Tuesday, March 28, 2023

It’s been an astounding, shocking, frightening 157 days. Daf Yomi learners began Masechet Shabbat, the second book in the 14th Daf Yomi cycle, on March 8. Let’s just pause a second to let that date sink in.

On March 8, 2020, our shuls and schools were open and vibrant. We didn’t wear masks, unless it was Purim. Daf Yomi shiurim were going strong in dozens of communities here in New Jersey and in hundreds more around the world. But just three days later, all the doors clattered shut. Everyone went home and was told to just stay there.

Against a backdrop of illness, fear and too many communal losses to count, it was during the lockdown that much of Masechet Shabbat was learned. The ancient laws that explain, discuss and debate the 39 melachot (restrictions) of Shabbat, including cooking, carrying, sorting, measuring and all the rest, were not ignored in isolation, though many of the lessons were filed away for future post-pandemic use. Many learners took advantage of useful and increasingly lifeline-like apps such as AllDaf and YUTorah to aid their learning, and for many others the daf was learned in ramped-up shul programs newly navigating Zoom. Remember when no one even knew what Zoom was? Now we know.

As our friend from Highland Park/Edison Josh Pruzansky wrote on Facebook, this is the first book of the Daf Yomi to be learned during a pandemic. “How fortunate we are to have the technology that kept our learning going strong during the early days, and for some even now, of COVID-19, through Zoom classes, conference calls, YouTube, apps, etc. What an achievement.”

Turning our attention to our next masechta, we look to the wires that literally hold our communities together during these very difficult times. It’s time for Eruvin. We call your attention to our own Rabbi Haim Jachter’s new book on the topic, available on Amazon (see page 42), and to his new video shiur series on AllDaf (see page 13).

Rabbi Moshe Elefant, whose Daf Yomi shiur continues on the AllDaf app, said in his explanatory comments that eruv means to combine. “The lesson of this masechta is that we all combine into one reshus (domain). We all recognize that we are all under the reshus of Hashem. And when a person comes to that recognition then he is on the right path toward Avodas Hashem.”

As we hope we are continuing on the right path toward Avodas Hashem, we wish a heartfelt mazel tov to all the Daf Yomi learners. We hope and pray that in the merit of this learning we will celebrate our next siyum together, in person! Bimhera b’yamenu, Amen.

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