Thursday, August 02, 2012

How many people really finished Shas?

“Fortunate is the person who sees, who experiences, this great gathering,” declared Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, the emcee of the Siyum HaShas. “Try to visualize the singing and dancing that’s going on right now in shamayim [heaven] watching tens of thousands celebrating the masechtos [tractates] they worked on so diligently.
Let's leave aside the nonsense about dancing departed souls, and instead try to work out if he's right about "tens of thousands" completing Shas this week.

There are about 1.8 million Jews (Updated: ORTHODOX Jews) in the world. Let's be generous and say 5 percent of all the male Orthodox Jews in the world are currently members of a daf yomi. That's 45,000. Of that group, let's say half, or 22,500, have been members for the last seven years.  Now, how many of those 22,500 attended the shiur every single day for seven years. My guess is no one, but I recognize that people generally try to make up the pages they've missed. How many managed to do this? 10 percent? Ok, so that's 2,250 people who actually finished shas. Not bad, but not "tens of thousands."

Disagree with my numbers? Show your math in the comments. 

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