Rabbi Dr. Normal Lamm, who passed away on May 31, has been hailed as a one-of-a-kind visionary and leader of Modern Orthodox Jewry. Now a part of his prolific legacy has been enhanced for future generations.
The Lamm Heritage Archives, an online library recently created by then Dean of Libraries Pearl Berger, contains over 800 sermons by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, who served as president of YU from 1976 to 2003 and then as chancellor for another 10 years. These sermons date back all the way from 1951 and continue until 1976 according to Rabbi Tzvi Sinensky, director of the archives. This time, organized by subject and date, the records can be accessed with ease.
“We’ve created a brand new interface, which is much more aesthetically attractive,” Rabbi Sinensky said in an interview. “We have reorganized the sermons in a user-friendly comprehensive fashion, which really takes them to a new level in terms of their accessibility to the wider public.”
It is separated into three sections: Parsha; holidays; and a section containing his eulogies, tributes and special addresses. The archives can be found at www.yu.edu/about/lamm-heritage.
“And now instead of just kind of trying to find something on Parshat Bereishit and seeing what you could find, or simply looking at a particular year, [say] 1965,” Rabbi Sinensky said. “Now, you could look under each of those three overarching categories, and each one is neatly organized.”
Rabbi Dr. David Shatz makes mention of Rabbi Lamm’s archive in the cover story of Fall 2020’s Jewish Action issue:
“Pearl Berger, then the dean of libraries at YU and the person who initiated the whole online sermon project, asked him [Rabbi Lamm]: Aren’t you concerned that people will present this derashot as their own, without attribution?” Rabbi Shatz wrote. “But he [Rabbi Lamm] made clear that his objective was simply to share Torah, and to help those who studied and taught Torah.”
The original site of Rabbi Lamm’s works will still be accessible and a link to it can be found on the new webpage. The new library also offers a weekly email subscription.
“The name of this bulletin is Timeless Torah,” Rabbi Sinensky said. “And that’s really to convey the idea that Rabbi Lamm’s derashas, while delivered as many as 70 years ago, remain timeless and remain relevant to us today in sometimes unexpected and always profound fashion.”
Timeless Torah also has a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feed that all share these sermons. Through Monday and Tuesday alone, Rabbi Sinensky reported that around 1,500 people have signed up for the weekly bulletin.
Rabbi Sinensky, husband to the eldest granddaughter of Rabbi Lamm, felt that the archive needed an update after Rabbi Lamm’s death.
“There was a desire to go back yet again [to the archive],” Rabbi Sinensky said. “To take the opportunity to ensure that . . . his teachings continue to remain accessible and to inspire a new generation of readers.”
There are plans already to release more sermons and other files to the online library.
“We have audio transcripts from Rabbi Lamm. We have now digitized talks that have never been made publicly available, to the best of my knowledge, that have been uploaded to the internet,” Rabbi Sinensky said. “[The files] are not yet available on the website for a variety of reasons. But ultimately, we hope to post those as well.”