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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Gender, Marriage & Family

Explaining the Laws of Family Purity

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Why is there a time of physical separation between husband and wife every month – a law found in this week’s Torah portion? (Leviticus 15) To be sure, a mandate ought be observed no matter – but is there a rationale?…

A Marriage of Equals?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 19, 2015

In the Torah story of Avraham’s servant and his interaction with Rivka, her brother, and her mother, we saw that society in Padan Aram had an unusual family structure. As a matrilineal society, households were comprised of the children of the same mother, and the head of the household was the mother’s oldest brother, perhaps at times working in conjunction with the matriarch.…

Was Rivka a (Gasp!) Feminist?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 4, 2015

When Avraham charges his servant to find a wife for Yitzchak, the servant asks a strange question: “Perhaps the woman will not desire to follow me to this land. Should I return your son to the land which you came from?”…

Two Stages of Marriage

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 12, 2010

As is well known, there are two stages of marriage, kiddushin and nissuin. Kiddushin is referred to in the Torah as erusin, and nissuin is referred to as either kicha, taking (“Who is the man who has betrothed a woman and not taken her” – Deut 20:7) or beulat ba’al, a woman who has had sex with her husband (see Deut 22:22-23).…

Kiddushin as a Speech Act

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 29, 2010

The act of kiddushin, the giving of the ring, is accompanied by a verbal statement – harei at mekudeshet li bi’taba’at zo ki’dat Moshe vi’Yisrael, “behold you are betrothed to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moshe and Israel.”…

Kiddushin: Acquisition or Partnership?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 22, 2010

When studying kiddushei kesef – kiddushin through the giving of an object of value – one must ask: is kiddushin is an actual kinyan, act of acquisition, or not? The two sides of this question can be seen in the development of the practice of giving a ring.…

Symmetry in Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 11, 2009

The mitzvah of onah, the mitzvah of marital sex, raises the issue of the symmetry or asymmetry of the halakhically-defined sexual relationship. The Gemara discusses at length the husband’s obligation to have sex with his wife (at regular intervals or when she indicates that she is interested) based on the Biblical obligation of onah.…

Two Approaches to Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 4, 2009

The mitzvah onah, the mitzvah of marital sex, is defined in the mishna in Ketuvot as fixed, regular times that a husband must have sex with his wife. However, another definition emerges from other Talmudic passages – that the husband must have sex with his wife when he sees that she desires it, and this is referred to as lisameyach et ishto bi’dvar mitzvah, to give pleasure to his wife with this mitzvah act.…

Hilkoht Niddah: Welcoming Mikvehs

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 20, 2009

The source of tvilah, immersion, is complex. Interestingly, the Torah never states explicitly that a niddah, zavah, or a woman who has given birth has to immerse in order to become tahor, ritually pure, although it is assumed throughout the Talmud that this requirement exists and that it is Biblical.…

Tzniut: Whose Obligation?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 6, 2009

The topics of hirhurim and tzniut, of illicit sexual thoughts and modesty, have deep implication. The Gemara (e.g., Avoda Zara 20b, Berakhot 24a) focuses on the man’s sexual thoughts as potentially resulting from seeing or looking lustfully at women, but does not address the issue of women’s sexual thoughts.…

Women in the Synagogue – the Mechitza and the Ezrat Nashim

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 30, 2009

Regarding mechitza we find 3 models in the achronim. There are those that say that it is to prevent kalut rosh – levity (based on the Gemara in Sukkah regarding the simchat beit HaShoyeva, the festival on Sukkot for the water drawing).…

Chuppah and Har Sinai

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 6, 2009

When we move from sefer Vayikra to sefer Bamidbar, we are finally moving away from Har Sinai, where Bnei Yisrael have been for almost a year. From the middle of Shemot through the end of Vayikra, they have been encamped at the foot of Har Sinai, having received the Torah, mitzvot and the laws, and then all the laws of the Kohanim, through Kedoshim and Behar Bichukotai.…