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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Ethics

How Could We be Commanded to Commit Genocide?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Posted on September 6, 2016

Amalek, as it appears in the פשט of the תנ”ך and in חז”ל and the later Midrashim is a tribe that raids others both for status and for economic necessity. The only way to be safe from a tribe with this kind of predatory culture is to destroy it entirely because any remnant will rebuild the tribe with the same rapacious culture.…

Jewish Social Justice: A Universalist Mandate?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 8, 2016

In halakha, our obligations towards the other are mostly, if not exclusively, directed towards our fellow Jews.  In other lectures [hyperlink here to Circles of Responsibility and to the Jew-Gentile lectures that are relevant], we explore to what extent there is a basis in halakha for an obligation of assistance and support towards Gentiles as well.…

Social Justice– Circles of Responsibility

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 5, 2016

The Torah in many places obligates us to take care of our “brother”.  It is clear from many verses that this word often does not mean generically “another person,” but specifically someone of our tribe – a fellow member of the people of Israel.   …

The Great Significance of the Smallest Book of the Torah

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

The words we recite when taking the Torah from the Ark are found in this week’s portion. “And it came to pass, when the Ark set forward, that Moshe (Moses) said ‘rise up O Lord and let Your enemies be scattered; and let them that hate You flee before You'” (Numbers 10:35).…

Names, Not Numbers

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 25, 2016

Over the course of two parshiyot, the Torah has described the construction of the Mishkan and the making of the priestly garments in great detail. Parashat Ki Tisa is introduced with a seemingly unrelated theme: a census of the people in which each person will pay a half-shekel.…

The Price of Freeing Captives

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 28, 2011

The following piece was written shortly after the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011. Many people found themselves asking whether Gilad’s release was worth the cost of freeing of over one thousand terrorists.  Many newspaper articles and opinion pieces were written on this topic as well, with the large majority of them coming down in favor of this decision. This topic – how high of a price to pay for securing the freedom of a captive – is actually a topic that arises in the Gemara.…

Yaakov, Striving and the Miracle of Chanukah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 11, 2009

In parshat Veyeishev, Yaakov, having finally endured the hardship and travails in the house of Lavan, and having finally returned to his homeland, the land of Canaan, and having reconciled with his brother Esav who (implicitly) agreed to relinquish his claim to the land, is now able to finally settle in the land of his fathers and to put all his troubles behind him: “And Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.”…

“And He Was Limping on his Thigh” – Paying the Cost of Integrity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 4, 2009

Parshat VaYishlach opens with Yaakov preparing to confront Esav on his return to the Land of Canaan. We, as the reader, are eager to find out not only whether Yaakov will emerge unscathed, but how Yaakov will achieve this goal. Will this encounter differ in character from his last one with Esav, twenty years ago?…

“Will the Judge of the Earth not deal justly?!” – Arguing Ethics with God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 6, 2009

Parshat Va’Yera has many powerful stories and images, but perhaps the two most powerful are the story of Avraham arguing with God to save Sodom and Amora, and the story that is climax of the parsha, Avraham offering Yitzchak up as a sacrifice.…

Shavuot: A Holiday of Communal Justice

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 6, 2009

The holiday of Shavuot is generally assumed to commemorate the giving of the Torah, which occurred on the 6th of Sivan. In the Torah, however, Shavuot is only described as an agricultural holiday and occurs not on any particular calendrical date, but at the culmination of seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest season that occurs on the second day of Pesach.…

Fire or Light?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 22, 1998

The miracle of Chanukah is commemorated and publicized by the lighting of the candles. The Talmud (Shabbat 21b) tells us that the exact practice of how to light the Chanukah candles was disputed by the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai.…

‘To Her he Shall Become Impure’ – Serving God by Leaving the Temple

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 1, 1998

The parsha of Emor centers on the sanctity of the Kohanim: their obligation not to become impure, restrictions on whom they can marry, and the conditions under which they can serve in the Temple and eat its sacrifices. The end of the parsha enumerates all the festivals of the year and the special sacrifices brought on each.…