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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

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 »

Should Mordechai Have Bowed?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 9, 2016

The Peshat of the Megillah is that Mordechai didn’t bow to Haman because of personal rivalry, family hostility, and ethnic pride. I seriously question, considering the consequences, if these reasons are justified. In other words, if that’s the only reason he didn’t want to bow, he really should have. However, Chazal say that maybe the Continue Reading »

What’s Wrong with a Corporeal God?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 9, 2016

The idea that plain matter can be imbued with divine essence is a fundamentally dangerous doctrine according to the Torah. It leads to the fallacy that matter, and particularly humans can speak with the divine voice. This is problematic both from a practical and a theological point of view. Beside the fact that it makes Continue Reading »

All that Glitters…

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, September 9, 2016

The building of the Mishkan naturally raises the question of why God needs all that gold and silver. What happened to מזבח אדמה תעשו לי? And if God doesn’t need it, is it to address a human need? And if that is true, why is there so little “splendor” in our בתי כנסת today? Ramban, Continue Reading »