As the near year dawns, I want to tell you about my favorite website related to the Bible.
For more than a year now, I have watched video teachings on the Aleph Beta website located at alephbeta.org. The lessons on this site are primarily taught by Rabbi David Fohrman, although there are several others that also do supplemental teachings. Rabbi Fohrman is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who divides his time between New York and Israel. This year I was privileged to meet Rabbi Fohrman when he visited the Pacific Northwest for a one-night teaching event.
The focus of the site is on the first five books of the Hebrew Scripture known as Torah. The Torah is the foundation for all the Bible, and Aleph Beta goes into great background on these books. If you want to understand basic truths from the Torah, then this site will give you plenty of insight for consideration. Along with a focus on the Torah, Rabbi Fohrman takes on secondary topics not specifically addressed in your standard Torah commentary.
The website uses animation as its primary means of conveying the Torah narratives. At first I was skeptical that animation would hold my attention, but the visual component to the teaching does not detract from the message. We all learn more when multiple senses are involved in the learning process and this format allows one to see and hear the teachings in a memorable way.
Rabbi Fohrman often uses the Hebrew text on the screen to show the students things they would not see just reading an English translation. Often spiritual nuggets are embedded in the Hebrew text but remain hidden in our translations. By using Biblical Hebrew, Rabbi Fohrman proves that what he is showing you is actually in the text and not just a figment of an overzealous imagination.
One of the really exciting aspects of Aleph Beta is the connections Rabbi Fohrman demonstrates by aligning one text with a completely different narrative. The insight of seeing two seemingly unrelated texts in the same light is fascinating and shows the text is cut from the same cloth with a unified message. Rabbi Fohrman will often ask, “Where have we heard this before?” and admittedly I’m often pleasantly surprised at never before seen connections.
The site provides special teachings on the Biblical festivals and other Biblically-related topics. The bonus material on the site is extensive and will keep you occupied for months. If a topic needs to be unpacked in greater detail, Rabbi Fohrman will do a series of teachings to give his students more information. The site allows you to search and find all the different teachings available.
The site also allows for students to interact with Rabbi Fohrman both by asking questions and by new live teachings. This access to the Rabbi means students can ask questions and get answers to questions raised by the teaching material. The staff at Aleph Beta are also very helpful and willing to assist students in finding resources and help in navigating the site. Rabbi Fohrman has recently doing live teachings where students can log in and learn in real time.
By visiting the site you will find all the new material and books before anyone else has seen them. The rabbi’s recent book “The Exodus You Almost Passed Over” was an instant classic, but the material for much of it was available on the site in prior teachings completed over the last two years.
There is no way I can do justice to this site in a short time or in print. There is a minimal subscription fee ($9 a month) for unlimited access but there are also many things on the site you can view for free. I hope my enthusiasm for this site has come through and that you will at least check it out by viewing the freebies. Once you have had the opportunity of looking at this site, contact me to let me know your thoughts as the people of Aleph Beta are always looking for ways to improve the product.
Brent Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.