If you could do something that would totally change your life in a positive way, would you do it? Merkaz Daf Yomi (MDY) is not just another learning program. It’s a life changer.” On Tuesday evening, July 5, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Operations Manager of Chazaq, interviewed Rabbi Eli Stefansky, Director of MDY, virtually. Rabbi Meirov shared that MDY has had a huge impact on him and he recommends it to everyone.
Rabbi Stefansky shared that he grew up in New York and lived in many different places. He learned in kollel many years and then he worked in real estate in Chicago. He was a Daf Yomi maggid shiur in Chicago. He moved to Israel eight years ago and started this Daf Yomi program there. MDY has a beis midrash that was built just for Daf Yomi. The beis midrash has coffee machines and he calls it a “man cave for Torah.”
Rabbi Stefansky emphasized that you can jump into the program at any time, because you should look at this learning that it is like a Ferris wheel. It keeps going round and round. There is no beginning or end. They currently are one-third through Shas.
You start today at wherever they are up to in Daf Yomi. Don’t wait five years or you will miss 1,500 dapim. Every day that you miss a daf, the opportunity goes to waste.
Rabbi Meirov shared that some say that if you are a working person and only have limited time to learn, you should learn halachah. Rabbi Stefansky shared that this is a legitimate question. He learns Mishnah B’rurah and halachah. When you learn Gemara, halachah is included. There’s midrash and agadah. When you learn Gemara, you see Hashem’s ways of figuring things out. It includes everything. On a practical level, we see results. “People doing the Daf Yomi are changed people.” They become better fathers, husbands, Yidden, and they develop a better connection to Hashem. You should learn both halachah and Gemara. He shared that he receives so many emails daily thanking him. People share that the program has changed their lives. Women write that it’s changed their husbands’ lives. Rabbi Stefansky related that people should learn Torah and find the area in learning that is best for them.
There is something special about the achdus this program creates. All different types of Jews are learning in this program together. You can only imagine how happy Hashem is to see this achdus.
Rabbi Meirov asked how the program is for someone with little Jewish education. Rabbi Stefansky pointed out that he includes things for beginners, as well, and this shiur is for everybody. He uses as much English as possible to help with basic understanding.
Next, Rabbi Meirov asked about people who have tried Daf Yomi before and failed in the past.
Rabbi Stefansky responded that MDY has a great retention rate. “We have camaraderie. It’s a family. It gives people chizuk. You’re part of a bigger group.” He shared that one of the biggest tricks is that if you fall off you come right back on and don’t try to make up what you missed. When people try going back that is what ruins it.
The attitude should be that wherever klal Yisrael is holding, that’s where I am going to start today. Every day you do what everyone else is doing. “There is always a new start every day.”
It’s that consistency that is the key that changes people’s lives. They start adding reading the parshah twice and learning halachah. This consistency spills over into all areas of life even diet. “That consistency is a life changer.”
Rabbi Meirov asked about the effect of COVID on the program. Rabbi Stefansky shared that it was a blessing in disguise because the program grew so much with more people coming on virtually.
People see how their lives changed and they want to share this with others. Your share in this mitzvah is worth more than any money in the world. Guys spend more time with their wives and children. It changes the whole family structure.
He shared how two Hatzalah members joined, and they got 300 guys to join. Rabbi Stefansky and Rabbi Meirov urged everyone to go to JoinDafYomi.com/c to join MDY Daf Yomi. When you join you receive a free gemara.
Hashem should continue to bless this holy work. This interview can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber