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.