Today is January 27, 2022 / /

The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

two diverging paths in a park with tall green trees and green grass. cloudy sky. like a fairybook. ethereal quality.

When Teshuvah Seems Impossible

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 30, 2021

Is it sometimes not possible to do teshuvah?  Or at least, can it feel that way? Many commentators have noted that initially it is not God who hardens Pharaoh’s heart in the Exodus story. It is Pharaoh himself: “When Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and listened not unto them” (Ex.…

The Last Kindness

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 17, 2021

Jacob is sick and believes that he is about to die. Eager to ensure that he will be buried in the land of Canaan, he calls Joseph to his bedside and asks him for one final favor: “Do for me chesed ve-emet, kindness and truth.…

painting of joseph being begged for help from his brothers

Don’t Forgive So Fast

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 9, 2021

Psychologists and those offering religious guidance will often talk about learning to forgive those who have hurt us even if they have never—and will never—apologize. It is possible, however, to be too quick to issue that forgiveness. There are costs in rushing to forgive others.…

lit menorah with colored candles against a pitch-black background. it is beautiful

Making the Old New Again: Chanukkah 5782 Greetings from Rabbi Linzer

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 1, 2021

Recently I was asked what the halakha is if a person forgot to make the brakhah of Shechiyanu when he or she lit candles on the first night. Should they make the brakhah when they light on the second night? The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is yes (SA OH 676:1).…

fully lit menorah leaning against jerusalem stone in the neighorhood of meah shaarim as the menorah illuminates the darkness around it

Publicizing the Miracle of Chanukkah to All

According to the Talmud (Shabbat 23b), we light candles on Chanukkah to publicize the miracle of the holiday (pirsumei nisa). This goal serves to determine where and when the candles should be lit so they can be seen by the maximum number of people.…

judah bedding tamar dressed as a prostitute and veiled

Deception That’s a Truth, and Deception That’s a Lie

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 24, 2021

How do the women in the Torah navigate a patriarchal society? One very rare model is Sarah. At times, Sarah silently follows Avraham’s directions, even when he misrepresents her–twice!–as his sister.  At other times, however, she is surprisingly very direct, particularly when it comes to Hagar and Yishmael: “Take my maidservant!”…

pretty and cute cottage with a white picket fence in the mid-fall as golden leaves are falling on the trees behind the house and on the lawn in front of the house

Our House Is a Very, Very Fine House

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 11, 2021

Yaakov is the first person in the Torah who articulates the idea of a house of God. “This is nothing other,” he says upon waking up, “than the house of God and this is the gate to heaven” (Gen. 28:17). The Rabbis point out the power of that concept of a house of God and its association with Yaakov.…

ancient well ruins in a desert underneath blue sky with a few puffy white clouds

In Praise of Yitzchak

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 4, 2021

Who was Yitzchak? What was his life about, and what was the lasting legacy that he left for future generations? The first verse of Parshat Toldot contains the answer: “These are the generations of Yitzchak, the son of Avraham: Avraham fathered Yitzchak” (Gen.…

abraham's servant approaching rebecca at the well in a renaissance-era painting

Was Rivka a Feminist?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 28, 2021

That question is, of course, anachronistic. A close reading of this week’s parsha and later parashot, however, reveals that Rivka’s marriage to Yitzchak—as well as Rachel and Leah’s marriages to Yaakov, and most likely Sarah’s marriage to Avraham—brought into the Jewish family a woman’s voice and role that might otherwise have been absent.…

17th c. painting of elderly sarah presenting hagar in a red dress with one breast exposed to elderly and half-naked abraham

The “Yes, Dear” That Really Matters

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 22, 2021

The joke goes that for husbands, the most important words are not “I love you,” but “Yes, dear.” Whether for husband or wife, there are two types of “Yes, dear.” There’s a surface “Yes, dear,” and there’s a deeper “Yes, dear.”…

section of ancient amidah text in faded ink in hebrew on parchent or scroll

Our God, or God of Our Forefathers?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 14, 2021

The Amidah prayer opens with a blessing about the forefathers. It begins like this: “Blessed are you God, Our God, God of our forefathers,” and it then continues to name those forefathers explicitly: “God of Avraham, God of Yitzchak, God of Yaakov.”…

picture of a green salad with cherry tomatoes and carrots on a white plate on what looks like the table of a restaurant. looks delicious.

Parshat Noach: Why God Would Rather Just Have the Salad

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 7, 2021

The classic metaphor for America used to be that of the melting pot. People came from all different countries, cultures, backgrounds, and languages. They would come to America, and they would get homogenized and Americanized into one indistinguishable whole. Now a different metaphor has gained preeminence, and that is the metaphor of the salad bowl.…