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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

Where Does Ma’aser Kesafim Come From, and What Can it Be Used For?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 26, 2019

Can I use my ma’aser kesafim, tithes from my income, to contribute to my synagogue’s building campaign, and can I use it to pay my shul’s membership dues? The idea of tithing is alluded to in this week’s parasha.  We are told that Yitzchak, “Sowed in that land and received in that year a hundredfold, and God blessed him” (Gen.…

Sukkahs in the Wind

Question: Given the strong winds that we have been experiencing, is it permissible to take down the sukkah on Hol HaMoed to prevent it from being damaged or from causing injury?  If I do take it down, am I exempt from eating in a sukkah, or do I have to find a sukkah that is still up?…

Do My Kids Really Need Their OWN Lulav and Esrog?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l (1895-1986) was the preeminent posek for North American Jewry for most of the 20th century, both for the yeshivish and Modern Orthodox communities. Rav Moshe was born in Russia in 1895, where he served as rabbi making great personal sacrifices on behalf of his community until he emigrated to the U.S.…

When to NOT Ask for Forgiveness

Rav Binyamin Yehoshua Zilber zt”l was a major Haredi posek of the previous generation. He studied in Brisk and at a satellite yeshiva of Novardok in his youth, eventually making aliyah to become one of the first students at Yeshivat Beit Yosef-Novardok in Bene Brak.…

A Striving Grounded in Reality

Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss hy”d was a highly-regard Hungarian rabbi before the Second World War. He served as the Rav of Odleburg and then of Verbo. In his time, he was well known for the breadth of his knowledge; his teacher, the Shevet Sofer, is said to have referred to him as “my very own bookcase.” He was also well versed in kabbalah, and was distinctive in forging relationships with hassidic rebbes in this period.…

One Nation, under God, with Liberty and Justice For All

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 19, 2019

The issue of who can be seen as a full member of the community arises at the beginning of this week’s parasha and is revisited at the outset of the next. In the opening of Ki Tavo, we read of two mitzvot that apply when a person harvests the produce of the land: the mitzvah of bikkurim, or first fruits, and the mitzvah of viduy ma’aser, the declaration made when a person distributes what remains of his tithes at the end of three years. …

Time to Check the Mezuzot?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 23, 2019

The mitzvah of mezuzah appears at the end of this week’s parasha in what we know of as the second paragraph of Shema: “And you shall write them (these words) on the doorposts of your house and of your gates.” (Deut.…

The Afternoon Antidote to Our Distracted Lives

by Rabbi Aaron Frank
Posted on July 25, 2019

From the decreasing productivity of the workplace, to bad decisions by drivers leading to tragic accidents, distraction is an issue that challenges each of us and our society each and every day. One need look no further than Google (another place where we get distracted…) to see that there is an entire body of literature all focused on trying to find solutions to this massive concern.…

For the Entire Congregation is Holy

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 3, 2019

The Korach story, in which Aharon’s right to the priesthood was challenged, ends with the Torah enumerating the special priestly gifts that to which the Kohanim are entitled (Bamidbar 18:8-20).  On this special status of the priesthood, the Sifrei comments: “There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of kingship, and the crown of the priesthood.…

Accepting the Mitzvot as a Convert: Does it Matter What You’re Really Thinking?

Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Shmelkes (1828-1904) was one of the leading rabbis in the latter part of the 19th century in Eastern Europe. He was the head of the rabbinical court in Lvov (Lemberg) from 1869-1893. His Beit Yiẓḥak (6 vols., 1875–1908), on the four parts of the Shulkḥan Arukh, was widely acclaimed. …

Establishing Halakhic Marriage Norms in the New State

Rabbi Yitzhak Isaak Halevi Herzog (1888-1959) was Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of the State of Israel at the time of its founding. He had previously served as Chief Rabbi of Ireland, until he succeeded Rav Kook in 1936. Aside from his work in developing the institutions of the Israeli Rabbinate, he is most famous for his doctorate on the proper identification of tekhelet.…

Ashrei: How the Bible Becomes Prayer

by Dean Rachel Friedman Posted on April 17, 2019