Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
about Daf Hashovua/Daf-A-Week
Below we have put together some of the frequently asked questions about Daf Hashovua/Daf-A-Week. Feel free to contact us with any more questions you may have.
How long has Daf Hashovua been around?
The approach of learning one blatt of gemara per week has existed in various forms for some time. However, this Daf Hashovua program began in March 2005, in conjunction with the Daf Yomi beginning its twelfth cycle. It began with little fanfare; just a few people in Passaic, New Jersey formed a chaburah that would learn at this pace. Their goal was to achieve a solid grasp of each daf of the gemara, and to review each daf to a level whereby they could retain it indefinitely. Over the years, the group learning Daf Hashovua in Passaic grew in size, and other communities began hearing about it as well. Today, there are over 200 people learning Daf Hashovua in the Passaic area alone, and chaburos now exist in over 20 major cities.
Is Daf Hashovua a "light" version of Daf Yomi that requires less daily commitment?
Daf Hashovua is intended to demand no less of a commitment than Daf Yomi. But the commitment of Daf Hashovua is of a different nature. Rather than keeping up with a rapid pace, it is focused on toiling over the gemara until one achieves a clear understanding, and spending many times reviewing it until he can say that he has "acquired" the daf. How much one gets out of Daf Hashovua will be directly proportional to how much one puts into it.
(When) will I finish Shas on the Daf-A-Week program?
Yes, on the schedule of learning one daf per week, it would take nearly 52 years to finish Shas. But while it is a goal that Daf Hashovua participants hope to ultimately reach, finishing Shas is not the key objective of Daf Hashovua. The program is more focused on ensuring that each daf is learned well and can be remembered for many years to come, hopefully for the rest of one’s life. Nonetheless, the pace of Daf Hashovua is still quick enough to be quite satisfying in terms of covering ground. Participants who have been with the program since its inception in 2005 have already learned through most of Seder Moed, and four siyumim have been made in the last three years alone.
Those considering joining the program should also be encouraged by the fact that Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a, when informed of the program, gave his personal bracha that all who join it should be zoche to finish Shas through it!
Is Daf Hashovua meant to replace Daf Yomi?
Daf Hashovua is not intended to replace Daf Yomi. Each one has its role, and the two can even complement each other for those who can make time for both, with Daf Yomi helping to provide a more rapid survey of Shas and Daf Hashovua permitting time to go more in-depth. But those who have found it hard to keep up with the pace of Daf Yomi or derive sufficient satisfaction from it are strongly encouraged to try Daf Hashovua. It still shares two key elements with Daf Yomi that can be quite helpful in one’s learning:
There is a commitment to a fixed pace.
There is a community of people learning it which enables one to discuss the daf with others, even with lomdim in other cities worldwide.
What role does chazarah (review) play in Daf Hashovua?
Daf Hashovua is strongly centered around chazarah, and the structure and pace of the program really reinforce this. Without chazarah, one quickly forgets his learning, and the learning may be an exercise in frustration. With proper chazarah, one finally begins to feel that he can make a kinyan on his learning. The more you review the gemara, the sweeter it will become, and you will see that you are able to recall the gemara in ways you may never have experienced before!
What are the weekly bechinos (exams) like?
The exams are straighforward and are generally based on only a knowledge and understanding of the gemara according to Rashi's interpretation. The exams are usually between 10 and 15 questions and can be taken open-gemara or closed-gemara. They are usually issued at the beginning of the following week after that daf has been completed, and the completed exam must be submitted by Sunday evening of the next week.
Do I have to take the bechinos?
No, but there are strong incentives to do so:
Monetary incentive - A grade of 90 or higher on a bechinah earns you a small monetary incentive, usually a gift certificate to a local seforim store. If you took the exam closed-book, you will receive a $10 gift certificate. If you took the exam open-book, you will receive a $5 gift certificate. Over time, these can really add up!
Learning incentive - All the more importantly, anticipation of having to take a bechinah encourages you to learn the daf more carefully and review it more, facilitating better clarity and better retention. After getting into the habit of learning the daf well enough to be prepared for the bechinah, you will see such a difference in your ability to retain your learning!
How in-depth is each daf learned?
For many, the core of their learning with Daf Hashovua is via chavrusa learning. At the very least, it is expected that everyone will learn the gemara with Rashi. Beyond that, the level of b'iyun that one learns each daf depends on both his learning abilities and the time he is able to put into it.
However, much is provided to assist with learning more b'iyun for those who can make the time. Mar'ei mekomos are provided to subscribers by email on a weekly basis to help guide the focus to key sources, and many shiurim are given each week to elaborate on the sugya. For those who cannot attend these shiurim in person, recordings of many of them are provided via this website.