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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Halakha & Modernity

Worshipping God with the Physical

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 4, 2021

What was the sin of the golden calf and why does it matter to us today?  The commentators are divided as to the nature of the sin. For some, the golden calf was the worship of a new god, a rejection of the God who redeemed them from Egypt.…

Are Our Days Numbered? Is the Omer a Dangerous Time?

Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapira (1868-1937) was the head of the rabbinical court of Mukachevo in western Ukraine and the third Rebbe of the Munkacs Chassidic dynasty. His father, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapira, the second Munkacser Rebbe, was the author of the Darkhe Teshuva, an important halakhic work, and his great-great grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov, was the author of the classic Chasidic work Benei Yissaschar.…

Guide for an Afternoon Purim Seudah Going into Shabbat Dinner (pores mapah u’mikadesh)

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Why is the Temple Not a Golden Calf?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 18, 2021

What’s the difference between the making of the egel ha’zahav (golden calf) and the building of the mishkan (the Tabernacle)?  When it comes to the building of the Temple, our Rabbis teach that God is not primarily to be found on the mountaintop, where Avraham encountered God.…

If the Medium Is the Message, What’s the Message?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 11, 2021

When the Children of Israel stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, they famously declared “נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע – na’aseh ve’nishma – We will do and we will listen.” (Exodus 24:7). This phrase appears at the end of parshat Mishpatim, after all the laws that followed the Ten Commandments.…

The Discernment of Outsiders

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 4, 2021

Can someone from the outside see better than those on the inside? The word that introduces and is the catalyst for Yitro’s advice to Moshe is va’yar, to see -. “וַיַּרְא חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה – Moshe’s father-in-law saw.” (Exodus 18:14) This seeing is not merely observing.…

What Do We Mean By Faith?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 29, 2021

After the dramatic scene of the Egyptians being drowned in the Yam Suf, the Torah tells us, “Bnei Yisrael saw what the mighty hand that God had done in Egypt, וַיַּאֲמִינוּ בַּה’ וּבְמֹשֶׁה עַבְדּוֹ – and they believed in God and in Moshe, his servant.”…

Covid-19, Corona

Commemorating the Corona

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 22, 2021

Memory – not only the act of remembering, but nurturing and sustaining memory – is central to the Jewish ethos. “Zakhor” – you shall remember: remember what Amalek did; remember how you angered God; remember what God did to Miriam; remember the Sabbath day; remember when you stood at Mt Sinai; and of course, remember the day you were redeemed from Egypt.…

cow in field , cow with flowers

Preserving the Cistern: Seeing the Earth as a Resource for All

Rabbi Shemuel ben Moshe de Medina (1505-1589) was Rosh HaYeshiva of the Thessaloniki yeshiva which produced some of the most important scholars and halakhic decisors of the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, he also served as the Av Beit Din, and in this role he was known for his humility and scholarship.…

Silence; sculpture of face holding finger up to mouth for in a library

The Sound of Silence

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2020

A major theme in this week’s parsha is silence. Without a doubt, there is much talking – endless talking in fact. Yehuda begs Yosef to free Binyamin; Yosef breaks down and reveals all to his brothers. Yosef commands his brothers return with a message to their father; the brothers tell Yaakov that Yosef is still alive; G-d speaks to Yaakov; Yosef tells Pharaoh his brothers have arrived and prepares his brothers for that meeting, and on and on. …

old hands; black and white hands; holding hands

Preparing for Our Final Moments

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2020

How can we leave behind a blessing once we are gone? “Va’yechi” – and he lived. Yaakov has come to the fullness of his life and knows that he will soon die. He calls Yosef to his bedside and broaches a subject that maybe Yosef would have preferred to avoid – his death, and the burial arrangements that must follow.…

vaccine-shot, needle

Should I Make a Brakha When Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Question: Do I make a brakha when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot or when it begins to be distributed in my city? If so, what brakha?   Answer: We should start by noting that the question you are asking is a halakhic one regarding the specific formulaic blessing of the Barukh atah nature.…