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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Middot

One Action Can Make All of the Difference

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

In this week’s portion, Moshe (Moses) gives to the tribe of Reuven, the tribe of Gad and half of the tribe of Menasseh the entire Kingdom of Og, ruler of Bashan (Numbers 32:33). Interestingly, just before Moshe and the Israelites conquered the land of Bashan, the Torah records that God tells Moshe “fear him [Og] not” (Numbers 21:34).…

Time to Grow Up

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 28, 2016

When Bnei Yisrael receive the Torah, it is much more than a passive act; they actively enter into a brit, a covenant, with God. The brit preceded the giving of the commandments and was its framing (Shemot, 19:5-8): וְעַתָּ֗ה אִם־שָׁמ֤וֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ בְּקֹלִ֔י וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֑י וִהְיִ֨יתֶם לִ֤י סְגֻלָּה֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים כִּי־לִ֖י כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ ו וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תְּדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ז וַיָּבֹ֣א מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיִּקְרָ֖א לְזִקְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיָּ֣שֶׂם לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֖הוּ ה׃ ח וַיַּעֲנ֨וּ כָל־הָעָ֤ם יַחְדָּו֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר ה נַעֲשֶׂ֑ה וַיָּ֧שֶׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם אֶל־ה׃ And now, if you will listen to My voice, and keep My covenant, then you shall be unto Me a treasured possession from all the nations…And Moshe came and called to the elders of the nation, and he placed before them all of these things that God had commanded him.…

Change. Yes We Can?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2015

What is the interplay between character, fate, and free will? How much does the character that one is born with determine whether he or she will be good or evil? Is it ever possible to change who we are, our essential character, and if not, can we at least find a way to rise above our natural shortcomings?…

“People Talking Without Speaking”

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 17, 2015

Silence is the last word one would use to characterize the climax of the story of Yosef and his brothers. Indeed, parashat Vayigash opens with Yehudah’s heartfelt and impassioned plea to Yosef to free Binyamin. These words are so powerful in conveying Yehudah’s unflinching loyalty to Binyamin and the anguish of his father Yaakov that Yosef can no longer contain himself; his emotions burst forth, and he reveals himself to his brothers.…

Women Navigating a Man’s World

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 3, 2015

The story of Yehuda and Tamar is often understood to be Yehuda’s story, but it is also Tamar’s story. It is the story not of a leader or a person in a position of power, but of someone without power and without a voice.…

What Does the Torah Have to Say About Thanksgiving?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 25, 2015

With all the tragic events occurring around the world, it is a time of great anxiety. And yet, with Thanksgiving, we must take a moment to reflect on the meaning of thankfulness. What should we be thankful for? How can we cultivate thankfulness in ourselves?…

Maintaining Stability or Effecting Change?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 12, 2015

Finally, it looks like Yitzchak’s story will be the major theme of this parashat Toldot. Until now, Yitzchak has only played a part in other people’s stories: Avraham offering him up at the akeida and the servant finding him a fit wife.…

Unity Not Uniformity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 14, 2015

“And from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the entire Earth” (Breishit, 11:8). What was the sin of the Tower of Babel, and why was it necessary to scatter them and create many languages? Are not geographical distance and the differences of language and culture the primary bases of misunderstanding and fear of the other?…

Breishit: A Story of Growing Up

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 8, 2015

When the world was freshly minted and created, we heard the refrain with each act of creation, “And God saw that it was good,” and that the world as a whole was “exceedingly good.” Then, humans came and made a mess of everything, and a different refrain is heard: And God saw “massive was the evil of man on the earth, and all the thoughts of his heart were only evil the entire day” (Bereishit 6:5).…

Cleansing the Temple, Cleansing our World 

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 21, 2015

Published in the Jerusalem Post on Sept. 28, 2008 “For on this day he shall atone for you to purify you; that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” (Lev. 16:30) This verse appears at the end of the Torah reading for Yom Kippur, when we leave all of our this-worldly pursuits behind, even food and drink, a day that is totally devoted to God, and a day we are promised atonement for our sins.…

Believing is Seeing

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 1, 2015

The Rabbis tell us in Pirkei Avot (5:22) “Whoever has….an ayin tova, a good eye….is a student of Avraham; whoever has an ayin ra’ah, a bad eye….is a student of Balaam.” Avraham sees well, whereas Balaam sees poorly. How so? On the face of it, the stories of Avraham and Balaam are parallel.…

I’ve Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 13, 2012

The beginning of the book of Shemot sees the Children of Israel enslaved, oppressed, and at the risk of decimation.  The foundation for their salvation is laid in the birth of Moshe, his being saved by Pharaoh’s daughter, and his venturing out to see the affliction of his brothers.   …