Israel Forever

For the week ending 4 August 2012 / 15 Av 5772

Holding Onto the Daf

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

A story was told by Rabban Gamliel (Yevamot 121a) about the miraculous rescue from drowning of Rabbi Akiva. Surprised to see this Sage learning Torah after the ship he had traveled on had sunk, this head of the Sanhedrin asked him how he had survived.

"A daf (a plank) from a ship came my way, I held onto it and bowed my head before every dangerous wave that threatened to drown me.”

When Rabbi Meir Shapiro, the rav of Lubllin and founder of the great Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, introduced the idea of the Daf Yomi almost a century ago, he referred to Rabbi Akiva's story, pointing out that in the turbulent sea of exile the Jewish People had survived because they held onto the daf, the sacred and beloved page of Talmud.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews throughout the world will these days be publicly celebrating the Siyum Hashas completion of the twelfth cycle of Daf Yomi. Not every one of them managed to complete the entire Talmud, but all of them will be expressing their conviction that "holding onto the Daf" is what unites and secures Israel forever.

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