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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

the word Ha! scattered over a white background

Purim Parodies: Permitted or Past Nicht? Copy

Purim is distinguished by being a day in which all norms appear to be turned upside down. As it says in the megillah, “The very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them into their power, the opposite happened [venahafokhhu], and the Jews got the enemy into their power…The days were transformed [nepakh lahem] for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy” (Esther 9:1, 22).…

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.…

What does memory have to do with belief in God?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 21, 2022

For some people, belief comes easily. From a young age they have believed in God, and that has remained a constant throughout their lives. For others, not so much. There are those who have always struggled with belief. There are those who believed in God in the past, but now find that they have serious doubts and questions and that belief eludes them. …

Fire in the Bronx and the Pillar of Fire

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 14, 2022

I had the privilege the other night to be at a vigil in the Bronx held opposite the building where the recent terrible tragedy occurred, the raging fire that claimed the lives of 19 souls, many of whom were children. What was remarkable that evening was how many of the speakers referenced God: “God is with us,” “God loves us,” “God loves the children.”…

ancient well ruins in a desert underneath blue sky with a few puffy white clouds

In Praise of Yitzchak

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 4, 2021

Who was Yitzchak? What was his life about, and what was the lasting legacy that he left for future generations? The first verse of Parshat Toldot contains the answer: “These are the generations of Yitzchak, the son of Avraham: Avraham fathered Yitzchak” (Gen.…

abraham's servant approaching rebecca at the well in a renaissance-era painting

Was Rivka a Feminist?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 28, 2021

That question is, of course, anachronistic. A close reading of this week’s parsha and later parashot, however, reveals that Rivka’s marriage to Yitzchak—as well as Rachel and Leah’s marriages to Yaakov, and most likely Sarah’s marriage to Avraham—brought into the Jewish family a woman’s voice and role that might otherwise have been absent.…

section of ancient amidah text in faded ink in hebrew on parchent or scroll

Our God, or God of Our Forefathers?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 14, 2021

The Amidah prayer opens with a blessing about the forefathers. It begins like this: “Blessed are you God, Our God, God of our forefathers,” and it then continues to name those forefathers explicitly: “God of Avraham, God of Yitzchak, God of Yaakov.”…

painting featuring a giraffe, tiger, and elephant with trees and blue sky in the background. cheerful painting. angel hovers over the giraffe at the back of the line of the three animals.

What Will You Create?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 30, 2021

The Torah opens with God creating the world during the Six Days of Creation. Then follows Shabbat: va’yakhulu haShamayim, “And the Heavens and Earth, and all their hosts were completed.” Every Friday night, we open kiddush by reciting this verse and the verses that follow.…

a very realistic oil painting featuring a beautifulb bright red tree in autumn. a grassy walkway sits to the left. on the left side of the tree (our left) we see a bright yellow sunset. on the right side, the sky is a purple-y blue and some branches are barren. the hay on the ground is golden and red- it's a majestic fall scene.

Shmini Atzeret: The Yom Tov of Follow-Through

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 23, 2021

Shmini Atzeret is a hard holiday to understand. It has its own identity and its own name. It is Shmini, the eighth day of Sukkot, and it is a day of “atzeret,” of gathering. But what is that supposed to mean?…

young boy in a white t-shirt blowing a shofar with a black background

Atonement and Sacrifice Copy

In the days of the Beit HaMikdash, one achieved atonement through two key rituals: vidui (confession) and the offering of korbanot (sacrifices). Although each one could be viewed as a separate act, both pieces were fundamentally brought together by the kohen gadol, or high priest, on Yom Kippur. …

young boy in a white t-shirt blowing a shofar with a black background

Atonement and Sacrifice

In the days of the Beit HaMikdash, one achieved atonement through two key rituals: vidui (confession) and the offering of korbanot (sacrifices). Although each one could be viewed as a separate act, both pieces were fundamentally brought together by the kohen gadol, or high priest, on Yom Kippur. …