The History of Mishnah Yomi
One of the most monumental ideas in the Torah world of the past century was proposed towards the end of the first Knessiah Gedolah in Vienna at the beginning of Elul in 1923, when Rav Meir Shapiro announced the concept of Daf Yomi, suggesting that Jews the world over study the same daf of Gemara daily, completing Shas in a cycle of seven-plus years. The proposal was accepted by many gedolim of the time and Daf Yomi was launched shortly thereafter on Rosh Hashanah, with many beginning their journey through Talmud Bavli. The first Siyum Hashas took place on Tu B’Shevat in 1931.
In 1933, in the middle of the second cycle of Daf Yomi, Rav Meir Shapiro passed away suddenly at the young age of forty-six. In 1934, on the seventh of Adar, another significant idea related to Torah learning was proposed at a meeting of gedolim in Lublin. In addition to the Daf Yomi cycle, it was proposed, the Mishnah, specifically the sections on which there is no Gemara, should be studied daily. The initial idea was for everyone to learn one Mishnah daily. The purpose of this initiative was so that the next Siyum Hashas, which was to take place in 1938, would be on all six sedarim of Shas.
This additional learning program was proposed by the Kozoglover Gaon, Rav Aryeh Tzvi Frommer, Rav Shapiro’s successor as rosh yeshivah of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. Various gedolim of the time, such as the rebbes of Sochatchov and Ger, accepted Rav Frommer’s proposal. The proposal was connected to Daf Yomi, as it was reported that Rav Meir Shapiro had indeed expressed great interest in adding these parts of Mishnah – specifically Seder Zeraim and Seder Taharos – to the Daf Yomi cycle. A Mishnah Yomi calendar was printed, and the exact dates of the learning cycle even appeared in some newspapers of the time, listing the Mishnah Yomi schedule.
In 1938, as the winds of war began blowing across Europe, Rav Frommer addressed the Siyum Hashas, delivering a lengthy drashah in which he mentioned the significance of everyone learning Mishnayos.
In 1947, following the destruction experienced by Klal Yisrael during World War II, Rav Yonah Sztencl, a rav in Tel Aviv and a talmid of Rav Frommer, recommended adding to the program, building on Rav Frommer’s proposal. He suggested that everyone should learn a cycle of all of Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, especially as many people found it difficult to keep to the Daf Yomi schedule. This proposal, to learn two Mishnayos each day, was then endorsed by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Tchebiner Rov, the Gerer Rebbe, and many others. Thus was Mishnah Yomi born.