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Sunday, February 23, 2020

(Courtesy of OU) A new Torah platform has been released this week that is likely to become the go-to destination for Daf Yomi learners. All Daf, a project of the OU, is an app and website that will host an extensive encyclopedia of premium Shas-related audio, video and PDF content, and is designed to help raise the level of Torah learning for every Jew around the globe. The platform was launched ahead of the upcoming Siyum Hashas so that Daf Yomi learners can start the new cycle with every resource available at their fingertips.

Rabbi Moshe Schwed, the director of the Daf Yomi Initiative for the OU, has been working on creating All Daf for the past year. He spoke with The Jewish Link and shared some insight and perspective about the project.

“The idea is that learners on every level, from beginners to advanced talmidei chachamim, can come to one place and find everything they need for learning Gemara,” Rabbi Schwed explained.

The primary function of All Daf is to create an umbrella platform for top-tier Gemara-related content. There are many websites and outlets that offer shiurim, printable media, marei mekomot, and Daf Yomi-related content, each at its own address and on its own interface. All Daf brings them into a single app and website, allowing seamless access to all the content in one place.

“Many people have difficulty navigating websites,” Rabbi Schwed points out. “Having a different website with a different interface for each shiur can be too confusing for many who would benefit from the shiurim. That is why we designed All Daf to host all the content on a single server, in its own interface. It makes everything so much simpler.”

An incredible array of quality content has been curated and streamlined into the platform, and every effort was made to assure that the app would offer an unmatched experience befitting the extensive content it hosts. These include the shiurim of Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Rabbi Shalom Rosner, Daf Hachaim, Sruly Bornstein, Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz, Shas Illuminated and many others. Daf HaChaim’s well-known introductions and reviews were also incorporated into the All Daf library.

Additionally, there are some noteworthy shiurim that are currently drastically underutilized, as they are hosted on platforms that are technologically lagging or they are simply under-advertised. Incorporating them into All Daf will introduce them to many people who would gain from their use.

“An administrator of a popular Daf Yomi shiur website put it like this,” Rabbi Schwed shares. “All Daf is ‘a Daf Yomi mall.’ He was happy that we were hosting his content and giving him ‘a booth in the mall.’”

All Daf will also feature new content, created specifically for the platform. A number of fascinating and knowledgeable talmidei chachamim were commissioned to create short, interactive clips that would serve as supplements to a Daf Yomi shiur, infusing a new dimension into the daily daf. The clips cover a number of different categories; there are clips about the historical background of topics mentioned in the daf, explanation of the pesukim in Nach quoted in the daf, insight into related halachic aspects of the daf, and a deeper look at the lomdus behind the daf. Those featured in these clips are experts in the specific subject and popular maggidei shiur. These short clips allow anyone to connect to the sugya in a more intimate manner, ignites a personal passion, and allows people to walk away from the daf with a memorable perspective that will help them remember the sugya.

Another focus of All Daf was to extend the daily daf to the learner’s family. Often, family members of a daf learner feel little connection to the learning their parent or spouse spend so much time involved in. An All Daf section called “Bring Home the Daf” provides short, family-friendly divrei Torah pertaining to the daf that can easily be shared at a Shabbos meal or at the dinner table. This can help one include their children and spouse in their daily learning.

For some, learning a daf each day is too formidable a challenge for them on their current level, yet they still pine for a connection to the global Daf Yomi movement. All Daf will include a program in which one can learn a Mishna each day that corresponds with the daily daf. Comprehensive shiurim on Mishnayot will be aligned with those on the daf, titled “Mishna of the Daf,” which can allow people to follow the cycle. This can also be used by parents who wish to include their children in their daily learning. A parent who teaches their child a Mishna each day will be able to make a siyum on Gemara together with their child’s siyum on Mishnayot, thus forging a beautiful family bond around Torah learning.

Another interesting feature available on All Daf is a recently developed systematic learning program for memory retention called Zichru. Remembering the daf is a prevalent challenge among Daf Yomi learners, and Zichru can help remedy that with its unique system. The developers were happy to make their program available on All Daf in order to give it a wider user base.

Aside from the audio shiurim that are hosted on the platform, All Daf also has an extensive library of PDF material pertaining to each daf. A special series titled “mekorot le’havana v’iyun” includes a synopsis and marei mekomot on each daf. Tosfot summaries in English, outlines of each daf, halacha points, and many other useful printable material were curated and enhanced for the platform.

A tremendous amount of time, effort and resources were dedicated to ensure that the website, as well as the app, were designed with the highest standards of technology available today. The platform seamlessly integrates all the features in a pristine, clean interface and is customizable to fit individual preferences. Users can download content for offline use, get notifications for new shiurim, or utilize a slew of other contemporary conveniences. All of the various content is sorted by daf, so that just one click on the desired daf will give access to everything, circumventing the need for multiple searches.

For years, OU has been a leader in making shiurim accessible to the public. Fifteen years ago, OU’s COO Rabbi Moshe Elefant began recording a Daf Yomi shiur that was posted on the website, and it quickly garnered an audience of nearly 2,000 daily listeners.

“We don’t even know exactly how many people are listening, and I’m not looking to do a census,” Rabbi Elefant shares with The Jewish Link. “All that matters is that people are learning the daf, and baruch Hashem the shiur can help people in doing so.”

The website subsequently began to post the shiurim of Rabbi Shalom Rosner, and the library continued to grow ever since. Currently, links to many shiurim are available on the site, and it has been the inspiration behind All Daf.

“All Daf will bring that concept up to a level never before experienced in the Orthodox world,” Rabbi Schwed asserts. “It will break barriers, serving to fill all the gaps.”

In his development of All Daf, Rabbi Schwed reached out to numerous Daf Yomi learners, and he closely studied the trends and motivations they shared. It was with their feedback that he was able to optimize the app to be a perfect fit for everyone.

“More than a thousand people told me their habits, schedules and the like,” he recalls. “I asked them about the challenges, what resources they were using, what they would want to learn if they had more time, and other pointed questions that helped me formulate the app.”

All Daf can be a valuable resource not only for Daf Yomi learners and maggidai shiur, but for anyone learning Gemara who seeks an added dimension to their learning. The extra supplementary content makes the platform especially useful, and it adds a dimension to Gemara learning that was not pursued prior.

“There is no specific target for All Daf,” Rabbi Schwed asserts. “It was made for everyone.”

All Daf can also help remedy some of the common challenges experienced by Daf Yomi participants.

“For those learning Daf Yomi, it is easy to lose some of the inherent geshmak after learning Shas a few cycles,” Rabbi Elefant explains. “I always considered it one of my goals to increase the qualitative aspects of the daf with my shiur, whether to cover the halachic aspects of it, or any other facet. With All Daf, the many features can give people an additional dynamic each time they learn Shas, and it can really keep the passion as fresh and as strong as it was during the first cycle.”

All Daf is a platform designed for the community, and the community can take part in the platform’s release. Rabbi Schwed shares that an inaugural community breakfast event is scheduled to take place on January 5 in Teaneck, at Congregation Keter Torah. Rabbi Shalom Rosner will deliver the initial Daf Yomi shiur of the cycle, followed by a shiur iyun delivered by Rav Hershel Schachter. Participants from a number of prominent shuls have already signed up for the event, including members of Congregations Bnai Yeshurun, Keter Torah, Rinat Yisrael, Beth Abraham, and Beth Aaron. Another event is scheduled to run simultaneously in the Five Towns. Both events will be livestreamed in conjunction with Torah Anytime. People can register for the events or the stream by visiting go.alldaf.org/Jan5.

“So much work has been put into getting us to where we are today,” Rabbi Schwed concluded. “But when people see the app, I think they will realize that it was all worth it. This app can revolutionize Daf Yomi learning for so many people, and it can introduce people to a level of learning that has until now been out of their reach.”

For more information, or to experience the platform, visit www.AllDaf.org.