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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

Formalism and Reality in Hilkhot Niddah

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on February 5, 2010

One of the lesser well-known laws of niddah requires that husband and wife separate from sex on the day (or night) that the wife is expecting to get her period. This day is called the veset, and this requirement is learned from the verse “And you shall separate the Children of Israel from their impurity” (Lev.…

Kiddushin as a Speech Act

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 29, 2010

The act of kiddushin, the giving of the ring, is accompanied by a verbal statement – harei at mekudeshet li bi’taba’at zo ki’dat Moshe vi’Yisrael, “behold you are betrothed to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moshe and Israel.” On the face of it, this expression would appear to be nothing more than an expression of intent, and not an actual constituent part of the act of kiddushin.…

Kiddushin: Acquisition or Partnership?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 22, 2010

When studying kiddushei kesef – kiddushin through the giving of an object of value – one must ask: is kiddushin is an actual kinyan, act of acquisition, or not? The two sides of this question can be seen in the development of the practice of giving a ring.…

Birkhat Eirusin: Birkhat Ha’Mitzvah or Birkhat Ha’Shevach?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 15, 2010

Birkhat eirusin, the blessing made prior to the giving of the ring, is directly tied to how we define the religious significance of the institution of marriage. Regarding the brakha itself, the Talmud (Ketuvot 7b) records the text of the brakha and a debate as to whether we close it with a final brakha (which is our practice).…

Symmetry in Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 11, 2009

The mitzvah of onah, the mitzvah of marital sex, raises the issue of the symmetry or asymmetry of the halakhically-defined sexual relationship. The Gemara discusses at length the husband’s obligation to have sex with his wife (at regular intervals or when she indicates that she is interested) based on the Biblical obligation of onah.…

Two Approaches to Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 4, 2009

The mitzvah onah, the mitzvah of marital sex, is defined in the mishna in Ketuvot as fixed, regular times that a husband must have sex with his wife. However, another definition emerges from other Talmudic passages – that the husband must have sex with his wife when he sees that she desires it, and this is referred to as lisameyach et ishto bi’dvar mitzvah, to give pleasure to his wife with this mitzvah act.…

Hilkoht Niddah: Welcoming Mikvehs

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on November 20, 2009

The source of tvilah, immersion, is complex. Interestingly, the Torah never states explicitly that a niddah, zavah, or a woman who has given birth has to immerse in order to become tahor, ritually pure, although it is assumed throughout the Talmud that this requirement exists and that it is Biblical.…

Hilkhot Niddah: Bedikot of Shiva Nikkiyim

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on November 13, 2009

In hilkhot Niddah, the topic of bedikat shiva nikkiyim – the internal checking that a woman does during the seven days after cessation of bleeding – raises important questions. In general, it is a question how relevant the Brisker approach to learning – an approach which posits a chakira, two competing conceptual definitions of a law, and then makes all debates dependent on this question – is relevant to the world of halakha.…

‘Invisible Disability’ Kids Are Being Left Out

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on November 11, 2009

by Dov Linzer And Devorah Zlochower The Jewish Week, Op-Ed November 10, 2009 We are the parents of two children with what are often termed “invisible disabilities.” Invisible disabilities can include learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and Asperger’s syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome and other tic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders, mood disorders and behavioral disorders.…

Tzniut: Whose Obligation?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on November 6, 2009

The topics of hirhurim and tzniut, of illicit sexual thoughts and modesty, have deep implication. The Gemara (e.g., Avoda Zara 20b, Berakhot 24a) focuses on the man’s sexual thoughts as potentially resulting from seeing or looking lustfully at women, but does not address the issue of women’s sexual thoughts.…

Women in the Synagogue – the Mechitza and the Ezrat Nashim

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on October 30, 2009

Regarding mechitza we find 3 models in the achronim. There are those that say that it is to prevent kalut rosh – levity (based on the Gemara in Sukkah regarding the simchat beit HaShoyeva, the festival on Sukkot for the water drawing).…

Questions About Brit Milah: Donor Sperm and Shabbat

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on October 23, 2009

In studying brit milah, an interesting question arises in regards to a son who was conceived by artificial insemination by the husband. Before, we addressed the brakha of “li’hakniso b’vrito shel Avraham Avinu” that is made by the father of the son.…