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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

About Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff

Rabbi Resnikoff learned for two years at Yeshivat HaKibbutz HaDati at Ein Tzurim before majoring in history at the University of California in Berkeley. Following graduation from Berkeley he spent several years in Israel doing graduate coursework in the Hebrew University Talmud Department and learning in various Batei Midrash in Jerusalem. He came to Chovevei after spending a year as a Judaic Studies teacher at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito, California. During his tenure at Chovevei, he had internships at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland, Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford, Connecticut, the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in Manhattan. Rabbi Resnikoff also took part in the JOIN Community Organizing Fellowship.

Written by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff

Faith in God and Faith in Self: Religion and Self Confidence

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, July 10, 2017

  BeMidbar 13 כא וַֽיַּעֲל֖וּ וַיָּתֻ֣רוּ אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ מִמִּדְבַּר־צִ֥ן עַד־רְחֹ֖ב לְבֹ֥א חֲמָֽת׃ כב וַיַּעֲל֣וּ בַנֶּגֶב֮ וַיָּבֹ֣א עַד־חֶבְרוֹן֒ וְשָׁ֤ם אֲחִימַן֙ שֵׁשַׁ֣י וְתַלְמַ֔י יְלִידֵ֖י הָעֲנָ֑ק… כה וַיָּשֻׁ֖בוּ מִתּ֣וּר הָאָ֑רֶץ מִקֵּ֖ץ אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יֽוֹם׃ כו וַיֵּלְכ֡וּ וַיָּבֹאוּ֩ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֨ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֜ן וְאֶל־כָּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶל־מִדְבַּ֥ר פָּארָ֖ן קָדֵ֑שָׁה וַיָּשִׁ֨יבוּ אוֹתָ֤ם דָּבָר֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה וַיַּרְא֖וּם אֶת־פְּרִ֥י הָאָֽרֶץ׃ כז וַיְסַפְּרוּ־לוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ בָּ֕אנוּ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁלַחְתָּ֑נוּ וְ֠גַם זָבַ֨ת Continue Reading »

Acts of God: Religious Responses to Natural Disasters

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, July 10, 2017

  1. Numbers 25 כה וַיָּ֣קָם מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ אֶל־דָּתָ֣ן וַאֲבִירָ֑ם וַיֵּלְכ֥וּ אַחֲרָ֖יו זִקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ כו וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר אֶל־הָעֵדָ֜ה לֵאמֹ֗ר ס֣וּרוּ נָ֡א מֵעַל֩ אָהֳלֵ֨י הָאֲנָשִׁ֤ים הָֽרְשָׁעִים֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְאַֽל־תִּגְּע֖וּ בְּכָל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָהֶ֑ם פֶּן־תִּסָּפ֖וּ בְּכָל־חַטֹּאתָֽם׃ כז וַיֵּעָל֗וּ מֵעַ֧ל מִשְׁכַּן־קֹ֛רֶח דָּתָ֥ן וַאֲבִירָ֖ם מִסָּבִ֑יב וְדָתָ֨ן וַאֲבִירָ֜ם יָצְא֣וּ נִצָּבִ֗ים פֶּ֚תַח אָֽהֳלֵיהֶ֔ם וּנְשֵׁיהֶ֥ם וּבְנֵיהֶ֖ם וְטַפָּֽם׃ כח וַיֹּאמֶר֮ מֹשֶׁה֒ בְּזֹאת֙ תֵּֽדְע֔וּן כִּֽי־יְהוָ֣ה שְׁלָחַ֔נִי לַעֲשׂ֕וֹת אֵ֥ת Continue Reading »

Covenants of Peace: Can Violence Lead to Peace?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, July 10, 2017

  1. Bamidbar 25 ו וְהִנֵּ֡ה אִישׁ֩ מִבְּנֵ֨י יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל בָּ֗א וַיַּקְרֵ֤ב אֶל־אֶחָיו֙ אֶת־הַמִּדְיָנִ֔ית לְעֵינֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה וּלְעֵינֵ֖י כָּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהֵ֣מָּה בֹכִ֔ים פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ ז וַיַּ֗רְא פִּֽינְחָס֙ בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָ֔ר בֶּֽן־אַהֲרֹ֖ן הַכֹּהֵ֑ן וַיָּ֙קָם֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הָֽעֵדָ֔ה וַיִּקַּ֥ח רֹ֖מַח בְּיָדֽוֹ׃ ח וַ֠יָּבֹא אַחַ֨ר אִֽישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶל־הַקֻּבָּ֗ה וַיִּדְקֹר֙ אֶת־שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם אֵ֚ת אִ֣ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֶת־הָאִשָּׁ֖ה אֶל־קֳבָתָ֑הּ וַתֵּֽעָצַר֙ הַמַּגֵּפָ֔ה מֵעַ֖ל בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ט וַיִּהְי֕וּ הַמֵּתִ֖ים Continue Reading »

Playing God: The Theology of Genetic Engineering

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, May 12, 2017

  How do the Torah and rabbinic sources view the idea of genetic engineering, specifically as it relates to plants? The following sources are meant to prompt a discussion regarding this question. 1. VaYikra 19:19 אֶֽת־חֻקֹּתַי֮ תִּשְׁמֹרוּ֒ בְּהֶמְתְּךָ֙ לֹא־תַרְבִּ֣יעַ כִּלְאַ֔יִם שָׂדְךָ֖ לֹא־תִזְרַ֣ע כִּלְאָ֑יִם וּבֶ֤גֶד כִּלְאַ֙יִם֙ שַֽׁעַטְנֵ֔ז לֹ֥א יַעֲלֶ֖ה עָלֶֽיךָ׃ You shall observe My laws. You Continue Reading »

Killing Killers: Is the Death Penalty Good for the Jews?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, November 2, 2016

  There is significant tension in the Torah literature regarding the death penalty. On one hand, the written Torah clearly supports the use of the death penalty although it is not so clear why. On the other hand, the Rabbis seem to be uncomfortable with it, apparently out of concerns for judicial error and perhaps Continue Reading »

Should Torah be a Choice?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, October 7, 2016

Although voluntary buy-in is a more motivational incentive than extrinsic reward and certainly more than threat of punishment, there may still be good reason to insist that Jewish education and general keeping of mitzvot be mandatory and not a choice. Declaring something as mandatory emphasizes its importance, and, despite emotional objections, it can help ingrain Continue Reading »

Does the Torah Make You Wise?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, October 6, 2016

It may seem odd to us that people would ask a rabbi who to marry or vote for, but the Torah, in fact, does have reference to all aspects of our lives and the experts in Torah may well have wisdom and advice to impart in all areas of our lives. This is contingent on Continue Reading »

What is a Halakhic Jewish Identity?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, October 6, 2016

Apart from the “Shema Yisra’el” with which we are so familiar, Parshat Va’etchanan has three other instances where we see similar instructions for Israel to listen. What do the Other Shema Yisraels have that our Shema doesn’t. Considering their emphasis, wouldn’t it be better to recite them twice daily rather than our Shema? What does our Shema Continue Reading »

Why Do We Light?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 13, 2016

  The purpose of lighting Hanukkah candles is פרסומי ניסא which translates into creating a communal feeling of participating in the miracle. This participation needs to be more tangible than it is right now. I offer two ways of making פרסומי ניסא relevant. One, that we need to let Hanukkah be a reminder that we Continue Reading »

What Exactly is Our Responsibility to Immigrants?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 12, 2016

It seems clear from biblical sources that all resident aliens, whether legal or illegal, still receive the protections afforded to the גר. However, it is equally clear that גרים, whether legal or illegal, are considered second class citizens and not entitled to all of the protections of full citizens. The consideration that once immigrants reach Continue Reading »

A Tale of Two Seders: Are We Defined by Law or Narrative?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 12, 2016

The question of studying halakha vs. telling the story at Seder Pesach influences the way we understand our own obligation to know and study the halakha. It is clear that the halakha tells us to tell the story and does not tell us to study the halakhot. Based on the discussion of the four sons Continue Reading »

Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat? Jewish Identity and the Mitzvot of Pesach.

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 12, 2016

Although there are parts of Pesach and the Seder that are exclusive, their true purpose is to bond the Jewish people together more closely as a unit. Recent research about addiction indicates that social alienation and lack of feeling bonded, a part of something, makes people deeply vulnerable to addiction as well as other social Continue Reading »