Although the primary purpose of Shuls is a place of prayer, opportunities for learning and chesed should be constantly sought after. The most widely implemented program in the learning play book is Daf Yomi or “Doing the Daf” as it’s known in common parlance.
The two major benefits of Daf Yomi are:
1) It creates an obligation to learn Gemora everyday. As we all know – the Daf waits for no man.
2) It creates a chevra Shas. A group of people who are bound by their common pursuit of learning Gemora.
It’s a very good idea for your Shul to provide a Daf Yomi shiur. The common objections to this suggestion are:
a) We don’t have anybody to give it
b) People won’t come
c) Daf Yomi is too fast
With the advent of Art Scroll a person can spend about 60-90 minutes preparing a decent Daf. Certainly there are higher levels of preparation and higher level shiurim, but giving an Art Scroll based Daf will allow you to achieve the two major benefits described above. To encourage someone to undertake that task, tell them that spending the time to prepare and give the shiur will provide them with tremendous benefits. It’s common knowledge that the giver of the Daf benefits a magnitude greater than the receivers.
Beginnings are hard, and beginning a Daf Yomi is no different. The minimum about of people required is 2, one to give and one to be on the receiving end. Find those two people and in time it will grow. Even if it doesn’t, the two people learning will benefit greatly.
Many people complain about the amount of material that has to be covered in the 45-60 minutes usually allocated to the Daf. And they are right. It’s a lot of material for that amount of time. But the reality is that the Daf has reached the tipping point and it is currently the standard bearer of Gemora learning. That doesn’t mean you can’t give other types of shiurim, but the Daf should be a standard in your Shul. The 100,000 – 300,000 people who celebrated at the completion of the last cycle have spoken.
One last point is that you should make a siyum after each Masechta. It helps people recognize their accomplishment and it provides a social venue to celebrate the learning of Torah. You need a minyan to say the Kaddish, but you don’t need a minyan to make a celebrate with a siyum. We need encouragement for the good things we do and a siyum is a great opportunity.
Mazal Tov to all those who just finished the cycle. For those who are still on the sidelines, it’s not too late to join in for Berachos.