This week marks the seventh year of this blog. I started in 2009 writing a book as a mean of staying focused while writing books, now it has become a regular activity. Much has changed in those years. When I started, it was still the tail end of the great age of blogging in which I had a small group of readers but they refreshed several times a day to see if there were any new comments. The age of comments and trolls is over. Now, the posts are articles to be discussed on Facebook or in real life. Then, I had a few hundred readers but thousands of daily hits from this small group, now I have thousands of readers who come by only once a week to print out my posts to read over the weekend.
For the first years, I used to post almost every day, about 18-24 times a month. Now, I only post about 3 major posts a month. The posts went from short 100-200 word observations to the current 4000 word articles. Then even if I discussed a book, I did it over five to six posts. Now, I post 1600 words about a book and have another 3000-word interview with the author. I was surprised to run into two very different people who work this past year, who both missed my short 24 times a month observations. (Without my short observations, we would have never had the media frenzy about half–Shabbos.)
The age of comments and trolls is over. Now, the posts are articles to be discussed on Facebook or in real life.
I eagerly welcome guest posts entirely written by others or people who volunteer for a review and interview. Authors regularly contact me about their books. Feel free to contact me and I will let you know if it fits, or does not fit, into the parameters of the blog. Most importantly, do not write to others promising them posts on my blog. I have had nudniks I dont know offer blog posts to people and then I have to explain to the person contacted that I dont know the person and that the blog is not an uncurated soapbox like Time of Israel.
But I generally only post in the fields of theology, philosophy, and their cultural embeddedness in social forms. I do not post on Bible, Talmud, Halakhah, Law, Politics or History except if the work is theological or conceptual, for example, I had an entire series of Biblical posts that set out current theological thinking on origins of the Bible. I am not interested in op-eds or in the many people traveling around speaking on Bible/Talmud as literature.
I am interested in people working on conceptual and theoretical topics or involved in ideological debates. If interested, then please contact me. Be prepared for a style sheet of this blog- such as the need to translate all terms so my worldwide readers of other faiths will understand or that it has to be edited to be read on a smart phone.
My review interviews are on the syllabi in many college courses so you will need to present the ideas in a way appropriate for this audience. (I recently received a book review by an academic where the author opens up by saying he knows nothing about the topic, then summarizes wiki, and concludes by saying he does not really understand it but since it is a friend of his then buy and read the book. It was not posted.)
I have had many posts on theological issues of Bible, Rabbinics, Maimonides, Zohar, and Modern Jewish thought. I had much less on Hasidism than I thought I would. I have been asked by several of those interviewed to publish the interview as a book. I am likely to get to it in another two years and it would be arranged topically, so I will probably fill in some of the gaps in the above major topics and leave the minor topics for a potential sequel.
I no longer repost articles about religion from elsewhere on the web. I do however clip them for personal use. I do not have the energy to make a list of links every week. I am sure there is some plug-in that will allow me to just clip and post them to a side bar. However, I need a way to offer 50-100 words of comments. If you know of one, then let me know. More importantly, my 100 word observations of life are the biggest loss such as half-shabbos, post-Orthodoxy, and the Christian connections of Jewish outreach in direct appropriation of method.
Besides, at this point everyone knows how much contemporary Judaism, including orthodoxy is embedded in a variety of cultural weaves with popular culture, evangelical religion, and consumerism.
There are some very good websites that are now available include the web journals Marginalia and Aeon and the podcasts History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, offering wonderful podcasts on introduction to philosophy. I would take especial note of Homebrewed Christianity, a website of post-Evangelicals who are leaving the rigid categories that were raised within to create a homebrewed personal theology. They have had interviews with many contemporary theologians with discussions of how it applies to our lives. They are especially strong on process theology, theistic post-modernism, and moving beyond inerrancy and literalism.
This year I included youtube video and media as part of my academic syllabi, maybe I should find a way to include podcasts or vlogs of either 2 minutes or 28 minutes. Thoughts? I know that mine will not be as entertaining as Lipa Schmeltzer’s.
I am also interested in updating my platform. any thoughts?
There are many posts that I wrote that for one reason or another never got posted. I have first drafts that never get posted- the rise of Pesach Sheni, the World Parliament of Religions, Visit by Cardinal Turkson, and those leaving observance in the 19th century. I also have not finished my page with links to lectures of mine around the web. In the meantime, look at older lectures at YUTorah.
As a side point, don’t forget to invite me to speak in your community as a scholar in residence. (or buy my books).
I did post about several other milestones of the blog. My fourth year anniversary post has links to the best of the early years. My first year anniversary was an early reflection.
My posts with the all-time highest number of readers during the week after posting were two: my observations of Orthodoxy in the Pew, which I posted the day the Pew was released and my guest post from Rabbi Ysoscher Katz based on his Limmud-NY talk.
Then there are those posts with large residual readership, especially those dealing with Islam. The post on the Jewish Sufi Dervishes 1922 and the Interview with Elisha Russ-Fishbane — Judaism, Sufism, and the Pietists of Medieval Egypt: A Study of Abraham Maimonides and His Circle have a constant audience overseas. The latter post was translated in to French by another blog.
Beyond some of the posts already mentioned, for 2016, the most read posts were:
Interview with Daniel C. Matt – translator of the Pritzker edition of the Zohar,
Nefesh HaTzimtzum, Avinoam Fraenkel and his translation of Nefesh HaChaim,
Interview with Menachem Kellner- They Too are Called Human,
Rav Soloveitchik on the Guide of the Perplexed-edited by Lawrence Kaplan.
For 2015, the most read posts were:
Interview with Adam Ferziger, Beyond Sectarianism
Open Orthodox Haggadah- Shmuel Hertzfeld
Being a Supportive Parent to Child who leaves Orthodoxy- Guest Post by Ruvie
For 2014, the most read posts were:
One Percent Solution-Modern Orthodoxy
Interview James Kugel – Round Three
Those most enjoyed and appreciated by my readers based on contacting me or personally mentioning it to me are my first few posts from India, my Rav Shagar posts and here, and my Aryeh Kaplan biography posts.