Thursday, May 06, 2004

Rabbinic Blogging

SIW noted the phenomenon of Rabbinic Blogging a while back when he introduced Rabbi Yaakov Feldman's new blog.
Now in the months since, Rabbi Feldman's blog has become a serialized versions of already published books. Something less than online Shiurim. Not only does his blog contain almost no personal information, there isn't even a comments section for people to to respond to his remarks.

Now, its not my style to criticize other blogs, for various reasons, but I am highlighting Rabbi Feldman's blog to discuss the possibility of Rabbinic Blogging. Now, a bunch of other Rabbis have blogs, notably Josh Cypess, Simcha, and Uri Goldstein's guest stint on Protocols. And we can throw in Elder A, who technically a Seminary Student and not a Rabbi.

My question is what can be gained from Rabbinic Blogging. Here are some possibilities:
1) More of an insight into Rabbis lives, their challenges, their issues, etc. Rabbis (whether in Rabbanus/t, Chinuch, or Chaplaincy, often have to play a role and lose their own identity. Blogging gives an opportunity to see behind the mask.

2) A chance to gain an educated Rabbinic perspective on issues, etc. What does someone who knows most Torah have to say. (Though I am pessimistic about this because just because someone have learned Yoreh Deah does not mean that he has a "Rabbinic perspective".)

3) Some keep refering to Rabbis as leaders and leadership. But honestly, most Rabbanim I know are less leaders than communal workers. Even those with a Shul are less leading than negotiating and planning, advising, and suggesting than leaders in the grand sense. Which is fine. But I suspect that it will be a while before a Rosh Yeshiva, a head of the major Federation, or Jewish communal organization has a blog (unless SIW offers Jeremy Wieder a guest spot at Protocols). So I suspect that this idea is less significant.

4) Lastly, and this I think most possible, it the idea if introducing Halakhic discourse into the Blog-o-Sphere. Now this has been done before, discussing Halakha on blogs, on a haphazard basis, and many list-servs actually discuss Halakha, but I really think that Simcha is doing something interesting by laying out various major positions about current halakhic topics. More than just an online shiur, this is an engagement with the positions and an elucidation of the positions in the Blog-o-Sphere. It's not that the positions in themselves are or are not important. Rather it is the next step in bring halakhic discourse to the (computer literate) masses. Instead of having to read a sefer or a journal, even the English (Journal of Halakha and Contemporary Society) RJJ Journal, people can read these positions online. And not only that they can weigh in, in the comments section, the relative merit of each position.

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