What Was Our Rebbeim’s Position on ‘Daf Yomi’?

From the Anash.org Inbox: For years, I knew that Chabad chassidim don’t learn Daf Yomi at the Rebbeim instructions. But when I looked into it, I found out more.

By Mendel Teitelbaum

It all began around the last Siyum Hashas.

Until then, I somehow knew that “Chabad chassidim don’t learn Daf Yomi.” Though the topic was certainly discussed many times before, as the Siyum Hashas approached, the conversation surrounding it resurfaced.

The Shabbos before the siyum, I was at a Kiddush in the basement of 770, and a heated discussion took place about the topic. As a bochur, I was listening and trying to make sense of it. I had heard about a maaneh from the Rebbe to Reb Peretz Mochkin about the Daf Yomi Shiur in Montreal, among other conflicting opinions, and I was eager to get to the bottom of it: Is it or isn’t it true?

At the farbrengen, there was this one yungerman excitedly shouting: “Hayitochen that someone could have any association with it when there’s befeirush a sicha from the Frierdiker Rebbe against it!”

When I heard that, I thought “Wow, if there is indeed a sicha against it, then there’s no more room for discussion.” I asked him which Sicha, and he told me it was Simchas Torah Tzadik Beis (5692). After looking for it, I soon realized that it was in “The Missing Sefer Hasichos” which only recently joined its friends on the shelf and had not yet been printed at the time.

So instead, I turned to Otzar Hachachma. I selected all the Chabad Seforim and searched “Daf Yomi.” To my surprise, besides that Sicha, there were quite a few results. I began collecting and sifting through them.

Another source often quoted against learning Daf Yomi was a Sicha from Parshas Shlach 5748. That portion of the sicha was not included in the printed version, but there is a transcript available that was missing pieces, and it was hard to even understand the phrases, let alone the overall point the Rebbe was making. After comparing all the Hanachos of that farbrengen – using the wonderful Mafteiach app with all the Hanachos under the same tab – I was finally able to understand what the Rebbe was saying.

Having gone through all the above-mentioned sources and more, I would like to lay out in short what I discovered: 

1. Regarding the objection (mentioned by the Rebbe in the Sicha of 5748) against learning fixed amounts (“halomed Torah liprakim“):

The Rebbe, as well as previous Rebbeim, encouraged Chassidim to have a set study cycle of Gemara and other Nigleh Shiurim. Several months prior to the establishment of Daf Yomi, the Frierdiker Rebbe said that Chassidim should learn an Amud a day. In addition, in the Hatomim journal, the Frierdiker Rebbe writes that the Alter Rebbe had instituted in his time the study of a Daf a day.

Furthermore, the Rebbe was supportive of the Daf Yomi in Yerushalmi started by the Gerrer Rebbe – which is also fixed learning – yet the Rebbe never said that everyone should take it on. What the Rebbe was explaining in the sicha, as can be clearly understood by looking inside, was why Lubavitch didn’t embrace the takana and instate it as a widespread custom. This does not however mean that no one should learn it.

I should mention that if you find an issue with learning in this format, learning it one day off wouldn’t help.

2. Regarding the quote from the Rebbe that since the Frierdiker Rebbe didn’t instruct bochurim to follow it shows “tachlis hashelila bazeh” – “clear rejection of it”:

Although that line is written in one incomplete transcript, in all other hanachos it has it the other way around: that although the Frierdiker Rebbe didn’t reject it explicitly, he never instructed the bochurim to do it.

Moreover, a careful examination of the Sichos shows that the Rebbeim didn’t oppose Daf Yomi at all. The Rebbe mentioned it on numerous occasions and even encouraged it in multiple letters (see the booklet below). The Frierdiker Rebbe himself demanded of some to learn Daf Yomi. Though this may not be a proof in support, it definitely makes it hard to say that the Rebbeim opposed it.

3. The Sicha of the Rebbe must be understood in the context of the Farbrengen.

The Rebbe wasn’t saying that Daf Yomi is wrong, but why Daf Yomi isn’t included in what the Rebbe had explained a week earlier, that when we see others doing something good, we must join in, just as Aharon was saddened that he hadn’t brought the opening korbanos like the Nesiim. Following the earlier Sicha, the Rebbe said, he had been asked: Why then don’t we join Daf Yomi which is also a good thing that others are doing?

The Rebbe, therefore, explained that Aharon was only sad when he saw that all of the Nesiim brought the korbanos. But if only some people are doing something good, it’s not necessarily something that I must do. Similarly, said the Rebbe, Daf Yomi was not adopted by all of Klal Yisroel at the time, for various reasons, rather it was something that certain communities took upon themselves.

Meaning the Rebbe never said not to learn it, but rather why it’s not something Chabad accepted as an official takana for everyone to do.

4. In the Sicha of the Frierdiker Rebbe, he derides those who think that due to their study of Daf Yomi millions of malochim rise for them and are building for him a new Gan Eden, while in the past a simple farmer knew that before going to work, he must learn a Daf Gemara.

This clearly indicated that Daf Yomi itself isn’t the issue, but rather it’s the mindset of the person that is an issue, and it can result from other areas of learning and practice as well. In fact, the opposite is implied – that everyone should be learning a Daf of Gemara every day (albeit perhaps not specifically in the widespread cycle).

5. There is no mention anywhere about any instruction not to learn Daf Yomi due to its association with Agudas Yisroel, though seeing the Frierdiker Rebbe’s opposition to it I can understand if for that reason someone feels more comfortable learning a day off or a different cycle. It should be noted that the Rebbe mentioned that the founder of Daf Yomi, R. Meir Shapiro, was a Chossid, and that it is interesting that the misnagdim nonetheless embraced it.

My goal is not to encourage people to learn Daf Yomi specifically, and everyone can decide what works for them. Of course, we should learn Gemara since it’s Hashem’s Torah and not merely to “finish Shas”, and of course also it should not take away from learning Rambam and Chassidus daily. But if for learning Gemara one finds it helpful to follow a set cycle, it seems clear that there is no objection to following this program. What’s certain is that someone who doesn’t have a daily Kvius for Gemara shouldn’t be running around screaming at people who learn Daf Yomi.

My sentiments are not to be taken as objectives truth. Those with dissenting opinions and proofs should please share them by emailing [email protected].

To download the collection of sources, click here.

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  1. limud hatorah is a lifeline (see today’s hayom yom)
    with limited time, a chosid’s first priority should be chitas, rambam, and daily chassidus
    (also the rebbe told many many people with limited time to learn and review practical daily halachos)

  2. Beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to research this hot topic. It’s great to shed light on the ambiguities and vagueness of this topic by seeing real sources.
    Kol Hakavod!

    1. There are many things the Rebbe spoke and put into writing that the Rebbe was very passionate about i.e. Chitas, Rambam, etc etc so I am not sure why there are some trying to split hairs trying to come up (justify?) with an excuse to learn “the daf”….

      1. Well, let’s see. There are lots of things that the Rebbeim were passionate about chassidim _not_ doing, for example reading the news. If you’re going to find excuses for doing that, don’t make it your “shpitz Chabad” to not learn Daf Yomi.

  3. Thank you for this article. As a bochur in Morristown I’m pretty sure that I heard from R’ Meilich Twibel a”h (known to learn daf yomi), that if one looks up most of public siyumim that the Rebbe made were in sync with the Daf Yomi schedule.

    1. This is inaccurate. I just checked 10 siyumim at random and none of them matched the Daf Yomi.

      20 Av 5719 – Siyum on Gittin, the Daf was in Chullin
      10 Shevat 5725 – Siyum on Makkos, the Daf was in Bava Metzia
      6 Tishrei 5728 – Siyum on Sukkah, the Daf was in Krisos
      6 Tishrei 5731 – Siyum on Yoma, the Daf was in Kesubos
      20 Av 5731 – Siyum on Chagigah, the Daf was in Gittin
      11 Nissan 5733 – Siyum on Kesubos, the Daf was in Sanhedrin
      6 Tishrei 5735 – Siyum on Sukkah, the Daf was in Chullin
      10 Shevat 5741 – Siyum on Temurah, the Daf was in Avodah Zarah
      11 Nissan 5744 – Siyum on Taanis, the Daf was in Yoma
      20 Av 5745 – Siyum on Taanis and Moed Katan, the Daf was in Kesubos

      Interesting that on 20 Av 5724 – Siyum on Bava Kama, the Daf was in Bava Kama 34

      1. Thank you for doing this research. Someone suggested that this was only in the later years after the Rebbe started following the Yerushalaymi Yomi that was started by the Gerer Rebbe. I have not verified this.

        1. Yerushalmi Yomi only began in 5740. So you’re basically saying that until then the Siyumim takeh didn’t match up with the Daf, but maybe afterwards they did. Ok. Here’s the results on that:

          First, we’ll use the ones I posted earlier:
          10 Shevat 5741 – Siyum on Temurah, there is no Yerushalmi on Temurah.
          11 Nissan 5744 – Siyum on Taanis, the Daf Yerushalmi was in Horiyos.
          11 Nissan 5745 – Siyum on Taanis and Moed Katan, the Daf Yerushalmi was in Maaser Sheini.

          But let’s do more:
          6 Tishrei 5742 – Siyum on Yoma (Yerushalmi!), the Daf Yerushalmi was in Pesachim.
          19 Kislev 5742 – Siyum on Brachos (Bavli and Yerushalmi), the Daf Yerushalmi was in Yoma.
          10 Shevat 5742 – Siyum on Shabbos, the Daf Yerushalmi was in Sukkah
          20 Av 5742 – Siyum on Chagigah Bavli and Moed Katan Yerushalmi, the Daf Yerushalmi was in Yevamos.
          6 Tishrei 5743 – Siyum on Rosh Hashana (Bavli and Yerushalmi), the Daf Yerushalmi was in Kesubos.
          10 Shevat 5743 – Siyum on Eiruvin (Bavli and Yerushalmi), the Daf Yerushalmi was in Nedarim.
          11 Nissan 5743 – Siyum on Megillah, the Daf Yerushalmi was in Nazir.

          I could do more, but now we again have ten with no matches.

          What is clear, and perhaps THIS (and only this) was R’ Meilach’s intention, was that after Yerushalmi Yomi started, one can see that the Rebbe included the Yerushalmi many times in his Siyumim. But not that they matched the cycles.

  4. It seems that the aversion by some to daf yomi is due the fact that “איך האב עס ניט געזעהן ביים שווער”, meaning that there is nothing wrong with it per say and we do see that the rebbe sent letters to siyumim and such, but its not a inyan of our rabbeim and therefore it is not our inyan.

    Its the mere fact of is this a inyan of רבותינו נשיאינו our not.

    1. Because there are so many things that the rabeim said to do to learn. Does a person who spends a half hour or hour a day learning daf yoimi do all those things too?

      Chassidus every morning before davening.
      Perek Tanya before shachris.
      Rambam – 3 prokim.
      Kvius in the Rebbe’s Torah every day

      The entire Torah Or/Lekutei Torah every week (lots of time throughout the week).

      1 mesechta a year – Chalukas hashas on yud tes Kislev
      Mesechta Soita

      In addition:
      Taking part in Mivtzoim and doing all the things the rebbe wanted chassidim to do

      Do we learn all that?

      As a Chabad chossid thats what you should be doing before considering other things

      1. I disagree. One does not take away from another. Maybe he doesn’t do torah or/lekutai torah because he doesn’t understand the language. Maybe chassidus is, in general, difficult for him to learn. If someone has a geshmak in something, it should not be taken away.
        I had a friend who saw me learning gemara before davenning and he went crazy. “How can you learn nigla before davenning?!?!” I said “Shmuly, you don’t even learn chassidus before davenning” He said “it’s better to learn nothing than to learn nigla!”…
        My point is, people need to stop criticizing how/what other people learn. Halevai we should learn gemara evey day.

  5. I don’t do Daf Yomi. But I never understood why, when it’s brought up, some Lubavitchers feel as though Chitas and especially Rambam are being attacked.
    We need to get over this collective inferiority complex. Not everyone who learns Daf Yomi does so because they think it’s “cooler” than Rambam.

    1. That’s because historically certain circles started making a much bigger deal about daf yomi, including large siyumim, as a way of theirs to respond to rambam and its large siyumim in the beginning, as part of their fight against the rebbe.

  6. שיחת הרבי חקת תשד”מ

    “ולפלא: למרות שמחזיק את עצמו ל”מקושר” ו”חסיד”, ועכ”פ בודאי יש אצלו הענין ד”מורא רבך כמורא שמים”,

    – וראי’ לדבר, שכאשר קורה דבר מסויים, הרי הוא לומד פירושים ורמזים מענין פלוני ופלוני כו’, גם מענינים שאין להם כל קשר ושייכות, ובלשון העולם: “באבע מעשיות”, היפך ציווי התורה “תמים תהי’ עם ה’ אלקיך”, וזאת אפילו כאשר מדובר אודות ענינים שיש מקום להתפעל מהם, כמו “אותות השמים”, ש”יחתו הגוים מהמה” (משא”כ בנ”י – “מאותות השמים אל תחתו”), ועאכו”כ ענינים של מה בכך כו’
    מ”מ צריכים לעוררו שלא יאמץ לעצמו ענינים שמבחוץ – לא ענינים שמחוץ לגבול הקדושה ח”ו, אמנם, עניני קדושה, דרך מסויימת בעבודת ה’, אבל אעפ”כ, אין זה “כרמי שלי” [כלשון הכתוב: “כרמי שלי לא נטרתי”] – מה יש לך לחפש בשדות אחרים?!

    טענתו היא – שמכיון ששמע שפלוני עושה כך וכך, הרי זה בודאי בהשגחה פרטית, ולכן הרי זה נוגע אליו כו’. – אמנם כן הוא, דבר זה הוא בודאי בהשגחה פרטית, אבל הכוונה בזה היא – שישלול דבר זה, שכן, למרות שזוהי דרך ושיטה בעבודת ה’, מ”מ, אין זה שייך ל”כרמי שלי”!

    “מעשה רב” בגמרא בנוגע לדיני הדס – “רב אחא ברי’ דרבא מהדר אתרי וחד (אע”ג דתלתא בחד קינא כל שכן דכשר) הואיל ונפיק מפומי’ דרב כהנא”, שס”ל “אפילו תרי וחד” גם כשר.

    והגע עצמך:

    למרות שרב כהנא לא אמר שיש להדר ב”תרי וחד”, כי אם שגם “תרי וחד” כשר, למרות היותו “הדס שוטה”, ובודאי ס”ל ש”תלתא בחד קינא” כ”ש דכשר – מ”מ “הואיל ונפיק מפומי’ דרב כהנא” – רבו – ש”חד ותרי” גם כשר, לכן, הידר לקחת “תרי וחד”. וכאמור – ענין זה נכתב בגמרא, בתור הוראה ד”מעשה רב”.

    ומזה מובן במכ”ש וק”ו שכאשר דרכו של ה”רבי” שלך היא באופן כך וכך – בודאי אין לך מה לחפש בשדות אחרים, לכל לראש יש לשמור על “כרמי שלי”!

    אצל יהודי לא קיים ענין של “שיתוף”, ובלשון חז”ל: “אנו אין לנו אלא ה’ אחד כו’ וכהן גדול אחד”!

  7. Regarding what you say about R’ Meir Shapiro being a chossid, just to clarify:

    He was a Chossid of R’ Yisroel of Chortkov, a famous Rebbe who was from the Ruzhiner dynasty. Reb Yisroel told R’ Meir Shapiro that he wants to institute a cycle of learning one page of Gemara each day, and he wants Rav Meir to be the the one to officially institute it because he commanded great respect with both Chasidim and Misnagdim alike.

    As well, it is worthy to mention that Agudas Yisroel were not the ones who started Daf Yomi, and it wasn’t their idea. They picked it up and pushed for it when they were able to, but they weren’t powerful enough to get everyone to do it. In fact, when the cycle was set to begin, no one knew if it would get off the ground in a serious way and be widely accepted, or if only a few people would be interested. Thanks to the Gerrer Rebbe (the Imrei Emes), it was indeed accepted on a large scale. What happened was that the cycle was set to begin on the first day of Rosh Hashana. When the Imrei Emes was in front of all his Chasidim on Rosh Hashana (I think it was at shul on the first night, I might be wrong), he very publicly and very conspicuously asked if someone could bring him a Gemara Brachos, and everyone understood that he was publicly supporting and encouraging the initiative of Daf Yomi, his “Haskama” helped get people to start doing it.
    So if someone doesn’t want to learn Daf Yomi solely because it has do do with Agudas Yisroel, have no fear. They didn’t have the power to institute it and propogate it properly, rather it was 3 Chasidim – Rav Meir Shapiro, Reb Yisroel of Chortkov, and the Imrei Emes.

    1. One important missing detail. When agudas yisroel went to gedoilim asking for haskomos they did not include the frierdiker rebbe so……

      1. With the reason of the omission being quite obvious to anyone familiar with the history of Agudas Yisroel and the attitudes of the Rebbe Rashab and (therefore (?)) the Frierdiker Rebbe towards them.
        One may even go so far to say that such an idea (of going to the Frierdiker Rebbe for a Haskamah on Daf Yomi) would be of as much use as going to the MInchas Elazar as well.

    2. to the best of my knowledge the imrei emes was the, or from the, leaders of agudas yisroel. they are practically one and the same.

  8. If you don’t learn Gmoro for at least an hour a day it’s simply a “no brainer” that one should learn daf yomi, if that’s what will get your nefesh habahamis to let you learn gmoro daily what’s the question? Meetoich shelo lishmo ba lishmo! A yid, and surely a chabad chossid MUST learn gmoro daily for at least an hour!!!!

  9. ישר כח!
    Thank you for bringing up this critical topic.
    In the past, I too was misinformed that it’s against רבותינו נשיאינו, although I have been jealous of people who did this fantastic accomplishment of finishing Shas.
    Thanks to Rabbi Yossi Paltiel’s video around the Siyum Hashas pushed me to learn Daf Yomi. It has been a game-changer it has not been in conflict with my daily Shiurim, quite the contrary. I’m finally learning Gemara regularly, something I have not done since my days in Yeshiva.
    Here’s the link to the video https://youtu.be/BFalGy02gMQ

  10. בס”ד
    מביאים כל מיני מקורות , אבל מקור אחד לא מביאים , כשהרבי תיקן את תקנת הרמב”ם היומי הוא אמר בשיחה בפירוש , למה כן רמב”ם ולא דף יומי , אבל כשרציתי לראות בשיחות , השמיטו את הטיעון הזה

  11. it seems that Chabad is dealing with an inferiority complex. its very clear that the rebbe was against daf haymow.
    the author of this article fails to bring the copy of the transcript of the yechidus of Peretz Mothckin where the rebbe tells his to take out the daf hayomi.
    if you want to learn daf Homi good for you. but don’t pretend or convince yourself that it follows the rebbe shita. because it doesn’t.
    this Reminds me of the hole eiruv saga. Vidal.
    what his happening to Chabad self esteem.
    is there not enough to learn as a chasid.

    1. My dear friend:
      I brought it in footnote 11.

      Oh and please explain from where is it “very clear” that the Rebbe was against it, I’d love to see it if it exists.

        1. So you would rather believe an unverified version rather than what Berel Mockin himself said he heard from his father? very selective indeed.

      1. איך האב עס ניט געזעהן באם שווער. Plain and simple, that’s why we don’t learn daf yomi, its just not a inyan of רבותינו נשיאינו. we don’t go looking by other circles, for sidrei limmud.

        שכאשר דרכו של ה”רבי” שלך היא באופן כך וכך – בודאי אין לך מה לחפש בשדות אחרים, לכל לראש יש לשמור על “כרמי שלי”!

        אצל יהודי לא קיים ענין של “שיתוף”, ובלשון חז”ל: “אנו אין לנו אלא ה’ אחד כו’ וכהן גדול אחד”!

        Daf yomi is very nice inyan, נהרא נהרא ופשטיה, but its not our inyan.

        1. Correct, “איך האב ניט געזען ביים שווער” means that it’s not an Inyan of Raboseinu Nesieinu, which is why the Rebbe wasn’t going to give a letter of ishur, cuz that would mean that it’s something that Chabad does.

          But there’s a difference between “not an Inyan” and davka farkert, the Rebbe never said that the Frierdiker Rebbe was against it, only that it’s not our thing specifically. The Rebbe didn’t tell Reb Peretz to stop the Shiur, only that he can’t come out specifically in support. Daf Yomi is not a Chabad inyan, but Chabad (maybe) is not anti Daf Yomi, (even if yes, this story is no proof).

          I don’t understand why this Chiluk is so hard for people to understand.

          1. Very simply, you don’t understand that the shlila of “not seen by the shver” is the greatest negation possible

  12. Sadly some chassidim have an inferiority complex and are intimidated by programs made by other communities. They think that the only way Lubavitch can be great is to the exclusion of all others.

    Chassidus Chabad doesn’t need to compete with anyone else. They can have excellent Gemara programs, which we can even use ourselves, and yet Chassidus and the Rebbe is beyond that.

    In short: If you stand higher, you don’t need to put others down.

    1. Obviously is lacking a basic understanding and feel of connection “hiskashrus” to the Rebbe ..

      The tochen of the sicha in 5748 is that we don’t need to feel disheartened from this that we don’t learn daf yomi, because we didn’t see this by our Rebbe.

      והדברים פשוטים

      והוי’ הטוב יכפר בעד פשוטי עמו

  13. But we should know that the *amud* hayomi is a takana of the frierdike rebbe that every chosid should learn an amud Gemara per day…

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