be תורה

tweet #torah to the top as we gather @ sinai

I have been “on” (or using) Twit­ter since Jan­u­ary 2009. I don’t use it much social­ly, but rather edu­ca­tion­al­ly and polit­i­cal­ly. I don’t share where I am, how I’m feel­ing and what I’m eat­ing. I share thoughts about #Torah, #Israel, #Pales­tine, #Gaza, #Iran, #Auschwitz, #Shoa, #Holo­caust, #Jew­ish, #Exo­dus, #Sukkot, #Rab­bi, #Shab­bat, #Lapel­but­ton (!? search for it, you’ll find noth­ing.). You get the idea.

torah on twitter

When I first start­ed explor­ing how to use Twit­ter to teach Torah I had con­tact with R. Phyl­lis Som­mer (@imabima). We shared lists of oth­er rab­bis we knew who were using Twit­ter. At that time, I also learned about a blog post by Recon­struc­tion­ist Rab­bi Shai Gluskin on a site spon­sored by the Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety. R. Gluskin wrote about the idea and intro­duced the project of tweet­ing #Torah on erev Shavuot (in the com­ments) on his own per­son­al blog. Oth­ers who wrote about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of shar­ing (dare I write teach­ing) Torah on Twit­ter in 2009 include Drew Kaplan, who at the time was a YU rab­binic stu­dent in New York, and, though he has not shared any­thing in many months, Adam Simon who “tweets” as “Twit­Torah

tweet the exodus

Short­ly before Pesach this year a group of col­leagues decid­ed to Tweet The Exo­dus. They each took roles and sent out reg­u­lar tweets. As of this writ­ing, the sto­ry is still avail­able. Dur­ing the two week peri­od from March 16 to March 29, at its peak there were over 1400 fol­low­ers. Peo­ple all over the world receiv­ing the sto­ry of the Exo­dus from slav­ery in Egypt 140 char­ac­ters at a time. What a fab­u­lous was to teach Torah!

to my fellow huc-jir alumni I wrote…

…that I had seen a num­ber of us had, once again, been count­ing the Omer on our Face­book pages. Some were also doing so on Twit­ter. I enjoy see­ing this count­ing and all the dif­fer­ent ways we do it. There seemed to be a momen­tum build­ing as we neared the moment of Rev­e­la­tion.

Last year, fol­low­ing the dic­tum of Hil­lel in Pirke Avot: “ומקרבן לתורה bring­ing them close to the Torah”, there was an attempt to bring Torah to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble on the day before Shavuot, using Twit­ter. As expressed last year by Recon­struc­tion­ist Rab­bi Shai Gluskin (136 char­ac­ters):

Are you in? A 49th day of omer prep for Shavuot #Torah fest. Goal: get many tweet­ing Torah and see #Torah trend in top 10 the whole day.

Last year we were able to raise #Torah to the mid-30s of the most tweet­ed top­ics. I sug­gest­ed we give it our best again this year.

The “day” of May 18, 2010 is “erev” Shavuot. I sug­gest­ed that we each pre­pare as many 133-char­ac­ter Torah lessons as we could to “release” on that day. To those who may have been shar­ing #Torah Tweets through the year, I sug­gest­ed that Torah does not go bad. They should feel free to “recy­cle” those thoughts.

I think this is a great way to encour­age aware­ness of Torah. I’m sure we each have many sim­ple “Torah thoughts” that can be expressed in 133 char­ac­ters. (The lim­it is 133 to leave room for the final space and #Torah, which is 7 more char­ac­ters.)

I sug­gest­ed that we each pre­pare a num­ber of “tweets” in advance in a text file and sim­ply copy, then paste them into our pre­ferred Twit­ter tool about once or so an hour (depend­ing on your “capa­bil­i­ties” (sched­ule, etc.)). For those who use Twit­ter with their con­gre­ga­tions, I sug­gest­ed that con­gre­gants, too, can join in… either with their own thoughts, or ques­tions, about #Torah. We could encour­age every­one to become involved in think­ing Torah as a lead-in to Shavuot.

what’s with shavuot and torah?

The TaNaKh says noth­ing about when Torah was giv­en to the Jew­ish peo­ple. The asso­ci­a­tion of the two occurs in ear­ly Rab­binic times. It is cer­tain that enough Jews believed that Torah was giv­en at Shavuot for the ear­li­est Chris­tians to devel­op a fes­ti­val that mim­ics the mean­ing, if not the activ­i­ty of the hol­i­day. sev­en weeks time between Pesach and Shavuot is a time of con­cern as the next year’s grain har­vests are col­lect­ed. Will there be enough to last through the year or not? By the time the sev­en week peri­od has end­ed, all the grain would have been col­lect­ed and “the word” would be in. This “receiv­ing of the word” about whether or not it would be a fat or a lean year like­ly became asso­ci­at­ed with oth­er ideas relat­ed to “the word” being giv­en.

Chris­tians observe a feast relat­ed to “the word” being giv­en as well. Theirs occurs fifty days fol­low­ing East­er (“pen­ta” = 5, as in pen­tagon, pen­tagram, etc. Pen­te­cost is based on the Ancient Greek πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], pen­tekostē [hēmera], “the fifti­eth [day]”. Accord­ing to the Book of Acts (2:1–4):

On the day of Pen­te­cost [that is Shavuot… 50 days after the first day of Pesach] all the Lord’s fol­low­ers were togeth­er in one place. Sud­den­ly there was a noise from heav­en like the sound of a mighty wind. It filled the house where they were meet­ing. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues mov­ing in all direc­tions, and a tongue came and set­tled on each per­son there. The Holy Spir­it took con­trol of every­one, and they began speak­ing what­ev­er lan­guages the Spir­it let them speak.

do you have the word?

I don’t believe that I have “THE WORD

My father warned me against this kind of think­ing long ago when he wrote his song The Word.

Nonethe­less, I think there are ways in which we are “spo­ken to”. There are moments in which things are “revealed to us”. There are instances when “the infi­nite” seem­ing­ly reach­es out and touch­es “the finite”.

We can, and should, cel­e­brate these events. In the expe­ri­ence of the Jew­ish peo­ple the time when this process began is asso­ci­at­ed with the giv­ing of Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.

51 tweets to explain “revelation”

I have pre­pared near­ly 200 lit­tle mes­sages to share on Twit­ter begin­ning ear­ly on Tues­day morn­ing May 18, 2010. These con­tin­ue through the late after­noon. Begin­ning at 1:00 PM I will be send­ing through Twit­ter a series of 51 lit­tle tweets on the sub­ject of “rev­e­la­tion”
What is “rev­e­la­tion”? Some thoughts fol­low.

  • #Torah (1 — I’m not a math­e­mati­cian, but, there is a metaphor in here that helps, as we dis­cuss “infi­nite” a bit.
  • #Torah (2 — The string “a”: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 to infin­i­ty has how many num­bers?
  • #Torah (3 — The string “b”: 0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 to infin­i­ty has how many num­bers?
  • #Torah (4 — The string “c”: 0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 to infin­i­ty has how many num­bers?
  • #Torah (5 — Are more num­bers in string “a” than “b” or “c”? of course not. Yet strings “b” and “c” are “in” “a”, & some of “c” is in “b”.
  • #Torah (6 — We are finite.

…and so on

I am not a philoso­pher. My attempt to express this idea may be pedes­tri­an, but I have found that many peo­ple with whom I have shared it appre­ci­ate the thought.

Some time in the ear­ly 1990s Torah Aura Pro­duc­tions, a Jew­ish edu­ca­tion­al pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny in Los Ange­les (they have a cute phone num­ber: (800) BE-Torah) pro­duced a book and cur­ricu­lum called Being Torah. I always liked the con­cept, espe­cial­ly because it came with a lapel but­ton. But, con­sid­er that the best way to receive Torah is to give it, and the best way to give it is to live it. I’ve been wear­ing the but­ton for the past few days in antic­i­pa­tion of Shavuot.

Be Torah button

Be Torah

Date: 1990s
Size: 3.1
Pin Form: straight
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text BE

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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