Dear Rabbi Fried,
I’ve been seeing flyers and advertisements for NACH Yomi studies and an upcoming NACH Yomi celebration, and I’m confused what that means. Is that the same as Daf Yomi? For that matter, what is Yomi? And what is Daf?
The word “NACH” is the English rendition of the Hebrew acronym, which stands for Neviim u’Chesuvim, or Prophets and Writings. It’s two-thirds of what we call “Tanach,” which stands for Torah, Neviim u’Chasuvim, the entire Jewish Bible.
The Torah consists of two parts, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The foundation of the Written Torah is the Five Books of Moses, the Chumash, which is studied through an annual cycle completed in synagogues throughout the world. The Chumash ends with the death of Moses. This is followed by the Book of Joshua, who was chosen by Moses as his successor to lead the Jews into the Land of Israel. The Book of Joshua and the subsequent books of prophecy teach crucial lessons, both historical and philosophical teachings, spanning Jewish history from entering Israel until destruction of the second Temple and the second exile. To truly appreciate what it means to be a Jew, one must study these subsequent books of Torah.
The study of the 19 books of NACH has, unfortunately, had no traditional system. The result of this is that many Jews have never studied the major portion of the words of our prophets and earliest sages, certainly not with any kind of regularity. (And we’re supposed to be the “People of the Book”!)
Enter NACH Yomi (Yomi meaning daily), which developed a system of daily study of a chapter a day, thereby completing the study of NACH every two years!
This is not to be confused with “Daf Yomi,” which means “daily folio,” reflecting a worldwide movement to study a folio, or a two-sided page, of Talmud. The Talmud is the primary recording of what is known as the “Oral Torah.”
Daf HaYomi was conceived by a young Torah luminary, Rav Meir Shapiro, in the early 1920s. His idea was to have Jews around the world studying the same page of Talmud, which would elevate Jewish scholarship worldwide, and that when “a Jew from Pinsk would bump into a Jew from Minsk in the train station, they would have the same Torah study to discuss.” This would lead to greater unity along with enhanced scholarship.
This movement officially commenced on the day of Rosh Hashanah, 5684, corresponding to Sept. 11, 1923. (Interesting, a new beginning on 9/11…) It would take approximately seven and one-half years to complete the 2711 folios which make up the Babylonian Talmud. Tens of thousands participated, and the Daf Yomi movement continues to be strong and to grow.
In December 2019 the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi was completed, with hundreds of thousands participating in this incredible celebration of Torah study worldwide.
At that time a number of women felt that they would also like to have a cycle which would push them to higher heights of Jewish scholarship, since the Daf HaYomi is predominantly studied by men.
In answer to this request, the Orthodox Union Women’s Initiative created an exciting and stimulating state-of-the-art program of study of NACH, called “Torat Imecha NACH Yomi,” a program by women, for women.
They called upon some of the most talented and learned women of our generation to give daily online classes on a chapter a day of Prophets and Writings. With these brilliant teachers, the OU wove a two-year tapestry of study, tailor-made for women who are busy with their lives and families but still desire to traverse the profound teachings of the prophets.
As a result, women from around the world now study the daily chapter of NACH and are soon to complete the first cycle. The first cycle finishes Wednesday, Jan. 19, and the next day, the 20th, immediately commences the second cycle. This milestone will be celebrated with a siyum (completion celebration) this coming Sunday, Jan. 16, in New York, both in person and livestreamed. You can check in for details at ou.org/wom
A number of local women have joined this program (including my wife, Marcy), and there will be a local siyum as well. For details, you may check in with firstname.lastname@example.org. Congratulations to all of our local women who have studied, day in and day out, for two entire years and completed this milestone!
If you are interested in that type of commitment and growth, this would be a great time to join!
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried is dean of Dallas Area Torah Association.