Daf Yomi Redux
I did the 11th Cycle of Shas(that was my first) and pretty much skipped the 12th(the one we just passed). My reason for skipping was that Rav Ovadia was pretty much against Daf Yomi(see the biography Mi Yosef Ad Yosef for more info on that). He thought that a Jew should spend his time learning Halakha(and thus to be a Jew), and you know, yesterday’s daf said pretty much the same thing. His main argument was that most people who learn Daf Yomi don’t retain what they learn(yeah that’s about accurate). At the same time I had discovered Hok L’Yisrael(which all the Sephardi Gedolim for the last 500yrs swear by) Mishne Berurah Yomi, Shulhan Arukh Yomi, and these guys at Pirchei Shoshanim started offering all kind of interesting classes in stuff that you just don’t typically learn in Yeshiva or Kollel, and even once I came to Israel and started learning all of those subjects in Kollel, I found their notes to be invaluable.
So I was all set to skip this cycle of Shas too. Until I went to the Nahar Shalom Siyum HaShas and start of Zohar Yomi. Rav Benayahu gave a drash on the value of learning Shas. Forgive me, that I don’t quote him, exactly and I am going from memory on this, but essentially his point was like this. Why do we say Korbanot every morning? Because our sages tell us that by reading these portions of Torah and the appropriate Mishnaic and Amoraic discussions it is considered as if we have fulfilled those various mitzvot. In a sense as if we actually brought those korbanot.
Then he went on to explain that no one, absolutely no one, can ever keep all 613 mitzvot. Even if you are the Kohen HaGadol, there are mitzvot that you cannot keep(escorting the dead for instance). Then there are mitzvot that no sane person wants to ever have to perform(divorce, yibum, and chalitza for example). However we also know that one cannot be a true Tzadik unless he keeps all of the mitzvot, and the Arizal even says that we will be subject to gilgulim if we do not keep all of the mitzvot. So what is the solution to this? Daf Yomi. In a simple 7.5yrs you read all of the Torah essentially, and thus, just like korbanot in the morning, you are thus considered to have kept all 613mitzvot.
When Rav Ovadia gave his short piece via video link, he mentioned that he heard this Torah from Rav Benayahu and that he agrees with him 100%, that Daf Yomi is very important in his current view. To be honest this is probably the best reason I have ever heard for learning Daf Yomi.