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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: God, Faith, Religiosity & Prayer

Holy War

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on August 15, 2016

Now in the third parasha of Bamidbar, the Children of Israel have not moved since the middle of Shemot. God has descended upon Mount Sinai, proclaimed the Ten Commandments, laid the civil laws before all, and commanded the building of the Mishkan and its attendant laws.…

Bringing Spirituality Into the Synagogue

by Rabbi Avi Weiss Posted on July 5, 2016

The purpose of this paper is to bring a particular approach to spirituality. There are other models. Still, it is an understanding that I have found to be of meaning, and one steeped in Jewish sources. We will analyze spirituality by first defining the term; second, offering a pathway to achieve spirituality; third, suggesting ways to bring spirituality into the synagogue; finally, outlining what rabbis need to do to bring spirituality into their communities.…

The Meaning of the Word Kadosh

by Rabbi Avi Weiss Posted on May 21, 2016

How does one attain the status of kedusha (holiness), commanded in parshat Kedoshim? (Leviticus 19:2) Some maintain that the pathway to holiness is to separate from the real world. Suppressing the body is the only way the soul can soar. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik points out that this is the predominant approach of most faith communities.…

Holy Imperfection

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on May 5, 2016

Acharei-Mot details the special avodah, the sacrificial rites, that the High Priest performed on Yom Kippur to affect atonement for the Jewish people. However, as the Vilna Gaon noted in Kol Eliyahu, the Torah only introduces the connection to Yom Kippur at the very end of the lengthy description of this special avodah.…

Building a Space for God – and for Us

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 10, 2016

The building of the Mishkan is finally completed as the book of Shemot draws to a close. This climax has been in the making for a long while; practically half of Shemot is devoted to the commands and building of the Mishkan.…

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 3, 2016

After the dramatic and potentially catastrophic events of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the Tablets, God’s wrath and Moshe’s prayer, God’s revelation of God’s Glory to Moshe, the re-giving of the Tablets, and the rays of light emanating from Moshe’s face, parashat Vayakhel returns to the disrupted narrative stream: the commanding and the building of the Mishkan. …

From Promise to Practice

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on February 11, 2016

During the events of the Giving of the Torah, the Children of Israel have been pretty passive. When asked for their assent to the Torah before and after it was given they responded, “We will do.” and they participated in a ceremony marking their covenant with God.…

Speaking is Believing

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on January 13, 2016

The first mitzvah that the Children of Israel are given is that of sanctifying the new moon. “HaChodesh hazeh lachem rosh chadashim,” “this month, the month of Nissan, shall be for you the first of the months.” Why of all mitzvot was this one given first?…

Piety and Power – A Combustible Mix

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 10, 2015

The gemara asks, “What is Chanukah?” (Tractate Shabbat, 21b). The answer given is well known: the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. But according to Maharal, this answer makes no sense (Hidushei Aggadot, ad loc.). First, since when do we have holidays to celebrate miracles?…

Passionate Judaism or Rational Judaism?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 30, 2015

Do we want a religion of fire or ice, of passionate religious fervor or sober, detached rationality? In many ways, Modern Orthodoxy has chosen the latter. This goes beyond an emphasis on the intellectual, on prizing Talmudic scholarship and broad academic achievement.…

Wanted: Partners, Not Followers

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 21, 2015

Avraham and Noach stand in stark contrast to one another. Noach was a follower. He did what he was told, exactly what he was told, no more and no less. He was told to build an ark, “and Noach did all that God had commanded him” (Bereishit, 6:22).…

More Kingship, Less Judgment

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 10, 2015

Rosh Hashanah is a Yom HaDin, a Day of Judgment. We will stand before God, and God will take measure of our deeds of the past year. This characterization of the day opens and frames the Zikhronot of Musaf: “Atah zokher ma’aseh olam, u’foked kol yitzurei kedem,” “You, God, remember the deeds of everyone in the world, and recall all those from previous times … and regarding the countries it will be said which is for sword and which is for peace, which is for hunger and which for abundance, and all creatures are recalled, to be remembered for life or for death.” We engage in the process of teshuvah because of this impending judgment, assessing our behavior, owning up to our wrongs, feeling true remorse for our sins and misdeeds, and making an honest commitment to act differently in the future.…