By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
On this coming Tuesday, there will be a global event which will be noticed only in certain circles. And no, I am not referring to anything having to do with President Trump, although that’s also historical and exciting. What I am referring to is the fact that world over the Torah community will start Tractate Bava Basra in the Daf Yomi cycle. This is no small event! The Talmud is made up of sixty tractates; Bava Basra is the largest of them all.
As Jews we have a saying, “Ashrei mi shebah l’kan v’talmudo b’yodo – Fortunate is he who comes Here (the Afterlife) with his Talmud in his hand.” Now, in an airport did you ever see, while everyone else is waiting in long lines, someone comes in and all of a sudden, he is whisked off through a special door and into an elegant lounge while others attend to all of his needs. This is the kind of VIP treatment waiting at the Eternal gate for he who comes with a Talmud in his hands. This is true with any volume of Talmud. Imagine if you come clutching a Bava Basra – having studied it day after day through the cold of the winter and even during the ‘crazy’ days of Purim and the frenetic period leading up to Pesach. Talk about having the foresight to prepare for one’s future!
As one who, with the help of Hashem, bli ayin hara, has already taught five cycles of Daf Yomi, I know a thing or two about the challenges of Daf Yomi. I probably wouldn’t recommend a novice starting with Yevomos or Bechoros. That would be daunting and before getting into the hang of it, one would likely fall out and say, “This is not for me.” But, Bava Basra is the perfect way to start! It is mostly made up – because of the lengthy commentary of the Rashbam – of small size dafim. This is heaven for the Daf Yomi devotee. Firstly, it gives more time for the maggid shiur, the daf yomi teacher, to explain it slowly and it also makes it easier to catch up if one occasionally misses a day. Secondly, the concepts of Bava Basra are not foreign. It speaks about property rights of neighbors, proof of ownership of real estate, and the fascinating laws of Jewish inheritance. And, in the first chapter – if you start right away – you will learn most of what the Talmud has to say about the important subject of tzedakah, giving charity.
I have a suspicion that the women reading this article might be thinking to themselves, “This is a rare article where Rabbi Weiss is only speaking to the men.” That is absolutely incorrect. You see, many times the wife is the sparkplug who initiates a wonderful career of learning for her husband by telling her man, “Let’s invest together in a five-star hotel for the Afterlife.” She can encourage him to begin this wonderful journey. She can sweeten the pot by saying, “I want to share this adventure with you. If I have to take some of your responsibilities upon myself to free the time for you, I’m in. What better way to encourage our children to a life of Torah than seeing tatty (or daddy, or abba) dedicate himself daily to one of the greatest accomplishments of life – the completion of Shas?”
Let’s be realistic! When do we consider that we’ve made it big? When we reach our first million? When we take a cruise around the world? When we buy a condo in Florida or a house in Beit Shemesh? When we buy our dream home? We are taught, “Talmud Torah kneged kulom – The learning of Torah equals all else.” So, it stands to reason that if we finish Shas, we can say that we’ve had a fulfilling life. Getting the biggest masechta in Shas under our belts is a great way to start.
The Yeitzer Hara will tell you, “You can’t do it. Seven days a week? Who are you kidding? You can’t even find an extra 15 minutes!” It’s sad, if people are ill and they have to wait in doctors’ offices, they somehow find the time. So, find the time for what ensures that we shouldn’t need the doctor’s office. As it says about the Torah, “U’lchol besaro marpei – And to all flesh It (Torah) brings healing. This is true both for the husband who learns and for the wife who encourages it.
But, you say, “Seven days a week with no break? That’s impossible! There are weddings, bar mitzvahs, days that I’ll be ready to collapse. Nights out with my spouse. It’s just not going to work.” Years ago this might be daunting but not today. Now, we have Artscroll which in a pinch you can use by yourself. And even if that’s not possible, we have Kol Haloshon where you can catch up by hearing the shiur on the phone by calling 718-906-6400, dial 1 for English, 2 for Mishna and Gemora, 1 for Daf Yomi, and you can select from a whole array of world-famous maggidei shiur. (Press 1 to hear my daf, or you can watch my daf on TorahAnytime.com.)
If you’re already learning Daf Yomi, you might chuckle and say, “well this article is not necessary for me,” and you would also be wrong. For, if your life has been changed by Daf HaYomi, I challenge you to become a daf ambassador and get at least one of your friends or neighbors to join as well. You, more than anyone else, know how much Daf Yomi has changed your life and the life of your family. So, spread the wealth. Twenty five years ago I put up a few signs in Boro Park. Aman by the name of Mr. Weichbrod shlit”a saw one of them and because of that sign he has been coming to myn Shiue for a quarter of a century. So hang up a sign about your local Daf Yomi, you never know whose life you might change forever!
For those of you who live in the Willowbrook Community, I’d like to warmly invite you to join our Daf Yomi at the Agudas Yisroel of Staten Island at 46 birchard Avenue. We learn Monday-Thursday at 8 PM followed by Maariv after the shiur at approximately 8:50 PM. On Sunday Shacharis is at 8 AM followed by the Daf. Friday night it’s three hours after shkia and on Shabbos day 45 Minutes before Mincha. By joining our shiur you get an extra bonus of belonging to the nicest bunch of Torah people you’ve ever met! If you live in Boro Park join our nightly shiur at First Congregation Anshei Sfard on 14th ave. between 45th and 46th street, nightly at 10:15 PM, except for Friday night. I look forward to greeting you!
In the zechus of our Torah learning, may Hashem bless us and our families with all of the wonderful Torah blessings.
Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
Start the cycle of Mishna Yomis with Rabbi Weiss by dialing 718.906.6471. Or you can listen to his daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection 4. Both are FREE services.
Rabbi Weiss is currently stepping up his speaking engagements. To bring him to your community, call 718.916.3100 or email [email protected].
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Now back in print is a large size paperback edition of Power Bentching. To order call him at 718-916-3100 or email at above.
Attend Rabbi Weiss’s weekly shiur at the Landau Shul, Avenue L and East 9th in Flatbush, Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m.
Rabbi Weiss’s Daf Yomi and Mishnah Yomis shiurim can be heard LIVE on KolHaloshon at (718) 906-6400. Write to [email protected] for details. They can now also be seen on TorahAnyTime.com.