The Starbucks Talmud
We live in an age of customization, when consumers demand products tailored to their specific desires. You don’t simply order a cup of coffee; you mix and match different flavors and options, detailing exactly how you want it to taste. Online stores present a virtually unlimited display of brands and models, well beyond what you would find stocked in a store. This ethos of customization has spread beyond consumer products, affecting our lives.
Print media is disintegrating as magazines and newspapers give way to web reading, where we use various tools to find articles that meet our personal interests. Is there a future for books, which are mass produced and cannot be customized? As I previously discussed in this magazine,1 I believe books are here to stay. However, whoever discovers how to personalize the reading experience will certainly pave the way for the next generation of content providers.
I would not have thought that Talmud study could be personalized. I do not doubt that the published look of the Talmud has changed over the years, but the changes have been incremental. I remember when the Talman Shas introduced the bold font for introductory words in Rashi’s Talmud commentary. That minor change was considered revolutionary, an educational flash of genius that took the yeshivah study halls by storm. We are now witnessing a more significant change, a next-generation Talmud which will radically redefine the text and its relationship to students.
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