Salvador Litvak, the internet sensation and public speaker known as the “Accidental Talmudist,” based his JLI-Rohr Conference keynote address on this week’s parsha.
A formerly secular Hollywood film director, Litvak became the Accidental Talmudist after a little miracle launched him into daily Talmud study and he completed the Daf Yomi cycle in 2012.
He urged the 500 shluchim present at the JLI conference to embrace difficult texts when interacting with the unaffiliated.
In a moving talk, he described his first encounter with the Dina and Sh’chem story in a “Bible as Literature” class at Harvard. He couldn’t understand how the outcome of the tale reflects well on the Jewish people.
Soon after, he attended a wedding and cornered the rabbi, asking for a positive way to understand the story which haunted him. The rabbi offered a flippant reply, and completely missed the opportunity to connect with a curious Jew.
Litvak lived a secular life for ten more years, until a chance encounter with the late Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz (“Schwartzie”) opened yiddishkeit to him in a deep way.
Inspired by Schwartzie’s gentle and open approach to kiruv, Litvak created eventually Accidental Talmudist, a Jewish blog and Facebook page dedicated to sharing Judaism with everybody.
The page has over 1 million followers due to Litvak’s unique ability to connect with all types of people including secular Jews, frum Jews, non-Jews and atheists.
Learn more about his talks at accidentaltalmudist.org/appearances