Why Aren’t More People Taking Advantage of Mp3s?

On Friday afternoon I had to run about 20 minutes of errands. So before I went on my way, I clicked over to Aish Audio, searched for Lech Lecha and in less than 3 minutes I had loaded a new shiur onto my mp3 player to accompany me on my errands.

Mp3 players with their low-cost, compactness, capacity and the ever increasing wide-ranging shiurim available on the Internet, seem like a no-brainer. Yet as I go about town, I rarely see people with Torah piped into their ears.

So my question is why do so few people seem to take advantage of mp3s and all the audio available on the Internet? Is the technology too overwhelming? Are people uncomfortable walking around with ear buds/plugs in their ears? Is it the cost? Or perhaps people prefer visual over auditory learning?

If the technology is the problem, I would be willing to take some time to try to demystify it, to help people learn more Torah.

17 comments on “Why Aren’t More People Taking Advantage of Mp3s?

  1. Umm…I just noticed there is a link to a free site in the links section. I seem to remember that I have checked out this site already, but I will click over now…anyway, other recommendations would be welcome.

  2. Can anyone recommend free mp3 sites? I know aish has some free downloads, but there must be all-free sites. The only one I know about is yutorah.org, which is great.

  3. Just to clarify my playful jab at Steve in comment #6, I don’t think anyone would find a downside to MP3 shiurim.

  4. If you see me with my brow all furrowed and serious looking, (you)should know that I am not worried about how to pay the mortgage, or suffering from acid-reflux. I am arangetracht in a shver Rebbi Akiva Eiger

    LOL. Indeed I may be very confused about what the cause of that wrinkeled brow and knitted eyebrows is. But I will know this with certainty w/o resorting to Ruach HaKodesh: You are NOT interested in my being impressed by your hasmoda and holiness. I, for one, find that most impressive!

  5. Does anyone have a comprehensive list of online sources where one can download and listen to Audio MP3 shirium. I have a pretty good collection of these sites but am always looking for more. I would love to work with someone to compile this list.

  6. Chaim,
    If you see me with my brow all furrowed and serious looking, should know that I am not worried about how to pay the mortgage, or suffering from acid-reflux. I am arangetracht in a shver Rebbi Akiva Eiger.

  7. Newcomer.
    Sholom Aleichem! I use an outmoded technology (audio-cassettes) but I find that while driving it takes to much concentration to pay attention to the Torah Tapes and that it takes my mind off the road. I generally don’t listen to Torah Shiurim while driving unless I am on auto-pilot i.e. driving a route that is part of my commute or frequently visited Shabbos destination.

    IMO there is a big difference between ba’al HaBatim and klei kodesh in this department. The former are always “playing catch-up” with their Torah-learning and even with the most diligent K’vias Itim it is well nigh impossible to achieve “immersion” learning. But as for Yeshiva Bochurim, Kolleleit and Klei Kodesh while the example set by the Cheder Rebbe you described is a good one, perhaps even a better one would be to be without EITHER headphones or sefer but with brow furrowed in thought over a shvera Tosfos or to resolve an apparent contradiction in two Rambams. This may set an example for others to follow about, internalizing Torah study, true concentration and hasmoda and modesty and lack of ostentation in Avodas HaShem.

  8. MP3 and other audio shiurim have some advantages. One cannot be drawn into speaking lashom hara while waiting on the checkout line. You can carry a great variety of shiurim on a device that ways a lot less than even one sefer. On the other hand, I feel there are some advantages to the old fasion technique of carrying a sefer. There is a big talmid chacham that lives a few doors down from me. I sometimes see him walk to a near-by major road to wait for a ride to the cheder where he is a rebbe. As soon as he gets to that street, he opens up a sefer and begins learning. Everyone driving by sees him, including his talmidim and the other cheder boys. It makes a big impression. “That is how a ben Torah waits for a ride.” Also, I personally find that listening to head phones puts me, somewhat, in another dimension, oblivious to my suroundings. That can be a good thing. It also limits ones’ ability to greet others, including the many traditional non-frum Jews that shop in local kosher stores.

    Regarding Steve’s “crediting” of the Chafetz Chaim for confirming Steve’s own viewpoint :-), it is impossible to know how he would instruct us about any specific technology.

  9. I like listening to some of the shiurs. For example, last week I drove up to Ottawa with my family, and back. 10 hours each way. Because my little girls are not so great in the car over long distances, we drive at night so they sleep for the most part. I downloaded some shiurs from “The Shmuz (which I learned about here) and “A Crash Course on Jewish History” (http://www.simpletoremember.com/audio/crash-course-jewish-history-mp3s.htm)

    Listening to that kept me up and alert during the drive (although towards then end I did have to interject a little music to keep me more alert). I don’t use any Aish shiurs yet as there are still so many free ones that I have yet to try. While I’m not trying to be a cheapie, I think their prices are a little high for things that are located free with just a short search away.

  10. I don’t utilize an Mp3 but I do use an Ipod in my current attempt to go thru Shas via the “Shaspod.” It once again proves the point of the Chaftez Chaim that technology was introduced into the world to enhance our Avodas HaShem.

  11. Fern, One indication of lower audio participation is that when we post a shiur on Beyond BT, the number of downloads is a small percentage of the number of readers. Another indication is the fact that I don’t see many people around me with them.

    I like your thoughts on iPod etiquette, however I like listening on lines, since it makes them more bearable for me. How about a compromise position, its ok to listen until its your actual time to check out.

  12. Are you sure that people aren’t taking advantage of audio shiurim? It seems that there are a lot of them being produced (which is confirmed by a quick check of iTunes’ Jewish podcast section), and I can’t imagine groups like Aish would keep on putting them out there if people weren’t downloading them. I listen to audio lectures about the week’s parsha and about other Jewish topics all the time. I also like listening to audio books on Jewish subjects.

    I have made a conscious decision not to listen to my iPod in situations where I will interact with other people because I think that’s rude. It always bothers me when I see someone listening to their iPod while in the check out line at the supermarket, for example. The person ends up talking too loudly and ignoring the checker when he or she is talking.

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