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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

Two Faces of Kedusha

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 10, 2021

The Torah emphasizes time and again that the Jewish people are holy. At their birth as a covenantal people at Mt. Sinai, God declares, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). In the beginning of Parshat Kedoshim, framing chapters dense with mitzvot, we read, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev.…

Where’s Our Mesirat Nefesh?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 3, 2021

As Modern Orthodox Jews, we espouse both serious Torah study and the pursuit of secular knowledge, all in the service of God. We have both feet firmly planted in the world of tradition and we are full members of broader American society.…

Is Inclusion a Jewish Value?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 27, 2021

Is inclusion a Jewish value? The answer seems obvious. God enjoins the Israelites, “You shall have one standard for stranger and citizen alike” (Leviticus 24:22). Those who might otherwise be at the margins of society are to be equal members. My wife, however, hates the word “inclusion.”…

Living with God in Our Midst

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 13, 2021

What does it mean to live with God in our midst? God commanded the Israelites in the wilderness to build the Tabernacle, “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell amongst them” (Exodus 25:8). Interestingly, the verse does not state that God shall dwell within “it,” the Tabernacle, but rather “amongst them,” the people.…

What Do You Stand For?

Rabbi Ovadya Hedaya (1889-1969) was a rabbinic judge and kabbalist, the Sefardic rabbi of Petah Tiqua, and the recipient of the Israel Prize for Rabbinic Literature (1968). Rabbi Hedaya was born in Halab, Syria, and moved to Jerusalem at the age of nine.…

A Year of Shabbat or Shmitta? When Torah Mandates Conflict

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 7, 2021

What happens when Torah directives are in conflict with one another, particularly within the same mitzvah? The mitzvah of the shmitta year serves as a prime example of this conflict. When shmitta appears at the beginning of our parsha, it is referred to as a Shabbat.…

Family First

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 29, 2021

Does the Torah advocate or permit a person to sacrifice obligations to the family if he or she devotes himself or herself to serving God? This question comes up in the context of the giving of the Torah, which we are about to celebrate on Shavuot.…

Engagement, Not Estrangement

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 22, 2021

What does it mean to live a holy life? Kedoshim opens with the words “קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י – You shall become holy because I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). The idea of holiness could–and has–been interpreted to mean that one should separate herself from this world, just as God is elevated above and fully separate from this world.…

Sending the Sick Outside the Camp

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 15, 2021

Who are our modern-day metzoraim, the people who are pushed outside of normal society and keep distant and hidden from everyone else?  The metzora is not a leper, but he is much like one. He has a serious skin disease and is sent outside of the Israelite camp, in an area that would eventually become outside of the city walls of the Land of Israel.…

Religious Life and/or Halakha

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 8, 2021

What is the place of religious passion in the life that is dedicated to halakha? After eight days of sanctifying and inaugurating the Mishkan, a fire comes out from heaven and consumes the final sacrifices of the inauguration. The people are so overwhelmed by religious feeling that they bow down and prostrate themselves.…

Passover 5781: What Story Are We Telling?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 24, 2021

Dear Friends, I want us to ask ourselves a simple question: What is the story that we will be telling? The central mitzvah of Pesach night is maggid, to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. In many of our homes on Seder night, we will have spirited discussions and debates as we attempt to be doresh – to engage in the story, to bring our personal lens to it, exploring its meaning and relevance to us today.…

Let Them Eat…? When the Day before Pesach Is Shabbat

Rabbi Shalom Messas (1909-2003), an influential Sefardi posek, served as both the Chief Rabbi of Morocco and Jerusalem. He succeeded his longtime teacher Rabbi Yehoshua Berdugo as Chief Rabbi of Morocco in 1945 at the relatively young age of thirty six, and in 1978, he was invited by Israeli Chief Rabbi, Rav Ovadiah Yosef to become the Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Jerusalem.…