A Tribute to My Friendship with David Steinberg

Wishing David a happy birthday. We first connected in February 2010 when he was working as a kiruv (outreach) rabbi with Aish HaTorah.


February 6, 2024

Kevin Wolf

Kevin Wolf


A Tribute to My Friendship with David Steinberg

Kiruv, Jewish outreach. Created with AI

It is with great honor and admiration that I write this tribute for my dear friend David Steinberg, a truly remarkable individual who has made an indelible mark on the world of biblical studies.

I was introduced to David fourteen years ago through Aish HaTorah, when he was assigned to be my guide in Torah study. As we studied together, our bond as student and teacher, and as friends, became stronger and deeper. I marveled at David’s ability to stop and pause when considering an answer or pondering a question put forth to him. It was a relationship that was new to me as I entered his Orthodox religious world on the most peripheral basis.

We studied together in the basement of my house, and often in the kitchen, where at times my children encountered a yarmulka-wearing person who was very out of place in our home. Although my family celebrated the important Jewish holidays, Easter and Christmas could not be left out of the mix to honor my spouse’s Catholic heritage.

A pivotal moment came while we were studying the question of the Jews being the chosen people. I asked David, “Well ok, but what about my wife?”“Sorry,” he replied—sharing the traditionalist position with which he was raised—“she’s not covered.”[1] I told him that, if that is the case, I can no longer study together with him because I cannot risk a divide like this with someone I love and care deeply about.

We did not speak for six months until one afternoon when I received a call from David. “Can we meet?” he said. I was hesitant about meeting him and hearing him tell me why I should resume my studies, but I agreed because I missed his presence in my life. When we met, he told me that since our last meeting, his thinking about what the Torah really means, what it is saying, had undergone a transformation.

The genesis of TheTorah.com started taking place. We talked for quite a while about what David wanted to create, and he asked if I would help him. “Help you?” I cried, “I am the last person you should consider.” Nevertheless, I agreed to sit on David’s board, albeit not as a donor, to emotionally support him as a friend.

David’s decision would change his life in ways he could never have anticipated. He suffered blowback from his tight-knit community. He had to navigate his marriage and his relationship with his children. Through the following years of working together, my life too has changed, and our relationship has deepened in ways I could not have imagined. David, in my view, does not accept a superficial relationship, and it forced me to think much deeper about myself and what it means to really, really support a friend in times of great struggle and need.

As a rabbi and visionary, David’s commitment to advancing scholarly biblical studies has been nothing short of revolutionary. By creating TheTorah.com, he has provided a platform for tens of thousands of people to engage with the texts in new and innovative ways, challenging traditional preconceptions in the process.

But David’s impact goes far beyond just the creation of TheTorah. As a good friend and mentor, he has touched the lives of countless individuals, inspiring them to explore their own passions and make a difference in the world. His dedication to his work and his new intellectual community is truly unparalleled.

Over the years, I have slowly learned more and have begun to appreciate deeply David’s work. His willingness to challenge convention and push boundaries has opened up new avenues of understanding and interpretation, and his vision for a more inclusive and accessible approach to scholarship has made a significant impact on the Jewish and scholarly communities. It is a privilege to pay tribute to such an exceptional individual.

I pray—God, enable my good friend David to find strength and inspiration from You to carry on the impactful work with TheTorah.com, that has affected so many lives, fostering unity and depth of Torah understanding among diverse communities. Please God, bless and keep my friend David “in the light of your countenance” (Ps 89:16).

Kevin Wolf is a loving husband and father of four children.


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