FIRST IT WAS ‘DAF YOMI,’ NOW IT’S ‘NACH YOMI’; OU WEBCAST OF A BIBLICAL CYCLE TO BEGIN NOVEMBER 1
The Hebrew Bible (Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim) is called “Tanach.” Minus the Torah, “Nach” includes the Prophets (Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and others) and the Writings (such as Psalms, Job and the Five Megillot). Nach teaches the grandeur of Jewish history. It contains the most inspiring messages the world has ever known. And now, it’s easy to learn. Download the Nach Yomi Calendar
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The Orthodox Union, long recognized as one of the world’s leaders in teaching the Daf Yomi cycle, will add the Nach Yomi cycle to its compendium of educational programs on the web on November 1, as the OU begins a 742-day journey through the Prophets and Writings on www.ouradio.org/nach
Less well known than Daf Yomi, Nach Yomi deals with Tanach — the Hebrew Bible — but minus the Torah segment, thus leaving the “Nach” – Neviim and Ketuvim. Unlike the Daf Yomi cycle, which takes more than seven years to complete, Nach Yomi takes slightly longer than two years, with each of the 742 days representing a chapter; beginning with Joshua 1, on November 1, 2007, the cycle will conclude on November 11, 2009 with II Chronicles 36.
The OU’s acclaimed Daf Yomi shiur (class), taught by Rabbi Moshe Elefant, has built a large worldwide audience for its video/audio presentation. Nach Yomi, to be presented in an audio format, is expected to appeal to the Daf Yomi audience as well as to others who cannot make a seven-year commitment or who lack the background to do high-level Talmud study.
Rabbi Bini Maryles, who this summer assumed the position of Director of the OU Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue Services, will kick off the project, teaching Joshua and Judges, with other leaders to follow. Prior to joining the OU, Rabbi Maryles was spiritual leader of Young Israel of North Woodmere in Long Island, NY, where he taught Neviim weekly on Shabbat afternoons, although not as part of a formal cycle.
Each class will last from 30-45 minutes, Rabbi Maryles said. The programs can be downloaded and will be archived permanently on the OU website. A handy printed calendar will set out the cycle day by day for easy reference on the part of participants.
“We are always looking for ways in which we at the OU can use technology to increase learning among the members of our synagogues,” Stanley Weinstein, Chairman of the OU Synagogue Services Commission, pointed out. “Thousands visit the OU’s online Daf Yomi each week. The Nach Yomi series should be just as popular.”
Rabbi Maryles (and the other leaders) will not work alone, declared Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, Associate Director of Synagogue Services, who is administrator of the program. Rabbi Abramowitz will provide a daily written synopsis of the chapter, while at regular intervals guest rabbis will provide their own lectures to supplement the basic class and to provide students with an opportunity to explore the chapter in greater depth. One of the guest lecturers will be Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, who runs the hugely popular tanach.org, an Israeli website.
The idea of presenting Nach Yomi came to the Orthodox Union from Eliezer Edelman, OU National Director of Administration and Management, who in turn was introduced to the program by attorney Ari Wieder. Mr. Wieder is now completing his third cycle as part of a group of a dozen participants, including Mr. Edelman, at Congregation Beth Abraham in Teaneck, an OU member synagogue.
“The purpose of Nach Yomi is become more fluent in what most of us studied in high school and college but without completing the job,” said Mr. Wieder. “We may have stopped with II Melachim (Kings II) and studied some of the prophets but not every one. With Nach Yomi we get a sense of accomplishment from doing the entire cycle. Since it’s not as demanding as Daf Yomi, there is an opportunity to get more people involved; if you miss a day, it’s easier to catch up.”
Mr. Wieder is pleased that the Orthodox Union will give the program an audience that goes well beyond what an individual synagogue can do. “What’s terrific is the unbelievable exposure Nach Yomi will get — it can now spread throughout the world,” he said, adding that the calendar the OU is issuing will serve as a handy learning tool.
According to Rabbi Maryles, the audience for the OU presentation is “everyone,” men and women alike, from at least high school age and above. Reflecting on his Shabbat afternoon classes at his synagogue, he said that he chose to do Neviim because “the barrier to entrance was a lot lower” than a Gemara shiur would be. The same holds true for the OU program, which will be “more accessible” than the legalistic Daf Yomi and can “appeal to a very wide spectrum of our population.”
Rabbi Maryles intends to use a wide variety of commentaries – from Rashi, Radak, Metsudat Tzion, Metsudat David and Malbim to more recent commentators such as Daat Sofrim and Daat Mikra – with the purpose being to determine “what the text is trying to tell us, what the meaning is for us today.”
A challenge for Rabbi Maryles and other leaders will be the widely varying lengths of each chapter. In Psalms (Tehillim) for example (which will provide 20 percent of the cycle — 150 Psalms, one Psalm per day), Psalm 117, which is included in Hallel, is two verses, the shortest chapter in Tanach; Psalm 119, is 176 verses, the longest.
What’s a leader to do as an alternative to cutting one class to five minutes or extending another to two hours? The varying lengths of chapters, as well as their characteristics, provide an opportunity for creative teaching, Rabbi Maryles explains.
Psalm 117, for example, can provide an opportunity to talk about Hallel and how it relates to the synagogue service; other Psalms can be discussed as part of the nature of Tehillim; chapters which include Haftorahs can be related to their respective Torah portions, and so on, giving the teacher vast flexibility on how to present the daily lesson.
Rabbi Maryles looks forward to the challenge. Given the acclaim that Rabbi Elefant has earned with his Daf Yomi cycle, and given Rabbi Maryles’ own background in teaching the Prophets, it can be expected that before long worldwide audiences will have the opportunity for two daily excursions into the higher world of Jewish learning, as presented on www.ouradio.org
To obtain the Nach Yomi calendar, contact Rabbi Abramowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.