daf yomi, learning

1000 Days of Trying

1,000 days. What can you accomplish in 1,000 days? 1,000 days is approximately the time that it takes to go from the beginning of a pregnancy to handling a 2-year-old. It’s the time it takes to develop from a short, awkward 10-year-old to becoming a slightly taller, still awkward bar mitzvah boy. It’s almost enough time to get a college degree. And in Israel, it’s longer than many young adults serve in the army.

What can you do with 1,000 days?

We can accomplish so much.

The problem most of us face is in consistency and commitment. It’s hard to stick to something for that long; to commit to showing up each and every day. But then, one day you turn around and realize that your 45 minutes a day have added up to a huge accomplishment — after 1,000 of them.

Just over 1,000 days ago, there was a siyum, a celebration of finishing the 7.5 year cycle of learning the Talmud. There were many celebrations around Israel (and the world) and one of my friends said that I should join the next cycle. “Yeah, right,” I thought. How was I going to commit to learning Gemara for 45-50 minutes a day with virtually no background? Who has the time, the energy, the desire for such an endeavor?

But my friend is very persuasive, and soon a group formed in my neighborhood of women who were committing to the daily learning. And with the incredible access that we have today to podcasts from inspirational and brilliant people like Rabbanit Michelle Farber and the Hadran website — I found myself committing to try.

And I say committing to try because that’s really what it’s been for me. I was willing to try, to see if I could understand a kernel or two each day from the 45-minute podcast; if I could understand enough to keep me going.

And now, with 1,000 days of trying behind me, I marvel at the commitment and the love of learning. I find myself parched without my daily dose of learning, even if I literally only understand or fully embrace a few minutes of the lesson for that day. And I’ve tried, and reached and grown through the process. Here are a few key things I’ve learned over these 1,000 days.

  1. The word try is very powerful. Rather than saying “no,” or “well, maybe,” or “I might,” I said I would try. Trying means that I was willing to put my ego aside, to show up and to work on a new skill. It means that I am worth my own effort and the struggle to try something new.
  2. I love the phrase “I don’t know.” It would be hard to find someone more accomplished or knowledgeable than Rabbanit Michelle. During the 1,000 days of podcasts, I’m always struck by this phrase when she periodically says it. Do we say “I don’t know” enough? Or are we too embarrassed to admit when we don’t know something? Do we try to cover for not knowing something with excuses, half-truths or deflection? Does this serve us as parents, co-workers, bosses, teachers and people? I have found it so refreshing when Rabbanit Michelle says that she doesn’t know something or isn’t positive about something — and then she typically comes on the next day to explain the answer she has researched. I’ve been trying to incorporate this into my vocabulary more often.
  3. Kernels can be gold too. I have found, with this incredibly challenging project, that it’s enough to just show up. Each and every day. Do I understand everything being discussed each day? Certainly not. Do I get something from each class? Yes. And if some days I get more, and others I get less, after 1,000 days it all starts to balance out.

Here’s to 1,000 days of commitment. I can’t wait for the next 1,000.


This article first appeared on Times of Israel.

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