The Road to Gan Eden Gets Bluetooth!
Unfortunately, so does the road leading in the other direction. A new app has changed the game.
This was way too strong an opening for a short piece, but I couldn’t resist.
Limmud Torah certainly helps one get to where one is supposed to go. The wealth of material that we have access to makes it easier all the time to pick up extra hours of learning when on the road, walking, or exercising.
One of the more popular providers of high-quality Torah is YUTorah.org. I pretty much don’t go anywhere else, although I know of the high-quality material on torah.org (except for some Adlerstein character) and TorahAnytime, which is a huge storehouse of shiurim. My own preference is for shiurim that are on more advanced beis medrash level rather than public presentations to more general audiences. I keep coming back to the shiurim of Rabbis Bleich, Schachter, and Willig in halacha, and in sugyos. (OK, when too much concentration gets in the way of driving, I enjoy R. Rakeffet’s decades of history recordings.)
I used to have to prepare by sitting in front of a computer, and downloading shiurim from the website. When you finished, you had to download some more – or you went dry till you did. Recently, however, YUTorah released an app, which is much easier to use. You can easily access any of the many thousands of items while you are walking, or at a red light.
The interface is user-friendly. (My only two quibbles are with a long load time, and having to bypass a bio for the magidei shiur which becomes irrelevant after the first time you’ve seen it. Very, very small prices to pay for a very well designed app.) An automatic bookmarking feature saves your place if you only get part of the way through a shiur, and come back to it later. You can also move forward or backward 30 seconds at a time, and speed up the playback up to 3 times the recorded speed.
Rav Moshe, zt”l, reportedly used to review mishanyos b’al peh while walking from his seat to a chupah when called for a brachah. While most of us can’t do that, we can get much closer to using “dead time” effectively through coupling a smartphone with a Bluetooth earpiece.
Of course, there is a distinct possibility that if we don’t, the heavenly prosecutor after 120 years might now have a new angle to pursue.
Sorry to be bee in your bonnet but the only problem is you look posul for aidus unless your smartphone has a big visible TAG sign on it. One can otherwise easily switch from kodesh to chol (and worse…..) in seconds
Some may find the weekly summaries, posted on Rabbi Gil Student’s Torah Musings Blog (https://www.torahmusings.com/) under the audio roundup section( e.g. https://www.torahmusings.com/2019/02/audio-roundup-20197/), helpful in choosing shiurim
There’s even a podcast feed for it:
I’ve sampled some shiurim that are linked on the weekly Torah Musing summaries. Like learning in general, there are a range of topics, from heavy-duty lomdus, to lighter topics such as the relationship between art and Torah.
YU’s Center for The Jewish Future is celebrating the release of this app in March with various shiurim. The app and the previous version allows YU to expand its reach to the community at large. Rav Soloveitchik’s public shiurim attracted people beyond YU as well.
I recommend the Kol Halashon app as well.
…and the titles of shiurim should be in hebrew letters.
I like R. Pruzansky’s lectures on the site. As R. Wein ages with dignity (he should live to 120), I see R. Pruznasky as beginning to assume the role largely created by the former. Or maybe I just gravitate to ex-lawyer Rabbis who write books, disseminate their Torah through various audio formats, then make Aliyah.
( Lawyer requirement can also be met by non-lawyers who host popular 9th circuit Judges at their table.)
Call me a Neanderthal, but I have and probably always will vastly prefer to read good, old-fashioned books over any latest technical innovation.
Wonderful suggestions by Rav Adlerstein . Only one quibble. He wrote, “You can easily access any of the many thousands of items while you are walking, or at a red light.” In Israel there is a stiff fine for using your phone when stopped at a red light.
According to all it is dangerous to drive while using a smart phone. One is required to pay attention while driving. NY Statute prohibits use while in motion, it has been interpreted at least by some courts while stopped at a red light See eg https://pospislaw.com/2013/07/17/car-is-in-motion-when-stopped-at-red-light-for-purposes-of-new-yorks-cell-phone-driving-statute/