Rabbi Fohrman on Jews You Should Know podcast | Aleph Beta

An Interview with Rabbi Fohrman

Rabbi Fohrman on Jews You Should Know podcast

NEW
PODCAST

Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar

Curious about Rabbi Fohrman’s personal journey and the roots of his approach to the Bible? In this interview you’ll hear his stories about:

  1. Places where he grew up and people who influenced him
  2. Steps that led him to public speaking and the founding of Aleph Beta
  3. How his close reading of the Torah grows out of traditional Jewish interpretive tools
  4. What makes this style of commentary different from academic approaches to Bible study
  5. Why Aleph Beta videos speak so effectively to many kinds of viewers

About this podcast: Jews You Should Know introduces the broader community to interesting and inspiring Jewish men and women making a difference in our world. Some are already famous, some not yet so. But each is a Jew You Should Know. The host, Rabbi Ari Koretzky, is Executive Director of MEOR Maryland, a premier Jewish outreach and educational organization.


Transcript

Rabbi Ari Koretzky:  This is Ari Koretzky, and welcome to Jews You Should Know. Introducing the broader community to interesting and inspiring Jewish men and women making the difference in our world. Some are already famous, some not yet so, but each is a Jew you should know. 

We are back with another fabulous episode of Jews You Should Know. This week, someone I have known for many years, 20 plus, and that is Rabbi David Fohrman. Rabbi Fohrman is one of the most interesting and innovative minds in the Jewish educational world today. He is a pioneering, groundbreaking thinker in the area of Biblical studies, in unusual expertise and methodology for someone of his vintage and his religious persuasion. As a very traditional, yeshivatrained Orthodox Jew, that brings great illumination to the text and really opens up worlds of the Bible to so many students and listeners.

Rabbi Fohrman was teaching classes for many years. He was teaching at Johns Hopkins, and eventually, with the patronage of the Hoffberger Family, down at the Hoffberger Institute for Advanced Torah Study. In recent years, he has run the Aleph Beta website, which features animated videos which really belie the sophisticated, underlying content. So these are videos and material that is popularly accessible, can be appreciated by people of all ages, and yet, is rife with brilliant and beautiful Torah content. 

Rabbi Fohrman's also the author of a number of books, and we'll touch on those as well. But meanwhile, a reminder as always to followers on social media at Jews You Should Know, spelled out fully on Instagram and Facebook, Jews You Should Know, with the letter U on Twitter. Subscribe wherever you listen to this, whether that's Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, wherever you may be listening. Please spread the word to your friends and family about this Jews You Should Know podcast. 

Comments, suggestions, sponsorships to jewsyoushouldknow@gmail.com. And now, to our conversation with Aleph Beta founder and Biblical scholar, Rabbi David Fohrman. 

We're here with Rabbi David Fohrman, the founder of Aleph Beta, which is an incredible cutting edge, very innovative, online platform for learning about Judaism, for learning about the Bible and Torah, which we'll get to. But Rabbi Fohrman is someone I've actually known for many, many years, as well, in my own life, and probably going back at least 20 years I would say, if not more.

I heard him recently on another podcast that dawned on me that, my goodness, I must get him on Jews You Should Know. So here we are. David, how are you doing? 

Rabbi David Fohrman:  I'm doing great, Ari. It's great to have an excuse to talk to you after all this talking.

Rabbi Koretzky:  That's right. I think I last saw you ‑‑ you probably won't remember this, but I tend to remember a weird runin that I have with people. We ran into each other somewhere in the Catskill Mountain ‑‑ maybe it was the Shenandoah Mountains, but in a small Jewish hop up (ph) convenience store at upwards during the summer. You were there with your daughter for some camp thing and I was visiting my daughter in camp. That's when I last saw you. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Camp visiting day, it sounds like. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Camps during visiting day, exactly. Which seems like a while ago, given all of COVID and things like that. But anyway, so let's take it from the top. I actually don't myself know your whole background story. I know so much of your work, but I'm really curious where you grew up, and kind of, how your own personal life unfolded.

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yeah, Ari, so actually I grew up right around where I am hanging out now. I'm in Palo Alto, California, where we took a kind of COVID sabbatical. I was born actually in San Francisco, believe it or not. My family hung around the Bay Area really until I was about 14 or so. My dad was a psychiatrist. He taught at UC Berkeley. He had a private practice.

It's actually an interesting story. He was an Air Force officer and in the Air Force he was an engineer. He worked for NASA right around here, at Moffett Field, working on the Apollo program, on the reentry phases of the Apollo program, the heat shields. So if you ever watch Apollo 13 and the heat shield, like that was my dad was on that. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  So he was both an engineer and a psychiatrist? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yes. So first he was an engineer for a while. He married my mom. My grandfather was an engineer, so he was very happy to have an engineer in the family. My grandfather worked in the shipping yards for the Navy, on battleships. Then, one day, my father took my grandfather into the kitchen and said, I have news for you, I don't want to be an engineer anymore. So he said, what are you talking about? He says I want to be a psychiatrist. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Then you need a psychiatrist, you know. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  So he dropped it all and he went to medical school and came out 12 years later as a psychiatrist. So a remarkable contra. He was debating, actually, between a psychiatrist and a rabbi and he chose psychiatrist. I learned a lot from him. In my younger years he was very ‑‑ wanted to teach me everything he knew. Unfortunately, he struggled with cancer. He actually probably got cancer as an engineer working ‑‑ in the 50s he was working with a nuclear reactor in Illinois. Back then, I don't think they knew as much about the dangers of that as now. 

But the cancer took a while to manifest itself. It was about 20 years later. So when I was growing up he was struggling with cancer. He eventually died when I was just before bar mitzvah, actually. I recently was just ‑‑ my greataunt passed away and I actually did her funeral in Los Angeles. I just got yesterday a note from my cousin, who sent me a copy that my aunt had lovingly preserved of my bar mitzvah invitation, which I did in calligraphy. The cover was b'dimah u'b'rinah yiktzoru, right, in tears and in joy we shall reap. 

At the time, it just seemed like a nice verse that my mom happened upon, that seemed appropriate because we were in the middle of mourning for my father and it was my bar mitzvah. Then, lo and behold, I married Rina. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  How interesting. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  It was kind of serendipitous in that kind of way. Anyway, so my dad was a huge influence on my life. Maybe he knew that he wouldn't be around forever and wanted to teach me as much as he knew at a young age. So my kids joke with me that I make a mistake of incorrectly estimating their years old, in terms of the kinds of experiences that I exposed them to. But it's a running joke of the family. Maybe it came from my dad who treated me like an adult from a very young age and tried to teach me a lot. 

So my kids joke about how I read Charlotte's Web to them when they were like three years old. They got to the part where the spider dies, you know, the section of death. My wife hears screaming from the next room and I wanted to hide the book and never have anything to do with it. They thought they were too young to deal with that level of emotion in a book. 

But that was my youth. I grew up around here. I went to a oneroom schoolhouse in Hillel Academy. It was my parents had helped found the school. They found the principal and teachers and it was 13 kids in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade, boys and girls all together. I was the valedictorian of the eighth grade with all of five kids in it. It's a great accomplishment. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  You know what? You could say valedictorian and nobody will ask. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Exactly. Actually, my first public speaking came when I was valedictorian and I had to give the valedictory speech for the eighth grade. It was the first graduating class of Hillel Academy, so it was like a big community deal. There must have been like 300 people there. It wasn't just to celebrate us, it was to celebrate the school.

For some reason, I had it in my head. Maybe it was my parents because my parents were public speakers in a way. My father was. He had a certain way of speaking that I found really captivating. Even now, you can hear tapes of him. He spoke in a very intimate and personal way. It didn't feel like he was rehearsing or reading from a script, or anything like that. He felt like he was talking to you, to every single person in the room. He was sort of being revelatory about his own personality, his own life, and it was just a very intimate and engaging encounter.

So I think I sensed that at a young age and I wanted to speak like that. But when you're 13 and you ‑‑ you're 12 and you've never spoken before, it doesn't work that way. You can have that ideal, but you actually need to build up your skill to be able to get there and I hadn't done that. 

I scoffed at the idea of writing out a speak and reading it. I was insistent that I just had to write these little notecards and bullet points and speak extemporaneously from the heart, based upon them, and that it wouldn't do to rehearse your speech because then it wouldn't be genuine. You had to really just speak from the heart from your notes. I was quite sure I had it down. 

So there I am, speaking, and it goes well for the first three minutes. Then, I get to this part and for the life of me I can't remember what the transition from point four to point five is. I just can't. I have no idea. I don't quite even remember what point five is, it's a little bit too basic in my notes. So I stop and I pause. If you know anything about speaking, you know like the worst thing you can do is just stop speaking. Hence the filibuster is born. If you don't know what to say, just keep on talking and it'll come to something, but you can't just stop, like dead airtime.

So here there are 300 people in the room shifting uncomfortably in their seats. It's 10 seconds, and it's 20 seconds, and it's 30 seconds. A full minute passes and I'm sitting there and like thinking, did he lose his voice? Is he dying? Is he going to choke? It was just the most excruciating two minutes or so that I ever felt. Until I just like started talking about some other aspect of my speech and then finished. It was an utter disaster. So much so, that you know, in Baltimore, Rabbi Sholom Porter. If you ask Rabb Porter, he'll remember this. He was there. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  He was there? Really? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Ask him what it was like. So it was my first ignominious start. Look, they talk about life isn't about failure or success, it's about being willing to pick yourself up off the floor and try again. So at least I was willing to pick up myself off the floor to eventually try again. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Yeah, that could have been a traumatizing experience that would have precluded you from future speaking, which would have curtailed your entire career. So it's good that you had the resilience to keep going. 

What was the Bay Area like Jewishly back then? Even now, it's not terribly robust. I mean, Palo Alto obviously has a community. It's funny enough, I just released a podcast today with a guy named Denes Ban, who spent a good amount of time in Emek Beracha, in the Palo Alto community over there. He speaks of it very finely. In Silicon Valley. But San Francisco itself doesn't have a large community, but you said your father maybe wanted to be a rabbi, potentially. So there is obviously a strong connection there.

Rabbi Fohrman:  Right. So first of all, I personally did not grow up Orthodox. Neither of my parents did. So they weren't ‑‑ when he was talking about rabbi, I don't even know what denomination that would have been. That wasn't exactly ‑‑ the reason why he didn't is because he didn't have the Jewish background for it as much as he sort of liked the idea theoretically.

The Bay Area was certainly Jewishly poor. There was a lot going on here. My father, alav ha'shalom, actually was instrumental in the House of Love and Prayer, with Shlomo Carlebach, believe it or not. Which was one big thing that happened in San Francisco in the late 60s. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Not surprising. I don't picture an engineer/psychiatrist vying with ‑‑ 

Rabbi Fohrman:  He was like the resident psychiatrist for the House of Love and Prayer. He mediated disputes. There certainly a lot of psychiatry work to go round in the House of Love and Prayer.

Legend has it, I think it's actually true. There's this ‑‑ Aryeh Coopersmith writes this in his book about Carlebach, that my father actually was the one who rented out the Shattuck Hotel ‑‑ the top room in the Shattuck Hotel for Shlomo Carlebach's threeday teach in at the Berkeley Folk Festival in 1967, I believe it was. 

The story goes is that Carlebach came to the folk festival and made a huge splash. He was a real hit, and everyone danced him off the quad at UC Berkeley, back to his hotel. He had all these people gathered outside his motel room, kind of singing and dancing. So he said, chevrah, let's learn together. Come back. The Shattuck Hotel was right across the street and so my father rented out a floor. He did a threeday teach in there. That was the beginning of the House of Love and Prayer. 

I have memories of the House of Love and Prayer when I was like four years old. Simchas Torah there were pounding headaches while there was all this dancing downstairs. 

But as whole, there wasn't a lot going on. There was a Jewish school called the Hebrew Academy in San Francisco that I went to for kindergarten. Mrs. Lipner was my teacher and the principal's wife. From there I went on ‑‑ again, my parents started this school in Oakland, really from scratch. Look, one of the nice things, it's sort of nice being part of something small because everybody really does make a difference. You've got a feeling of community.

My father was chief bottle washer at everything. His father, back in Chicago, where he grew up, had a car business. My father was very handy and could fix a car blindfolded. So he went and he bought the first school bus for Hillel Academy, used, from an auction, for $500, and he tooled it up himself. That was our school bus.

They wrote a guide to Jewish life, my mother and father together. He actually wrote the section on death and dying, interestingly. It was small. There was a Jewish community in Berkeley. We eventually settled in Berkeley, California, where Reb Yosef Leibowitz, who was a really strong influence to my life, was the rabbi. 

At a young age I took to listening to his sermons, which gave me a taste of the possibilities of depth in Chumash, not just sort of Shalosh Seudos Torah. Not just sort of, you know, come up with an idea here and there, but really, really looking carefully at the text and seeing patterns, and luminate a story behind a story, underneath the surface of the text. The beginning of that for me came from him. 

My father was very close friends with him. The rabbi lost a child very early in life. I remember it was ‑‑ my father helped him through that. It was a very ‑‑ we were very, very close. It was a small community, there was maybe 120 families. You maybe had 100 people there for Shabbos. But it was a very powerful influence on my life. When I lost my father, I remember, the other man in the community ‑‑ there was kind of rotation of ba'alei kriah, people who read from the Torah on Shabbos. So they kind of ushered me into that and encouraged me to learn parshiyos.

I thought that was great. It really felt like I was one of the big boys now. I would lein on Monday and Thursdays. I would do the parashah. I would do it on Shabbos sometimes. It was a wonderful experience. The truth is, those parshiyos I also remember to this very day. One of the little tips and tricks I would give to anybody who wants to really get involved in serious learning in the Bible is do that or encourage your kids to do that. Because the more you have at the tips of your fingers, just in terms of the text and the language, the more you'll be able to see those kind of patterns and interrelationships and reading texts emerge. So in a way, I got my start in all that stuff back in Berkeley as a kid.

Rabbi Koretzky:  So what did you want to do earlier on? Did you have designs on becoming a rabbi? Obviously, you know, your father passed away, you're somewhat sounds like a precocious young man, interested in ideas and learning. Your illfated earlier attempted public speaking, but you picked yourself up. What were you thinking that you would do earlier on? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Now, it's a good question. I mean, earlier on I don't know that I thought about it that much. Being a seventh or eighth grader in Berkeley, California, in those days, certainly in the milieu that I was in, was a very organic experience. You didn't plan as aggressively for the future. You lived the present. 

There was an old Joan Baez song that she got from Bob Dylan called I Live One Day At a Time. Yesterday's dead and tomorrow is blind, and I live one day at a time. It's like, you know, the Jewish version of that is, "Ha'hoveh k'heref ayin, ha'asid adayin, ha'aver ayin, im kein da'agah minayin." The past has gone, the future isn't yet, the present is just like a blink of an eye, so why worry. 

So there was that sort of hakuna matata, why worry, mentality. So that was a part of it. But I think in my head, I was interested in cultivating a lot of different ‑‑ I had a lot of different interests and I didn't really want to sacrifice any of them. So I was interested in doing something that would ultimately combine them, but I wasn't quite sure what. 

In my early years, I thought maybe I would join an advertising agency and do that, as strangely as it sounds. I thought maybe I'd be a journalist. Maybe I'd do that. I really enjoyed writing. I came to enjoy speaking. I enjoyed creative writing, I enjoyed the creativity in storytelling. Again, that goes back to my father. My father, you know, back in San Francisco, where we went to shul. Not always Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's, but sometimes Rabbi Traub's shul.

So if you go up into San Francisco you know that going to San Francisco is like ‑‑ I think there's a Bill Cosby ‑‑ I don't know if you can say Bill Cosby's name anymore. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Right. You can't say the name anymore. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  When we would teen about the hills of San Francisco. Like the hills of San Francisco really are rollercoasters. It's the most frightening thing in the world to rent a car and drive in San Francisco. You literally think you're going to fall on the bay at every moment. 

So we had to brave those hills walking back from shul. So there were like streets that literally did not have sidewalks, they had stairs. You couldn't have a sidewalk, you had stairs. So I had to walk like 500 stairs back home from shul every week. So you're seven years old. What seven years old wants to walk 500 sets of stairs? So my father used to regale me with these stories. He was a great storyteller. 

So I got kind of the ‑‑ to me, storytelling interested me and how you kept someone's interest in a story and developed it. Develop the mystery and that. So I was interested in that. 

I was interested in psychology, I think from my father also. I was interested in Torah and I was interested in art. I was a calligrapher. I had learned calligraphy from David Moss. I don't know if you've heard of David Moss. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  I have not. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  He's a worldfamous calligrapher. He has a Haggadah which is amazing. He has other stuff which is amazing. Anyway, he lived in Berkeley at the time. You know, as many of these things as I could, I was interested in kind of putting together. If you recall from our Ner Yisrael days, I did a master's, I was the first guy in Ner Yisrael to do a master's in the John Hopkins MLA degree. 

With the Master of Liberal Arts, which was really ‑‑ I call it a history of ideas degree, but what it really was an intradisciplinary smorgasbord of sort of humanistic thought and liberal arts idea, and history, and sociology, and psychology, and biology, and literature. It was everything you could imagine. It was all of Hopkins' best professors in these areas would do these seminars that would try to weave together these different themes across disciplines. 

So that really appealed to me. I wasn't an interested onearea kind of guy. So I wanted to do something with that, but I wasn't sure what. The Rabbinate sort of appealed to me early on. I did a stint as a rabbi early on in Olney, Maryland. You may know, right? 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Sure. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Then there was a time that I left Olney, and I remember joked that that was my midlife crisis because in my head it was always like ‑‑ there were two things I thought I could do. One was Olney and the other thing was ArtScroll.  I worked as an editor for ArtScroll on their Gemara project for a number of years. I remember when I did the ArtScroll project it always felt to me, like such a privilege to do because it felt to me like something you would do at the end of your life. As a capstone to a life that one lived you could translate the ArtScroll Gemara and I thought, like, what a good way to go out of life. 

Here I was doing it at the age of 23. I thought that doesn't make sense. What am I doing this at 23 for? So I did that for a number of years. Then I was a rabbi. Then I kind of left the Rabbinate, and I felt like I've done ArtScroll already and I really felt like this midlife crisis. Where do I go from here? What should I really do? I remember I was about 30 at the time, maybe a little bit more. I was going to apply to graduate school, maybe in psychology and do that.

Then this invitation came to speak at Biblio. Do you remember Biblio, back in the days? 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Yeah, my wife ‑‑ I remember when I took my wife on a date and it was still around in the little shopping center over there.

Rabbi Fohrman:  I don't even know if Biblio is a real word, if it means books or something. But there was this bookstore called Biblio, alav ha'shalom, no longer exists out there. If you remember, Biblio at the time ‑‑ this is back before really the heyday of the internet. It was before Amazon put Barnes & Noble out of business. 

It's really before ‑‑ in those days, bookstores like Biblio were kind of community centers, in a way that you don't really understand now. But they were sort of community centers where people gather for cultural event and things.

It was 1996 and Bill Moyers had just launched his TV show on PBS, Genesis: A Living Conversation. That TV show actually revolutionized people's approaches to Bible, in the nonOrthodox world because all of a sudden, it was kosher to talk about the Bible seriously without seeming like some nutcase, that you're just like a Bible thumper or something. It showed sophistication to the Bible. There was this guy Bill Moyers and he filmed these discussion groups on the Bible. 

Biblio decided that they want to do a discussion group, like Bill Moyers, in their store live on the night before Bill Moyers' first show. So they invited me, for whatever reason, to be one of the panelists. I used to hang out in Biblio a lot. I was in the Judaics section a lot. So one of the people was like, hey, you know, and struck up conversation and they got to know me. It's like would you like to be part of this panel discussion? I was like sure, fine, no problem. 

It actually echoes in my valedictorian speech, like I didn't know what I was getting into. Then, I completely forgot about it and did no preparation. Then Biblio calls me three months later and it's like, oh, we just want to let you know you're doing this thing in our store. It's this panel discussion on the Bible. It's in a week from now. I'm like, oh, what are we talking about? Is there a topic? Yeah, we're going to talk about Jacob's deception of Isaac and Esau. 

So I said, oh, that's interesting. Who else is going to be talking? Well, we had a hard finding anybody, so it's just going to be you and the chairman of the department of philosophy from the college of Notre Dame. So it was then that I realized that I was going to be the sacrificial rabbi, and nothing I had ever experienced had prepared me for that. I was just, what did I learn in yeshiva that was going to help me navigate this narrative that seem to be a font of antisemitism for 2,000. It just was a very difficult thing to talk about. 

So that kind of forced me to really go back into the text and really start trying to make an argument from the text and drawing on whatever skills that I had had back from Berkeley, from Rabbi Leibowitz, back from my experience in college and MLA degree, analysis of literature. Back to Steve Berkowitz's shiur in Ner Yisrael, in terms of metaanalysis of Gemara text. Somehow take that whole cornucopia of, you know, of (inaudible 00:25:05) skills and try to apply them to this Biblical text. 

Because you couldn't just say, well, Rashi says that Esau was a bad guy so he got whatever he deserved. He deserved to be tricked and deceived in the story. You really had to make an argument from the text. It was my first experience in that. I remember I then ‑‑ I actually knew the professor who I was going to be talking with. He was one of my college professors at Hopkins, actually. He moonlighted there as well. So I called him up and I invited him for dinner in Chaps, if you remember Chaps.

Rabbi Koretzky:  I do. My bar mitzvah was at Chaps. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  There you go. The kosher Chinese restaurant in Baltimore. I sat down, I presented my theory to him. I said, what do you think? He really liked it. He said, great, let's copresent it. He hadn't prepared anything. So we copresented it. He was like my shtempel. He was my seal of approval. It was a secular audience mostly, 150 people. They were really into it. Serendipitously, this successful attempt at public speaking came right in the middle of my midlife crisis. I was figuring out what to do. I kind of parlayed that. 

Biblio said, can you guys come back and do that again? So we did, and every month we did that and that was really the beginning of this new stage in my life of let's see if we can look at Biblical text seriously and what emerges from that. A lot of beautiful things emerged from that, but that was kind of the beginning of that.

Rabbi Koretzky:  So fortuitous, and again, serendipitous. What's interesting is that you had been ‑‑ nowadays, especially and we could see sort of this began emerging. You've been come synonymous, at least in the public image in the Jewish world, with Bible study, you know, Torah study, Tanach study. 

But as you note, as a 23 year old and a young man in yeshiva you were involved in Talmud studies, and Talmud study at a high level. Writing for ArtScroll, which for those unfamiliar, was a project in the translating the entire Babylonian Talmud in a sophisticated and comprehensive manner. There was teams of scholars working on this. That required a real depth of engagement with Talmudic texts. 

So it's interesting that this kind of shift happened in ‑‑ was that difficult for you to make the shift? Was it unnatural as a student in a more traditional yeshiva environment where Talmud is the focus at that time? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yeah. So I guess, the shift in a way was a coming back home for me in a way. Because one aspect of my story, I think, is that I've always sort of straddled ‑‑ I straddled worlds. It's not just that I've straddled disciplines in terms of being interested in literature, and being interested in this, being interested in that, and science and all these different things. I've also straddled worlds. 

One of those worlds is the East Coast and the midAtlantic world of Orthodox Judaism. The other world is the world of my youth, the world of the Bay Area, the world of Rabbi Leibowitz. That world, the world of my youth, was a world really focused on Tanach, on Biblical studies. I mean, that's what I heard in my sermons. That was my first exposure to sophisticated learning. 

One of the strange things that happened, when my father died, my mom remarried and brought us out to the East Coast and that was quite a change for me. I went from longhaired, 13yearold kid in Berkeley, California, to Orthodox society in Kew Gardens, New York. I went from one Orthodox shul, two and a half miles away, down all these hills, to 14 shtieblach within three blocks of you, little places you can daven

It's a whole different world. One of the things that puzzled me, in making that transition, was the lack of emphasis on Biblical study. I could not figure it out. Why is everyone ignoring the Bible? It's not that it was completely ignored. Again, Shalosh Seudos somebody would get up and they'd say something, that's the third meal on the Sabbath. Somebody had a bar mitzvah so they'd say something. But people didn't spend hours studying it and I couldn't figure out why. 

I said, like, it doesn't make sense with your belief system. If you believe God wrote this book, and if it's a book written by God. The Talmud is great, but let's understand, it's written by people. We all agree it was written by people. Was there Divine inspiration? Okay, maybe. We can talk about that? Was there some sort of mystical process? But God wrote this book, right? It's not just us, the Christians believe that, the Muslims believe that. There's some consensus around this idea. 

So why would we ignore that? Do we not think God was smart enough to write a book that was meaningful? You've got to give God a little credit. So it always puzzled me. I remember, I have these memories of being my first year in Ner Yisrael, in high school, I remember I was puzzled by this. I went up the lawn ‑‑ Ner Yisrael has these great lawns ‑‑ and I went out with my copy of Shemot, Exodus. I decided I'm going to read this, and it's got to be that God figured out a way to write something in this where it spoke deeply to every generation. That there was real meaning in this book and I'm going to figure this out. 

I remember being very frustrated that I could not figure it out. As much as I tried to read it and read it and read it, it was a locked book to me. I couldn't get beyond the simple meaning of the text. I think that's true for a lot of us really. I mean, the real truth is that in retrospect, in coming back to that question. Like why is it that the Bible is so more or less ignored?

If you tell people about this outside of Orthodox Judaism, they won't believe you. Like I think it's one of the best kept secrets. I remember talking to Roy Hoffberger, who later on was a really important part of my life in starting the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies. The first body under which I did my work before Aleph Beta. I remember telling him, Roy, they don't really study Bible seriously in Rabbinical school. He was like, are you crazy? What do you mean they don't study Bible seriously in Rabbinical school? It was the strangest thing. 

So in retrospect, I think the reason is ‑‑ and there's an interesting book that I go back to on this, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn. Where he ‑‑ Thomas Kuhn was the one who popularized the idea of paradigms, which we use a lot. We talk about paradigms. So he talks about paradigms in scientific study, and (inaudible 00:31:22) as a paradigm is a worldview which allows you to have some consensus. It's sort of like an operating system for research. 

So it's the same way you can't have a computer without an operating system. You're really working off of Windows, your working off of Dos, you're working off of IOS. There's some sort of operating system that makes everything make sense. You have to have an operating system for any fields of study. I think that in Talmud we figured out an operating system. We know how to do it. 

We know what the Brisker derech is. We know what the ‑‑ it's hard. It takes five years, seven years to really learn, but we know how to do it. So since we know how to do it, there can be consensus around how to do it. We can understand what a good question is, what a not good question is. There's consensus we can discuss. But there is no consensus in Bible. It's almost like there is no paradigm. So everyone's in search of a paradigm. 

So if nobody knows what a good question is, if nobody understands what an agreed upon method of research is, what the basic tools are, so you're left with something that is not really a right field for study. You can't do it. You can't create at a yeshiva ‑‑ I think that's the real answer as to why we haven't done it. 

Now, I do think that we used to have it, but I think it was lost. My theory is that the Rabbis, Chazal had it. The Sages of the Talmud. They had an actual coherent approach to Biblical study, but they weren't overt about it. They kept it among themselves. It was almost like a secret society. Like this is how Bible is learned. They had ways of doing it. For example, if you think about it, even now, Ari, if you can think about the ways we learned Gemara, if you're really honest about it, there is certain questions you can ask in Gemara and there's certain questions you can't ask. 

Like for example, if I ask you, Ari, so what do you think the Rashba's sevara was? How come he argues with the Ritva in his analysis of Tokfo Kohen? So you could have a robust conversation with me about that, right? But if I asked you, so it says on Page 3b of Kiddushin that the reason why we know that money works to betroth a woman is because of this verse that says, "v'yatzah chinam ein kesef." "Ein kesef l'adon zeh aval yesh kesef l'adon acher." The woman goes free without money and there's this slavery thing. The relationship between a slave and the father and the strange kind of thing. The Sages make this exegetical reading of the verse.

What was the logic behind that exegetical reading? What were they thinking behind that? Explain that to me. How did they exactly make that derivation? You would say, Fohrman, you're breaking an unwritten rule of Talmud study. We don't ask how Chazal made their drashos. They made their drashos. They had their way, they had their methodology. It's almost like there's a tacit understanding that the ancient Sages way of approaching Biblical text is lost to us, but we start from after that. 

We start with the Oral Law and we take whatever they had with the Written Law as a given and then we start with the Oral Law. I guess, for me, to the long answer to your short question is it was a natural outgrowth of Gemara. In other words, it was clear in Gemara that the Sages were taking Biblical text seriously, but we didn't know how to relate to the ways they were doing it. 

It's almost like the same in yeshiva. How much time do they spend in the morning and iyun seder, at the time when we really learn as deeply as we can in the Gemara? How much time do we spend on Aggadata, on those portions of text that are the Sages ethical expositions on Bible? We don't know how they did it, so we don't feel like we have the tools. 

I'm happy that I was able to spend the last 20 years on, I think, is actually working on an approach that isn't really so new, but I think it's old. It's a way of uncovering techniques that I think are the oldest techniques that we have in Biblical study. That were the fundamentals of what the Rabbis of those days were using when they made that kind of exegesis. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  What's interesting, though, is that I think the secular academy does have a paradigm for this. The issue is that it's a paradigm that precludes the possibility that it was Divinely authored. But they do apply tools of literary analysis and, obviously, that's how you come up with documentary hypothesis and related theories. So I guess, is that your goal to kind of reconstruct in more authentically Jewish version of that, so that we can apply some sort of methodology, one that is, you know, with a yarmulke, basically?

Rabbi Fohrman:  I mean, yes and no. In other words ‑‑ and for this I would recommend readers to take a look in the introduction of my book, The Exodus You Almost Passed Over. Where I talked about what kind of book this is in those terms. Basically, what I said ‑‑ I don't remember the exact ‑‑ the introduction is going to say it more eloquently than I could say it now.

But basically, I said, look. In describing what I'm trying to do, or describing the kind of book that that is, it's easiest to describe it by what it's not. So what it's not, on the one hand, is sermonics or Shalosh Seudos Torah. What's my definition of Shalosh Seudos Torah or sermonics? My definition of Shalosh Seudos Torah or sermonics is when you come up with an ethical teaching because you think it's very important to have ethical teachings in the Bible.

It's like saying what ethical teaching do I want to hit my audience over the head with? So you come up with an ethical teaching that you want to hit your audience over the head with. So okay. What verse can I use to substantiate that? So you go back, you find a verse. You think, I think I can hang it on that verse. Then you make a whole thing, you know, where you try to hang it on that verse. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Reverse engineering. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Reverse engineering. But usually it doesn't feel to the audience organic. It doesn't feel like that ethical teaching really emerged from the verse. People can see through your artifice and they know that you had that teaching from before, but you just thought it was reasonable. Then you're just using it as a coat and hanger kind of thing coming from the verse. They don't really feel like you're learning the Bible, you're using the Bible as an accoutrement to an idea that you already wanted to talk about. So that's not so revelatory and people aren't turned on by that kind of sermonics. I wasn't interested in writing that kind of book. 

Now, the opposite side of that. I want to write a serious book. So then the opposite would seem, you want a serious book, so go to the academy. The academics are serious. They're very rigorous. They have these scientific methods of analyzing Bible. Yeah, but the problem is that nothing emerges from there. In other words, no ethical teachings emerge from there. They aren't interested in ethical teachings. They're not interested in the whole idea of meaning of the Bible. 

Bible has meaning? No there was this document from the ancient Nereus that was cobbled together by a lot of different people. We can analyze it and reverse engineer it, and see historical trends, but God isn't involved. There's nothing Divine about it. There's nothing mysterious about it. There's nothing holy about it. It's not really teaching us anything, so we can take it apart, but you take in apart. 

One way seeing it, by the way, even in the tools ‑‑ typically, in the academy, the tools that there using are deconstructive tools. What they're doing, to use a less fancy word for it, is they're taking apart a grandfather clock. But the problem is when you take apart a grandfather clock, if you're not careful, all you're left with is a mess on the floor. 

I can show you this piece and I can show you that piece, but I don't have anything, I just have the pieces of a clock. So the question is, is there something more than that? What I wanted to do is show that there's something more than that. To use academic tools for the opposite of deconstruction. The opposite of deconstruction is actually to bring this together in surprising ways rather than to take them apart. 

I think what ‑‑ in answer to the academy that says that there is no meaning because it's an inherently disconnected text, with five different strings that don't relate to each other. What I would show you is the actual opposite of that. Which is I would show you that across the text, chapters that you think have nothing to do with each other, actually rhyme and resonate with each other in fascinating ways. To create almost like the first great internet in history. 

If I would ask you what would the internet look like before electricity? You could make a lot of money on this question. If I'd said what would internet 2.0 look like? Take our internet and imagine a more sophisticated internet. What would that look like? A more sophisticated internet would be ‑‑ okay, imagine hyperlinks. 

What if ‑‑ the internet is great. It's got an interconnectivity of information that has revolutionized the information world and made information the hot commodity. Hotter than real estate, hotter than everything else. Just through a simple thing called hyperlinks. Just through interconnecting information. Think about the power of that. It's that if ‑‑ disconnected information is not powerful, but connected information is very powerful. 

That's the whole idea of the internet. Internet 2.0 is what if you could take interconnected information to the next level. What if you could revolutionize hyperlinks? What if you can have hyperlinks, which instead of just taking you from one place to another across a body of information, a hyperlink actually opened a window of understanding. That if I clicked on this hyperlink I could understand my target text B from the perspective of this hyperlink in text A, and I could do that again from another text, and from another text, and from another text. 

What I'm doing really, I think, is that. Which is I'm trying to show that the Torah is a kind of kind internet before electricity. The hyperlinks are language cues that resonate from text to text and it's the Torah's own way of using its own text to comment upon itself in a multilayered kind of way.

To me, you could call that academic, but it's not what the academics are doing. In a way, it's the inverse of what they're doing. Rather than leading to a deconstruction and a trivialization of meaning in the text, I think it leads to a kind of marvelous integration and a bringing of meaning to a whole new level. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  How has that approach been received by secular academics? Do they see it as kind of like a bit of a cop out or a sellout and like you're just trying to inject meaning ‑‑ impose meaning where ‑‑ an order where really it's just chaos? Or do people respect it and say, okay, this is a reasonable alternative?

Rabbi Fohrman:  Look, it depends what you mean by academics. I would say there is a branch of this in academia. It's a small branch in academia. The closest that you have in an academia is guys like Robert Alter in ‑‑ actually, interestingly enough, in Berkeley, in my home town. Robert Alter has a taste of this. So if you read Robert Alter's book, The Art of Biblical Poetry, for example. 

So I actually have a piece which is very ‑‑ I was mechaven to Robert Alter. Actually, one of my earliest pieces, which is an analysis of Genesis 38, the story of Judah and Tamar, which if have recorded in Aleph Beta. If you read it now, you'll see the seeds of it in Robert Alter. 

Now, Robert Alter didn't ‑‑ I didn't read Robert Alter and he didn't seem my thing, but we kind of independently came to similar approaches. So it's there a little bit with Robert Alter. It's there within the Orthodox world, in Israel, in Michlelet Herzog. The whole Herzog College is devoted really to a similar kind of approach. Guys like Yoni Grossman, who's a professor at Bar Ilan, this is his thing.

Yoni Grossman, who's taken this approach into the academic world, quotes me all the time in the ‑‑ he doesn't really speak English that well, but you know, we've had conversations. He got turned on to my material and he watches Aleph Beta videos. I guess that's what it is. 

He actually berates me a lot because he says I shouldn't just be putting this out for the popular audience. I should be putting it out for the academic audience and I should be running academic articles. His argument, which I have some sympathy for, is he says ‑‑ I remember, I sat with him. It was right after I put out our video on Rachel's tears, the power of Rachel's tears, which you can find on alephbeta.org. 

It's one of our most wonderful videos in a way. It was an intertextual read of Jeremiah 31 and the story of the mandrakes, the duda'im in Genesis. I'm going through it with him and he was like really blown away with it. He stops me in the middle and he says, where can I find this? I said, well, it's in video. He said, I know, but where can I ‑‑ show me the article. Like I want the item. Where is your ‑‑ he said, you didn't write this up? I said, no, I didn't write this up. 

He says, you can't do that. You can't come up with something like this. He says, you're violating the unwritten code of academic brotherhood. It's like there is an understanding among people that if you come up with a find at this level you have to put it out there to the academic community so that they can build on it. You can't just keep things to yourself, you have to let people build on things. 

He was very mad at me about that. Frankly, it's still an ambition of mine to actually take what I'm doing and bring it into ‑‑ and footnote it properly and bring it into the academic world. I've written some books with some footnotes, but not in academic style. Part of that is because I don't have that much interest in the academy, it's not who I'm trying to influence. I think the real goal is the Jewish world and really the world at large. Most of whom are not academics. So that's who I'm really writing for. 

To me, my passion lies almost in the opposite of academia, which is ‑‑ if academia is about keeping a sort of elite body of knowledge, what I'm trying to do is take elite knowledge and democratize it. The challenge for me is how can you take some of the most sophisticated ethereal thought and bring it down without oversimplifying it, and democratize it, so that it's available to literally anybody who wants to access it. 

Which is kind of why I liked ArtScroll, and why the ArtScroll Talmud project appealed to me. It was that. I remember years back, before ArtScroll, when I was in Reb Tzvi's shiur, Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz. I remember challenging myself to take the sophisticated concepts he was talking about and to try to write them in plain English, without any Hebrew words at all. To write my notes in a way that it was an article that even if you didn't study Talmud you'd be able to understand it. 

I still have my notebooks from trying to do that. It was a very ‑‑ it was a proto ArtScroll kind of attempt to do that. Then ArtScroll comes along and sort of tries to do a version of that with their ArtScroll Talmud. But I'm trying to do a version of that with Tanach. But that's not where the heart and mind of the academy is.

Rabbi Koretzky:  That's a great segue though, that that sense of democratization because your website, Aleph Beta, really gets this kind of the outgrowth of all the years of teaching that you did. You had this Hoffberger Institute, where you were teaching classes all over the Baltimore community, and doing all kinds of ‑‑ and writing books as well.

But Aleph Beta seems to be the kind of pinnacle of this project, where you are creating these very catchy and almost cutesy videos, in animation and things like that. Really the absolute opposite of what you find in an ivory tower intellectual academy, but with the same ideas that you're translating over there. Why did you choose to go that direction? How did that project in this particular iteration crystalize? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  I mean, so first of all, again, the idea behind it, more or less, is this. It's democratization. You know, it's funny. You mentioned the videos. It's funny Aleph Beta, right? Because it's animated videos, but it looks like cartoons. So you look at Aleph Beta and it looks like, okay, this is for my six year old. But then, if you watch it, it's like, no, this is not for my six year old. It's sophisticated stuff, it's for adults.

I realize that's a little funny. It just kind of happened. We got some video artist to help me out. It's the style we developed. But there, you know, it's sort of interesting. I'll give you an example of it. Last night, my son who just became bar mitzvah, Avichai, he showed be something beautiful. He got turned on to classical music recently. 

He's been taking music lessons with a classical trained musician in Israel, who's actually coming from the world of Satmar, believe it or not. He was a Satmar Chassid from ‑‑ I think, from Austria maybe originally. He kind of left the Satmar world, became a regular Orthodox Jew, but is one of the leading world experts in classical guitar. He's been solicit in Israel with the Hebrew University Symphony Orchestra. He's a big guy. 

Anyway, so he's taken ‑‑ he and Avichai have developed a relationship and he's taking ‑‑ and Avichai's taking music lessons on Zoom during the pandemic with him, David Frankel. If any of your listeners want to email David Frankel, you could probably snag another couple of slots with him. But it's been wonderful for Avichai. He's like opened Avichai up to the whole world of classical music. Most kids, you know, at 13 they're interested in rock music. Avichai couldn't care less about rock music. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  You wish it was rock music. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Right. He listens to Schubert and Chopin and Beethoven. It's, Abba, which Beethoven piece do you like the best? And it's like do you think I should be teaching myself Chopin's waltz in A minor? It's like, you know, he's gone through all of this stuff.

Anyway, so he was talking to me. He says, you know? David ‑‑ his teacher in Israel ‑‑ he said he really doesn't like Franz Liszt. He says what doesn't he like about Franz Liszt? He says, well, Liszt, he's got these great ideas, musical ideas, but then he like has these tunes that are at war with themselves. He interrupts his ideas, and David thinks it's all broken up. 

So Avichai says, let me show you something really funny. So he shows me ‑‑ he found on YouTube a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Do you remember Tom and Jerry? 

Rabbi Koretzky:  I sure do. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Right, cat and mouse. So he showed to me this Tom and Jerry cartoon. He says, Abba, you have to watch this all the way through. So he sat there with 10 minutes and it was hilarious. There was this 10minute cartoon where there was not speaking and all it was, was Frans Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody. It was this piece of music, but what they had done was they had animated it with Tom, the cat, playing this at the piano, and Jerry, the mouse, is inside the piano and is at war with Tom. So there is two attempt, right, they're battling each other within the piano and outside the piano. 

They time everything perfectly in the music, so it's almost like there's this running commentary on Frans Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, that you actually understand the piece better by watching this Tom and Jerry cartoon. It's hilarious. It's also musical comedy. I'm thinking, like is this for kids? It's like, no, but kids will watch it because it's animated and it's funny, and funny things are happening. 

So what happens is you're writing something for adults, as inside jokes for adults who are musical aficionados, who are like your inner circle of friends, but you're opening it up to the world because it's animated and it's cute, and it's a Tom and Jerry video. A lot of people will see it and each person will get it the way they get it. 

In a way, that's what Aleph Beta kind of is. So six years old and seven years old will watch it and all these people will watch it, but it is a sophisticated kind of thing. In terms of how it happened, it happened almost surreptitiously without my knowledge. There was Kuty Shalev, who was the president of Aleph Beta and of the Hoffberger Foundation. 

So years ago he came to a talk, he was very taken with what I was doing and he sat me down at a restaurant. He has a company that incubates startups, it's called Clevertech. If you're wearing your Olami hat you might want to make a connection with him in mentorship and stuff like that. It was a very successful company called Clevertech, and he's interested in taking startups and incubating them and building them out. 

So he looks at what I'm doing and says there's a successful startup here, and I see a company here. So I'm not in company land, I'm just doing my own thing. He's like ‑‑ 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Even though you were raised in Silicon Valley.

Rabbi Fohrman:  Even though I was raised in ‑‑ but it was before it was Silicon Valley. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  That's right. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  So what happens is he buys me this tablet like Salomon Kohn (ph) that you can connect to a computer. He says play around with this. So I started playing ‑‑ so for a long time it was dusty on my shelf. A year later I start playing around with it. I was like, hey, I can make videos with this, so it's really cool. I started making these little rudimentary videos and I sent them to Kuty. Kuty, without even telling me, hires a video editor and gives it to the video editor to make them a little bit better. 

He literally started this company behind my back. Then creates this website and puts them out on this website, and before you know it, Aleph Beta was born. Then it just kind of grew from there. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Why the name Aleph Beta, by the way? What is the (inaudible 00:52:36) of that? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  So the name actually comes originally from Aryeh Lightstone, who was originally associated with our company, now he's gained fame as the chief of staff for the ‑‑ 

Rabbi Koretzky:  David Friedman, yeah. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  For David Friedman, and Israel, and the founder of the ‑‑ in a way, of the Abraham Accords. Aryeh Lightstone been working on those. But Aryeh Lightstone, years ago, was with us and it was the brainchild of him that particular name. The truth is it doesn't really fit what we're doing. Aryeh had a little bit of a different vision of trying to use technology to be a platform for educators across the world. So he had the name Aleph Beta, which was just supposed to signify Aleph for traditional Jewish knowledge and Beta for technology, and the marrying of the two of them. 

Then it sort of morphed into a company that was focused on my methodology and what i was doing and we never rebranded. You know, maybe one day we should. It's a strange name. It kind of works. It's a problematic name, in a way, because people mispronounce it. Is it Aleph Beta, is it Alpha Beta? Is it Aleph Bet? Nobody quite gets it and it's hard because if you're an internet company you have to spell it correctly. 

So for the users who would like to get there, who are confused about how to write Aleph Beta, ALEPHBETA.org. The easy way to do it is ab.video. Ab.video, that takes you straight to us and you can subscribe for $9 a month, but you can get it for free for half an hour a month. Dive it. It's an exciting way to get your feet wet in learning Bible for real. Or you can download the app. If you have a smartphone, just search for Torah videos. The first thing that pops up is Aleph Beta Torah videos. Just download our app and you can get to it from there. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Awesome. My final question, David, is with everything you've done, you know, we live in such an open world now. A world where even people from the most insular and traditional communities, you know, if they're curious and if they're searching type individuals, they very often will encounter a panoply of ideas and maybe foreign ideas, and challenging or threatening ideas to traditional religious ideology. We talked briefly about Biblical criticism. 

Do you view yourself as being someone whose (inaudible 00:54:46), you're offering cover, so to speak, to people that have grown up in a more traditional environment and want to intellectually defend their positions visàvis the authorship of the Bible. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yeah, I think so. I mean, I read about that in a kind of funny story in the introduction to another one of my books, Genesis: A Parsha Companion. A story where I was in Johns Hopkins doing my first class that I taught at Johns Hopkins University. Again, this is ‑‑ you asked about the academy, in the beginning I was sort of in the academy. I was teaching in Johns Hopkins. I taught some credit courses, some noncredit courses. 

What was interesting is that they really thought what I was doing fit there. Tom Crane was the dean of the department that I was in and I remember one of my conversations with him. He said what you're doing is at the heart of a liberal arts college. What is a liberal arts college other than a place that is supposed to give you the tools to master the core text of the Western intellectual tradition. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  At least it used to be. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yeah, that's what it's supposed to be. To gain the skills to be able to read these things critically. He said that's why what you're doing is so valuable. You're giving these students these critical reading capabilities. Which, by the way, you know, it's been born out in other ways too. I remember Suri Teitelbaum, the Rebbetzin of Young Israel of LawrenceCedarhurst, she uses my material to teach an honors class in Chumash at HAFTR. She says the kid's SAT scores go up meaningfully because they're a (inaudible 00:56:21) to analyze text critically is going up from their experience of doing it with Chumash

So anyway, the story is so I was in Hopkins and I was teaching my first class there and the folks really got into it. It was a noncredit course for adults. They were a whole crosssection of the Jewish and nonJewish community. Baltimore ended up taking that course. Roy Hoffberger and his wife took it. They petitioned the dean to continue the course when it was over because they really liked it. 

So we did a followup course, another eight sessions. At the last session, one of the guys in the back of the room was a medical school professor at Johns Hopkins University, raised his hand and said, can I ask a question here more broadly? So I said, sure, sure. So he said, can you say something about the authorship of the Bible? So I'm like shifting nervously and I started getting defensive because that wasn't my thing. I was like okay, here's the Bible. We all agree, at least, that this is a classic of Western literature, so let's dive in and learn it. 

Really, that's my approach. My approach is don't start with preconceived notions. Check your preconceived notions at the door and look at it as a text. I don't care about authorship. I don't want you to walk in and say, as a precondition for reading this you have to believe God wrote it. Or as a precondition to ‑‑ no. All you have to believe is that it's a ‑‑ that it might be a meaningful work, let's invest the time to really read it on its own terms. To listen to it and try to discern how it wants to be read. 

One of the things most deeply I'm interested in doing is ‑‑ I think, it's almost like a therapy skill. I mentioned that I was interested in psychology. In therapy, one of the things they teach you is listening, active listening. But one of the deepest things you have to do when you're listening to someone is you have to ask yourself how does this person want to be listened to? What is their style of talking? What's happening with them? What are their verbal tics? What are their cues? 

Each person talks in a different kind of way and you can't listen to one person the way you listen to another. You have to pick up how they want to be listened to. So when you listen to the Bible you have to pick up how does the Bible want to be listened to? How is the Bible talking? What is it doing that I need to listen to? If you listen to it in that way, you begin to see its magic. Then forget about who wrote it, but look at its magic. 

So anyway, so he goes ‑‑ so he says, can he say something about the authorship of the Bible? So I said, so what do you mean? He say, well, look. I was always taught that the Bible's this fragmented document and there's the Ige author and there was the Jay author, and there was an editor that put it all together. But there was these different things. But I don't see how that could be true because it's all so integrated. I mean, Genesis integrates with Numbers, integrates with Deuteronomy. There's all these layers of meaning underneath the surface that goes across this interwoven net of information. I just don't see how multiple authors, not in sync with each other could've possibly created and integrated text like that. 

I didn't even pay him to say that. So again, I think, yes. People from an Orthodox background who are encountering secular approaches to the Bible will find this work meaningful. I don't directly interest Biblical criticism. Maybe one day I'll write a book doing that or address secular approaches, but I think that we have nothing to be ashamed about in front of the academy with this document. 

This document is a book like no other. I'm actually thinking of launching a podcast with that name, A Book Like No Other. It really is a book like no other. We can stand up with a great sense of pride to sense that we are the people of the book and this is our book. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Beautiful. What a very fitting and beautiful way to end. I know I kept even longer than we intended. I could go on for many more hours, it's fascinating to me, but we've at least touched the surface here. Those more interested in learning, again, alephbeta.org or ab.video, to watch the videos there, and also read some wonderful, wonderful books that I imagine are also linked on the site? 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Yes. The books you can get them, you can order them from our site. You can order them wherever you like. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  Wonderful. Rabbi David Fohrman, thank you so much for joining us. 

Rabbi Fohrman:  Ari, great talking to you. Love to do it again. 

Rabbi Koretzky:  This has been Ari Koretzky on Jews You Should Know. Please visit us at jewsyoushouldknow.com and subscribe at iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you consume podcasts. Find us on social media @jewsyoushoulknow. If you'd like to become a supporter of this podcast, we would greatly appreciate that and you can do so by visiting patreon.com. That's PATREON.com/jewsyoushouldknow.

Finally, if you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave us a review so that we can continue to grow and introduce many more people to Jews You Should Know.


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