CompuSchmooze April 2005: Daf Yomi Lectures Go Portable

CompuSchmooze April 2005: Daf Yomi Lectures Go Portable
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2005 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
WORD COUNT: 677

Around the world, thousands of traditionally observant Jews (and other Jewish adult learners) take part in a never-ending Talmud study cycle called Daf Yomi. In the Daf Yomi cycle, students analyze one single page of Talmud each day, usually with a study partner. It takes seven and a half years to complete a Daf Yomi cycle, after which students will have studied the entire Talmud. This accomplishment is typically celebrated by tens of thousands of Daf Yomi participants at a Siyyum HaShas, a large-scale party held in a convention atmosphere, frequently at Madison Square Garden or a similar venue.

The Internet has brought the Talmud to a far broader audience of Jewish students than ever before in our history, and the technological tools for the study of Talmudic wisdom just keep getting better and more clever.

The Daf Yomi Advancement Forum (http://www.dafyomi.co.il/), founded by the Orthodox Kollel Iyun Hadaf, offers a wide range of free email lectures on the Daf, including: Daf-Insights: Talmudic expositions that delve into the Daf and broaden Dafyomi perspectives; in-depth Halachic and Agaddic analyses; charts and graphics; Daf-Background: translations; brief abstracts on less familiar topics; help with hard-to-read lines; textual, historical and geographical notes; Daf-Review: a comprehensive review quiz of the Daf – includes both questions and answers; and many others.

Daf Yomi.org (http://www.dafyomi.org/) provides a good survey of links available for further Daf Yomi study, including Ohr Somayach’s Weekly Daf e-newsletter (http://www.ohr.org.il/web/yomi.htm) and an audio lecture by Rabbi Shmuel Irons of the Kollel Institute of Greater Detroit, entitled “Who wrote the Talmud?” (http://www.613.org/la/ir52697.ram, RealAudio required).
You can also download Dr. Joseph Fishkin’s free Daf Yomi calculator for Palm digital devices, which will tell you what portion you should be studying today (http://www.jewishchicago.com/moshe/dafmesg/105.html).

Increasingly, Daf Yomi participants are squeezing this religious study and devotion into smaller slices of their secular lives, such as their commutes to work or their lunch hours. Now, thanks to Yehuda Schmidman (yehuda@earthboundllc.com), mobile talmidim have the benefit of the ShasPod, an Apple Ipod delivered with a complete set of Daf Yomi lectures, or shiurim by Rabbi Dovid Grossman of Los Angeles already fully installed on the device (http://www.ShasPods.com).

“It came about around the timing of Siyyum HaShas,” Schmidman said of the idea for the pre-loaded device. “When you think about all the different technologies that have been out in the market place, whether it was taped shiurim, or online shiurim, some people now have video shiurim, the idea just came about of how great it could be if you could take someone’s complete set of tapes, and actually preload it on an Ipod in one shot, and allow someone the ability to essentially just work with one device, without having to figure out how to work with tapes, to work with technology, and basically just to learn the entire 12th Daf Yomi cycle.”

Schmidman made an arrangement with Rabbi Grossman to convert his taped lectures to MP3 digital files, and loads them onto Apple Ipods for customers. Other audio devices could be used, but Schmidman has no plans to offer them. He sells a 20gb Ipod with Rabbi Grossman’s lectures completely loaded for $399, a $100 discount, according to ShasPod.com. The site says the lectures occupy 13gb of the Ipod’s memory, leaving about 7gb free for music or other audio files.

“The Ipod has such tremendous excitement around it,” Schmidman said. “They are just the biggest craze, so we figured if we were going to make this an exciting and unique product, why not use the additional hook that Apple’s created, and ride on that excitement.”

Schmidman also offers other options, including loading lectures onto customers’ existing Ipods. Customers send in their Ipods, and for $99, Schmidman will load the device and return it.
“You don’t even have to have a computer at home,” Schmidman said. “It allows you to have really no technical knowledge whatsoever.”

You can hear more about the ShasPod by listening to the CompuSchmooze podcast program, or you can subscribe to our series of podcasts by adding CompuSchmooze to your RSS news reader using this URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CompuSchmooze.

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Apple iPod owners, subscribe to Compuschmooze podcasts in the Apple iTunes Music Store.

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