Another new Jewish magazine has launched. Ami will join Mishpacha, Binah and Zman and many others which have sprouted up in recent memory.
I recall the days of yesteryear when the Yeshiva community didn’t have Jewish weeklies. There was Olomeinu for children and the Jewish Observer O"H for adults, both of which were published monthly.
While the proliferation of Jewish content periodicals is remarkable, there is a sad aspect to this glut of reading material.
Each edition of Olomeinu and JO was fought over and devoured until it was dog-eared , committed to memory and then saved. Today’s reading material is read and then discarded. One can pick up the same issue several weeks later and scarcely remember reading the articles.
The reason why the Talmudic greats of the previous era were able to memorize the Rashba, Ketzos and Nesivos etc. was primarily because there was a shortage of Seforim, hence each Sefer was precious. You committed the Sefer to memory because you never knew if you would have access to it the next time you needed it.
With the advent of Bar-Ilan, Otzar HaSeforim and Hebrewbooks.org databases, more and more source material will be available, but less and less of it will stick in our minds. The psychological idea that the text is always available whenever we need it, coupled by the fact that we don’t need to remember where anything is – the search engines will find it for us – is my lament.
Yet the bright side is that hopefully one day the JO and Olomeinu will be added to these digital libraries. Then I will be in bookworm Heaven.
In my early years, I recall once hearing a Yiddish song on the radio as I flipped through the various stations. I was quite surprised to discover that the Jewish minority was large enough to procure programming time on the public airwaves. As I matured, I was able to enjoy Jewish music on Art Raymond of WEVD and also Dov Shurin. Eventually Nachum Segal became King of Jewish music radio and became the standard EmCee at Jewish concerts.
Yet as large as these audiences grew, there still was no full-time Jewish music radio option. One could listen a few hours in the morning, sometimes a few hours at night, but there was nothing in between. I once entertained the notion to solicit sponsorship for 24x6 Jewish music programming. I thought that perhaps this would sway the youth not to get hooked onto rock-n-roll. One of the arguments I would encounter when I asked friends why they listened to R-n-R was that there wasn’t anything Jewish readily available.
But as JM proliferated in the 80’s and 90’s, there was now plenty of source material to support a full-time radio station. As the great Abie Rotenberg once noted…”a new tape comes out every week”. Even though other radio personalities, such as Country Yossi and others found their niche, even in our day there is not a dedicated Jewish music station.
Yet the age of the internet has enabled the world of “Internet Radio”. Almost all music stations now boast a presence on the world wide web; where their music is now available 24x7. The cost to maintain such a site is now totally within reason, and several websites have appeared with Jewish themed music being streamed to one’s computer.
However, for the Yeshivishe consumer, most programming was still wanting, as several of these sites play songs sung by women, or other content that the Yeshiva World finds offensive. This issue has now been rectified by several websites now offering streaming Jewish music 24x6. One can now play the radio at work or at home and enjoy the wide variety of "oldies" along with the new talented singers. Kudos to the pioneers who have brought us this service.
One of the more informative blogs I have been privileged to read over the years is the Michtavim blog, hosted by Menachem Butler, one of the pioneers of Jewish blogging. This blog reads like a “Tzafnas Paneach” – in that Menachem’s writing reminds me of the Seforim written by the Rogatchover Gaon, where every word (or Roshei Taivos) is a virtual treatise unto itself.
Menachem is a Jewish History buff, and a walking library of all theses relating to Jewish themes. But perhaps what I appreciate the most is that I don’t recall ever seeing any Loshon Hora therein.
His most recent post highlights a fabulous online museum hosted by Professor Shnayer Leiman. An intriguing Stamp Collection featuring noted rabbis is a philatelist’s delight. Take the online tour available here.
In a previous post Discovering Design Deep Down, we discussed several scientific "proofs" which have gone "poof". Scientists believed that life could not exist without the sun's energy, yet recently life was discovered on the ocean floor. Science believed in a Static/Steady State world, yet now they believe in the Big Bang.
In a recent post on the Seforim Blog, I was amazed to see following words penned by an academic:
Later, in Gen. 22:17, he is told that his descendants will be as numerous as the sand and as the stars in the heaven. Centuries ago I think many people must have wondered about this verse. They could understand the promise that his descendants would be like the sand since the sand is so numerous it can’t be counted. Yet how is this comparable to the stars, since anyone can look up at the sky and see that there aren’t that many stars at all? Thus, pre-modern man should have been troubled since the two parts of the verse don’t correspond, even though they are supposed to. It is only with the invention of telescopes that people could see that the two parts of this verse, the sand and the stars, are really saying the same thing. Scientists now believe that the amount of stars runs into the sextillions and that there are more stars than grains of sand on the earth!
What amazes me is that the rationalists of yesteryear would look at the traditionalists as being overly fundamentalist in insisting that there are a myriad of stars because of the implication from the scriptures. Yet today everyone would agree that the stars are too numerous to count.
This gives me pause every time I see an academic insist that Chazal were mistaken about one thing or another.