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What Is a Dvar Torah?

What Is a Dvar Torah?

9 Steps to Crafting the Ultimate Dvar Torah

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Dvar Torah (n.) (plural: Divrei Torah): Literally “word(s) of Torah,” this refers to a (sometimes original) Torah thought that is shared with others.

The Mishnah1 states that a table over which no dvar Torah is shared is compared to an altar upon which offerings are brought toThe practice of sharing a Torah thought is part of the fabric of Jewish life idols. Conversely, a table where divrei Torah are spoken is akin to G‑d’s own table.

Indeed, the practice of sharing a Torah thought is part of the fabric of Jewish life and an integral aspect of lifecycle events, communal gatherings, and even family get-togethers.

A classic dvar Torah might include a quote from scriptures and/or the sages, and is often structured as a question and answer. Personal anecdotes and stories are often used to introduce concepts or bolster thoughts.

Here is the ultimate guide to crafting an amazing dvar Torah:

  1. Pick a subject. If you’ve been asked to speak at a wedding or a bar mitzvah, for example, it’s natural that you’ll want to speak about the Torah perspective on these milestones. It is also quite common to hone in on the weekly Torah portion or an upcoming holiday. So figure out the general theme(s) you want to touch upon before you begin your hunt for material.
  2. Research. There’s nothing wrong with making use of the results of others’ scholarship and creativity. In fact, the Talmud2 tells us that saying a dvar Torah and giving credit to its originator brings redemption to the world.
    Here are some great research tools:
  3. Think. Was there something you read that spoke to you? Was there a point that you think can use some further clarification? Follow your hunch until you think you have an idea (or several interconnected ideas) to share that people will find enlightening and inspiring.
  4. Say it with a story. As you get a better idea of the main point you want to highlight, hunt for some classic tales to weave into your talk. It’s okay if they are not perfectly on topic. Browse through our collection of more than 800 stories from the Talmud, the Chassidic masters and contemporary storytellers.
  5. End with action: “Torah learning is great because it brings to action.”3 Make sure that you end your talk with a practical application. It can be a mitzvah you wish to highlight, or another actionable item you’re imparting your audience.
  6. Put it on paper: Write down what you wish to say. You might be the long-form type, or you might feel comfortable with just a few bullet points. Once you have it on paper, you’ll be able to return to your dvar Torah with a critical eye, and see if there are some points you need to fine-tune. (If you’ll be speaking on Shabbat, make sure to print your notes and drop them off at the location of your talk before Shabbat, since carrying in a public domain and using electronics are both forbidden on Shabbat).
  7. Does it fit? Find out how much time you will have to speak, and make sure that you have the right amount of material to fit that timeslot. Assuming you speak at anMake sure to end your talk with a practical application average speed, you can estimate that you speak around 60 words per minute, so a 500 word talk will take 8-10 minutes.
  8. Practice makes perfect. Once you have your dvar Torah ready, ask a friend to listen to you practice it. As you listen to yourself, you may very well find better ways to express your thoughts, or you may discover additional points you wish to make. This is also a good time to make sure that you have the right amount of material.
  9. Go for it! Get up there and talk. You can take your notes with you if you wish, or just wing it if you feel confident. Remember the saying of our sages, “Words from the heart penetrate the heart.” So more than fancy words and elegant presentation, the most important thing to look for is content that you deeply believe in and are excited to share. You can do it!
Footnotes
1.
Avot 3:3.
2.
Megillah 16a.
3.
Talmud, Kiddushin 40b.
Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Ezra ben-Pesach Kingston Chabad February 8, 2017

This interesting Dvar Torah on Divrei Torah appeared at the same time as the Parshas with the plagues and a question that I have been wrestling with. I hope that Rabbi Menachem or own of my fellow readers can give me an answer: The word for pestilence, דֶּבֶר, has the same letters as hail, בָּרָד, (as well as Dvar, דָבָר). Some thoughts on the concurrence of the same letters for these two plagues would be much appreciated. Thank you! Ezra Reply