Today is May 18, 2022 / /

The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

chips aisle in a grocery store

Chametz She’Avar Alav HaPesach 

QUESTION  Westchester, NY  I have some חמץ שעבר עליו את הפסח. My school is doing a food drive this week. Can I donate my חמץ without concern for הנאה? The food drive is also a competition between classes. If I put it in one of the class boxes, would that be a problem?…

Kosher Signs Lead to a Kosher Life

by eliyoggev
Posted on March 24, 2022

This week in Parshat Shmini, we learn the signs of a kosher animal. The Torah tells us that we may eat any land animal that has split hooves and chews their cud (Lev. 11:3). We do not know the deeper reasons behind the mitzvot, but there is a way to understand these laws of kashrut that really speaks to me.…

the word Ha! scattered over a white background

Purim Parodies: Permitted or Past Nicht?

Purim is distinguished by being a day in which all norms appear to be turned upside down. As it says in the megillah, “The very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them into their power, the opposite happened [venahafokhhu], and the Jews got the enemy into their power…The days were transformed [nepakh lahem] for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy” (Esther 9:1, 22).…

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.…