunity to learn, understand and review the entire Talmud, page by page. Although Daf Yomi, which has existed for almost a century, gives its followers the ability to finish Shas every 7½ years, not everyone has the time or discipline to keep up. With the advent of Daf Hashovua, the daf can be learned by all at any level.

Now, 13½ years later, with over 700 pages learned and thousands participating worldwide, Daf Hashovua marked and honored their humble beginnings on R’ Pinchas Teitz’s yahrtzeit last Wednesday. Founders and members of Daf Hashovua visited RTMA/JEC in Elizabeth, the yeshiva founded by R’ Teitz, to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Present at the event were Rav Elazar Teitz and Rav Yosef Blau, son and son-in-law of R’ Pinchas. They sat together with Rabbi Ami Neuman, principal of RTMA, and other hanhala members and witnessed the next generation, the students of the mesivta, who have continued the legacy of Rav Teitz by continuing to learn the weekly daf under the guidance of Rabbi Moshe Frankel.

Rav Blau thanked those who re-established his father-in-law’s vision, enabling people from all backgrounds to take part in consistent Torah study. Rav Elazar Mayer shared how his father always stressed that just a few words of Torah each day can add up to great riches in Torah. Also to mark the event, a segment of Zev Brenner’s radio show, where Rav Teitz’s weekly show had aired at one point, was dedicated to Rav Teitz and the Daf Hashovua.

In an interview with Mr. Shimi Globman, executive director of Daf Hashovua, Zev Brenner asked how people could once again join the Daf Hashovua program like so many did years ago. Shimi replied by sharing the resourceful website address: dafaweek.org. There, the visitor will find a calendar announcing the weekly daf, audio and video shiurim, various marei mekomot for the beginner and the more advanced, and bechinot that are graded and for which there are incentives. There are even WhatsApp channels in which people discuss questions and points from the daf. Shimi explained that Daf Hashovua has once again become a large movement, reaching thousands across the globe. Indeed, the revival of the Daf Hashovua movement has shown that just like the Jewish nation, the study of Torah is eternal.

Video coverage from the event can be accessed in JEC Torah’s YouTube channel.

By A. Abrahams

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