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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Belief & Observance

etrogim at market

Can I Compost My Etrog After Sukkot?

western wall

The Mitzvah of Hakhel Today

Every seven years, during the holiday of Sukkot following shemitah, the Torah states that the Jewish people are to hold a ceremony known as hakhel, perhaps best translated as gathering. The ceremony entails a public reading of several sections of the Torah from Devarim, with the goal that those present will “hear and learn to revere your God and observe faithfully every word of this teaching” (Devarim 31:12).…

etrogim at market

The Mitzvah of Lulav in Jerusalem Today

All three pilgrimage festivals were centered around the experience of being at the Temple during the holiday. Whereas each person was required to offer a sacrifice for the festival, on Sukkot other unique rituals also took place at the Temple over the seven days of the holiday.…

hanging lightbulbs

An Electric Light for Havdalah After Yom Kippur?

With the advent of electricity in the last century, halakha has faced many new questions unknown to our ancestors. Countless teshuvot and books have been written attempting to analyze the nature of electricity and how it should be conceptualized within halakhic categories.…

shofar sitting on a granite countertop

Speaking During Mussaf: To Correct or Not To Correct?

On each day of Rosh HaShanah the shofar is blown no fewer than one hundred times in synagogue. The first thirty blasts before the mussaf service are known as tekiot d’meyushav, while the last seventy blasts blown during and after mussaf are known as tekiot d’meumad.…

animation of the temple burning and the hebrew words for tisha b'av

Should Children Mourn the Loss of the Temple?

Anyone who has spent time at a Jewish summer camp has inevitably confronted questions regarding what children should or shouldn’t do in the weeks preceding Tisha B’Av and on Tisha B’Av itself. From the 17th of Tammuz, many Ashkenazim have the custom not to shave or conduct weddings, and beginning with Rosh Chodesh Av, there are additional customs such as refraining from bathing, laundering one’s clothes, and listening to live music.…

a page from a work of lurianic kabbalah

The Study of Kabbalah

The well-known custom of staying up all night on Shavuot to study Torah originated as a kabbalistic practice with roots in the Zohar. Every Shavuot, the Zohar explains, God marries the Jewish people once again, and the study of Torah beautifies the shechina (divine presence) before the marriage ceremony is to commence.…

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?…

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.…

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.…