Unless you have been learning in a cave sustained by a carob tree, you know that many people need to do their learning remotely. Whether it’s the Covid pandemic, dangerous weather conditions, or stuck at the office, more people are learning from a distance than ever before. But . . . It’s not the same. As children of Hashem, are we not entitled to a Bais Medrash learning experience even when we cannot learn in our local Bais Medrash?
Let’s face it. It feels like we have been homeless. I am okay with the chabura that my maggid shiur gives over zoom, but it does not replace the ambiance of the Bais Medrash. After all, in a Bais Medrash, there are multiple groups learning at the same time learning the same sugiya or a different one. If one needs insight they can simply visit the others. And, it is so important, Chazal tell us that the Torah is only acquired with a group. Why should we be denied our eternal inheritance?
The “Virtual Bais Medrash” created by ZoomTorah is the solution to my kvetch. It has state of the art features that make you feel you are in the Bais Medrash. Okay . . . you are not able to smell the old Bais Medrash or hear the sweet sounds of argument in the background, but you can join a digital Bais Medrash from the comfort of your home. You have your own digital icon, you can place it near a table, and have a live interactive session with your chavrusa. If your Shaft is having trouble with the sugiya, you can bring your avatar to the other table and ask that group if they have any insights. It’s simple and easy to use.
If you are a teacher for older students, bring your talmidim to the virtual Bais Medrash and let them prepare for shiur together. Assign mareh mekomos, have them learn the mareh mekomos in their virtual seats with their chavrusa on video, and afterwards give a shiur to everyone with just a click. Let’s say Reuven is learning the daf with Shimon. They are shteiging away and they are sailing through the shakla vetaria when Reuven notices there seems to be a stira with the Rashi he is reading and the second Rashi on the page. Now he and his chavrusa Shimon are beginning to question if they really understand the sugiya. They bring their avatars to Levi and Yehuda to see what they have to say. Through joint effort they were able to chap the pshat and were able to prepare properly for shiur. Your talmidim will bring you nachas and you will be kvelling about how well they will learn this zman.
Involved with Kiruv? You can remain with your community while you reach out to the less affiliated. The Virtual Bais Medrash App allows one to keep your standards while the not-yet-frum have a chance to explore Torah learning at their own pace, without feeling pressured. Imagine Adam from Oregon. Born and raised in a secular family, his only knowledge of Yiddishkeit is that the Jews eat Chinese food on December 25th and that they have some animosity towards eating bacon. One day Adam, now attending the University of Montana, sees a flyer for a kiruv event with a Jewish speaker and free food. After the event, he becomes inspired to follow his journey through Yiddishkeit further. He is paired up with a Rov, with whom he learns with through Zoom once a week. His Rebbi wants Adam to join his Bais Medrash but the harsh winter climates make it difficult to travel and his dormitory is far away. They use the Virtual Bais Medrash, so that beyond learning together, Adam will experience learning with the Rav’s other talmidim or peers and truly feel the stimulating, intellectual, Bais Medrash, atmosphere. Adam is intrigued by it and can’t get enough of it. The Rov has leveraged the Virtual Bais Medrash to bring a not-yet-frum Jew closer to Torah in an unprecedented way, without leaving the Daled Amos of Halacha.
If you are already teaching Zoom outreach classes to your students on or off campus, you can enhance the learning dynamic with the virtual Bais Medrash. Moreover, you can empower your student leaders to spread the word, invite more students to learn, and even run their own virtual study groups.
If you are in a remote location, far from a Torah center, doing Kiruv or teaching in a Day School, it can be difficult to learn on the level that you’d like to. Now with a Virtual Bais Medrash, you can still learn with your chevra or with others doing Kiruv or teaching in Anchorage, Alaska.
If we prolong the “Corona Bein Hazmanim” and wait to learn in a regular Bais Medrash, many opportunities will be missed. The choice is ours, to reach great heights of Torah learning b`chabura online, or chas veshalom to look back and ask ourselves why we wasted that time. As Hillel used to say, “If not now when?”
The ZoomTorah Team