Want to study the Talmud with thousands of other Orthodox Jews? There’s an app for that.
Twenty-first century Internet technology makes it easier than ever for thousands of people worldwide to participate in Daf Yomi, a 7.5-year program to study the Torah’s rabbinical commentary.
Wednesday (Aug. 1) marks Siyum HaShas, the end of the 12th Daf Yomi cycle. More than 90,000 Orthodox men and women will commemorate the day with prayer services, speeches, and dancing at a celebration at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., home of the New York Giants and Jets.
In all, 150,000 people will participate as the celebration is broadcast live in 80 cities from Santiago to Melbourne. Rabbi Labish Becker, who led the team that coordinated the local celebrations, said it will be the biggest celebration yet, and attributes much of the growth to the access new technologies allow.
Literally “a page a day,” Daf Yomi breaks down the Talmud into 2,711 daily lessons. Participants study alone or meet for nightly lessons in synagogues, schools and homes.
With the advent of smartphone apps, podcasts and mass e-mails, Orthodox Jews can now access lessons anywhere in the world, at any time of day.
A transnational study program was exactly what Polish Rabbi Meir Shapiro envisioned when he designed Daf Yomi in 1923, said Becker, executive director of the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America.
“Technology has really helped increase the availability of all of the beautiful knowledge to be gained through the study of Daf Yomi, and made it possible to be connected all the time, and not just restricted to having a teacher in a room,” Becker said.