Sunday, October 14, 2012

Daf Yomi Update and a Question

So, it's been about a week now, and I'm still doing the daf. Some observations:
1. Last week might not have been the best week to start, as the gemara itself was quite complicated, and I had events out of the house three nights in a row. On the first night, I found myself at 11:30pm having not finished the daf and I realized then and there that I was at my first moment of truth: finish the daf now (and don't push it off), or it wasn't happening. I finished the daf. This happened a couple of times, and trying to cover a piece of Gemara late at night is no picnic.
2. It became quite clear early on that unless I put this learning into some sort of framework, I'd never keep up. Simply "finding time during the day" wasn't going to work. Also, right now I'm not interested in attending a shiur (which is extremely passive), so I'm trying to at least learn the daf on my own. Thusfar, I've settled into a routine where I wake up a half-hour early and learn at home in the quiet. It's nice, and I can get through most of the daf in that time. We'll see how this plays out over time.
2b. I'm trying not to do the daf during davening or chazarat hashatz. Not simple.
3. Since I am learning on my own in a limited amount of time, there's really no time to sit on a difficult piece and crack my head trying to figure out the gemara as I might normally do. Also, there's no time to look up every word I dont' know in a Jastro (which I used to do). I need some help. A friend showed me his Talmudo B'yado, which is a paperback book that the Meorot Hadaf Hayomi (Here's a link to their website, but it's terrible. Just call them in Israel - 1-700-500-151) puts out and is a mini-Artscroll to help you get through the daf. You subscribe for 18 shekel a month, and they send you each new volume before you need it. I have yet to get the first volume, but I'm signed up.
4. On day 2, a friend (and blog reader) saw me and asked me how it was going, and I complained that I was on my way to a wedding and didn't know how I'd ever finish the day's (difficult) daf. He said, "No problem. You can just borrow my mini-daf booklet." (put out by a different organization), which I did. When the dancing went on a tad too long for me and the young people laughed us older folk out of the circle, I went outside with the small gemara and finished the daf.
I immediately felt the power of being "in the system", in that you're really not alone; many other people are doing the program with you, are willing to help and share with you, and even discuss issues that come up on the daf. It's a nice feeling.
5. Looking for a shiur that supplements the daf (and doesn't cover the daf itself) Rabbi Johnny Solomon (a recent Oleh to YB) suggested that I check out Rabbi Chaim Eisentein's "Halachah from the Daily Daf", which I will do and report back. If you know of any other similar shiurim (that are short, to the point, easy to follow and don't cover the text of the daf itself), please share in the comments.