By Larry Gordon
Do you have a minute to spare? Can I talk to you for just a minute? This will only take a minute.
What can you really get done in a minute or so? Probably not that much. In this fast-paced world that we live in, where just about everything is so technologically instantaneous, where does the inspiration that is contained in the Torah and the messages that foster a closeness to Hashem fit into that sixty-second dynamic?
The objective of Torah study, as our commentators say, is to toil methodically, if not slowly, which is most likely in contradiction to the speed on the information highway that is the hallmark of these modern times.
This was an issue that 22-year-old Nachi Gordon found himself grappling with about a year ago as he listened to shiurim and attended lectures by some of the leading orators of our day. This includes Rabbis Paysach Krohn, YY Jacobson, Gavriel Friedman (Rav Gav) and Yemima Mizrachi, Lori Palatnik, and others.
He wondered, however, who has time on the average day to listen to a two-hour lecture by any of these popular speakers. This was the matter that Nachi wanted to get a handle on—and tackle. Full disclosure demands that I say that Nachi is my youngest son and, like his brothers and sisters, has that ambitious and creative spirit that moves him in the direction of analyzing the sometimes impossible or unreachable and asking, “Why not?”
Nachi attended Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway for high school, and is now learning at Yeshiva Nishmas HaTorah in the Five Towns. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2015 from the State University at Old Westbury. He and his friend Tuli Urbach, also of Lawrence, created the Jewish Sports League which has taken the Five Towns community by storm with the enrollment of hundreds of young people in leagues that play hockey, basketball, and flag football.
But then there is his extraordinary interest in the marriage of Torah and technology—with an eye on the clock and the limitations of so many people’s attention spans while still thirsting for dvar Hashem, the words of G‑d.
That was how the idea of Meaningful Minute was born and developed. This week, just a half-year after its inception, the daily WhatsApp broadcast reached over 10,000 subscribers.
“I listen and review these lectures and shiurim closely,” Nachi said at home the other night as he edited the next day’s edition of Meaningful Minute (or “MM”). “I try to focus on key phrases that are usually the central theme of the shiur.” He explains that with many of the leading presenters there are more than a few highpoints in their lectures that deserve to be isolated and crafted into a message in and of themselves.
“I focus on what is going on in the world, in the news, and find a quick but deeply meaningful reference that can sometimes change people’s outlook, cheer them up, warm them up, and brighten their day if that is what is needed,” Nachi says.
And the WhatsApp broadcast is indeed heard and seen around the world as the number of viewers grows weekly. Some of the comments received recently from subscribers include the following.
Dovid Schwab of Monsey, New York, wrote: “In such a short span, Meaningful Minute has changed my life. I look forward to receiving the videos daily.”
Carmela Roediger in Johannesburg, South Africa, wrote: “Meaningful Minute is the inspiration of my day; each video teaches me something new and makes me want to learn more. I’m privileged to be a part of this incredible broadcast,” she says.
And Dina Sharer in London writes: “Meaningful Minute is an innovative way to incorporate daily Torah ideas using technology in a kiddush Hashem fashion. The perfect MM video posts give a new Torah aspect to enhance your day and keep the real reason of our place on this earth at the forefront of our minds. Keep up the amazing work!”
And on and on it goes as comments and suggestions from around the world continue to pour in daily. Interestingly, it is not just the global viewers who are heaping praise on MM. Many of the subjects of the daily one-minute videos do so as well. The Maggid himself, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, told an audience this summer that he is extremely impressed by the project and that he thought that it was vitally important for people to tune in and receive that daily dose of inspiration, that spiritual injection of important words of Torah.
So where does Meaningful Minute go from here? This was the question posed to the young Mr. Gordon. “I’d like to do an event with some of the speakers who have been the focus of MM and bring them together with the public that has been so moved by their words of encouragement and chizuk over all these years,” he said. That type of an event is in the works. And you can rest assured that you will be reading about it here first.
Over the next year Nachi is hoping to increase the list of daily viewers to more than 50,000, which he believes will become a force of people that will have the ability to collectively do great things for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
More than anything else, Meaningful Minute is an example of the power of one young man’s idea and the ability to touch so many people daily through the application of Torah and technology, a combination that has been too often discouraged and frowned upon instead of being used to change lives.
In fact, in a recent Mishpacha magazine interview with the father of a young Brooklyn girl who lost her life as a result of an accidental drug overdose this summer, the father told the writer, Yisroel Besser, that while he was sitting shivah for his daughter a few weeks ago he received a WhatsApp message from MM by Rabbi Manis Friedman on how to gauge success in children. He said that it comforted him greatly as he was mourning the loss of his child. Again, just a display of the extraordinary power of an idea.
Chazal tell us that “words which emanate from the heart enter the heart,” and this is precisely what Meaningful Minute is about. As Nachi says often, “This is just the beginning; there is so much more that needs to be done and can be done.” And to think that all it takes is one minute.
To access additional information on Meaningful Minute, go to MeaningfulMinute.org. To join the broadcast group, message 516-668-3725 on WhatsApp.