25 March 2009

Torah on Twitter

On Monday, Rabbi Irwin Kula came to speak at our school and brought up the issue of tweeting Torah, suggesting that it will likely elicit in people one of two responses: either one of nauseousness or of opportunity (mine was the latter). (Granted, not many of my fellow YCTers are on Twitter, and, after passing around Rabbi Kula's tweet about it, there was some backlash against Twitter (not too different from this amusing video), although Twitter has not been a rabbi magnet [yet], so it's not confined to my school.) My first thought was that although there is some Torah on Twitter, most, if not all of it, is simply a providing of links to Torah elsewhere. For instance, @RabbiGreenberg tweets self-containted Torah Tweets, as well as, to some extent, @TorahTweets and @TorahToday. However, most of the Torah Twittering is not self-contained, such as @WebYeshiva, @YUTorah, @JewLearn, @JewishTweets, and @JewItYourself. While this is, to some degree, helpful, it is not confined to Twitter. For me, who gets a lot of tweets to my phone with URLs, if I'm actually interested in checking out the content of the referred link, I can forward that tweet to my email, where I can check it later (unless I am using my computer at that moment, then I can just open up the Twitter page and go from there (meta-comment: looking back in a few years, how outdated/obsolete will this aforementioned be?)). However, what I believe Rabbi Kula was suggesting was a challenge for more divrei Torah (or, what I'm thinking is more manageable, divrei halakhah) on Twitter, itself (without reference for external links). With divrei halakhah, for instance, a very manageable possibility is to do a daily devar halakhah, perhaps for people to stick with a given topic for awhile or to topically do more consistently.
Oh well, we'll see if this is taken up at all. (I held off the entire post about rabbis struggling to limit themselves time-wise, even to 140 seconds, let alone 140 characters, phew.)


Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

I love JewishTweets. I will be sure to check out some of the other links you mentioned? Are any of them on my level? I'd love to get Torah on Twitter!

Shai Gluskin said...

Drew, great post. This is really timely. Glad to hear Irwin Kula is talking about it.

You've listed a bunch of users to follow. That's great. There is another way to follow Torah and other Jewish topics on Twitter without needing to know who the writers are in advance.

This can be done by promoting relevant hashtags. [A hashtag is simply a word you include in a "tweet" that makes it easier to search for all tweets labeled with that same category.]

The one I'm promoting is #Torah. If someone tweets about Torah and includes "#Torah" in the tweet, it can then easily be aggregated with all other tweets that have been tagged that way, no matter who the author was.

For example, searching #Torah on search.twitter.com gets you this result: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23Torah

As a proof-of-concept site, I've created Torahtweets.org. There the #Torah tweets are aggregated but edited to remove the ones that only have urls or have no content (such as a wefollow tweet). It would also be very easy to implement commenting on those tweets.

As for the debate about whether tweeting Torah is valuable, I think it is. It's just another form, like haiku or a sonnet. For a richer discussion of that topic, I've written a blog post called, 6 Reasons to Write Torah Commentary on Twitter.

I've written about my attempts to establish #Torah as a convention used by many tweeters.

I'm rabbishai on Twitter.

Again, thanks for the timely post.

Drew Kaplan said...

Glad you enjoyed - they ought to be on your level(?).
Thank you for your input - I'm glad you put together torahtweets!

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

My Level:

Not Hebrew
Not Rabbinic

Adam Simon said...

Loved this post! Please check out my post on the same topic: