Social media enables each of us to become an online publisher, influencing what others read, think about and discuss. It is also undeniably addictive, and many of us spend countless hours reading and posting about news, politics, family pictures, jokes, and even pictures of pets. But instead we could harness these platforms and use our time to enlighten the feeds and lives of our online friends with Torah and spirituality.

Back in 1966 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, said the following regarding technology and Torah:

Our sages have said: ‘All that G‑d created was created for His honor.’ This also applies to all the scientific discoveries of recent years—their purpose is to add honor to G‑d by using them for holiness, Torah, and mitzvot . . .

There is a special advantage in using radio to teach Torah. Even if a person is not sufficiently motivated to go and attend a class, or even if he turned on the radio only to hear something else, the words of Torah reach him.

Moreover, even in a place where there is no human being to hear these words, and no radio receiver to make them audible, the words themselves permeate the place, achieving the goal of ‘spreading the wellsprings of Divine wisdom to the outside.’1

Here are some tools each of us can use to spread holiness, Torah, and mitzvot through the internet.

  1. Share. If you read an inspirational Torah thought or hear a nice shiur, share it with others. You can add a short caption to your post: “Awesome, worth seeing!” You never know who reads or listens to what you share. If you feel comfortable, start a discussion in the comments.
  2. Reminders. Post Shabbat and holiday candle-lighting times on your feed. Add a picture of candles to draw people’s attention. You never know whom you might inspire to light candles. Consider posting the daily Sefirat HaOmer count. It will serve as a reminder to keep counting, and it may pique others to wonder and to find out what Sefirat HaOmer is.
  3. Jewish calendar. If it’s a significant day on the Jewish calendar, mention it. Whether it’s a holiday or a day of mourning, look up its history and meaning, and write something simple, like “Today is the first night of Pesach, when we commemorate the miracles G‑d did for the Jewish people when He took them out of Egypt. Chag sameach!” You can, of course, include deeper or more profound thoughts, but keep in mind that on social media people have short attention spans, so short and creative is usually key to keep people reading.
  4. Give a glimpse into Jewish life. Traditional Jewish life is warm and inviting. Upload pictures (with permission, when needed) of Purim events, Chanukah menorah lightings, making Challah, etc. Or more personal occasions such as your child’s Siddur or Chumash party, bar mitzvah or wedding. Seeing these images may change others’ perceptions of Jewish life, and maybe inspire other Jews to take steps towards creating a similar life for themselves.
  5. Jewish memes. A meme is a graphic with a funny or inspiring saying. There are thousands of memes with wise sayings out there, but very few Jewish ones, despite the plethora of Jewish wisdom. All you need is a short saying and a picture, and there are free online tools that can help you create a meme that infuses the internet with the wisdom of Torah.
  6. Pictures. If you have photographic talent and a cool camera, take pictures of Jewish life. A picture is worth a thousand words, and can influence the way people view Judaism. If you’re visiting an interesting Jewish community, historical site or place of worship, or attending an inspiring event, take a picture (with permission, when needed) and share it. There are many platforms that focus exclusively on pictures.
  7. Write Torah thoughts. If you write well, share short synopses of what you are learning. People review books they’ve read, and you can do the same for the Jewish books you are studying. Teaching others will help solidify your own understanding, and condensing it into a synopsis will help you identify the main points. Remember to keep it short, use easy-to-understand language, and avoid topics that are too difficult to explain. Add a picture and a couple of relevant hashtags to get more traction for your posts.
  8. Talents. There are many extremely talented writers, musicians, photographers and videographers. If you have been blessed with any of these G‑d-given talents, consider using them to create materials that highlight Torah, holiness and mitzvot. You may never know how far-reaching the impact you have on others will be.

Can you think of any other ways to harness social media to inspire Jewish life? Please share them below.