There’s No Time Like the Present
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There’s No Time Like the Present

courtesy of the author
courtesy of the author

On Sunday 5th January I went out for a coffee with a friend. The new cycle of Daf Yomi was starting that day. Various friends and family had been talking about it in the previous weeks and I’d given it some thought too, but hadn’t really reached a conclusion. 

She told me that she was planning to start Daf Yomi, and said that a seven and a half year commitment seemed pretty huge. We then reflected on where we might be in 2027. I came to realize that this time commitment was part of what was holding me back and then I reframed it for myself. I instead chose to think of it as the start of studying something that could be broken down into folios, chapters and tractates. It was better for us to approach this undertaking just one page at a time. 

Later that day, I was on a train and I was reminded of the mishna in Pirkei Avot (1:14) that reads “If not now, then when?” I thought to myself, “If I don’t start Daf Yomi today with the new cycle and the positive buzz around it in the air, when would I?” I opened up Sefaria on my phone and I joined what is seen by many as the world’s largest book club. 

Later that day, I was on a train and I was reminded of the mishna in Pirkei Avot (1:14) that reads “If not now, then when?” I thought to myself, “If I don’t start Daf Yomi today with the new cycle and the positive buzz around it in the air, when would I?”

Part of the real motivation for me was this: Growing up, I was never a particularly avid reader. However, since I started more in-depth learning during my year at seminary and in the years since, I have grown to love it. Our tradition has so much to offer us. How awesome is it to live in a time where thousands of people, of any gender, around the world are all reading the same page of the same book every day? This drew me in. What made it easier was having already learned some of tractate Brakhot before in less formal settings with friends. 

I don’t know where I will be in seven and a half years, but that’s okay. Maybe I will still be learning Daf Yomi and finishing the cycle, and a large part of me really hopes so. Regardless, I’m learning it now and loving it. There are so many different ways to access the text and that makes it all the more beautiful and personally meaningful. The text, recorded many years ago, primarily contains men’s voices, and was available to only a privileged few. How incredible is it that now it is open to all of us, regardless of age, gender or any other potentially mitigating factor? We can all taste and benefit from the Talmud, as well as  all of our Jewish texts. For that I am so grateful. 

Learning and uniting in positive ways will hopefully help us to create more kindness in this world and when we build on kindness other things like increased justice can spread forth more easily. 

These ancient texts continues to offer meaning and relevance for us in 2020. We might have to delve a little deeper in certain places to find it, but it is there.  If we can’t find it ourselves there are experts and other resources that can help us find it. A practice that was started by just a few, roughly a hundred years ago, today Daf Yomi has the power to bring  together as a community. When we are united, we are stronger. We need that unity more today than ever in the face of this society in which there exists so many things trying to divide us into factions. When standing up against antisemitism and other forms of hatred and bigotry, unity is critical and key. 

These ancient texts continues to offer meaning and relevance for us in 2020. We might have to delve a little deeper in certain places to find it, but it is there.  If we can’t find it ourselves there are experts and other resources that can help us find it.

I’m learning Daf Yomi, and you can too. It’s not too late to start. And if Talmud study isn’t for you, there are countless other Jewish, more accessible texts you can study on a daily basis. There’s no time like the present. It may sound cliché but it’s a gift (the present) that we are given each and every moment. It’s our choice how we use it. My gift to myself at that moment on the train was to start learning Daf Yomi. Learning and uniting in positive ways will hopefully help us to create more kindness in this world and when we build on other things like increased justice can spread forth more easily. 

 

Luz has had the opportunity to learn and teach in a variety of Jewish educational settings. She is passionate about making Jewish learning and practice meaningful, relevant and accessible.

Posts are contributed by third parties. The opinions and facts in them are presented solely by the authors and JOFA assumes no responsibility for them.

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