From Israel National News 3/3/05
Untold numbers of people around the world, up to hundreds of thousands, celebrated the completion of the daily study of the Babylonian Talmud this week. Another 7.5-year cycle is beginning today.
The Babylonian Talmud, 2,711 pages long and divided into 36 books, or tractates, makes up the base of Judaism's Oral Law. In 1923, Rabbi Meir Shapira initiated the idea of study groups around the world studying the same daily page, known as the Daf Yomi – the Daily Page (or Folio; the page comprises both sides). Last night, the 11th such round was completed, and was celebrated in Yad Eliyahu Stadium in Tel Aviv, the Binyanei HaUmah Convention Center in Jerusalem, Madison Square Garden in New York, and in many large and small forums around the world. Another celebration, in English and Russian, will be held in at Binyanei HaUmah tonight.Overhead screens in Madison Square Garden flashed the names of some of the cities in which similar celebrations were taking place, including around the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe and elsewhere. The event in New York, which, like all the others, featured an explanation of the last passage of the last page of the Talmud, was broadcast by satellite to 70 North American cities. In Hevron this week, dozens of men gathered at the Machpelah Cave of the Patriarchs to complete the Talmud. A daily Daf Yomi class has been held there for several years. A similar event was held in Beit El – where six different Daf Yomi classes are given throughout the day – with the participation of Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl of the Old City.Another Daf Yomi concluding event will be held in N'vei Dekalim in Gush Katif tomorrow night, with the participation of rabbis and amateur scholars from all over the country.The 73rd and final volume of a complete English translation of the entire Talmud is being published this month by Mesorah; it is known as the Schottenstein Artscroll edition. Artscroll is also about halfway through a new Hebrew edition of its commentary, seven volumes into a French translation and commentary, and is getting started on a similar English work on the Jerusalem Talmud.The Jerusalem Talmud has its own study cycle. Currently nearing the end of its seventh round, this shorter Talmud is also studied around the world in rounds that take only 4.5 years. Interest in studying the Jerusalem Talmud is on the upswing in Israel, and a new edition of the tractate of Taanit was recently published by the Institute for Study of the Yerushalmi of the Harry Fischel-Ariel Institute in Jerusalem. The work includes both a line-by-line explanation and a more in-depth commentary.