On Monday, March 31, 2014 (29 Adar II 5774) history will be made, as a unique daf yomi shuir celebrates a rare milestone. The completion of Talmud Bavli for the third time. This upcoming siyum will not be held in a massive sports stadium attended by tens of thousands, but rather the event will take place in the same uncommon location that the shuir is delivered each day.
That morning will be the same as any other, as shuir members filter onto the LIRR train at Far Rockaway, Inwood, Lawrence and Cedarhurst stations as they have done for the last twenty-two years. But as the train begins to pulls out of Woodmere and Sholom Fried begins the final page in a 7 1/2 year cycle, they will be on the cusp of a remarkable accomplishment. This group has been riding the same Long Island Railroad train, with the same united purpose. To utilize the 45 minute ride into Penn Station NYC with a daily dose of learning. With miles and miles of track under their locomotive classroom, they are now on the horizon of completing the daf yomi cycle of Talmud Bavli for the third time.
Back in 1991, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, was approached by Aryeh Markovich while riding the LIRR one morning wanting to know if he would be willing to teach the Talmud on the 7:51 a.m. train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan. “I used to see a lot of people playing cards on the train,” says Markovich, ‘I figured why don’t we do something for people to utilize their time productively and learn something, too?’ Rabbi Lerner agreed, and the rest is history. The first day Markovich went up and down the train platform handing out flyers to publicize their class-on-wheels. The next morning, nearly 30 people showed up for their mobile tutorial in the train’s last car. It has been going strong ever since. Today, there are two morning Manhattan-bound trains that offer a daf yomi class. Students range from accountants, bankers, salesmen and even staff of the MTA itself. Railroad personnel are well aware of the class. Proud of the positive publicity it has generated, they do everything possible to help.
There certainly are challenges conducting a class in this environment. Eliezer Cohen, who has been learning with the group for more than 10 years and now serves as one of its senior magid shuir says “The daf discusses all aspects of life. Therefore there are issues that come up, from the mundane to the very powerful. The political issues of the day, sexual [topics] . . . sometimes there are issues that are hard to discuss on the train, but it gives vibrancy to the commute.” Yossi Klein adds, “While most commuters grunt at the occasional delay on the rails, we relish in spending the extra few more minutes delving a little deeper in the daf.”
This certainly will be a siyum to remember, unlike ones in the past. Before the current cycle began, few had the technology at their fingertips that exist today. In the last few years the accessibility of data to assist ones learning-on-the-go has exploded with an Artscoll app, or a virtual shuir on an ipad. But there still is this class. Those who prefer to go thru shas in the same manner as it has been learnt for many years past – as a cohesive group. The daily participants have binded together and share in lifes high and lows – brisim, bar mitzvahs as well as levaya’s and shiva calls.
To celebrate the occasion, on March 31, 2014 the siyum will be sponsored by original member of the shiur Elliot Krischer, Benjy Krischer and their families in memory of their dear parents who were niftar this past year. LIRR will reserve the full last car in anticipation of the celebration and full program is planned with the collation proudly sponsored by Gourmet Glatt. Former magidai shiur Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Rabbi Shmuel Bloom and representatives of of Agudath Israel will join as this moment of achievement comes to fruition: the greatest from the spirit of Lubliner Rov. Rabbi Meir Shapiro’s vision of the Daf Yomi’s potential, and the power of a continual procession of learning lives on strong as ever. Even in the East River tunnels of NYC on a packed commuter train.
Just think that you can also turn your morning commute into a productive period of learning that will shape the fabric of your daily entry into the business world. Anytime you join, seven years later you have completed Shas. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is a great time to take the step toward a new beginning as we start Mesechtas Beitzah. Join Sholom Fried, Yossie Klein, Eliezer Cohen and Rabbi Menachem Adler as they conduct their mobile class each morning.
We invite all former participants and their families to come join in the celebration on march 31. If you have any inquiries contact Eliezer Cohen at email@example.com.