Rabbi Dan Roth’s very first day teaching in yeshiva did not at all go as planned. After learning in kollel for many years in some of the best yeshivos in Israel, Rabbi Roth got his first job teaching in a program for teens-at-risk. A short time before taking the job, he wrote a sefer on modern-day lessons gleaned from the teachings of Pirkei Avos. In the process of writing the book, he realized that he had a talent for making Torah concepts relevant and down-to-earth.
The book was aptly entitled Relevance (www.relevance.co.il). He was certain his material would inspire his new students. Rabbi Roth was in for a shock. His first class was a total nightmare. The students completely ignored him and even walked out of the room – enough to make anyone say goodbye to a career in teaching. Instead of quitting, however, Rabbi Roth decided to try to get to the root of the problem.
As he thought about it, he realized that the issue wasn’t the kids or the material – it was the entire generation. “Today people are used to absorbing information in a whole different way,” he explained. “Internet and television have changed the way people learn. We need to teach Torah in today’s language.” The result was the development of dynamic multi-media Torah presentations. Students, who were previously unable to sit through a class, were suddenly on the edge of their seats. By speaking their language, they were turned on to Torah and felt it part of their lives. Thus was born Torah Live.
A Torah Live presentation in Munich, Germany
Together with a team of talented graphic designers and programmers, Torah Live has since produced close to a dozen interactive state-of-the-art multimedia presentations on a variety of Torah topics, from the intricacies of halacha to the beauty of hashkafa, all under the guidance of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovitz. Topics include: materialism and happiness; how to reach success; conquering anger; as well as the laws of Mezuzah, Yichud, Arba Minim and more. Using cutting-edge special effects, coupled with a healthy dose of humor, Torah Live engages audiences of all ages and religious backgrounds. Rabbi Roth has presented over 100 lectures in 50 cities around the globe to schools, businesses, shuls, and kiruv organizations, each tailored to the unique needs of the particular audience, for maximum effectiveness.
Presentations given to mixed secular and religious audiences in Israel have completely bridged the divide that traditionally separates both sectors of society. The non-threatening nature of the lectures makes them ideal for anyone regardless of their background. “The versatility of Torah Live is evidence of the Torah’s eternal message,” Rabbi Roth said. “We need only find the right way to present it to each distinct audience in the right language.”
“Every generation has a different voice and a different way of hearing things,” Rabbi Akiva Tatz explained in an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press. “Nowadays, people don’t connect to dry intellectualism. Torah Live presents real Torah content without compromise. It uses graphic, dynamic, and creative ways to catch the imagination of our generation.” Following the words of Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch, the goal is to show that “authentic Judaism . . . does not belong to an antiquated past but to a living, pulsating present . . .”
A Torah Live presentaiton in PriceWaterhouseCoopers (London)
Renowned mechanech Rabbi Noach Orlowek said of Torah Live that it could be called a new vessel filled with old wine. “The medium may be new, but it is full of old, authentic Torah, showing people the beauty and simplicity of even the most complex halachos.”
Seeing the impact the presentations were having, Torah Live has now begun licensing its materials to schools and kiruv organizations around the world, empowering them with the training and tools to deliver Torah Live presentations themselves for the benefit of their students and communities.
After watching the lecture on Ma’aser Kesafim, many viewers reported tithing their money for the very first time. Shortly after watching the presentation one businessman was about to close a big deal. He promised Hashem that if the deal went through he would give $200,000 to tzedakah. “I realized the incredible power of multi-media to get through to people,” Rabbi Roth said. “Here was a regular guy, not a philanthropist by any means – ready to give philanthropic sums for the first time in his life after simply watching an hour presentation. Who would ever think that people would be happy about giving away money? What started as a teaching disaster with a group of teenage boys ended up beginning a new era in education. It’s a revolutionary way to get people excited about Torah.”
“We can do any topic – there’s no end to how far we can go,” Rabbi Roth said. “The Torah has an opinion on all the issues that the world is struggling with today – not only an opinion but a deeper take – that’s higher, subtler, and more profound. Let’s make it available globally so that everyone can have access to our rich heritage.”
Rabbi Roth will be traveling the world in the coming year presenting Torah Live. His itinerary is as follows: Oct 10-15, UK; Nov 7-17, USA; Jan 2- 12 South Africa; Feb 6- 11, UK; March 1-13, Australia; May 11- 19, USA; June 13- 20, UK. To bring a Torah Live lecture to your community or to find out how to license the material for use in your organization, e-mail, email@example.com or visit www.torahlive.co.il.Gavriel Horan