Liel Leibovitz Wrong in Critique of the Twitter Revolution


9 comments posted
Hi Shai: Thanks for pointing

Hi Shai:

Thanks for pointing me to this. I read the Forward article with interest and passed it on to a few friends with whom I am having this conversation (FB and Torah, etc.) I also posted a link to it on the Rabbis Without Borders FB page. I have no idea whether I agree or disagree with the guy - and your points are great, but I am really interested in the conversation. May I also link your analysis to the Rabbis Without Borders page?


Posted by Elyse Wechterman on April 1, 2009 9:05 AM
Hi Elyse. Please do send post

Hi Elyse. Please do send post a link to this piece! Thanks.

The general convention of Internet culture is that you want as many people to link to your stuff as possible (increases Google rankings, gets your writing read by more people -- why would you be blogging if you didn't want your stuff read?). So while I appreciate you asking for permission, in this case none is needed.

I look forward to hear what you make of all this.

Posted by Shai Gluskin on April 1, 2009 9:22 AM
Amen, amen, selah.

Amen, amen, selah.

Posted by Rachel Barenblat on April 1, 2009 9:43 AM


Posted by Harriet R. Goren on April 1, 2009 9:52 AM
Shai you make some fantastic

Shai you make some fantastic points here. My favorite is the part entitled "Impact."

It's ironic that Leibovitz moves into his argument--on behalf of the People of the Book--with a quote from the new testament, specifically the Gospel of John:

" ... a brief history is in order: In the beginning was the word, and the word was good."

Maybe there's some Genesis in there, but further irony lies in the fact that John's gospel is considered by some to a wildly antisemitic document.

We write, and speak, for a reason: to have a voice. This must not be underestimated. Implicit in every tweet I read--or write--is the sense that the writer actually thinks somebody cares. I see the same thing in online reviews for products and services. People write as if they assume somebody wants to know, as if they are being heard.

Leibovitz seems to imply that there's no value in that.

Twitter is new, young, largely untried. But people are expressing themselves for all to hear as never before. There's a very real human need here. If it's not being met in the best possible way, at least it's being revealed, and that's a step in the right direction.

Posted by ptc on April 1, 2009 10:05 AM
Hi Shai! Thanks for taking

Hi Shai!

Thanks for taking the time to respond to Liel Lebovitz's really did need a rebuttal!

Besides that....your response gave me a moment to giggle too!

Posted by Chava Gal-Or on April 1, 2009 11:22 AM
Twitter can be used or

Twitter can be used or abused. It can be banal or meaningful. It depends upon what people make of it and do with it. IMHO, no one can do meaningful Torah study in 140 characters or less, but people can point others in the right direction with this medium. If it encourages real study it is well used. This is what I try to do when I "tweet," and it seems to me that this is what Rabbi Shai is doing too. Some people post links to Torah commentary/Talmud, etc. that they think are worthy of our attention. I think these are uses that further Torah learning in the best sense. Perhaps there are people who are getting into (or back to) Torah study because of a medium that demands little and offers thoughtful direction. That's a win/win deal for Torah study and for them. Of course, it is also possible to treat this medium as if 140 characters is more than enough, and that's a shanda - a disgrace. Moadim simcha to y'all from Texas.

Posted by Rabbi Sue Levy on April 1, 2009 9:15 PM
Thank you for your thoughtful

Thank you for your thoughtful response. What is evident today in the world of instant messages is that a great deal of personal responsibility is asked of us. I actually agree with some of the points in the article cited, especially the section quoted.
"Examining this thinning of language — these starved forms of communications that favor the quick and the inconsequential while remaining unsuited for thoughts that may take space to unfold and time to read — it is easy to succumb to a technologically deterministic depression and declare the end of intelligent civilization near.

As the move to microblogging plagues everyone, plunging society in its entirety toward a collective mindset of subjective drivel communicated in short and syntactically stricken sentences, Jews may do well to step up in defense and preserve not only the ailing medium with which we are associated, the book, but also the sort of thinking this medium shapes, analytical and expansive and exhaustive. And as all around us the world’s atwit with Twitter, let us remember that it is only great things — the word of God, say, or, at the very least, a masterful novel — and not the piffle of everyday life that truly merits comment."

My own theory of why these new forms of communication are so popular is to refute existentialism. Whether or not we actually succeed in convincing ourselves that we are not alone remains to be seen. I teach English and have seen the effects of texting. Punctuation is disappearing-perhaps it is no longer necessary.
And Sue, I too am in Texas.

Posted by Morgan Vierheller on July 6, 2010 11:43 AM
Thanks to everyone who has

Thanks to everyone who has left a message! Just wanted to let you know there have been some responses to the article in the comments at the Forward web site from Lisa Colton, head of darimonline, Amichai Lau Lavie, from Storahtelling and David Abitbol from Jewlicious. Check them out:

Posted by Shai Gluskin on April 2, 2009 3:46 PM