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I just came across the following dialogue (in this post):

Source for that assertion? – IsraelReader
Not an assertion. See YouTube: Christianity vs. Atheism: Rabbi Tovia Singer Explores the Consequences of Both Belief Systems. –

So you admit that you have no source in Jewish canon to support that statement. YouTube videos don't really count for me as an original source. – IsraelRead

I was a bit disturbed by this statement, because as long as the rabbi in the video clip is qualified to be quoted, what is the difference if he communicated his statement via book or via video clip?

My question is, is there a reason not to quote a youtube video, and more broadly, is it ok to quote a statement made by a rabbi, even if it does not appear in a scholarly work?

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    See also: Quote Wikipedia as source
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 20:52
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    Important fundamental posts about sources in general: Better to post an answer with no source, or not to post at all?, Answers - When is a source required?
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 20:54
  • In the context of the discussion you linked, it does not appear that the issue was whether Youtube is a valid source. The objection seemed to be that a contemporary rabbi’s statement does not count as a source, without classical backing. That would be the same whether the rabbi’s statement appears in a Youtube video, or in a book. On the flipside, the objector would seem to agree that if there was a video of Rambam on Youtube then it would be acceptable.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 21:16

1 Answer 1

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Youtube, like Facebook, Blogspot, Wordpress, or any other site full of user-contributed content, isn't a source. It's a platform -- same as a (physical) library. What counts is not where the content is hosted but what it is.

A Youtube video of a lecture is no worse than a transcript of the lecture or detailed notes taken by somebody who attended the lecture. (The notes are presumably more subject to errors.) Any of these might be a good source or a bad source, depending on the qualifications of the lecturer, whether the content has been superseded, and how applicable it is to the question at hand. Similarly, a book isn't automatically a good source just because it's a book; you have to consider the same factors as with the video.

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  • thanks. what about how to measure the quality of a lecturer
    – Hershy S.
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 20:57
  • for example can I quote that which I've heard from harav Yisroel Belsky live or on a tape?
    – Hershy S.
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 21:00
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    @heshy I don't see why not. The reader will then evaluate (a) whether R' Belsky is qualified to address the particular point and (b) whether you have accurately reported what he said. A Youtube video removes the second consideration because people can check for themselves what he said. (Unless somebody suspects tampering, I guess.) For the same reason, you can answer based on something you learned in a class, but if you can cite the sources used in the class or link to a presentation online or whatever, that's a stronger reference. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 21:04

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