The first enterprise was a program of studies (still in existence) which has passed into Jewish nomenclature as the daf yomi ("daily page"). At the 1923 congress of the Agudat Israel, R. Shapira proposed that every Jew undertake to study each day one identical page of the Talmud. The plan envisaged a communal completion of the study of the Talmud every seven years. R. Shapira himself participated in the completion of the first cycle in 1931. R. Shapira's second achievement was the establishment of Yeshivat Hakhmei Lublin. He first conceived of the idea of this yeshivah in 1922, and two years later, after a highly strenuous fund-raising tour of Europe and North America, laid the foundation stone in the presence of leading Jewish rabbis and dignitaries. This institution was unique in conception, character, and even architecture. R. Shapira was vigorously opposed to the poor amenities, unattractive surroundings, and penurious atmosphere characteristic of the traditional yeshivot. He set a precedent, now universally followed, by equipping his establishment at Lublin with an excellent library (much of it his own), with spacious living and dining quarters, and with appropriate lecture halls. The academic standards themselves were maintained by a rigorous selection of applicants, including a growing number of hasidic youth. Shapira frequently lectured to the students and participated in their daily studies, activities, and even meals.
In 1933 R. Shapira accepted an invitation to become rabbi of Lodz, on condition that the community honor the yeshivah's debts. The condition was accepted, but R. Shapira died before assuming the post. R. Shapira was an enigmatic and colorful personality, in whom a deep understanding of rabbinic lore was combined with a nimble wit and love of life. The former is indicated in his responsa Or ha-Me'ir (1926), and in various collections of essays published by his pupils. The latter was revealed in the songs and melodies he composed while dancing with his students. Many of his witty aphorisms are still quoted. The manner of his death was characteristic of his life. Realizing that his end was near, he requested his students to dance in song around his bed; while they were so engaged, he breathed his last breath.
(1) Works, or parts of works, which belong to Heikhalot and Merkabah mysticism, the mystical and cosmological literature of the talmudic and geonic periods. Of these, Raziel contains a version of the Sefer ha-Malbush, a magical work; baraita of Ma'aseh Bereshit, a cosmological and astrological description of the Creation, which has some mystical overtones; and a major part of the Sefer ha-Razim ("Book of Magical Secrets"), which is a collection of magical formulas and angelological material from talmudic times. The introduction states that the angel Raziel revealed the secrets described to Adam. In this category, there is some importance to a long version of the early anthropomorphic work, the Shi'ur Komah, describing the members and secret names of the Creator.
(2) Material which belongs to literature of the 13th-century R. Hasidei Ashkenaz. To this category belong the introduction and the first half of R. Eleazar of Worms' work, Sod Ma'aseh Bereshit ("The Secret of the Creation"), which formed the first part of his Sodei Rezaya. Some exegetical works on the Holy Names of G-d, and some magical formulas which conclude the collection, also belong to the literary heritage of the R. Hasidei Ashkenaz.
(3) A few portions of kabbalistic literature, descriptions of the Sefirot and exegeses of Holy Names, mostly reflecting kabbalistic theology of pre-Lurianic periods.