Yomi Timeline

Yomi Timeline

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The History of Yom Kippur

The biblical account of Yom Kippur describes a day dedicated to atonement and abstinence. Leviticus 23:27 tells us that on the 10th day of the month of Tishrei:

&ldquoYou should do no work throughout that day. For it is a Day of Atonement (&ldquoYom Kippurim&rdquo) on which expiation is made on your behalf before the Lord your God. Indeed, any person who does not practice self-denial throughout that day shall be cut off from his people&hellip&rdquo

In addition to the abnegation alluded to above, we are also told in Leviticus that on this day the High Priest would perform sacred rites in order to achieve expiation of the people&rsquos sins. These rites included a lottery to choose two goats &mdash one to be consecrated to God and one to &ldquoAzazel.&rdquo While the exact meaning of the word Azazel is uncertain, the ritual required the High Priest to confess the sins of Israel on this Azazel-goat, and to set it free in the wilderness so that it &ldquoshall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region.&rdquo (Lev. 16:22) The goat consecrated to God was offered on the altar as a purification offering. (For a modern take on the goat ritual, you may want to check out G-dcast&rsquos eScapegoat.)

Early Yiddish

In Ashkenazi societies, Hebrew was the language of the Bible and prayer, Aramaic was the language of learning and Yiddish was the language of everyday life. Scholars refer to this as the internal trilingualism of Ashkenaz. Though they vary in sound and use, all three languages are written in the same alphabet.

The first record of a printed Yiddish sentence is a blessing found in the Worms Mahzor (Vórmser mákhzer) from 1272. Beginning in the 14th century Yiddish was commonly used for epic poems such as the Shmuel-bukh, which reworks the biblical story of the prophet Samuel into a European knightly romance.


The novel idea of Jews in all parts of the world studying the same daf [4] each day, with the goal of completing the entire Talmud, was put forth at the First World Congress of the World Agudath Israel in Vienna on 16 August 1923 by Rabbi Meir Shapiro, then Rav of Sanok, Poland, and future rosh yeshiva of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva. [5] In those years, only some of the 63 tractates of the Talmud were being studied regularly, such as Berachot, Shabbat, and Eruvin, which deal with practical laws, while others, such as Zevachim and Temurah, were hardly studied. [5] Shapiro also viewed the program as a way to unify the Jewish people. [6] [7] His idea was greeted enthusiastically by the nearly 600 delegates at the Congress, including many Torah leaders from Europe and America, who accepted it as a universal obligation for all Jews. [5] [8] The first cycle of Daf Yomi commenced on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5684 (11 September 1923). [5]

Process Edit

With 2,711 pages in the Talmud, one Daf Yomi cycle takes about 7 years, 5 months. The completion of each tractate is typically celebrated with a small siyum, and the completion of the entire cycle is celebrated at an event known as the Siyum HaShas.

Daf Yomi can be studied alone, with a chavrusa (study partner), in a daily shiur (class) led by a rabbi or teacher, via a telephone shiur, CD-ROM, or audio and online resources. Typically, Daf Yomi shiurim are held in synagogues, yeshivas, and offices. [9] They also take place in the United States Senate, Wall Street board rooms, [10] and on the Long Island Rail Road, in the last car of two commuter trains departing Far Rockaway at 7:51 am and 8:15 am, respectively, for Manhattan. [9] [11] [12] [13] [14] Daf Yomi shiurim have been piped into the in-flight sound system of El Al flights. [12] [15] A typical Daf Yomi shiur lasts one hour. [16] Participants study the text together with the commentary of Rashi. [17]

The Schottenstein Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, an English-language translation and interpretation published in 73 volumes between 1990 and 2004 by ArtScroll, [18] has been credited with significantly increasing the number of English-language participants in the Daf Yomi program. [19] The Schottenstein Talmud has also been translated into Hebrew. Additional resources to assist those endeavoring to complete the cycle for the first time are audiotapes, online websites, and iPods preloaded with lectures covering every page of the Talmud. [20] The Dafyomi Advancement Forum, founded by Kollel Iyun Hadaf in 1996, is a free resource center offering English-language translations, outlines, charts, analyses and lectures on every daf, as well as answers to any question by email. [6] [21] Meoros HaDaf HaYomi, founded in 1999, disseminates a weekly Daf Yomi study sheet in both Hebrew and English available by email and regular mail. It has recorded shiurim on the daf on CD-ROM in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and French. [22]

As with any siyum, the Siyum HaShas is both an end and a beginning. [23] Dozens and even hundreds of Gedolei Torah (Torah leaders) attend each Siyum HaShas. A distinguished Rav is honored with the recital of the last topic on the last page of Talmud and the saying of the Hadran ("We will return") prayer. The Rav then delivers a scholarly lecture. Another honoree begins the new Daf Yomi cycle with the recital of the first topic on the first page of Talmud. Other rabbis are invited to deliver speeches on the Talmud and on the significance of the event. A special Kaddish, the Kaddish Hagadol, is also said. The program is rounded out with spirited singing and dancing.

1st Siyum HaShas Edit

The 1st Siyum HaShas took place on 2 February 1931 (15 Shevat 5691) in several cities in Europe and in Jerusalem, with the main venue being the newly opened Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva in Lublin, Poland. Tens of thousands of Jews attended these events. Rabbi Meir Shapiro presided over the Siyum in his yeshiva in the presence of many leaders of Polish Jewry. [24] In the United States, Siyums were held in Baltimore and Philadelphia. [25]

2nd Siyum HaShas Edit

The 2nd Siyum HaShas was held on 27 June 1938 (28 Sivan 5698). Again the main venue was the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, but the founder of that yeshiva and the Daf Yomi program, Rabbi Meir Shapiro, was not present, having died suddenly in 1933 at the age of 46. [26] An estimated 15,000 [27] to 20,000 [28] Jews came from all over Poland to celebrate the milestone together with many Torah scholars, including the Rebbes of Boyan-Cracow, Sochatchov, Sadigura, and Modzhitz, Rabbi Menachem Ziemba, and Rabbi Dov Berish Weidenfeld. So many Gedolim were gathered in one place that many halachic queries were sent directly to Lublin. The two-day event culminated with the completion of a Sefer Torah in memory of Shapiro. [27]

In the United States, Siyums were held in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. [25]

In Mandatory Palestine, organizers planned to hold a Siyum in the Zikhron Meir neighborhood of Bnei Brak (named for Rabbi Meir Shapiro). It was cancelled at the last minute by the British mandatory government, which banned all mass gatherings for fear of "anti-government demonstrations". [27]

3rd Siyum HaShas Edit

The 3rd Siyum HaShas was held on 19 November 1945 (14 Kislev 5706), with the main venues in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. (The Siyum in Tel Aviv, attended by more than 3,000, was delayed one day due to the British-imposed curfew.) Coming as it did after the Holocaust, this Siyum was dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who had perished. [29] A Siyum HaShas was also held in the displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany, by a small group of survivors. [29] [30]

In the United States, the Siyum was commemorated in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, on Manhattan's West Side, and in Detroit. [25]

4th Siyum HaShas Edit

The 4th Siyum HaShas on 13 April 1953 (28 Nisan 5713) also had its main venue in Israel. An estimated 10,000 gathered for the main event in Mea Shearim, following local siyums and speeches by leading rabbis in over half a dozen Jerusalem synagogues. [31] [32] Thousands attended the Siyum HaShas in Tel Aviv and danced afterwards at the central bus station. Well-attended Siyums also took place in Bnei Brak, Petah Tikva, Haifa, and Tiberias. [31]

In New York City, the 4th Siyum HaShas was celebrated at the Young Israel of Borough Park, as well as in Bensonhurst, Brownsville, West Side of Manhattan, and the Bronx. [25]

5th Siyum HaShas Edit

The 5th Siyum HaShas took place on 5 September 1960 (13 Elul 5720). In Jerusalem's Kikar HaShabbat, an open-air square at the intersection of the Mea Shearim and Geula neighborhoods, distinguished Torah leaders addressed the thousands of attendees. In Bnei Brak, police estimated an audience of between 12,000 and 15,000 in an outdoor field. Over 5,000 attended the Siyum in Tel Aviv, where Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, the Ponevezher Rav, delivered a hadran that lasted nearly two hours. [31]

In the United States, Rabbi Aharon Kotler presided over the 5th Siyum HaShas at the Zeirei Agudas Yisroel convention in New York. [25] [33] Other Siyums took place in New York City and Baltimore. [25]

6th Siyum HaShas Edit

The 6th Siyum HaShas was celebrated in many venues in Israel. The largest gatherings were at Jerusalem's International Convention Center on 29 January 1968 (28 Tevet 5728), the Wagschal Hall in Bnei Brak, and the Culture Palace in Tel Aviv (home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) on 30 January 1968. At the Tel Aviv event, the choirs of Ger, Vizhnitz, Modzhitz, and Chabad, together with a Sephardi boys choir and a Haredi Yerushalmi choir, performed between speeches. [34]

In London, the Agudath Israel of Britain organized a Siyum HaShas at the Town Hall in Stamford Hill, attended by groups from Manchester, Gateshead, and Sunderland, and Agudath Israel leaders from Europe. [34]

The largest Siyum HaShas to date in the United States took place on 28 January 1968 [34] at the Bais Yaakov of Boro Park with 300 people in attendance. [35] Other Siyums were held in New York City in Washington Heights, the Bronx, the West Side of Manhattan, and Bensonhurst Baltimore Boston Chicago and Los Angeles. [34]

7th Siyum HaShas Edit

Tens of thousands of participants attended the 7th Siyum HaShas in Jerusalem, which was held on 23 June 1975 (14 Tammuz 5735). The event, which took place in the large courtyard of the Bais Yaakov High School, attracted thousands of religious schoolchildren wearing a special Daf Yomi badge, together with their teachers. Three hundred members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah were seated on the huge dais. The central celebration in Tel Aviv, again held at the Culture Palace and again featuring numerous choirs, also drew a huge attendance. In Bnei Brak, more than 10,000 people pressed into the Great Synagogue the doors and some furnishings buckled under the crush of the crowd. After the ceremony and speeches, the crowd spilled out onto Rabbi Akiva Street for dancing. The Siyum was also marked in Netanya, Safed, Ramat Gan, and, for the first time, in Giv'atayim. [2]

In the United States, the 7th Siyum HaShas was held on 15 June 1975 at the Manhattan Center in New York City, drawing an audience of over 5,000. [2] [33] At this Siyum, the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America permanently dedicated the Siyum HaShas to the memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. [32] Other Siyums took place in Philadelphia and Cleveland. Around the world, Siyums were held in England, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, and Mexico. [2]

8th Siyum HaShas Edit

The mid-1970s and early 1980s saw an increase in the Haredi population worldwide, fueling the growth of the Daf Yomi program and an increase in locations for the Siyum HaShas beginning with the 8th Siyum. [36] At the conclusion of the eighth cycle of Daf Yomi, The New York Times estimated that 40,000 individuals worldwide had participated in the seven-and-a-half-year learning cycle. [37] According to Agudath Israel, close to 250,000 people worldwide participated in the 8th Siyum HaShas. [36] The largest attendance was in Israel, with 10,000 attendees at the Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv on 21 November 1982 (5 Kislev 5743), 10,000 at Jerusalem's International Convention Center, thousands in Bnei Brak at Wagschal Hall, and hundreds in Haifa, Petah Tikva, and, for the first time, in Ashdod. At the Jerusalem event, a special certificate was awarded to four men who had completed all eight cycles of Daf Yomi. [36]

The main Siyum HaShas in the United States was celebrated on 14 November 1982 at the Felt Forum in New York City, with over 5,000 participants. [3] [32] This program was broadcast to gatherings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Montreal. Other Siyums took place in Detroit Cleveland and Monsey, New York. [36]

9th Siyum HaShas Edit

At the Agudath Israel of America convention following the 8th Siyum HaShas in New York, Agudah chairman Rabbi Moshe Sherer announced that he wished to book Madison Square Garden for the next Siyum HaShas, to be held on 26 April 1990. Many were skeptical that the stadium, seating 20,000, could be filled, considering that the 8th Siyum HaShas in New York had attracted only 5,000. But Agudath Israel of America went ahead and paid a nonrefundable deposit two and a half years in advance of the Siyum, and attendance met all expectations, with over 20,000 in attendance. [3] [35] [38] Tickets on the main floor, priced at $100 apiece, were sold out for weeks in advance, and the women's section was also sold out. [32] Other Siyums were held in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, and Tel Aviv. [39]

Enormous crowds were seen at the 9th Siyum HaShas in Israel's main cities on 24 April 1990 (29 Nisan 5750). These included a Siyum in Tel Aviv at the Yad Eliyahu Arena, a Siyum in Jerusalem in the spacious Bais Yaakov High School courtyard, and a Siyum in Bnei Brak. Special children's Siyums were also held in Jerusalem (with students from 84 Talmud Torahs and schools in attendance) and in Bnei Brak (with 5,000 children together with leading rabbis and educators in attendance). [38]

The 9th Siyum HaShas in London drew a large audience and lasted six hours, followed by a festive meal. Smaller events took place in Manchester, Gateshead, and among local Daf Yomi groups in England. In Melbourne, Australia, home to eight regular Daf Yomi shiurim, the central Siyum HaShas drew 1,000 people. [38]

10th Siyum HaShas Edit

The 10th Siyum HaShas in the United States took place on 28 September 1997 at two New York City locations: Madison Square Garden, with an audience of 25,000, and the Nassau Coliseum, with an audience of 20,000. [3] Siyums were also held in Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Portland, [40] bringing total U.S. participation to 70,000 individuals. [41] [42] Siyums also took place in Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec in Canada, and Melbourne, Australia. [40]

In Israel, the central Siyum HaShas was held at Tel Aviv's Yad Eliyahu Arena on 28 September 1997 (26 Elul 5757) with thousands in attendance, and was broadcast live to other locations. The honor of starting the new cycle of Daf Yomi went to Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, a student of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, who shared his memories of the first Siyum HaShas in 1931. The Shabbat preceding this Siyum was billed as "Shabbos Daf Yomi", with rabbis calling on Israelis to increase their study of Daf Yomi. Other Siyums were held in battei medrash (study halls) in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, and in Ramat Vizhnitz in Haifa. [40]

In England, the central Siyum HaShas was held in the Sobel Center in London, drawing thousands of attendees. Over 2,500 attended the seudat mitzvah (celebratory meal) hosted by Agudath Israel in London. Another thousand attended Siyums in Manchester and Gateshead. [40]

11th Siyum HaShas Edit

An estimated 300,000 people worldwide participated in the 11th Siyum HaShas. [28] The largest celebrations were held on 1 March 2005 in three locations in the New York area: Madison Square Garden, the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey, and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, with a combined 45,000 attendees. [3] [43] Portions of each program were telecast to the other sites and to more than 50 locations countrywide, [40] including the Rosemont Theatre in Chicago, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. [44] The programs were also broadcast to 20 overseas locations. [40] The honor of reciting the final portion of the final page at the Continental Arena event was given to Rabbi Chaim Stein, rosh yeshiva of the Telshe yeshiva of Wickliffe, Ohio, who was making his ninth personal Siyum HaShas [40] and had participated in each of the ten preceding events, including the first one held at the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva in 1931. [45]

In Israel, 10,000 tickets prepared for the central Siyum HaShas at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv on 1 March 2005 (20 Adar I, 5765) sold out immediately. The proceedings were viewed by live satellite hookup in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Ashdod. Siyums were also held in Jerusalem at the International Convention Center, in the Zikhron Moshe synagogue, in the Pinsk-Karlin beis medrash, in Kiryat Belz, and at the Erlau yeshiva. An English-language Siyum at the Jerusalem Convention Center was attended by the Rebbes of Boyan, Karlin-Stolin, Kaliv, and Pittsburg, as well as by English-speaking roshei yeshiva Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Rabbi Yitzchak Sheiner, and Rabbi Mendel Weinbach. Other Siyums were held in Bnei Brak, Haifa, Ashdod, Netanya, Petah Tikva, Rehovot, Tel Zion, and Kiryat Ata. [40]

The 11th Siyum HaShas was also celebrated by 4,000 people in London, [40] 2,000 people in Manchester, [40] and at events in Antwerp, [40] and Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. [46] The scope of celebrations marking the 11th Siyum HaShas was described in one newspaper account as follows:

Among the [U.S.] cities where Siyums were held were Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Des Moines, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Lakewood, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, St. Louis, Seattle, Cincinnati, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago.

Coming as it did the day before the yahrzeit of Hasidic master Reb Elimelech of Lizensk, when hundreds traditionally make a pilgrimage to his grave in Leżajsk, Poland, two Siyums were celebrated in Poland, including the first at the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva since 1931 (see below). A large group from Israel traveled to the former beis medrash of the Gerrer Rebbes in Góra Kalwaria. A Siyum HaShas was made in Moscow by the united Jewish communities in Russia under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar. [40]

The 11th Siyum HaShas was also marked by an event for non-Orthodox Jews called Jewish Unity Live 2005. The central venue, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, featured Elie Wiesel, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, and other celebrities gatherings were also held on college campuses and military bases across the U.S. [47]

12th Siyum HaShas Edit

The MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which has seating for 82,500, was the main U.S. venue for the 12th Siyum HaShas on 1 August 2012. [48] An additional 8,500 folding chairs were placed on the playing field, and a dais of approximately 500 seats accommodated Admorim, roshei yeshiva, and distinguished rabbis. An additional section of 1,000 seats was reserved for teachers of Daf Yomi shiurim. [49] [50] All 92,000 seats were sold out. [51] A total of 2,200 plasma screens were set up inside the stadium and four Jumbotron screens were positioned outside the stadium for overflow attendees. Female attendees, who constituted an estimated 20 percent of the crowd, were seated in the upper deck of the stadium behind a 12-foot (3.7 m) high, 2.5-mile (4.0 km) long mechitza (curtain divider) that was drawn during prayers. [49] [52] Satellite broadcasts and web feeds were piped to over 100 locations, including those in Chicago, Baltimore, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Lublin, Poland. [51]

For the first time, a Modern Orthodox Siyum HaShas was also held, on 6 August 2012, at Congregation Shearith Israel on Manhattan's Upper West Side. [49] [53] [54] This event featured lectures on various aspects of both the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmud, and participation by female Torah scholars. [55]

Tens of thousands attended Siyums in Israel. These included the Dirshu World Siyum at the Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv, the National Siyum HaShas in Petah Tikva, a Siyum organized by Agudath Israel and Degel HaTorah in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem, and a Siyum organized by the Shas political party at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. [56] [57] [58] There were two English-language Siyums at Jerusalem's International Convention Center, one sponsored by Dirshu on 31 July [59] and one organized by Kollel Iyun Hadaf on 5 August. [6] [60] The various Religious Zionist organizations sponsored a separate siyum at the same Convention Center on 2 August, and there was another English language siyum at Jerusalem's Great Synagogue on 9 August.

A new edition of the Talmud was launched to coincide with the 12th Siyum HaShas by Koren Publishers. Known as the Koren Talmud Bavli, this edition features translation and commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. The project, slated to be 42 volumes, is overseen by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb who serves as editor-in-chief. [61]

13th Siyum HaShas Edit

For the 13th Siyum HaShas, whose study cycle concluded on the 7th of Tevet 5780 (January 4, 2020), celebrations were scheduled to take place in locations in the U.S., Europe, Israel, and other countries, in January and February 2020. The main event in the United States, staged by Agudath Israel of America, took place on January 1 at MetLife Stadium, which has capacity for 92,000 seats, with a second location at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. [33] Concerned about holding an outdoor event during the New Jersey winter, planners had proposed holding the main siyum in five different indoor venues in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia simultaneously with live streaming hook-ups between them. [33] But the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel of America opted to hold the siyum in one place based on the principle of b'rov am hadrat melech, that God's honor is increased when a large number of Jews gather in the same place. [33]

Early Siyum HaShas celebrations also took place in December 2019 in Melbourne [62] and Vienna. [63]

In Israel, the Hadran organization organized a Siyum HaShas celebration focusing on women's learning and teaching of Talmud in general and the Daf Yomi in particular. [64]

Dirshu held their own Siyum in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on February 9, 2020.

With the closure of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva by the Nazis and the conversion of the yeshiva to a medical academy, the Siyum HaShas was not held in its original venue for many cycles. In 1998 the yeshiva was returned to the Jewish community of Warsaw, which undertook renovations. [28] In March 2005, Rabbi David Singer, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, New York, whose father, Rabbi Joseph Singer, the Pilzno Rav, had been born in Poland, [65] organized the 11th Siyum HaShas in the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva. [28] [66] Chaired by Rabbi Baruch Taub, rabbi emeritus of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto, [67] the event was linked by satellite to the one in New York and was attended by over 200 participants, [28] including the Rebbes of Sadigura, Modzhitz, Nadvorna, and Biala Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Israeli politician Rabbi Menachem Porush. [40]

Singer organized the 12th Siyum HaShas at the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva on the 1st of August 2012. Participants viewed a simultaneous broadcast from the event taking place that same day at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. [68]

Siyum HaShas also refers to any individual's or group's completion of all 2,711 pages of Talmud. Many rabbis and Torah scholars have completed the study of the entire Talmud one or more times in their lifetimes. [69] [70] Synagogues, organizations, and community groups also complete the Talmud on a yearly basis, marking an annual Siyum HaShas. [71] [72] [73] An initiative known as a Shas-A-Thon brings hundreds and even thousands of participants together to study and complete the entire Talmud in one day. [74] This initiative is sometimes used as a fund-raiser, with participants collecting pledges from donors. [75]

In the new Daf Yomi cycle, daily Talmud study is reaching new populations

(JTA) — In December, when she was given two to four years to live, Catherine Johnson decided to start studying a page of Talmud a day.

An expansive work of Jewish law and narrative written in Aramaic and Hebrew, the Talmud spans 2,711 double-sided pages. At a rate of one page studied each day, a practice called Daf Yomi (Aramaic for “daily page”), the whole thing takes 7 1/2 years to complete.

Johnson isn’t sure she’ll be able to finish it. But every page, every day, is a small victory.

“It just struck a chord with me,” said Johnson, who has ovarian cancer. “Time was a big deal for me. People were putting constraints on the amount of time I had and the idea of starting something that would take 7 1/2 years to complete — it felt like a statement of hope.”

Johnson’s cancer isn’t the only thing that sets apart her embrace of Talmud study. Traditionally, the Talmud has been mainly the domain of Orthodox men. Johnson is a non-Orthodox woman living in North Wales, in the western part of the United Kingdom, more than an hour’s drive from a synagogue.

And she’s not alone. The latest Daf Yomi cycle, which began in January, has drawn a much broader following than perhaps at any time during its century-long history.

Previously, only those with the fortitude to show up in person every day for a lesson in millennia-old Jewish law — or study it on their own or with a partner — could participate. But with the proliferation of online tools to study Talmud in translation, and Facebook groups to connect with others who have undertaken the daily commitment, a much wider spectrum of people seem to have taken it on.

For those who live far from other Jews, Daf Yomi has created a virtual community of fellow learners.

“On a personal level, it stopped the isolation that I felt and it personally supported me,” said Johnson, who now texts daily with other women studying Daf Yomi that she has met through Facebook. “It’s lovely to have other women who are intelligent and smart and they know things I don’t know and they have a background different from me.”

Part of what has enabled the broadening of Talmud study is the proliferation of online tools that make the text easily accessible to English speakers. Sefaria, the free online library of Jewish texts, offers a line-by-line translation of the entire Talmud. (Sefaria CEO Daniel Septimus is a board member of 70 Faces Media, JTA’s parent company.)

My Jewish Learning launched an email series in January featuring a daily teaching based on that day’s page. (Both My Jewish Learning and JTA are subsidiaries of 70 Faces Media.) And a range of podcasts, Facebook groups and other digital resources enable the study of the daily page from virtually anywhere.

Rabbi Joseph Meszler, who runs a nearly 400-member Facebook group called Daf Yomi for Progressive Rabbis, said today’s tense political environment may be pushing people back to ancient texts as a break from the nonstop news cycle.

“One of the reasons people were eager for it is times were tough emotionally, and people were looking for some kind of transcendental check-in, something that helps them rise above reacting to the right-now,” said Meszler, the spiritual leader at Temple Sinai in Sharon Massachusetts, a Reform synagogue. “I think everyone is looking for meaning and trying to make sense of our world.”

Online learning isn’t ideal for everyone. Garry Stein, a Canadian who lives in Hong Kong and does business in Ghana, appreciates the opportunity to access the Talmud from his phone across many time zones, but says it isn’t the same as studying in person with a partner, a traditional mode of learning known as “hevruta.”

“It is much harder to do it in a community when you’re traveling as much as I am,” he said. “I do wish I had someone I could talk to regularly while studying online. The posting [on Facebook groups] is useful to me, but to be honest, the quality of the posts is very uneven.”

Newcomers to Daf Yomi sometimes have trouble grappling with 2,000-year-old social norms — especially around gender.

“Some of the stuff, especially as a woman, is very difficult,” said Rene Rose, who lives in rural Vermont and began studying after reading “If All the Seas Were Ink,” a memoir by Ilana Kurshan about her experience studying Daf Yomi.

“We have to go back in history,” Rose said. “We can’t project a 21st century consciousness there. The Temple was destroyed, people were scattered, and the people talking here were trying to re-create something in a different format.”

Johnson and her texting group also puzzle at the Talmud’s stories about women — in particular, one about a rabbi who would sit outside a bathhouse and check to make sure the women immersed themselves properly. But she also took comfort in a rabbinic discussion of illness and whether it comes from God, something she’s grappling with in her own life.

“Sometimes the sages say, ‘It’s God’s punishment,’” Johnson said. “They’ve got a divine aspect to why the person is ill, and that can be really difficult to learn on those days, that can be tough. One of the things that gives me comfort is the sages are just the way we are today. We still don’t understand why some people get sick, and some people don’t, and they were just trying to understand where God was in that.”

And of course, each day of study is another day in Johnson’s fight with cancer. Seven-and-a-half years is a daunting timeline, but she’s determined to complete it.

“I am sure that God did not bring me this far to kill me now,” she said. “So I’m planning on finishing. I’m planning on finishing the Daf Yomi.”


The amount of time given to each player to complete their moves will vary from game to game. However, most games tend to change the classification of tournaments according to the length of time given to the players. [1]

In chess, the categories of short time limits are: "bullet", "blitz", and "rapid". "Bullet" games are the fastest, with either a very short time limit per move (such as ten seconds) or a very short total time (such as one or two minutes). "Blitz" games typically give five to ten minutes per player, and "rapid" games give between ten and sixty minutes. By way of contrast, for Go, anything under twenty minutes could be considered "blitz".

The exact approach to using a game clock to regulate games varies considerably.

Sudden death Edit

This is the simplest methodology. Each player is assigned a fixed amount of time for the whole game. If a player's main time expires, they generally lose the game.

Overtime formats Edit

Here the game time is separated into two basic domains: the main time and the overtime. To switch between the two requires some trigger event, often the expiration of the main time. In chess, reaching a fixed number of moves can trigger the gain of a fixed amount of extra time. This usually occurs in long games after the 40th move: e.g. 120 minutes to complete the first 40 moves, and another 30 minutes to complete the rest of the game.

Go Edit

Byo-yomi Edit

This timing method is also used in shogi. The word is borrowed from Japanese the term literally means "counting the seconds", or more generally, "countdown".

After the main time is depleted, a player has a certain number of periods (for example five periods, each of thirty seconds). If a move is completed before the time expires, the time period resets and restarts the next turn. If a move is not completed within a time period, the time period will expire, and the next time period begins. This is written as <maintime> + <number of byo-yomi time periods> of <byo-yomi time period>. Using up the last period means that the player has lost on time. In some systems, such as certain Go title matches, there is no main time instead, the time used is rounded up to the nearest whole increment, such as one minute, and the actual counting of time occurs toward the end of one player's time.

A typical time control is "60 minutes + 30 seconds byo-yomi", which means that each player may make as many or as few moves as they choose during their first 60 minutes of thinking time, but after the hour is exhausted, they must make each move in thirty seconds or less. To enforce byo-yomi, a third person or a game clock with a byo-yomi option is necessary.

In professional Go games and many amateur tournaments, a player has several byo-yomi periods, for example five periods of one minute each. If a player makes their move within a one-minute period, they retain all five periods for their future moves. If a player oversteps one minute, they start the following move in the second rather than the first byo-yomi period. In effect, the player has one minute per move plus four extra one-minute packets which may be used as needed, e.g. four moves of two minutes each, or one move of five minutes, or any other combination.

In higher-level tournaments, such as the Kisei tournament, the player's time is often composed entirely of byo-yomi periods (for example, in an eight-hour game, the player may have 480 periods of one minute each), rather than having a main block of thinking time. In this case, the actual counting of time (verbally) begins once the player falls below a certain threshold of time, such as 10 minutes when the time is being counted, the player is informed at intervals how much time they have used in their current period, and how many extra periods they have left. (For example, the time may be called at 10-second intervals, and when 55 and 58 seconds have been used during a player's final minute, the last 10 seconds are counted one by one.) [2] Similarly, in the televised NHK Cup tournament, the player has 30 seconds per move plus 10 extra one-minute periods which may be used as needed.

When analog game clocks are used to enforce byo-yomi, it is more convenient to assign additional time for a block of moves, rather than for each move. In Canadian byo-yomi, a player typically gets 5 minutes for 10 to 20 moves. The IGS Go server uses a similar system, but the byo-yomi time is variable and always covers 25 moves. Thus the time control "20 minutes + 15 minutes byoyomi" on IGS means that after the initial 20 minutes of thinking time are over, a player is granted 15 additional minutes, which may be spent however they choose. If these minutes expire before they have made 25 more moves, they lose. If they make 25 more moves in less than 15 minutes, they are granted another 15 minutes of byo-yomi, and so on indefinitely.

Canadian byo-yomi imposes a certain average speed of play, but allows the player to spend more time to ponder on difficult moves. Several byo-yomi periods in one move per period variant (also known as Japanese byo-yomi) serve essentially the same purpose, albeit to a lesser extent.

Unused time during one byo-yomi period does not carry forward to future moves. This is in contrast to the Fischer clock often used in chess, with designations such as "5 minutes + 12 seconds per move". Under this time control each player has twelve seconds added to their clock after every move, starting from the first move, regardless of how much time they spend on each move. Thus if a player thinks for eight seconds before making their first move, they will have five minutes and four seconds on their clock after making it.

Canadian overtime Edit

After using all of their main time, a player must make a certain number of moves within a certain period of time — for example, twenty moves within five minutes. In Go, players stop the clock, and the player in overtime counts out the required number of stones and sets the remaining stones out of reach so as not to become confused, whilst the opponent sets the clock to the overtime period. If all the moves are made in time, then another period of overtime starts — another set of stones and the timer again reset to the overtime period. If all the moves are not made in time, the player has lost on time. This is written as <main time> + <number of moves to be completed in each time period> in <time period>. [3] In Progressive Canadian Overtime the required rate of play alters in additional overtime periods — EG 1hour + 10 in 5, 20 in 5, 30 in 5, 40 in 5 etc. [4]

Chess Edit

Increment and delay methods Edit

These are the timing methods most often used in chess.

In increment (also known as bonus and Fischer, after Bobby Fischer's patent on it), a specified amount of time is added to the player's main time after each move, unless the player's main time ran out before they completed their move. For example, if the time control is "G/90inc30" (90 minutes of main time per player, with a 30-second increment each move), each player gets an additional 30 seconds added to their main time after each move, unless the player's main time ran out first.

Under FIDE and US Chess rules, each player gets the increment for the first move as well. For example, with "G/3inc2", each player starts with three minutes and two seconds on the first move. Not all digital chess clocks automatically give the increment for the first move for those that don't, the increment time has to be added manually.

Simple Delay Edit

In the simple delay (also known as the US delay), the clock waits for a fixed delay period during each move before the player's main time starts counting down. For example, if the delay is ten seconds, the clock waits for ten seconds each move before the main time starts counting down.

Bronstein Delay Edit

The Bronstein delay (named after David Bronstein, its inventor), like increment, adds a fixed amount of time after each move, but no more than the amount of time spent to make the move. For example, if the delay is ten seconds and a player uses ten or more seconds for a move, ten seconds are added after they complete their move. If the player uses five seconds, only those five seconds are returned to the clock. This ensures that the main time left on the clock can never increase even if a player makes fast moves. As with increment, under FIDE and US Chess rules, the delay time is applied to the first move.

The Simple and Bronstein delays are mathematically equivalent. The advantage of the Bronstein delay is that the player can easily see how much time is remaining without mentally adding the delay to the main clock. The advantage of the simple delay is that the player can always tell whether the delay time or the main time is counting down. The simple delay is the form of delay most often used in the United States, while the Bronstein delay is more often used in most other countries.

Penalty formats Edit

Such methods exact a points penalty, or fine, on the player who breaches their time limit. One example occurs in Go, where the Ing Rules enforce fines on breaches of main time and overtime periods. [5] In tournament Scrabble, the time control is standardized to 25 minutes per side with a 10-point penalty for each minute or part thereof that is used in excess, [6] so that overstepping the allotted time by 61 seconds carries a 20-point penalty.

Hourglass Edit

Each player's clock starts with a specified time (such as one minute or ten minutes). While one player is deciding a move, their clock time decreases and their opponent's clock time increases. This is analogous to an hourglass: sand empties from one container and fills the other. The sum of both clocks always remains the same, and slow moves give extra time to the opponent. There is no maximum amount of time allotted for a game with this timing method if both players play quickly enough, the game will continue until its natural end.

Originally, the Yomi Wan were simply the private domains of the Yama Kings at the beginning of time, the Yama Kings were purifiers and redeemers, necessary jailors who obeyed the August Personage of Jade. As such, they had their own pocket dimensions where they enacted their necessary, if unpleasant, duties.

As the Yama Kings fell into corruption, they carved spiritual lebensraum out of the Yin World and Yang World. These stolen dimensions were crudely welded together by the Yama Kings, resulting in visible scars throughout Yomi Wan.

This dimension is a crazy-quilt domain each Yama King claims some space as their own personal Hell. Most hells are Yin- or Yang-aspected, a function of their Yama King and original territory, but there are visible scars throughout the realms - unstable fluxes in reality that occasionally move, wreaking havoc everywhere they go. The Yama Kings war over territory on a regular basis, usually by claiming each others domains for their own. As a result, Yomi Wan is unstable and in a perpetual state of flux.

The domains of each Yama King differ widely but are connected in some fashion, one could theoretically walk from Kakuri to the Wicked City, however the active interest (and knives) of the Yama Kings prevents this from happening easily. Similarly, there are passages to the Yin and Yang Worlds, but traversing them is insanely difficult.

The major activity in Yomi Wan is torture, and the extraction of Chi from individuals suffering extreme pain. As a result, sinners are everywhere in Yomi Wan, with horrific and painful things happening to said sinners. The Yama Kings are firm believers in advancing the craft of pain, and have found exciting new uses for rubber tubing and dental drills. Almost everyone in Yomi Wan is a sinner, Akuma, Demon or Yama King. Anyone else is still likely to find themselves in the torture chambers pretty quickly.

No matter how horrible the Thousand Hells are for the sinners, they are ever so slightly worse for their ostensible jailers. Despite everything they have done, there is something not quite "right" (as far as Yama Kings are concerned) about Yomi Wan righteous individuals like Jizo wander throughout Kakuri Hell with immunity, souls escape, things mess up in the most ironically redeeming of ways. These events are not common, but they are visible and well known enough to make the Yama Kings wonder if when the August Personage smiled and turned away, he was the only one who got the joke.

Major Hells

    , controlled by the Yama King Emma-O. Kakuri is a Yin-aspected domain, a lightless, joyless, honorless void of ice and snow. As an ancestral domain of the Ainu, Kakuri hell has a secret way out for Emma-O's original worshippers.
  • The Wicked City. The domain of Mikaboshi is a nightmare of cyberpunk and anime extremes, coupled with demented Feng Shui and management theory that would leave Spencer Johnson curled up in corner driving spikes into his eyes. Mikaboshi is very proud of his little project he constantly tweaks everything from power generation to the economics of the system, and looks forward to invading the Middle Kingdom with his urban renewal project.
  • The Hell of Burrowing Maggots. Controlled by Rangda, mistress of pestilence. The Hell of Burrowing Maggots is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a hell. It's got Maggots. Lots of 'em. All shapes and sizes. You're lunch.
  • The Hell of Being Skinned Alive. The domain of Tou Mu. The Hell of Being Skinned Alive is a desert enduring constant winds of fast, fine, lacerating sand. Unprotected beings are flensed in minutes. Tou Mu herself rules from a palace in low orbit decorated with the impaled (and living) bodies of those who have annoyed her.
  • The Hell of Boiling Oil. Actually it's fat. Deliciously rendered human fat.
  • The Hell of Bitter Truth, which specializes in tormenting religious zealots.
  • The Hell of Spiked Chains is, pleasantly, defunct.

Although Yu Huang is considered one of the Yama Kings, he does not rule over a domain in Yomi instead, he rules over the Yellow Springs, an empire of wraiths located within the Underworld itself.

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