In less than two weeks, on March 2nd (21st Adar Aleph), a new cycle of the Daf Yomi will begin. It will be the twelfth cycle since R. Meir Shapira created this monumental project in 1923, at the First World Congress of Agudat Israel in Vienna. Each cycle takes about 7.5 years to complete the entire Babylonian Talmud, from Berachot to Niddah, by studying one double-sided page per day (Daf Yomi in Hebrew means “daily page”).
I joined about 2.5 years ago, in the middle of Sanhedrin. At the time, I was not sure whether I would be able to devote 40-45 minutes every day to study. Occasionally I was indeed unable to keep up with the pace of the Daf (right now I’m about a week behind), but I always succeeded to catch up. It wasn’t always easy, especially considering that the bulk of the study in the past couple of years has been in Sedder Kodashim, which deals with issues that have had no practical significance for over 2,000 years. Today I am more confident that this is an achievable goal and it is with renewed vigour that I look forward to starting the study of Berachot in a couple of weeks and completing my own cycle in about five years!
In our day and age it is easier than ever to study the Daf Yomi. There are shiurim on the internet, in both audio and video formats, from various rabbis in different languages. Personally, I download the MP3 files and study whenever I have time: at home, on the road and during long flights. One no longer has to commit to go to a fixed shiur every day (not that there is one in Tokyo…). I started with R. Elnekave, whose lectures are available in Hebrew at Moreshet but today I study with the excellent rabbis of Meorot HaDaf HaYomi. I highly recommend their website, where one can find the Daf taught in Hebrew, English, French and even Yiddish.