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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

Symmetry in Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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.…

Is a Father Obligated to Perform His Son’s Brit Milah?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 16, 2009

In discussing the nature of the father’s obligation to give his son a bris, we encounter a question: is the father obligated to perform the bris himself (if possible), or only to take the responsibility to make sure that the bris is performed?…

Sotah as an Issue of Paternity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 14, 2009

Masekhet Sotah primarily focuses on the parsha in the Torah regarding a woman whose husband suspects her of adultery (Bamidbar 5:11-31). It is fascinating to see how Chazal’s understanding of Sotah differs from the simple sense of the psukim. This issue has been explored by various scholars, in particular Moshe Halbertal and Judith Hauptman, who point out that in Chazal’s understanding the process is one which is more based on objective fact (observed seclusion following a warning) rather than on the husband’s capricious suspicions.…

Prayer for the Slain and Injured at the Gay Community Center in Tel Aviv

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on August 14, 2009

This prayer expresses grief and sorrow over the horrific and murderous attack at the gay Community Center in Tel Aviv on August 1, 2009 and the heightened sense of responsibility and obligation that all Jews and communities, across the denominations, must share in response.…