Today is January 27, 2021 / /

The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

Covid-19, Corona

Commemorating the Corona

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 22, 2021

Memory – not only the act of remembering, but nurturing and sustaining memory – is central to the Jewish ethos. “Zakhor” – you shall remember: remember what Amalek did; remember how you angered God; remember what God did to Miriam; remember the Sabbath day; remember when you stood at Mt Sinai; and of course, remember the day you were redeemed from Egypt.…

cow in field , cow with flowers

Preserving the Cistern: Seeing the Earth as a Resource for All

Rabbi Shemuel ben Moshe de Medina (1505-1589) was Rosh HaYeshiva of the Thessaloniki yeshiva which produced some of the most important scholars and halakhic decisors of the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, he also served as the Av Beit Din, and in this role he was known for his humility and scholarship.…

Silence; sculpture of face holding finger up to mouth for in a library

The Sound of Silence

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2020

A major theme in this week’s parsha is silence. Without a doubt, there is much talking – endless talking in fact. Yehuda begs Yosef to free Binyamin; Yosef breaks down and reveals all to his brothers. Yosef commands his brothers return with a message to their father; the brothers tell Yaakov that Yosef is still alive; G-d speaks to Yaakov; Yosef tells Pharaoh his brothers have arrived and prepares his brothers for that meeting, and on and on. …

old hands; black and white hands; holding hands

Preparing for Our Final Moments

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2020

How can we leave behind a blessing once we are gone? “Va’yechi” – and he lived. Yaakov has come to the fullness of his life and knows that he will soon die. He calls Yosef to his bedside and broaches a subject that maybe Yosef would have preferred to avoid – his death, and the burial arrangements that must follow.…

vaccine-shot, needle

Should I Make a Brakha When Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Question: Do I make a brakha when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot or when it begins to be distributed in my city? If so, what brakha?   Answer: We should start by noting that the question you are asking is a halakhic one regarding the specific formulaic blessing of the Barukh atah nature.…

Sharing the Light: Is Religious Maximalism a Good Thing?

In the Time of Coronavirus

Chanukkah celebrates religious maximalism. We increase the number of lights each night to show that we will not just make do with the bare minimum of one light per night. In doing this, we remember the miracle of the oil, where the Jews at the time sought out pure oil, although impure oil would have sufficed under the circumstances.…

All your Mitzvahs in One Basket?

Rabbi Yitzchak Weiss was the Rabbi and Av Beit Din in Vrbové, western Slovakia. He was a student of Rabbi David Neumann Lackenbach, the Rabbi and Av Beit Din of Pressburg (modern day Bratislava) and a student of the Hatam Sofer.…

Hand catching rain

What Does Tein Tal u’Matar Have to Do with Julius Caesar and the Secular Date?

In the Time of Coronavirus

This Saturday night, December 5th, we will begin to add “וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה,” the prayer for rain in its right time, into our weekday Shmoneh Esrei. The key halakhot that one must know regarding this are as follows: if one forgets to add this prayer in during בָּרֵךְ עָלֵֽינוּ, they may add it in later during שְׁמַע קוֹלֵֽנוּ.…

Insiders and Outsiders

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 12, 2020

A major theme in this week’s parasha, Chayei Sarah, is the question of insiders and outsiders. How do we relate to the larger country around us? How do we relate to foreigners? This is quite relevant to the question of immigrants in a society – are their contributions to be feared or embraced?…

Yizkor

In the Time of Coronavirus

The two primary paragraphs of Yizkor — the titular “Yizkor” and the well-known “El Maleh Rachamim” — are contrasting devotions. El Maleh Rachamim requests repose. The key word is Menucha, or rest.  We ask that God grant our relative’s soul “fitting rest … a rest in the Garden of Eden … so that they rest in peace”. …

The Passion of Bride and Groom

In the Time of Coronavirus

One of the many customs of Simchat Torah is that of chatan Torah, the title given to the person who is called up to the Torah to receive the very last Aliyah of the Torah. The term chatan is an evocative one.…

Holy Imperfection

In the Time of Coronavirus

The Rabbis tell us that the mitzvah to dwell in a sukkah means that we are, for this week, to tzei midirat keva ve’sheiv bi’dirat aray –to leave our established, permanent abode and live in a temporary dwelling. In other years, I have understood the message to be that by living in a temporary dwelling we become aware that the normal stability and predictability of our lives – our established abode – is actually an illusion.…