Saturday, May 15, 2021

The endless sea of Torah study can be navigated in myriad ways. Masechet Yevamot spans 122 pages. The current cycle of Daf Yomi completed Yevamot in 122 days. In contrast, Daf Hashavua began Masechet Yevamot in May of 2020 and anticipates its completion only in September 2022. Knowing full well the length of study of this masechet, the Mermelstein family sponsored the entire Daf Hashavua’s learning of Yevamot in memory of beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather Shelley Mermelstein, Yosef Shmuel Shmelke, z”l, who was an enthusiastic participant in the local Daf Hashavua Program at Congregation Beth Aaron.

Within the Teaneck and Bergenfield communities, there are approximately 10 Daf Hashavua programs in progress. To mark the completion of the first three perakim of Masechet Yevamot, at the initiation of Rabbi Benny Krohn, rav of the Young Israel of Teaneck, seven shul programs have joined together to host an evening of study with Rav Mordechai Willig, rosh yeshiva and rosh kollel at Yeshiva University. The program is being sponsored by Michael and Bracha Gutlove and the Raye and Leo Ressler z”l Daf Hashavua Program of the Young Israel of Teaneck. The entire community is invited to join via Zoom on Monday, January 11, at 8 p.m., when Rav Willig will elucidate some of the complex issues of the masechet and discuss “Contemporary Issues in Masechet Yevamot.”

Launched in 2005, the Daf Hashavua program hosts 155 chaburot, 28+ magidei shiur and over 6,000 participants worldwide. In addition to its popularity within the U.S., including in Plano, Texas, the program has been adopted in Israel, South Africa, Australia and England. In focusing upon the study of one daf per week, the program is designed to allow participants the time to learn each daf with clarity and review it in order to retain its information. The slogan of the program is “Learn it, Review it, Own it.” Highly endorsed by Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, who has given his personal bracha that those who have started the program should be able to complete its 52-year cycle, the program helps its participants make a true “kinyan b’Torah” to whatever level of depth they are able to achieve. Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, rosh yeshiva of the Philadelphia Yeshiva, has highly endorsed the program and encourages the community to lend it support.

The Daf Hashavua program offers resources for every level of study. For the iyun track there are booklets with mareh mekomot providing sources and materials, weekly iyun shiurim and a WhatsApp discussion group. For the chazara and retention track there are monthly calendars outlining daily learning and chazara schedules, optional weekly multiple-choice quizzes and an optional five-blatt bechina every five weeks. For the bekiut track, a video presentation by Rabbi David Glatstein is presented twice a week as well as other audio bekiut shiurim. In addition, participants receive a weekly newsletter, “The Shavua Matters,’’ with Insights from Our Chavuros, Stories Off the Daf, Halacha Highlights and Points to Ponder.

Rabbi Beni Krohn, rabbi of the Young Israel of Teaneck, initially offered the Daf Hashavua program Monday through Thursday at 6 a.m., followed by Shacharit. During COVID, the daf continued but was presented via Zoom and WhatsApp, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 7:05 p.m. until 7:35 p.m. The group consists of 10-12 participants. Rabbi Krohn expressed his pride at hosting the program. “The program has really picked up here in Teaneck over the past few years with many community members learning seriously and making siyumim. In my shul we have been doing the program for 2.5 years and are up to our fifth masechta. We thought that in a show of solidarity in learning with each other the entire community should get together for an insightful shiur by a noted Torah scholar, Rav Mordechai Willig, who will add great meaning to our studies by relating them to contemporary halachic issues. We are looking forward to a significant turnout from the community.”

Rabbi Aaron Ciment, rav of Congregation Arzei Darom, gives the Daf Hashavua shiur Monday through Friday on Zoom from 6:10 a.m. to 6:40 a.m. “We have eight daily participants in our shiur. It is a wonderful program that allows us to learn Torah at a manageable pace. Additionally, there isn’t anything more enjoyable than to sit with these wonderful men learning Torah and drinking coffee so early in the morning.”

Congregation Beth Aaron hosts the Daf Hashavua program Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8:55 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 8:40 a.m. in the social hall and on Zoom. Rabbi Larry Rothwachs is most grateful to Rabbis Sasson Gabay and Yair Hindin for assuming the leadership of the program. Rabbi Hindin offered, “The learning, both its manageable pace and ability to offer basic iyun, has allowed both seasoned learners and beginners to experience the ‘yam haTalmud’ in a pleasant and exciting way and to grow in knowledge, commitment and love of Torah. I too have grown tremendously through this process.”

Rabbi Haim Jachter, rav of Congregation Shaarei Orah/Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, shared, “I delivered the Daf Hashavua shiur every Shabbat before Mincha pre-corona. During corona, I send out a recording of the shiur. I do not learn the daf line by line but rather provide a 40-minute shiur on the highlights of the daf in which I point out practical applications or mussar that we derive from points of special interest of the weekly daf. We attract a significant number of participants.”

Rabbi Kenny Schiowitz, rav of Congregation Shaare Tefillah, commented, “There is a group of people who have been learning Daf Hashavua for the past few years. Dani Bieler is the maggid shiur. He teaches by including everyone in the learning. It is a collaborative effort and has been very successful. There is a great feeling of camaraderie within the group and the commitment of the members inspires one another to keep up the consistency. The important thing about the initiative is that it creates an attainable and aspirational structure for consistent learning with a sense of community with the other members of the group in our shul and across the world. … It is great to be able to celebrate this accomplishment with others in the broader community and with the opportunity to learn from Rabbi Willig.”

Rabbi Shalom Baum, rav of Congregation Keter Torah, offered, “I give the weekly shiur that is sent out every Thursday via email and WhatsApp. The shiur lasts 20-25 minutes and focuses on practical halachic issues that are found on the daf, with significant focus on the rulings of the Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch and contemporary poskim. The participants prepare the daf on their own before listening to the shiur. A number of the participants prepare with chavrutot from within the group. Many of the participants send me questions and their own insights relating to the daf and to the shiur. Our group has already completed five masechtot and I am very proud of the group for being so diligent with Masechet Yevamot. Through the phenomenal efforts of the Daf Hashavua organization, there are people from outside the community who have joined our group. To date we have 83 participants via email and 17 via WhatsApp.”

Dr. Arik Zaider, a member of Congregation Keter Torah, is an enthusiastic participant in the Daf Hashavua program and commented, “Daf Hashavua has been a tremendous opportunity to study Gemara at a pace that allows more in-depth analysis and understanding. I tried Daf Yomi in the past only to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume that it demanded day by day. With Daf Hashavua I have been able to slowly get a glimpse of the beauty of Torah study when done with more time. I am grateful to Rabbi Baum, the organizers of Daf Hashavua, my chavrusa, and of course my wife and family for opening this world to me, even if it is only an introduction.”

In Bergenfield, Rabbi Moshe Stavsky, rav of Bais Medrash of Bergenfield, features the Daf Hashavua on its weekly calendar and individuals participate through self-study. BMOB will be participating in the upcoming evening featuring Rav Mordechai Willig.

The community is invited to Zoom into the upcoming presentation by Rabbi Mordechai Willig on behalf of Daf Hashavua on Monday evening, January 11, at 8 p.m. For Zoom information, please email [email protected] For questions, please contact Rabbi Beni Krohn at [email protected]

For more information about Daf Hashavua email [email protected]

To donate to the organization go to www.charidy.com/dafaweek.