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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

What’s So Bad About Chametz?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on April 13, 2017)

What is so bad about chametz?   On Pesach, not only may we not eat it, we may not derive any benefit from it, and we may not even own it.   And before Pesach we must search it out and destroy it.  What is this all about? A classic approach is to see chametz as representing Continue Reading »

How a Baby Is Made

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on December 8, 2016)


How is a Baby Made?  More specifically, what determines the future characteristics of the child?  One answer emerges from the story of Yaakov’s breeding of the sheep, an answer that seems to be endorsed by the Talmud: a child’s character is shaped by what the mother and father were thinking and doing at the time Continue Reading »

Don’t Just Do Something; Stand There!

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on December 2, 2016)

In many ways, Yitzchak’s life parallels that of Avraham.  He travels to a foreign land to avoid a famine where he then claims that his wife is his sister to prevent her abduction and is subsequently blessed with great wealth.  He renews the covenant that Avraham made with Avimelekh, affirming his role as Avraham’s heir.  Continue Reading »

Speaking Truth to Power

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on November 23, 2016)

Our responsibility to speak truth to power and protect victims of injustice, whether Jew or non-Jew, is a major theme of one of the central stories of parashat VaYeira, the story of Avraham arguing with God to defend Sodom and Amorah.  This scene is powerful not only because Avraham challenges God, but also because Avraham Continue Reading »

Speaking is Believing

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on November 22, 2016)

After the climactic event of the akeida, the Torah turns its attention to more quotidian matters: the death and burial of Sarah and the finding of a wife for Yitzchak.  In this shift, a number of the major characters move off the scene.  Not only Sarah and Avraham, but God as well.  In our parasha, God is neither Continue Reading »

Why Did God Test Avraham?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on November 18, 2016)

Why did God test Avraham with the command to offer Yitzchak as a sacrifice?  This is really two questions. First, what purpose was the akeidah meant to serve? And second, how could God have commanded such a reprehensible act, implicitly condoning murder, even if the plan was to retract the command all along? Midrash Tanhuma Continue Reading »

Avraham the Weaver

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on November 10, 2016)

  I have recently begun learning Midrash Tanchuma weekly with Rabbi Avi Weiss, and this week, I share some reflections on the two opening passages of Midrash Tanhuma to parashat Lekh Lekha.   In the middle of the first passage, the Midrash portrays a classic rabbinic image of Avraham as a devout Jew who kept Continue Reading »

A Lesson in Listening

by Michelle Friedman, MD
(Posted on November 7, 2016)

In this week’s portion we come across a striking word usage that occurs only twice in Torah, both times in Bamidbar, the Book of Numbers. The phrase changes slightly, Lama nigara, lama yigara, translated as “Why should we/it be lessened/diminished,” and is found in what appears to be two disparate stories. On closer examination, the Continue Reading »

Noah, Superman and Global Warming

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on November 2, 2016)

God creates a perfect, self-sustaining planet, teaming with life. God places human beings in it and gives them seemingly divine powers: rule over all living things, and the ability to build, create, transform, and take mastery over the entire planet (Breishit 1:28-29). God demands from them only that they accept some limits and understand that Continue Reading »

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

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
(Posted on 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 »

Who Wants to Hear a Story?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on October 31, 2016)

  “Why,” asks Rashi, in his first comment on the Torah, “did the Torah not start with the verse, ‘This month is for you the first of months,’ (Shemot 12:2), the first mitzvah in the Torah given to the children of Israel?” If the purpose of the Torah is to tell us the mitzvot and Continue Reading »

Standing Again at Sinai

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
(Posted on October 10, 2016)

In one of his last instructions to the children of Israel, Moshe commands the people in the mitzvah of hakhel, a public reading of the Torah to take place once every seven years.  All the people are to be present: “Gather the nation: the men, the women, and the children, and the stranger who is Continue Reading »

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