Throw Out That Translation Packet

“What does the word mean?”

“I don’t know?” replies your child.

“Weren’t you in class?”

You are frustrated. For homework, your son was supposed to review and summarize three pessukim and he doesn’t know them. You are having a hard time figuring out if he was even anywhere near the classroom when the Rebbi taught the Chumash. You start looking through the house. Perhaps you still have the teitch packet that the Rebbi sent home on the first day of the year. It takes twenty minutes to find the crumpled up packet under your son’s bed. Can there be a better homework solution?

I wish to propose a different solution, but first let me digress. Last summer was the Siyum Hashas in Metlife Arena. It was a life altering experience for many people there…including me. By learning just (I don’t know if you can say “just” when referring to a Daf of Gemara) one Daf per day, a person could finish the entire Shas in seven and a half years. I will admit. It was inspiring to see how many people finished. I decided that there was no way I would ever finish if I didn’t start. So I started. I still don’t know if I will be able to keep it up for seven and a half years, but at least I started. It feels good to know that I have opened up a Gemara every day since August 2.

Often I learn the Daf by listening to an online shiur. There are literally dozens of online Daf Yomi shiurim. There are even websites that keep track of the shiurim[i] that can be found online. I can enjoy a shiur from a Rav who lives in New York, Chicago or even Israel. If the Daf is not your thing, there are websites with thousands of free shiurim on any Torah topic you could desire.

Why not make let the Rebbeim and Moros in our schools record the Chumash that they teach. They can post it and let the talmidim/talmidos use it when necessary. It only takes a minute to record a possuk with the teitch. Most phones have a recording option. The teacher can even record the possuk in class itself for later listening. By the end of the school year, they could have a database of every single possuk that the class learned.

I am not going to bore you, my dear reader, with technical details of exactly how to create such a podcast. I just want to talk in generalities the few ways that seem to work for me. The simplest way I have accomplished this has been to record a voice memo on my phone. Then I simply send out a class email to the parents with my recording as an attachment. It is not posted anywhere. It is just an email. All I need is my phone and email. (I do have a list of all the parents so I can send to everybody with one click.)

The next level is to record the audio and post it online. I do less of this. When I have a little bit more time, and I will stress, a little more time. It really doesn’t need to take that much time. I will video myself reading the possuk. If you have permission to video your students, take a video them reading it. They enjoy it more. Then, I post it onto YouTube as an unlisted video. I don’t want just anybody to be able to search and find it. Afterwards, I use the link to post it to my webpage. It is there for the parents to see whenever they want it.

If you record the students, then you can only use it that year. When you record yourself, you can use it year after year. Create a database of pessukim for yourself. Let it be accessible to those who need it. The parents don’t know exactly how you translated the possuk. The parents don’t know exactly the tune you used. The parents don’t know exactly what happens in class. Video it. Let them have a glimpse into your classroom. Let them join you in the education of their children.

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