The Talmud page of the day, has given me a structured way to feel I move forward.
In 2003, the New York Times published an article about the movie Groundhog Day. In it, “Harold Ramis, the director of the film and one of its writers, said that since it came out he has heard from Jesuit priests, rabbis and Buddhists. ‘At first I would get mail saying, “Oh, you must be a Christian, because the movie so beautifully expresses Christian belief. Then rabbis started calling from all over, saying they were preaching the film as their next sermon. And the Buddhists! Well, I knew they loved it, because my mother-in-law has lived in a Buddhist meditation center for 30 years and my wife lived there for 5 years.’”
Every year I show “Groundhog Day” to my 8th grade class because its core message is that we can change. It’s why so many religious leaders let Harold Ramis know that it had had an impact on them. In a way it is ironic, given that Bill Murray’s character, Phil, lives the same day over and over and over and….
The very words Groundhog Day have entered our cultural vocabulary. When we have the same argument with our _____ (kids, parents, boss) that we have every day, it’s Groundhog Day. When the Sharks fail to win the Stanley Cup: Groundhog Day.
Since March, we have probably used these words more than we realize. As an April article in The Atlantic posited: “The 1993 existential comedy has become a meme and a metaphor for this moment. For many of us, the impact of Covid has been our seeing today as the same as yesterday, and the looming prospect that it will be the same as tomorrow.”
As someone who, like most of you I’m sure, spends quite a bit of time on Zoom, I have had to seek ways to create newness in my life. Prayer helps me; I find that I appreciate consciously more things when I have the reminder that prayer provides me.
Perhaps more than anything, I have found that learning the Daf Yomi, the Talmud page of the day, has given me a structured way to feel I move forward. Every day we turn the page. Literally!
I’ve been doing my daf yomi studies with a remarkable teacher, Rabbanit Michelle Farber, and an embracing community called Hadran, Talmud Study for Women. Every night at 9:10, I jump on a Zoom meeting with 40-50 other people and we learn together live, in real time. We interact, chat, and at the end of class ask questions, and we would never have been able to do this before we were forced online. The Talmud comes alive; it is amazing how relevant it is today.
I invite you to join me on my Daf Yomi voyage. You can join in at any time by visiting the Hadran website and following the links there. I especially recommend joining the siyum (ending) for the tractate of Eruvin on Sunday, November 22, and starting Pesachim on Monday, November 23. Since there are 2,711 pages in the Talmud, and we will have only covered 326 by then, you’re not late to the party!