- Shmuel Hoffman
Well the Siyum HaShas is coming up, when the whole world finishes the 7.5 year cycle of learning the entire Talmud, one page per day, in what is called Daf Yomi.
At the beginning of this cycle, Koren Publishers - with Rav Even-Israel Steinsaltz, shlita, translating and adding copious footnotes for understanding, and Mr. Noe´ from England generously funding the project - took upon themselves the monumental task of revamping the layout and translation of this enormous work.
With the release of the final volume, Koren Publishers asked us to make a film to mark this huge occasion.
Our team traveled around the world to interview people from all different types of backgrounds who have been impacted by this work. The Talmud itself was originally thousands of years in the making, with many rabbis adding their voices to the pages along the way; the contribution of Rav Steinsaltz began half a century ago, and he has dedicated his life to this enormous work. We are in awe of his perseverance, and also of the vision of Koren Publishers to bring to life a new, more accessible version that has been not only increasing the number of people learning gemara, but expanding the demographic to include the uninitiated.
The new layout, illustrations, historical footnotes, notes on halacha, and keeping the translation separate from the Vilna Shas are big changes that make this work fun to learn with a group, in chavrusa, or on your own, for both Talmud scholars, or kids just starting out, or for anyone in between.
There were so many incredible people we came across while producing this film who use the Koren Noe´ Talmud extensively who didn't even make it into the final cut: a non-Jewish Bible professor in Germany, cream-of-the-crop Jewish speakers who travel worldwide lecturing to audiences who are already Talmud scholars in their own right, and startup groups in communities large and small who want the experience of learning the oral Torah, to increase their skills slowly over time while still walking away from each lesson with practical knowledge they can use today. The age range of the people who were able to access Talmud for the first time, or re-access it in a new light after years of deep Torah study, ranged from pre-bar mitzvah on up to 90+ years old.
We are so grateful to have had a small part in marking this huge occasion. Rav Steinsaltz is the first person in the history of the world to have written commentary on all tractates, and we are so thankful for Koren and the Noe´ family for having made this work possible, and the learning of gemara attainable by everyday people like us. Their commitment to this task has had a huge impact already, and will continue to do so throughout generations.
Thanks for watching.