Dear Rabbi Fried,
I have recently heard from a few women about a local initiative for women to study a chapter a week of the Tanach but don’t really understand what it’s all about. Have you heard anything about this and do you have any information?
What you have heard about is called “Nach Yomi,” or the daily study of the Nach.
This is not a local initiative; rather, it’s part of a worldwide initiative sponsored by the Orthodox Union, by their division dedicated to women’s studies. The idea is to be part of a bigger picture, of thousands of women across the globe studying a chapter a day of the Nach, an acronym standing for “Neviim u’Ketuvim,” or the Prophets and the Writings of our holy scriptures.
If one studies a chapter a day, she will finish learning the entire body of Prophets and Scripture in about two years. The program is currently in its second cycle.
What is especially attractive to many in this program is the offering of a daily 15-minute class by a master teacher online who brilliantly summarizes and brings down meaningful comments from the sages and commentaries. The chapter is understood in context, and the far-reaching message is brought out. This is something that one who studies on their own could never accomplish unless they would dedicate hours a day to this study. The busy women studying this, on top of their jobs, families and otherwise busy schedules, could never hope to achieve this level of depth and breadth on their own, but have it at their fingertips daily by women who are experts in this field.
The program just finished the study of the “Early Prophets,” which consists of Joshua, Judges, Samuel I & II and Kings I & II. They have just begun the study of the “Later Prophets,” beginning with the Book of Isaiah. This would be a wonderful time to join for anyone interested.
The reason I happen to know so much about this program is because my wife, Rebbetzin Marcy Fried, is one of the key representatives of this program for the OU in Dallas. Through her efforts and that of a few of her colleagues, the number of women in Dallas involved in this initiative has skyrocketed from about five women in the first cycle to some 70 or more women in the current cycle and growing!
The study of Nach gives one a very rich perspective of our history, current events and life as a Jew both individually and as a nation. Life is not the same after studying the Nach as before it. We are known as the “People of the Book,” but, somehow, we have closed our own book. Whether religiously observant or not, every Jew owes themselves the knowledge of the riches contained in our history. In fact, many of the women who have joined this cycle are not Orthodox or observant. They are, however, curious to understand our deep and rich heritage and have found an amazing way to achieve that understanding through the enchanting words of our Prophets and Sages.
I highly recommend you consider this for yourself and can guarantee you that you will not be sorry!
For more information, please contact Rebbetzin Fried at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck and please let me know how it goes!
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried is dean of Dallas Area Torah Association.