Do I fulfill the Mitzva of ViShinantam, i.e.Talmud Torah, every time someone goes onto the site and hears an audio tape of a shiur I gave? And if so, if I had to chose between giving a shiur to three participants or using the time to record a shiur that will be heard by many people, should I give priority to recording the shiur (even though no one is listening to the shiur until the shiur is uploaded onto an internet site)?

Answer:

Placing a shiur on the Internet is an act of teaching Torah, passing on the Torah knowledge to others.

The mitzvah is not performed each time somebody listens to the shiur, yet when other listen to the shiur the mitzvah of teaching Torah – which was fulfilled in uploading the shiur to the Internet – gets “bigger” – in uploading the shiur you will have taught Torah to more people.

The question of an Internet shiur verses a real-life shiur is not a technical matter of VeShinantam but rather a question of quality versus quantity. It stands to reason that the quality of teaching is higher when people are actually present, yet the quantity is greater on the Internet. When both cannot be done one would have to weigh up one against the other (depending also on how many Talmidim the Internet will provide) and reach a decision.

Best wishes.

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2 Responses to “Real Live or Internet Shiurim”

  1. I am fascinated and very thankful for your response, wondering what your sources are. One subjective observation: I find that for myself, as a general rule, that the quality of teaching is greater when I am recording a shiur for the internet.

    • The quality of your own learning/teaching might be greater over the Internet, but the question is the quality of the learning that the student will achieve, which might be greater in a real-life forum than over the Internet.
      The concept of weighing quality of Torah study against quantity is mentioned by a number of Poskim in connection to a person’s own Torah study: Should a person go to hear a shiur and enhance the quality of his study, though it means wasting an hour on the journey, or should he learn on his own. The general direction taken by Poskim is that quality is more important in this sense than quantity. I have extended the concept to teaching Torah.
      As for the Mitzvah of teaching Torah, one can only perform a Mitzvah by performing the act of the Mitzvah. This “act,” however, can become a greater and greater Mitzvah depending on the effect of the act.
      Best wishes once more.

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