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Monday, May 21, 2018

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Congratulations to the participants in the Daf Hashovua initiative; the news of the siyum is inspiring. The title of the program has a heritage, and knowing the context of the name will enrich the meaning of its current use.

Daf Hashavua was the brainchild of Rav Pinchas Mordechai Teitz: a weekly radio program, broadcast on Saturday nights, in which Rav Teitz taught Gemara. The concept of utilizing mass media to teach Torah was revolutionary when Rav Teitz pioneered it in 1953, but he saw every modern innovation as an opportunity to spread Torah and Yiddishkeit. He anticipated that if a Gemara shiur were readily available from the comfort of one’s home, even those who had never learned Gemara, or who had long abandoned the learning of their youth, would be attracted. The program was such a success that a U.S. government agency monitoring foreign language broadcasts estimated a weekly audience of over 200,000. Tapes of the program were rebroadcast in communities throughout the United States and Canada. [Rav Yitzchak Halevi Herzog, discussing the Daf Hashavua in 1953, said this was the purpose for which radio was invented.] The Daf Hashavua program, which Rav Teitz broadcast for 36 years, was the immediate progenitor of the Torah tapes and online Torah shiurim that have now become so much a part of Jewish life.

Rav Teitz did not copyright the name “Daf Hashavua” or the broadcasts, which are available online at YUTorah. He felt strongly that Torah could not be owned, but should be shared. It would have pleased him to know that the Daf Hashavua name is again being used for a widespread learning program. May Rav Teitz’ pioneering approach to making regular Torah study an integral part of every Jew’s life continue to grow and proliferate.

Rivkah Blau

Washington Heights