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Aruch Hashulchan YD 246:17 writes

וט"ז סעיף קטן א שכתב בשם הדרישה: הבעלי בתים שלומדים רק איזה שעות ביום טוב, יותר שילמדו ספרי פוסקים ולא גמרא, עיין שם. ובוודאי שעל כל איש לידע דיני "אורח חיים", ומקצת דינים מ"יורה דעה" ו"חושן משפט" ו"אבן העזר" המוכרחים לכל איש, עיין שם בהלכות תלמוד תורה להגרש"ז ז"ל. אמנם ראינו כי אם כה נאמר להם – לא ילמדו כלל, כי רצונם רק ללמוד דף גמרא בכל יום. על כן אין להניאם, והלואי יעמדו בזה. וכל דבר תורה משיבת נפש, ומביאה ליראת ה' טהורה.

In summary, he writes "each baal habayit should learn practical halacha and not gemara in-depth, but if one tells them that, we see they don't learn anything because all they want is to learn one daf of gemara every day. And it is better not to say anything and halevai that they should learn this."

Now Aruch Hashulchan was published between 1884–1893 and daf yomi was officially started in 1923.

Does this mean people were learning daf yomi before its official start in a more informal way? Or was there a daf yomi movement in the geographical area of the Aruch Hashulchan?

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  • Learning Daf Yomi and learning a daf a day is not the same thing. Commented May 22 at 7:44
  • I hear you - might be the beginning of an answer - maybe daf yomi formalized and standardized a way of learning which was already common
    – mbloch
    Commented May 22 at 8:30
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    As far as I am aware the major innovation by Rabbi Meir Shapiro when he proposed Daf Yomi in August 1923, at the First International Congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna was the establishment of a schedule which would be followed across multiple communities. Rabbi Meir Shapiro’s idea was not just to promote the study of one daf of gemara each day but to unite the Jewish people across many countries in the common study of the same daf. If I can confirm this I will post this as an answer.
    – Edward B
    Commented May 22 at 8:41
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    @EdwardB that is correct and it says so on Wikipedia, but my question is not that - but rather whether people were already learning daf yomi before its establishment, as the Aruch Hashulchan hints to
    – mbloch
    Commented May 22 at 9:32
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1 Answer 1

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It seems fairly clear that, as the OP points out that the Aruch HaShulchan reports, there were some (perhaps many) who learned a daf of gemara each day. This was sometimes in Chevras Shas (Talmud study groups).

This article https://www.ou.org/who-originated-the-idea-of-the-daf-yomi-learning-schedule/ clearly points out that many people put forward the idea of daf yomi before Rabbi Meir Shapiro.

The article’s conclusion is:

"There are also (at least) four sources reporting daf yomi suggestions at earlier dates than those given above. They are: the Rebbe of Ger; Rabbi Ya’akov Lorbeerbaum of Lissa; Rabbi Akiva Eiger; the Jewish Community in Moravia.

"The last named appears in the ordinances of the Jewish community of the city from 5519 (1759), namely more than one hundred and fifty years before Rabbi Shapiro put forward his proposal to the Knessia Gedolah."

The major innovation of Rabbi Meir Shapiro when he proposed Daf Yomi in August 1923, at the First International Congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna was the establishment of a schedule which would be followed across multiple communities. Rabbi Shapiro’s idea was not just to promote the study of a daf of gemara each day but to unite the Jewish people across many countries in the common study of the same daf. This innovation moved the idea of a Chevra Shas up a notch. And introduced a worldwide element of international Jewish unity.

The following paragraph from Rabbi Shapiro's speech in August 1923 which is widely quoted in almost every article about Daf Yomi makes that goal clear:

What a great thing! A Jew travels by boat and takes gemara Berachot under his arm. He travels for 15 days from Eretz Yisrael to America, and each day he learns the daf. When he arrives in America, he enters a beis medrash in New York and finds Jews learning the very same daf that he studied on that day, and he gladly joins them.

Another Jew leaves the United States and travels to Brazil or Japan, and he first goes to the beis medrash, where he finds everyone learning the same daf that he himself learned that day. Could there be greater unity of hearts than this?

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  • If you like my answer, please consider accepting it. Otherwise, please comment on how it can be improved.
    – Edward B
    Commented Jun 6 at 17:22

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