Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taking all of the trouble out of writing a dvar torah

People need to write divrei torah (brief Torah-based speeches) for various occasions - a family celebration, a funeral ר"ל, a board meeting, an introduction to the parshah at minyan, a Shabbos table, etc. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty with this task; their knowledge, their sense of homiletic structure, or their available time may not be up to the task. What can they do?

Many people surf the Internet and print out their favorite dvar torah - meaning, usually, the first item that comes to hand that is less than three pages long (if they are merciful).

A few years ago, I taught a "How to prepare a dvar torah" class, to try to help people use commonly available resources to develop their own divrei torah. Didn't get much interest, although I have certainly had many people come to me over the years for one-on-one help in this area.

I once fantasized about creating a "Build-a-Dvar" seminar with our new Toronto beit midrash, designed along the lines of "Build-a-Bear." We would have each avrech staff a piece of an assembly line. One would work on core texts, the next on questions about the text, the third on source material, the fourth on openers and the fifth on closers - and there you are, dvar torah complete. It would be fun, I think, but I'm not sure how many participants we would get for it...

...Especially since someone else has come up with a new way to help people build divrei torah. I discovered a resource which is new to me: TorahInspirations.com.

Their website promises:

On your special occasion your words will reflect your innermost thoughts and feelings and you will bring those you love into your world. We are experts in helping you define your own thoughts, and helping you find your own voice.

Are you having trouble gathering your thoughts?
We can help you express your thoughts and emotions in a clear, meaningful and powerful manner!

Have you run out of time?
Don't worry - we are quick, professional and provide an excellent service! You have enough to do - let us write your speech!

You will stand up before your friends and family with a fantastic speech – which people will remember for ages!

And the site even includes sample divrei torah, complete with the personalized pieces.

I wonder whether the siteowners get any business. I suspect that people who won't write their own are more apt to grab something off the Net, or solicit a relative/Rabbi for help, than to approach strangers on a website. But who knows?

Would you go to them for help?
Would you just grab the latest off of aish.com?
Would you decline the honor altogether?
In short: What is your approach, when solicited to deliver a dvar torah?


  1. I am still planning on creating an iPhone app for this. One day...

  2. Interesting thought - better than cut and paste, yet in another way symptomatic of a generation of instant gratification. ameilut btorah - nice but who has time?

    answer-we almost all do-if we make it a priority.
    Joel Rich

  3. I read this with interest, because just last week my son needed a lot of help constructing a d'var torah on Parshat Noach. Why isn't this a skill that is taught to boys when they are still in yeshivah?

    (I wrote about this and linked to and quoted your post today at
    I would be honored if you would be willing to read it and let me know your thoughts.)

  4. Jack-
    Maybe you and DB could team up on this - develop an app to write it and an app to knock it down.

    You bet. I prefer not to say, "I didn't have time," but instead the more honest, "I didn't make time."

    Thanks for the link - and see my answer there.

  5. "Why isn't this a skill that is taught to boys when they are still in yeshivah?" If they aren't teaching this skill, then how about you? As a shul Rav and now as a Kollel head you are ideally situated to give some basic skill lessons in how to give a dvar Torah. You certainly have had enough experience.

    Re the online sites that give you ready prepared divrei Torah, it's like that old saying: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

  6. Hey -

    can you please email me at bukin86@gmail.com so we can be in touch somehow? I am greatly interested in hearing your insights on how to write divrei torah!


  7. The Skokie Community Kollel (Skokie, IL) had a program working with people to write divrei torah, and they were oging to publish them at the end of the program. I don't remember when it was, but within the last year, or how it ended up.

  8. ProfK-
    Indeed, I did give such a series in Allentown. I may well do the same here.

    Thanks for your email (you can find my email address in my Profile). I may post on this soon... stay tuned.

    Anonymous 3:11 PM-
    Please let me know, if you find out how it went.

  9. Hi Mordechai, I just came across your blog, I am owner of the website you mentioned which can now be found at http://www.yourjewishspeech.com/. Thank you for your thoughtful posting, as Jewish educators we strive to help people express themselves in the most authentic way, and to provide a meaningful Jewish experience. All the best - and feel free to be in touch!

  10. Hi Tali,

    Thanks for commenting. The site is much improved; good luck!