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A flyer for TorahApp.

I recently drove on my own from Brooklyn to Monsey for a wedding. I wanted to listen to 10 minute mini-shiurim but because I was driving alone, I would not be able to manipulate my phone to switch from one shiur to the next. Thanks to the new TorahApp, I had no problem. This new app is an all-in-one Torah tool that automatically moves from one shiur to the next so you can binge listen to shiurim. While the app has many more features than this, binge listening was its origin.

Josh Herzberg, a software engineer in Big Tech who helped build Sefaria’s first app while in college, realized while commuting that he could not binge listen to shiurim. Finding no readily available solution, he decided to build his own app to do that. Given his background with Sefaria, he took their massive text library of Hebrew and English sefarim – which they offer for free to developers – and added onto it audio and video files from OU Torah and YU Torah (all with permission). He built into the app the feature to binge listen as well as additional features, such as multiple tabs for many sefarim. Since he had texts for siddurim, he built a smart feature so it automatically opens the correct texts for the day, such as which Tachanun to say based on the day or whether to say Ya’aleh VeYavo. He added a tab for a host of daily learning schedules, so the user can easily find out the day’s Daf, Mishna, Rambam, Yerushalmi, etc. Most importantly, he designed TorahApp to be intuitive and easy to navigate, both as an app and as a website ( He did this all on his own time, with no funding or donations. In fact, he recommends that people who want to support the app donate money to the content providers, not to him or his app.


In December, Josh reached out to me. He wants this app to be widely accepted and used by a broad spectrum of Torah students. As a matter of personal and communal responsibility, how can he ensure that he only includes sefarim and translations that are accepted in the Orthodox community? Sefaria is a wonderful organization that serves the entire Jewish community. However, many in the Orthodox community have reservations about its non-Orthodox texts and translations. How can he create an app that serves those who are not comfortable with this mixed denominational library? In effect, he is trying to enable Sefaria to reach an audience that it otherwise cannot.

So in late December, I sat down with him to get comfortable with his approach. We discussed possible ways to ensure the app maintains standards that are acceptable in the mainstream Orthodox community. He developed a system so that the app is a closed environment and he controls the content in the library. I went through the entire library and gave him specific notes and instructions. He enthusiastically agreed to our process and asked me to be named a Rabbinic Advisor of TorahApp, to which I agreed. Hopefully additional rabbinic advisors join from multiple communities so everyone feels comfortable with the app.

Additionally, after discussing this with the leadership of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, where I serve as the director of the Halacha Commission, I wrote a formal haskama for TorahApp on RAA stationery that can be seen from a link in the app’s Settings tab. I do not know if this is the first time that a national rabbinic organization has formally approved of an app but it seems significant to me. Let me add that this does not imply endorsement of the internet and smartphones. That is a local matter that everyone should discuss with their rabbi. This is to help those who engage with this type of technology to use it for learning and to do so in an Orthodox environment in which they feel most comfortable. I know of roshei yeshiva who recognize that their students and alumni use smartphones and offer guidance on how to do so in the spirit of Torah and mussar. They have strongly discouraged use of Sefaria. I hope that TorahApp meets their approval. I already met with one senior rosh yeshiva, active in this area, and he very much liked the app. We are also preparing a version for the kosher smartphone market that we hope will assist people in their Torah learning.

We live in an age of great technological opportunities that also pose great spiritual risks. Every community is struggling with this in their own way. I hope that TorahApp helps people improve their Torah learning while finding their way through the maze of technology in a religiously uplifting manner. In the past, I have noted how a smartphone puts an entire library in your hands. With TorahApp’s mix of audio, video and text, it puts an entire yeshiva in your hands. In this age of easy distraction, easy access to Torah may be the necessary antidote.

The app is called TorahApp (no spaces) and the website is You can reach Josh Herzberg with comments, suggestions, or feature requests at [email protected]. You can reach me at [email protected].

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Rabbi Gil Student writes frequently on Jewish issues and is the publisher and editor-in-chief of His latest book is "Search Engine – Volume 2: Jewish Leadership."