June 28, 2012
The Kosher Bookworm: Rabbi Meir Shapiro and the Daf Yomi Legacy
By the first week of August, a new cycle in the study of the Talmud, according to the method established by Rabbi Meir Shapiro of blessed memory, will have started. This week’s essay is in tribute to Rabbi Shapiro, and by extension, to all those dedicated souls who have made his Daf Yomi a part of their daily spiritual regimen.
Rarely does a biography of a long deceased person witness a forth printing within the space of eighteen years. In addition to this irony is the fact that the original Yiddish manuscript was written in the mid 1930s only to be published many years later, long after its author, Rabbi Yehoshua Baumol, Hy”d, was martyred in the Holocaust.
Translated by Charles Wengrow, of blessed memory, under the skilled editorship of Martin H. Stern, “A Blaze in the Darkening Gloom” [Feldheim, 1994,1997,2003, 2012] relates the legacy of the life and accomplishments of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, [1887-1933] the founder of the Daf Yomi legacy and the gifted Rosh Yeshiva of Chachmei Lublin.
The recent edition of this work, timed for the upcoming siyum, is a must read for all siyum participants to better appreciate the historical significance of the siyum experience.
The life’s work of Rabbi Shapiro, as a result of this republication, will give a whole new generation of Jews a chance to see what a great spiritual leader can accomplish with the limited financial resources at his command. This was done with a determination and courage to see his dreams and goals accomplished despite the opposition of those who lacked the vision, will and foresight that would, in the many years to come, give both purpose and focus to the study of the Talmud as it has never been studied in history prior to the 20th century.
In his editor’s foreword to the fourth edition, Martin Stern states the following heartfelt observation:
“It has been eighteen years since we published the first edition, and with this fourth printing, the intervening years have seen the rebirth and revival of Yiddishkeit in places that were once the center of global Jewish life,where millions of our ancestors lived and learned for 1,000 years, until the Holocaust destroyed almost everything.”