Shas Illuminated Prepares to Hold Grand Siyum Hashas in Lakewood NJ

It has been said that learning the Ribono Shel Olam’s Torah is akin to receiving a letter from a human king. The chashivus of such a letter is that one does not simply read it in a perfunctory manner but scrutinizes each and every word. The recipient thereby accords proper honor to the importance of the message. So too with limud haTorah, its chashivus demands immersing itself in its words and plumbing the depths of its meaning. For Daf Yomi learners, this is often easier said that done. The typical hour-long shiur that covers the two sides of the daf simply does not offer the luxury of allowing for much iyun, careful analysis, of the material. Yet, that reality has changed with the Shas Illuminated project which was launched when the current Daf Yomi cycle began in August 2012.

Shas Illuminated was conceived and founded besiyata dishmaya by Rabbi Yaakov Metz, a member of the kollel of Yeshiva Ateres Shmuel of Waterbury. The objective of this groundbreaking project was to enable those who learn Daf Yomi – and the members of the olam haTorah at large – many of whom often don’t have time to peruse mefarshim on the day’s daf due to time contraints, to explore the daf more in depth. Reb Yaakov’s father who resides in Far Rockaway, attends the Daf Yomi shiur delivered by Harav Moshe Brown, Rav of Agudath Israel of West Lawrence, who in the course of his shiur, masterfully elucidates the Gemara referencing comments of the Rishonim and Acharonim. Dr. Metz and Reb Yaakov would have a learning session over the phone each day during which his father would share with him Rav Brown’s insights. The Rav, who is a tremendous talmid chacham, had much to offer on each daf, but due to the need to cover each day’s daf within 50 minutes, was limited as to how much clarity he could provide therein. Reb Yaakov and his father sought recorded shiurim that would provide greater understanding of the daf but to their chagrin, without success.

Thus was born the idea of launching a project that would provide extra elucidation and illumination on the main sugyos contained in each Daf. Reb Yaakov contacted Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah of the Yeshivah of Philadelphia; Harav Shlomo Feivel Schustal, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah, Neos Yaakov; Harav Elya Ber Wachtfogel shlita Rosh Yeshiva Zichron Moshe (South Fallsburg), Harav Noach Isaac Oelbaum, shlita, Rav of Khal Nachalas Yitzchok of Queens; Harav Dovid Cohen, shlita, Rav of Beis Medrash Gvul Yaavetz, and others who enthusiastically endorsed and provided guidance regarding the initiative. Rav Oelbaum, related that since he would often incorporate elucidation in his shiurim on the legendary Dial-a-Daf phone line for many years, he was asked by talmidei chachamim if he could do so for the entire Shas, and was especially extremely supportive of this idea. Rav Shmuel, in fact, posited that it would be impractical if not impossible for one individual to prepare and record shiurim on the entire Shas, and suggested that a team of Maggidei Shiur be enlisted for the project, which is exactly what Reb Yaakov did.

To this end, there are approximately 45 Magidei Shiur, who have been handpicked due to their ability to elucidate and illuminate each sugya in a clear, concise and enjoyable way, who have committed themselves to undertake to go through Shas and prepare and record an in-depth shiur on each daf. They invest an incredible amount of time and energy into each shiur’s preparation; indeed, it takes 15-30 hours or more to prepare each shiur. Since they aim for maximum clarity, often the shiur needs to be recorded more than once to achieve that standard. They will select several ikar suygos on the daf and spend a short amount of time on each one. The main Rishonim and Acharonim are clearly and concisely explained. Each shiur is intended to be learned after one learns the Gemara with Rashi. As a result, the listener gains a panoramic view of each daf as well as a better and deeper understanding of the daf. While Shas Illuminated began as a Daf Yomi project per se, it has morphed into something much more. Countless lomdim worldwide occupied with suygos throughout the entire Shas – not necessarily Daf Yomi learners – utilize the project, constituting a very large percentage of the project’s participants. And for good reason – other in-depth Gemara shiurim putting the entire Shas at one’s fingertips simply doesn’t exist.

The shiurim can be accessed free of charge at www.Shasilluminated.org Those who don’t have internet access can still benefit from the shiurim, as Shas Illuminated distributes 3,000 CDs gratis each month. The shiurim are also available on Kol Bramah radio and the Kol Haloshon telephone line.

One of the Maggidei Shiur, Rabbi Hillel Yosef Pfeiffer, testifies that he finds Shas Illuminated assists in using one’s time constructively, such a listening to it in the car. True, there are other shiurim to which one can listen, however, the in-depth presentation, besides clarifying what listeners learned in the daf, helps one to remember the actual contents of the daf. “It is a whole different learning for one who learns the Gemara with Shas Illuminated and without it,” says Rabbi Pfeiffer.

Another Maggid Shiur, Rabbi Mordechai Linzer, Rosh Kollel of Kollel Mei Hada'as in Yerushalayim and mechaber of Minchah Shleimah on a number of masechtos, relates that the project has helped him personally in his own learning. He relates, “I once heard a basic rule for a Maggid Shiur from my Rebbi, Harav Asher Arielli, shlita, of Mir Yerushalayim, that a Maggid Shiur must strive to make difficult sugya easy to understand – and make an easy suyga difficult.” Certainly, his aim is to enable the bachurim understand the hard sugya. But similarly, they need to be shown that a sugya that seems overly simple has much to that has needs to be dealt with as well.

This perspective is what makes Shas Illuminated so unique. Maggid Shiur Rabbi Shmuel Baddiel recalled that when Harav Meir Shapiro, zt”l, initiated Daf Yomi at the Knessia Gedolah, he remarked that when a Yid from Warsaw would meet a Yid from Lublin, whom are both learning the same daf, that daf would now serve to connect them and provide them with what to discuss. Shas Illuminated has raised this concept to a new level. Now, besides discussing the Rashi and Tosfos, Yidden from disparate places and backgrounds can be found talking about the yedios of the Daf and the shitos of the Rishonim and Acharonim. The Ketzos, a kashya of Rav Akiva Eiger – this is all thanks to Shas Illuminated!

With the popularity of the Daf Yomi ‬increasing exponentially with each cycle, there will be many more listeners drawn to the unique opportunity offered by Shas Illuminated, which will, b’ezras Hashem, surely enhance the quality of limud haTorah of As the preparation of the shiurim nears completion in time for the siyum of the current Daf Yomi cycle, Shas Illuminated is pleased to announce that the Shas Illuminated Siyum Hashas will take place, iy”H, on Dec. 15, 2019 at the Lake Terrace hall in Lakewood, N.J.

The siyum is a chance for all the many listeners from far and wide to come together to celebrate the milestone and meet each other and the magidei shiur whose precious and much admired shiurim they have been following. At the event, Rabbi Aharon Sorscher, a masterful Maggid Shiur who has delivered the most shiurim out of all of the Maggidei Shiur, will be Guest of Honor and receive the Amud HaTorah award. All of the other Maggidei shiur will receive the Harbatzas Torah award in view of the hundreds of dedicated hours and toil they invested in preparation to ensure that the shiurim are the very best. Mr. and Mrs. David Gurwitz of Monsey are being honored with the Hachzakas Torah award. The Gurwitzes have been staunch supporters of the project from the outset. They have tremendous honor and love for Torah and talmidei chachamim and are very deserving of the honor. It will also be a chance to thank the many benefactors who have made the project possible. The siyum will be a tremendous Kavod HaTorah celebrated by k’lal yisroel nationwide.

For more information about the project and the Siyum, please visit shasilluminated.org/siyum or contact Shas Illuminated at 203-312-SHAS (7427) or info@shasilluminated.org.

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