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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

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. …

Crying on Rosh Hashanah Copy

Though rarely spoken about, one of the more fascinating themes of Rosh Hashanah is that of tears. The haftarah of the first day recounts the story of Elkanah and his wives Chana and Penina. Each year, they make the trek to Shilo to bring offerings to God, and each year Chana is mocked by Penina for not having children.…

Crying on Rosh Hashanah Copy

Though rarely spoken about, one of the more fascinating themes of Rosh Hashanah is that of tears. The haftarah of the first day recounts the story of Elkanah and his wives Chana and Penina. Each year, they make the trek to Shilo to bring offerings to God, and each year Chana is mocked by Penina for not having children.…

Men and Women Standing at Sinai

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 10, 2021

One of the last mitzvot in the Torah is that of Hakhel, the “gathering together.” On Sukkot following the Shemitah year–the year in which we find ourselves right now–the people would all come together so that, standing as one, they would be fully present as individuals and as a complete community to hear the Torah being read.…

God Is King. What Does That Mean for Us?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 2, 2021

What is the meaning of Rosh HaShanah as a day of kingship? The idea of kingship is central to Rosh HaShanah. In the third blessing of Shmoneh Eisrei, starting with Rosh HaShanah and moving all the way through Yom Kippur, we say that God is not HaEl HaKadosh, “Holy God,” but rather HaMelech HaKadosh, or “Holy King.”…

a headshot of rabbi linzer smiling with a library in the background

Rosh HaShanah 5782 Greetings: A Letter from Rabbi Dov Linzer

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 2, 2021

Dear Friends, Lately, I find myself thinking about breath.  We breathe–and punctuate those breaths–in order to make the distinct sounds of the shofar when we blow it on Rosh HaShanah. As Rosh HaShanah marks the first day of God’s Creation of the World, I also think about the Divine breath that “hovered over the water,” before the Divine speech brought light into the world.…