1/ My son, new freshman at his high school, got the cover article in the weekly Torah journal, which was an awesome piece of nachas over #RoshHashanah
A few comments I feel I should make (and download available at this BE"H static link):
2/ I did not help him directly in any way. Despite my eager offer to discuss and/or proofread, he successfully shielded himself from my relentless, avid desire to help him with a D'var Torah.
I say this because (1) it's a really good piece & (2) all the language is his.
3/ However, as a gift to me, he did say that he learned "tautological" from our many conversations (yes!) and from my meta-perspective, I see he followed the advice I give to all my homiletics students based on my decades of speeches, articles, classes & other media.
4/ I offered him my library of divrei Torah and he said, quite predictably, that he wanted to say something original. I explained that the best way to do that is to find two actual expert sources and then compare them. This he did, to fine results.
5/ My technique is effective for every stage of expertise but especially for beginners. E.g. he used a Seforno & a Ramban. What I tell students is that even if your original point is bad, or wrong, at least the audience comes away learning a Ramban. Which is a win.
6/ Extraordinarily few beginning speakers/writers will have something worthwhile to say when they want to be "original." Yet that is very often what they attempt and it's cringeworthy. They end up with clichés and/or repeating shallow conventional shallow biases.
7/ Experts (like me) and savants (like him, cf. above, "nachas") will still benefit from this simple technique because even when we think we're the next Rebbe Akiva Eiger, the audience can always disagree/reject the unfamiliar. But they will still get to learn a good Ramban.
8/ One of these days I'll write up my sermon advice. In this case, using 2 is a safe bet for almost every small to moderate vort. 3 is the maximum for any non-source sheet speech and still a max. for most readers to keep in their head.
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