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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

To Declare and To Confess

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on September 16, 2011

Ki Tavo opens with two rituals: the bringing of the first fruit, the bikkurim, where one declares his gratitude for God’s goodness, and the dispensing of the tithes at the end of three years where one states that he has dispensed these tithes according to the law.…

Mitzvot and their Interpretation: The Role of Values and Narrative

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on September 12, 2011

Ki Teitze is a parsha densely packed with mitzvot. A new mitzvah appears almost every few verses, and sometimes even more frequently. It is, in a way, the parshat Mishpatim or the parshat Kedoshim of Devarim. Now, of course, just because there are all these laws does not mean that it is always clear what their parameters are or how they are to be implemented.…

Selfish Kedusha and Selfless Kedusha

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on June 2, 2011

After the organizing of the camp  with the mishkan at its center – the focus on parshat Bamidbar, this parsha focuses on what it means to be outside the mishkan, to be in the camp, and to continue to orient oneself to God’s presence.…

Behar – A Society Based on Kedusha

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on May 15, 2011

How can kedusha be created outside of the Temple?  This is, in many ways, the concern of the second half of the book of Vayikra, and is in particular the concern of parshat Behar.   The goal of the Mikdash was not for God to “dwell” in the Temple, but for God to dwell among us: v’asu li mikdash, vi’shakhanti bi’tokham, “You shall make for me a Temple and I will dwell in their – the people’s – midst.” (Shemot 25:8).  …

The Universality of the Mitzvah of Kedusha

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 29, 2011

The portion of Kedoshim opens with an all-embracing imperative: “Holy shall you be, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2). The command to be holy is all-embracing in two senses: it applies to all people and it applies in all situations.…

Chametz and Matzah: The Risks and Rewards of Engaging the World

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 22, 2011

The Torah calls Passover the “Feast of Matzot” and it commands us both to eat matzot on the first night and to not eat chametz, or leavened bread, for the entire 7 day holiday. The Torah’s prohibitions regarding chametz seem inordinately severe: the punishment for eating it is greater than for eating most prohibited foods.…

Magical Mezuzahs? Not so Much

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 14, 2011

In Masechet Menachot, there is a very rich section that deals with the laws of tefillin and mezuzah.   A particular theme of interest, especially in the context of the korban Pesach, is that of the mezuzah as an object that protects the house.  …

Pesach – How to Transform the World without Losing Yourself in the Process

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 8, 2011

I would like to share that text and my reflections on a profound Sfat Emet on the topic of Pesach and personal identity.   I found this piece to be particularly meaningful in the context of my comments on parshat Metzorah.  Here is the text: כי זכירה היא נקודה פנימית שאין בה שכתה.…

The Person with Tzara’at and Objectification of the Other

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 1, 2011

In parshat Shmini, after the Mishkan was dedicated, the Kohanim were given the charge to “distinguish between the holy and the profane, and between the ritually impure and the pure” (Vayikra 10:11).  That is, they must protect the Mishkan from those who are ritually impure and thus they must know all the laws the pertain to ritual purity and impurity.…

Tzav – Two Perspectives on Korbanot

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on March 22, 2011

The beginning of parashat Tzav seems like almost an exact repeat of the beginning of parashat Vayikra.  Each parasha deals with the details and rituals of the different korbanot, and Tzav winds up seeming like merely a repeat of Vayikra. However, closer examination shows that while they deal with the same topics, they approach them from different perspectives. …

Mesechet Zevachim: Intent and Sacrifices

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on March 18, 2011

One of the major themes of Zevachim – and the one that opens mesekhet Menachot as well- is that of intent.  The concepts of shelo li’shma, intending the wrong sacrifice, and pigul, intending to eat it at the wrong time, factor very heavily throughout the mesekhet. …

Mesechet Zevachim: Torah in the Bathroom

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on February 25, 2011

The Gemara Zevachim (102b) ends its discussion of the Kohanim who are not entitled to a portion of the daily sacrifices with an analysis of R. Elazar ben R. Shimon.   We had learned that a Kohen who was tamei, and thus not able to do the avoda that day (or, according to another formulation, not able to eat the korbanot that day), was not entitled to a portion of the korbanot that evening. …