How the Real Clear Daf App is opening new possibilities for all Jews to experience the ecstatic feeling that Torah study brings.

Rabbi Shmuel Wise

I always thought I’d become a yeshiva rebbe. But, as it so often happens, Gd does not always take us where we thought He would. And thus although I have been privileged to teach Torah full time, I am not a yeshiva rebbe; I am an “App rebbe.”

Let me explain. Back probably about 100 years ago, people would shop in malls, order plane tickets by telephone, and hail cabs in traffic. Now, all of this, and a whole lot more, is handled by apps. Remember the last time you figured out directions using a paper map? Neither can I.

So over a year ago, after I had already launched my online Daf Yomi program, Real Clear Daf, it occurred to me that as wonderful as I think my classes are, if they aren’t available in app form, they will probably just sit there and collect digital dust bunnies. So I did a bit of research and found a reputable app-developing company to whom I described my aspiration to build a great Gemara app.

Our conversation went something like this:

APP DEVELOPER: “Oh, yes, we can definitely build an app with those specifications.

ME: “Great!”

APP DEVELOPER: “There’s just one thing…”

ME: “What?”

APP DEVELOPER: “It’s gonna cost you a lot of money.”

ME: “Oh.”

I certainly did not have a lot of money, so this “one thing” seemed to pull the plug on the whole idea.

But then I did some more research and found an app-developer out of Israel – SifraDigital – which had already created a very impressive Hebrew books app called PowerSefer. I contacted the company, and they said the project wouldn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. They had my attention.

Over the next few months, we spoke to work out the details and lay the plans for what would assuredly be a great app. But as much as SifraDigital worked to set a reasonable price, it was still beyond my financial reach. (Let’s put it this way: it equaled my entire annual Kollel stipend.)

In the end, the app’s development was made possible by our chief founder, Dr. Ralph Madeb. I will never forget the first time I approached Dr. Madeb to discuss this project, when it was still only a website. We had been learning Gemara together, and I finally mustered the courage to ask for his financial support. I nervously explained my project and asked if he would be able to help.

Knowing that Dr. Madeb was already supporting numerous other philanthropic projects, I timidly requested a Daf sponsorship for $180. My request was flatly refused. Dr. Madeb insisted on an amount that would cover my expenses for the next year. I was dumbstruck.

His generosity brought the website to a new level of sophistication, and breathed new life into the whole project. I was given the privilege of seeing firsthand the extraordinary hesed for which the Sephardic community is famous. Dr. Madeb’s ongoing advice,  patience, attentive ear and financial assistance have produced the Madeb Real Clear Daf Torah App, which is available now for free on Apple or Anroid, for the benefit of Am Yisrael.

One might wonder, why would I choose such a career rather than search for a more conventional job in education?

It isn’t easy for me to articulate what drives me towards creating Torah classes for online use, but I think it has to do with the eternal feel of the work: once I’ve launched the Torah up into that cloud, or whatever magic keeps my shiurim suspended in cyberspace, it’s there forever.

But the truth is that this is true of any form of Torah study: when a Jew engages in Torah study, he is, in a very real sense, attaching his soul to eternity, and this is why Torah learning makes a person feel so alive. The goal of this app is to allow all Jews to experience the ecstatic feeling that Torah study brings.

Please view this article is your official invitation to partake in this unique experience; I would be most thrilled to be your “App rebbe.”

The best way to appreciate how the Real Clear Daf App can open new Torah possibilities for you is by downloading the app and discovering its features yourself. But in the meantime, here is a brief description:

Opening the app displays a list of the most recently uploaded shiurim, with that day’s Daf Yomi highlighted. But this app is not only for Daf Yomi students. Tapping the top left reveals a list of all masechtot, along with any classes you’ve bookmarked or downloaded. Tapping a shiur reveals a crisp image of its Daf.

Built into the Daf image are some great interactive features. Press any word for a few seconds to choose from: dictionary, highlight, underline, or note-taking. You can also lock the screen so you can follow with your finger as you listen to the shiur. You can even ask questions to other users or myself by using the app’s built-in blog.

But perhaps what is most special about this app is the fact that I am completely available for any help that you need. It will not be some guy in India answering your phone call or email. The same person who works day and night to understand and present the material with the highest quality will be helping you navigate whatever technical problem or difficult line in the Gemara that you may encounter.

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